Premier Daniel Andrews has reaffirmed his desire to see Ballarat and Geelong factored into the multi-billion-dollar airport as a solution to the regions’ ongoing train woes.
On Thursday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull committed $5 billion to the delivery of an airport link between Melbourne and Tullamarine, presenting four potential routes for consideration.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Andrews confirmed his government would be pushing for an airport link through the western suburbs to extend the benefits to regional Victoria.
The Albion East route presented by the federal government would travel through Sunshine Station, providing efficient access for Ballarat and Geelong travelers.
“We’ve always seen this as a great opportunity to combine an airport rail link with further electrification into the west of Melbourne and fast rail to Geelong firstly and then Ballarat as a second stage,” Mr Andrews said.
When I say proper fast rail we’re talking 230-240 (kilometres) an hour, so Geelong in half an hour and Ballarat in under an hour.Daniel Andrews - Premier
“When I say proper fast rail we’re talking 230-240 (kilometres) an hour, so Geelong in half an hour and Ballarat in under an hour.”
The airport announcement came just a day before V/Line released its worst monthly performance figure on record for the Ballarat line.
Almost one in four Ballarat trains failed to arrive within six minutes of their stated time throughout March, a more than five per cent drop on performance from the previous month.
The service provider has failed to meet its 92 per cent performance target every month since October 2016.
While VLocity trains on the line are capable of travelling at up to 160 km/h, V/Line chief executive James Pinder said “trains stopping at stations longer than scheduled, signal faults and train faults” were causing delays.
Western Victoria Liberal MP Josh Morris said “the Premier clearly owes an apology to Ballarat commuters; not more empty words and political spin”.
“If Daniel Andrews wants to talk about fast rail he must put his money where his mouth, not just talk about projects that he has no intention funding,” he said in a statement.
A decision on the preferred airport route is expected to be made by September, however construction is not anticipated to begin until at least 2020.