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AirRail tunnel could provide fast access to CBD for Shepparton travellers

By Ashlea Witoslawski

The Committee for Greater Shepparton is pushing for the development of Melbourne's world-class airport train to include a tunnel for faster travel times for Shepparton commuters.

Joining forces with a number of regional cities, C4GS chief executive Sam Birrell said a dedicated tunnel running from Sunshine to Southern Cross station, as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, would help provide a quick and affordable journey into the city.

“This is our opportunity to untangle the metro and regional train system and allow locals to get to Southern Cross station faster than ever before,” Mr Birrell said.

The project is an initiative between AirRail Melbourne and the Victorian Government, and is nearing a decision on the final design.

Current plans indicate the rail link will be developed from Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine, travelling south to a new ‘Super-hub’ at Sunshine station before heading on to Southern Cross Station.

Mr Birrell and committees from Melbourne, Ballarat, Gippsland, Wyndham and Geelong believe the tunnel is essential to free up congestion on the road, provide an efficient journey for regional travellers to the airport and also open up regional areas to domestic and international visitors with world-class connectivity.

The groups believe an "infrastructure white elephant" could become a reality in Victoria with the development of a second-rate airport train if cheaper alternatives are considered.

“If we don’t get the building blocks right now, we may not get the opportunity in the future,” Mr Birrell said.

“The link to the airport will be a bonus for us, but getting to the city quickly is important for our region.”

Mr Birrell said the committees had worked efficiently together to advocate for rail across the state.

“The government has been good on rail and we want them to continue with that good work,” he said.

“We need to keep on them to get the best outcome, which is a tunnel.”

A decision on the final design is likely to be made by the Victorian Government in the coming weeks.

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