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Local News - Victoria

Former Victorian premiers call for fast, direct route


They are expected to back a new above-ground link between the airport and Sunshine, with trains to run along existing tracks between the western hub and the city via the new Metro Tunnel.

This will kill a proposal from superannuation fund giant IFM Investors to build a $7 billion tunnel between the city and Sunshine, allowing fast express airport services on dedicated tracks.

Former Liberal premier Mr Kennett – who reserved land for a rail line through Broadmeadows while in power but prioritised the construction of CityLink – called for an express rail link from the city to the airport to ensure the service was competitive with road-based alternatives.

“I think if people are going to use it in large volumes, you’ve got to get to and from the airport quickly,” he said.

“There’s no point in stopping at one or several stations along the way; its self-defeating.”

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Mr Baillieu – who promised to build rail links to Avalon and Tullamarine when he was premier – said, when asked why the project has been put off so long, that the “more direct” airport rail routes had always proven more costly.

“It has been difficult to demonstrate the benefits in terms of speed and time for passengers and, secondly, it seems to be getting more expensive by the day,” he said.

But he believes in the need for “dedicated track” all the way to the airport and easy access points to other transport options at either end of the line, to motivate people to use it.

“Commuters will judge this very quickly and very harshly,” he said. “It will be judged on frequency, speed and cost to them – not to the taxpayer– and what happens at each end. That’ll be it.”

Mr Bracks won the 1999 election promising Melbourne an airport rail link, and he envisioned it would be built under a private-public partnership model.

He said vested interests – the taxi lobby and Melbourne Airport – sought to stop the project.

“Now the airport is a supporter,” he said. “They’ve got so big they can have car parking and fast rail.”

At the time, Labor wanted to investigate opening the line to “suburban commuters as well as airport commuters, so it’s not just businesspeople who use it. If we could capture some of the customers on the way in some suburbs, [we thought] that will help the economic viability of the line.”

The 2001 collapse of Australian airline Ansett – reducing the number of commuters expected to use the line – was the “key” reason for putting the project on hold, Mr Bracks said.

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The former Labor premier, who is also West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance chairman, said plans to turn Sunshine station into a major hub would be a “great boon for Melbourne’s west”.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said the government would provide a “quick, frequent and affordable service for all passengers”.

“We’re in the midst of the biggest ever public transport investment in Victoria’s history – as Melbourne continues to grow, the projects we’re delivering will ensure our entire network is a reliable, viable and cost-effective alternative to road travel.”

A federal government spokesman said airport rail was a “huge and complex project” and Canberra and Spring Street were working constructively to build it.

“Our ambition is to have a train journey to the airport from the city that is fast, affordable and meets the needs of travellers,” he said. “We want to see it built as soon as possible.”

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Airport rail tunnel may need private route


Government efforts to build an airport rail link go back a long way. It was 1965 when the Bolte government introduced a bill into the State Parliament calling for the acquisition of land for a rail link from Glenroy to Tullamarine at a cost of no more than £100,000. The opposition was quick to raise concerns about its ability to attract enough patronage and arguments over possible routes proliferated. History does have a way of repeating itself.

In every decade since that bill was written there has been a repeat of the wrangling over the pros and cons of constructing such a crucial piece of Melbourne’s transport infrastructure. Fast forward to today, and the debate rages on. Except now the most contentious issue is whether a tunnel should be built between the CBD and Sunshine station, which would then connect with a new above-ground track to Tullamarine. Without the tunnel, trains along the the CBD to Sunshine section would need to share already congested suburban routes, but the project’s cost would be significantly less.

An artist's impression of the airport rail link station.

An artist’s impression of the airport rail link station. Credit:Melbourne Airport

While the state government has backed an airport link for some time, it has never shown a lot of enthusiasm for the tunnel, baulking at the extra cost, and is hesitant to allow private funding to be part of the mix. A superannuation consortium, including IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, has proposed contributing $7 billion to the project to ensure the tunnel is built. In return, the private consortium would operate the rail link and charge the state government for usage of the lines.

The Andrews government is shying away from handing over another major piece of transport infrastructure to private hands, with Transurban already raking in substantial profits on the back of the CityLink and EastLink tollways. It is also committed to getting the North East Link under way, is facing cost blowouts on some of its big builds already in progress and could face court with Transurban over contaminated soil on the West Gate Tunnel project. It has its hands full.



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Garmin Launches Strava & Komoot Route Sync: Works on devices a decade old


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It’s rare that we get new features from companies, let alone Garmin, that actually work on devices a decade old. But today, today is special apparently. Because this new feature will work on your really really really old Garmin watches and bike computers.

Today Garmin has released a new API that allows partners (namely, websites/platforms) to push routes straight to your Garmin, with no additional work for you. The first two partners launching today are Strava and Komoot, and from here forward, anytime you create a route and star/favorite it on Strava (or add it to your Komoot tours), it’ll automatically show up on your Garmin. No frustrating half-baked Strava Connect IQ app to deal with, or clunky pairing steps. In other words, it’s basically just like what Wahoo rolled out four years ago.

