MELBOURNE, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Victorian and Australian Federal governments will collaborate to build the long-awaited Melbourne airport rail link, it was revealed on Thursday.
Both parties have agreed to fund a 22 million U.S. dollar-study that will determine the best route for the train to the airport in Tullamarine as well as investigating "the best way to fund it."
James Merlino, deputy premier of Victoria, said that the "important project" would be analyzed in partnership with the Federal government just a day after Malcolm Turnbull, prime minister of Australia, floated building the link without state funding.
Airshuttle Australia, a private consortium, has put forward a 1.14 billion U.S. dollar proposal that would see the route depart from Southern Cross station and make use of the new Melbourne metro tunnel before stopping at Highpoint Shopping Center and the airport.
If approved, the Airshuttle Australia "skylink," which would consist of elevated driverless trains, would take either 15 minutes directly to the airport from the city or 18 minutes if the Highpoint route was preferred.
Merlino said the Melbourne Metro project, a 8.32 billion U.S. dollar rail tunnel expansion across the Central Business District (CBD), needed to be completed before an airport link could be built.
"We absolutely acknowledge that this is an important project but you need to do things in order," he told Australian media on Thursday.
Matthew Guy, leader of the Victorian Opposition, welcomed Turnbull's intervention, saying the new line was needed "whether it's on conventional technology or new technology."
Airshuttle Australia expressed that using the Maribyrnong-Highpoint route, which is 10 percent longer than the direct Tullamarine route, would create more tourism opportunities along the link.
"It has got some other attributes, it would pick up the Royal Showgrounds and Flemington racecourse and the tourism sector is quite excited about that," Peter O'Brien, a spokesman for the consortium, said.
O'Brien said there had already been "quite an appetite to invest" from super funds.