Sunshine in the hot seat as federal and state political parties settle on Melbourne Airport Rail Link route

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Sunshine in the hot seat as federal and state political parties settle on Melbourne Airport Rail Link route

Regardless of which party is able to form government after this Saturday's Victorian election, Sunshine and Melbourne's west stand to win when it comes to the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

Various media reports cite the Federal Government having informed the State Government that Canberra supports the Sunshine, also known as Albion, route for the rail link to Tullamarine.  Likewise the Federal Opposition has also expressed support for the Sunshine corridor option.

To have both major parties at both the state and federal level more or less in agreement on an alignment is an achievement in and of itself.  The question now, however, is what form will the rail link take?

The state ALP see the Melbourne Airport Rail Link as the start of the western side of its Suburban Rail Loop - an election policy that would see a 90km long rail line orbit metropolitan Melbourne through the middle ring of suburbs.

State Liberal and opposition leader Matthew Guy has also thrown support behind the Sunshine-Albion route and it's likely the link - the extra track between the city and Sunshine - would play a major role in the development of the Liberal party's election policy of higher-speed rail to the regions.

Sunshine is one of the Victorian Planning Authority's National Employment and Innovation clusters.  Draft framework plans were published in March 2017 and the VPA's website states finalisation of the plans are still ongoing.  

It is likely the rail services on the Melbourne Airport Rail Link will only have one intermediate stop between the city and the airport at Sunshine and coupled with the planning work from the VPA, Brimbank council, we're likely to see intensive development in and around Sunshine station.

The ALP have been referring to Sunshine as a future 'super-hub' with published renders depicting an airport-like experience for passengers who will be changing services in the region.

Already Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo line V/Line services pass through the station as well as metro services to Watergardens-Sunbury and if re-elected, the ALP as part of its Western Rail Plan, would study, as presumably build, extra track from Sunshine to Melton while electrifying one pair to enable metro services to run from Melton to the City.

Metro services from Sunbury - and if it proceeds, Melton - would stop all stations and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, whether it turns out to be something similar to the unsolicited AirRail Melbourne proposal or not, will provide an express service to the city from Sunshine, and naturally to the airport.

In short, Sunshine will become one of the best-connected suburbs of Melbourne.

A business case is underway for the rail link to Tullamarine however given the rare political alignment across tiers of government and across the major parties on the transport side of the equation, focus should now shift back to the VPA and Brimbank council and what's in store for Sunshine in a wider planning-sense.

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