05.03.2020Our fourth MARL Forum: We must deliver for all Victorians
It was a packed house at the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) forum hosted by Ashurst on 4 March 2020 with 100 guests from the business, professional services, academic, government and community sectors.
MARL is one of the key defining infrastructure decisions that will affect Melbourne and Victoria’s productivity and liveability for the coming decades. Recent media reports had raised concerns that the proposed infrastructure solution would neither achieve an efficient airport link, nor help Melbourne’s rapidly growing West and the regions with congestion and the connections they need now and into the future.
Panellists Felicia Mariani (CEO VTIC), Michael Poulton (CEO Committee for Ballarat) and Luke Fraser (Founder and Director, Juturna) highlighted that a solution must benefit the community and Victoria as a whole. If we are to spend the billions of dollars required to build MARL, we should take the time needed to develop a solution aimed at:
- Providing a world-class link to the airport
- Increasing capacity to the west
- Increasing capacity to the regions
- Servicing needs of passengers (including journey times, frequency and experience)
- Underpinning the overall brand credentials of Melbourne
Contributions from the floor supported the need to be forward looking, and the need for a strong business case as well as full consideration of all MARL options. While we were working in a constrained financial environment, it was agreed that clarity and transparency with respect to costs and benefits of the different MARL options were important to ensure that the most effective solution for Victoria’s future can be chosen.
Asked by moderator Martine Letts (CEO, Committee for Melbourne) – “What message would you like to send to the Prime Minister and Victorian Premier?” – the panellists urged that the opportunity for building infrastructure of such great importance should not be lost, but counselled strongly against rushing to a sub-optimal solution.
If you want to see how deprived commuters in Melbourne’s West already are, take a look at this video from the ABC, which highlights commuters’ current nightmare.