Rural link vital: O’Rourke

By Benalla Ensign

Regional Cities Victoria (RCV) has called on state and federal governments to ensure the proposed Airport Rail Link provides connections to areas like Benalla in regional Victoria.

RCV chair Margaret O’Rourke said the project was a unique opportunity to unlock faster and more frequent services to regional cities.

‘‘RCV has long advocated for an Airport Rail Link and we welcome the Federal Government’s recent funding commitment towards the project,’’ Cr O’Rourke said.

‘‘The Airport Rail Link has the potential to be a truly transformative project for Victoria.

‘‘It must be seen as much more than just a connection between Tullamarine and the Melbourne CBD — it’s a project that can bring enormous benefits for the whole of Victoria, particularly regional cities.’’

Cr O’Rourke called on the state and federal governments to ensure the route of the Airport Rail Link incorporated connection to regional cities.

‘‘Delivering high-speed rail to regional Victoria is achievable through the Airport Rail Link,’’ she said.

‘‘We must capitalise on this once-in-a-generation project by ensuring airport rail is connected to the wider V-Line network.

‘‘We’ve seen a number of options put forward regarding potential routes, including direct tunnels under Melbourne.

‘‘Let’s be clear: the route must connect into the regional network and the best way to do this is via a new train hub at Sunshine, which would link to our major regional centres.

‘‘If the right route is selected, this project has potential to change the way people live and work in regional Victoria.

‘‘It will go a long way to helping rebalance the state’s population from Melbourne to our regions.’’