Passengers for the Melbourne Airport service from Southern Cross Station could be waiting several years for their train to arrive, but they have been told it is on its way.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says his government will build the long-awaited airport rail link, with a promise of a 25-minute service from the city.
The premier says the electric trains will be high-capacity, affordable and run every 10 minutes during peak times.
Dr Napthine was scarce with precise details when announcing the pledge at the Victorian Liberal Party conference, saying the time and cost of the project will be revealed in the state budget next month.
He said the project was long overdue.
“This project has been on the books for over 40 years,” Dr Napthine told the conference on Sunday.
“It is time this rail link was built.”
Melbourne airport attracts 30 million passengers a year, and this was expected to double in 20 years, he said.
“This is an enormous step forward for Melbourne Airport, for Melbourne and Victoria,” Dr Napthine later told reporters.
“It’s absolutely essential that Melbourne and Victoria has a rail link to the airport.”
The link will use the existing Albion-Jacana goods rail corridor between the city’s west and north.
Dr Napthine says the project will be publicly run but private involvement would be sought.
Deputy Opposition Leader James Merlino said the state had higher public transport priorities.
“This won’t fix train congestion, this won’t fix delays, this won’t fix level crossings,” he told reporters.
Mr Merlino said he was doubtful the government would fulfil the pledge.
“Denis Napthine and the Liberal Party promised rail links to Avalon, to Doncaster, to Rowville. None of them have been delivered,” he said.