Prime minister Scott Morrison has formally committed to the long-awaited Melbourne airport rail link, signing a $10 billion joint commitment with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday.
The two signed a heads of agreement, which sets out strategic objectives and governance arrangements for the “long overdue” infrastructure project.
Construction is set to begin in 2022 and take nine years to complete. The airport link will integrate with the metro tunnel and future suburban rail loop.
The project is estimated to cost between $13 billion and $15 billion, with private sector involvement expected to make up the remainder.
Scott Morrison said that Victorians have been waiting “far too long” for airport the rail link.
“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport.
“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city, and get people home faster and safer.”
In April 2018, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull promised $5 billion toward the project, smoothing an otherwise fraught relationship between the federal Coalition and Victorian state governments on federal funding.
At the time, Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said that it was good the “prime minister has finally found Victoria on a map”.
A project team will be appointed to lead the development of a full business case, undertaking market engagement to assess equity partners, private sector involvement and financing arrangements.
Minister for cities Alan Tudge said the airport link is a critical project for Melbourne.
“It will make it easier for residents and make our city more attractive to visitors,” Tudge said.
More than 35 million passengers used Melbourne airport in 2016-17, with forecasts predicting that number will double to more than 67 million passengers by 2038.