Stalemate ends: Melbourne Airport concedes development of above-ground rail station

Melbourne Airport has resolved it will support the state government’s favoured option for an above-ground railway station at Tullamarine, ending a years-long standoff between the government and the airport.

The proposal for the long-mooted airport railway station has been in limbo due to a stalemate between airport operators, who favoured an underground station, and the Victorian government, which has claimed it would be cheaper and quicker to build it above ground. In 2022, the Victorian government submitted a business case for the above-ground train terminal, outlining a planned opening date of 2029. The proposal was rebuffed by the Melbourne Airport, who argued a subterranean alternative would ensure greater future-proofing, and to free up above-ground space for a third runway.

In May 2024, the state government delayed the airport railway station project by four years, and later threatened to build it at Avalon Airport instead if Melbourne Airport refused to agree to an above-ground station.

In the latest turn of events, Melbourne Airport’s chief executive Lorie Argus has stated the airport is “prepared to compromise” and support the state government’s preferred choice – a decision, she said, was driven by the necessity to get on with the project in the interests of travellers, Victorians and the airport’s growth.

“Victorians have waited long enough for an airport rail line,” Argus said. “With an estimated 45 million travellers a year predicted to be using our airport when the third runway opens, the rail link will support a massive increase in passenger numbers and billions of dollars in additional economic activity for Victoria.

“While Melbourne Airport has consistently advocated for an underground station, we are prepared to compromise on our position to ensure we have more transport options in place for the millions of new passengers that will visit Victoria and the airport precinct’s expanding workforce.

“The third runway project will allow for the growth of our existing airlines as well as attracting new carriers. There will be fewer delays with an additional runway and more flight options for travellers, putting downward pressure on air fares.”

Melbourne Airport has expressed a desire to immediately resume discussions with the state government, with an initial focus on the station’s design.

The state government disclosed that the lack of progression on the project may mean the opening date could be postponed to 2033. The state and federal governments have each allocated $5 billion to the project.

Source: Architecture - architectureau

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