Ballarat stands among the major winners from a push to ensure the future Tullamarine airport link stops in Melbourne's rapidly expanding western suburbs.
LeadWest, which is comprised of local governments from across Melbourne's western suburbs, ventured to Canberra on Wednesday to outline their key priorities to federal politicians.
At the top of the list was the delivery of an airport rail link, with a long term aim of establishing a stop along the line in Melbourne’s west.
While a favoured location has not been established, the report suggests that any service would need to be accessible to regional customers.
“Either Sunshine (or) Footscray would provide an ideal location to connect the airport rail link to the broader rail transport network,” the report reads.
The body has also proposed delivering an interim train service to Tullamarine which could begin at either Bacchus Marsh or Melton.
LeadWest member and Melton City mayor Sophie Ramsey said while there was still discussion as to where a stop would be, “we’re just making sure the urgency of the alignment was acknowledged”.
The discussions come after the federal government committed $30 million to developing a business case for the train line, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggesting the project could be entirely funded by Canberra.
The state government has also committed $10 million for a feasibility study.
Earlier this year the Rail Futures Institute gave a presentation to Committee for Ballarat outlining the potential for a regular service to the airport from Sunshine, which would also run through to Bendigo and Seymour in the north.
LeadWest has also been briefed on the proposal.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Melanie Robertson said the organisation was committed to seeing regional Victoria considered in the development.
“Connectivity to the airport is absolutely crucial for western Victoria, not just in terms of tourism but also our business sector,” Ms Robertson said.
“We're not necessarily advocating for one plan in particular, what we're saying is we’re heavily advocating for regional Victoria to be involved.”
Committees join the lobbying effort
Committee for Ballarat has joined forces with similar voices from across the state to collectively lobby both Canberra and Spring Street to ensure there is a regional Victorian connection to Tullamarine airport.
Committees for Ballarat, Gippsland, Geelong, Melbourne, Wyndham, Shepparton and Echuca Moama have agreed to get behind a push to develop the regional link.
While no precise route has yet been mapped out for the development, the state and federal governments have collectively tipped in $40 million for a feasibility study and business case for the train service.
“The best option is to get all the arms on the rail line united as a common voice because I don’t think any one region can do it alone,” Committee for Ballarat chief executive Melanie Robertson said of the combined effort.