There’s some big news on the East West Link today, with Labor saying that if the Supreme Court agrees with the Cities of Moreland and Yarra that the planning approval was invalid, they will rip up the contracts if elected. Read all about it here in The Age.
But meanwhile… Lots of ads for the Airport rail link have gone up around Southern Cross Station in the last few days.
A bewildered tourist (or blissfully unaware local) might wander around the station looking for this train to the airport that departs every ten minutes and “begins here”.
The problem of course is that the link doesn’t exist. It won’t exist for at least a dozen years.
And that’s if it goes ahead. The 2014 Budget Papers show that in the 4 year budget forward estimates period, there’s $850 million of funding, or about 10% of the total cost of Melbourne Rail Link and the Airport Link.
This seemed to be confirmed last night by Liberal MP for Caulfield David Southwick at the Glen Eira MTF Transport Forum, who when asked about it said that the current funds would cover extensive planning and preparatory works, with the rest of the money to follow.
(Note in contrast the East-West Link western section, which gets around $3 billion in funding in the next 4 years — well and truly enough to get lots of actual construction underway, and provide the project enough momentum that it can’t be stopped.)
The danger is that with most of the project as yet unfunded, a government of either flavour could easily put it on ice, just as the Coalition has done with the Metro rail tunnel, which has had many millions of dollars already spent on it.
Meanwhile, the ads pile up. In this post I compared the current crop of ads with the Labor ads in 2010. But these have gone a lot further: At least Labor stuck with promoting initiatives that were actually in the delivery phase.
Promoting an unfunded plan that may never happen, just months before an election? That really is just a pitch at re-election.
3AW 10/9/2014: Did we miss the train?
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) September 23, 2014