But what’s cool here is that you don’t need some fancy new Garmin for this. Anything that supports .FIT file courses will work, and the line in the sand there seems to be since roughly 2009. So for example, the Edge 500 (old school review alert!!!) or Edge 800 will work with this. Whereas the 2007-based Forerunner 305 (even older alert!) doesn’t quite make the cut since it doesn’t support .FIT files (I tried).

Here’s a quick tips video I put together showing how it works.

Or, roll on to read up on all the details and nuances.

Strava Sync:

For Strava sync, it’ll automatically sync any new routes you create from this moment forward, as well as any routes you un-favorite and favorite again. It won’t just sync all your older existing routes automatically.

In any event, if you’re reading this, there’s an approximately 100% chance you’ve already linked Strava and Garmin together. Good news, you’re almost there. However, you need to go to this page and toggle the new ‘Courses’ feature on, that’ll give it permissions to sync courses.

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Once that’s done, you’re good to go.

Let’s say you create a new route (for any sport), we’ll call it ‘To the Gravel Loop’, in this case I just created it on mobile, and then I left the default to have it starred. The star is important, because it tells Strava to push it to Garmin (and numerous other device platforms too).

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Next, I crack open my Garmin. Doesn’t matter if it’s a wearable or an Edge. It doesn’t matter if it’s a running course or a cycling course. Any course of any type will send over. And, you can use either WiFi or Bluetooth Smart sync (or USB). Here, I’ll demonstrate WiFi sync on the Edge 530. In this case, I simply turned it on, and it connected to WiFi and within a few seconds grabbed the course:

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And, here’s the course in the usual Courses folder under Navigation:

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Now, you can ride it just like normal.

What’s cool about this is that this is *WAY* more compatible than the previous Strava Routes Connect IQ app. Specifically, it now works on devices up to about a decade old. For example, the Edge 500 can actually work with this. As long as the device supports routes/courses, and supports .FIT courses specifically, then it’ll be fine. The rough line in the sand seems to be about 2010, when Garmin introduced .FIT file courses to devices around the launch of the Edge 800. Whereas my older Forerunner 305 does actually receive the routes from Strava using this new method, but can’t open the .FIT file courses.

Still – that’s pretty impressive – and a huge win for older device users!

So – to recap, here’s what you need to do to get courses onto your Garmin:

A) Ensure your Strava and Garmin Connect accounts are linked, specifically with the courses toggle
B) Create new course on Strava *OR* un-star and re-star an existing course
C) Sync your Garmin
D) Done

Oh – and one final note here. When you sync these courses in, they actually show up in your Garmin Connect account as well, which is how/why they get to your watch/bike computer. So you’ll see a copy there, just an FYI:

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Ok, with that, we’re done here.

Komoot Sync:

Meanwhile, over on the Komoot side, if you haven’t synced up your Garmin to Komoot accounts yet, you’ll need to do that. Once that’s done, you’ll see there’s an option at the bottom for courses. Historically you’d have used the Komoot Connect IQ app. But with the new courses sync, it’ll just sync everything for you:

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Once you tap that option, it’ll show a confirmation to sync courses over:

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Now, when you do that it’ll sync your most recent 50 Komoot Tours into Garmin Connect and then down into your device. As well as any new ones you create from this point forward.

Here, I’ll add a quick tour to my Komoot account. I found this one from a nearby user, called Beach Bumble that looks interesting – similar to a route I’ve used in the past, but with a bit more off-road.

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So, I tap ‘Create a copy of this Tour’, which then adds it to my account:

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Now at this point all you need to do is sync your Garmin, just like with Strava it can be synced via WiFi, Bluetooth Smart, or USB. As with every other device on the market, there’s no direct server push option. So you’ll need to initiate that sync somewhere. Though, if you have a wearable it’ll eventually sync by itself in the background. But if you’re rearing to go outside now, then I’d manually sync it.

In my case, I simply put the device to sleep and then turned it back on again, which initiated the WiFi sync. At left you can see the little arrows indicating it’s syncing, and then the ‘Download Complete’ message:

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And now, if I look in courses, you’ll see it there:

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It’ll include elevation information as well, so you’ll see that during the ride.

And with that, you’re done! So – to recap, here’s what you need to do to get Komoot courses onto your Garmin:

A) Link up your Komoot account to Garmin Connect, specifically enabling the Courses feature
B) Past 50 courses are automatically synced, as are all new courses
C) Sync your Garmin
C) Done

And thus, concludes everything you need to know about the new Garmin courses API sync for Strava and Komoot. Of course, the concept behind this is that it’s an API that can be used by every platform, just like the Training/Workouts API of a year ago. So expect plenty more platforms to start supporting this pretty quickly. Everyone likes an easy button.

Oh, and finally, Garmin says they don’t plan on pulling the Strava Routes Connect IQ app from the store, and while I haven’t heard back from Komoot yet, I doubt they’d pull theirs (since it offers more functionality than just sync). So if using those apps are your jam, you can keep on jamming.

With that – thanks for reading! But…do come back in about two hours for yet another announcement. Just sayin’.



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