News | 21st Nov, 2012

Melbourne Airport ‘needs a rail link’

21 November 2012
The Age

The Victorian government needs to come to the party on a rail link to Melbourne Airport and improved road access, the airport's boss says.

The airport is planning a $500 million third runway, with construction likely to start in 2016.

The runway would take two to four years to complete and allow more aircraft movements, which are expected to jump from 200,000 to 281,000 by 2022-23.

But Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff says the government needs to support the expansion with a greater commitment to improving access.

"What are we doing about the Tullamarine Freeway? What are we doing about the widening of that? What are we doing about giving Skybus, for example, a priority lane?" Mr Woodruff said on Wednesday.

The Skybus carried nearly 2.5 million passengers a year but was caught in traffic congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway, he said.

Mr Woodruff said he expected the government to give a solid commitment to a rail link to the airport when the airport released its master plan in February or March.

Melbourne Airport was spending $300 million on capital projects this year and planned to spend $500 million annually over the next 20 years, he said.

"I look to the state government to come to the party," Mr Woodruff said.

"On our own we are producing significant economic benefits for this state."

Mr Woodruff said while a rail link would take more than seven years to complete, widening of Tullamarine Freeway could be done within a year.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the government had committed $6.5 million to a study on a rail link to the airport.

"It's not a simple exercise to simply drop a rail link into an airport," he said.

Passenger numbers at Melbourne Airport are forecast to reach 40 million by 2020 and more than 60 million by 2033.

Suburbs such as Gladstone Park, Broadmeadows and Westmeadows would be under the path of aircraft using the new east-west runway.

Broadmeadows resident and Fight the Flight Path co-chair Jody Freestone said the frequency of planes was already disruptive.

"You can't sleep," Ms Freestone said.

She said there should be a curfew review for Melbourne Airport and an environmental impact study before the airport's master plan goes to the federal government for approval.

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said it was reckless to decide to build another runway without any examination of the likely emissions consequences.


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