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Melbourne Airport Rail Link

Alastair Taylor's picture

From an article published on 27/03:

Potential Timetable departing Southern Cross could look like this:

Destination Southern Cross Sunshine Airport
Airport 17:00 17:11 17:20
Geelong 17:03 17:14  
Ballarat 17:08 17:19  
Bendigo 17:12 17:23  
Airport 17:15 17:26 17:35
Geelong 17:20 17:31  
Ballarat 17:25 17:36  
Airport 17:30 17:41 17:50
Bendigo 17:32 17:43  
Geelong 17:36 17:47  
Ballarat 17:40 17:51  
Airport 17:45 17:56 18:05
Bendigo 17:48 17:59  
Geelong 17:50 18:01  
Ballarat 17:55 18:06  
Airport 18:00 18:11 18:20

Time & speed examples

  • Regional Rail Link length SX-Sunshine: 12.5km
  • Tullamarine Link length Sunshine-Airport: 15.5km

Track speed assumptions:

Southern Cross-North Melbourne: 2km @ 60kph 2 minutes

North Melbourne-West Footscray: 5km @ 80kph 3 minutes 45 seconds 

West Footscray-Sunshine: 5.5km @ 80kph 4 minutes 10 seconds PLUS 30 seconds for stop @ Sunshine interchange

Sunshine-St Albans Road overpass: 2km @ 80kph 1 minute 30 seconds

St. Albans Road overpass - Airport Drive: 7.5km @ 130kph 3 minutes 30 seconds

Airport Drive - Sharps Road: 1km @ 80kph 45 seconds

Sharps Road-Apac Drive: 3km @ 130kph 1 minute 30 seconds

Apac Drive-Tullamarine Station: 2km @ 60-80kph 1 minute 30 seconds

Total time Southern Cross - Sunshine - Airport: 19-20 minutes.

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Melbman's picture

At the end of the day, if it was this easy, this project wouldn't be an issue. Damn I wish it was that easy though :)

The RRL project though will see near immediate upgrades in frequencies, which will be especially needed for areas such as Tarneit and Wyndhamvale on the Geelong Line. Adding 4 MEL trains an hour may not sound like much, but in the bigger picture it takes away expansion capacity for regional rail lines.

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Andrew's picture

Hi all,
I am brand new in Melbourne and I am very enthusiastic about aviation.

After arriving at Melbourne Tullamarine airport, I found out very strange that there was no train connection between Melbourne Tullamarine airport and Melbourne CBD (i.e. Southern Cross & Flinder Street Stations). Melbourne is a very busy airort with 30 million passengers per year ( and I think it deserves a quick connection.

I used a shuttle-bus taxi to reach the downtown, and it took a long time. Skybus service is very expensive and I think also a slow service in case of traffic-jam.

I have searched for a few articles in the web, and it seems to be a very "old" issue. The newest article I was able to find is this one:

Can somebody explain the reasons about the lack of a train connection, while provided in airports such as SYD and BNW?

Many thanks!

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Alastair Taylor's picture

It's a combination of things - the skybus actually does its job, for the most part, quite well - main gripes is that a) it's expensive and b) is subject to traffic conditions on the Tullamarine Freeway.

Martin wrote about this back in June:

And earlier I did as well -

welcome to UM!

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Andrew's picture

Thanks for the articles.

Skybuis is really expensive. An average ticket should be around 9$ one way, 15$ return ticket.

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Melbman's picture

Like it or not, Skybus is actually fairly competitively priced compared to many other airport connections in much of the globe.

You need to take into consideration the distance from the CBD and any airport access fees also imposed. An airport rail link will be no cheaper than this, as much as I would also love it to eventuate. One only needs to look at the cost of Sydney's rail connection, with a much smaller distance to cover, and the price a ticket costs for that.

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Andrew's picture

In Europe it's not that competitive. In Rome you purchase online for 6€ (8.5$) one way from the Central station to Fiumicino (31km) and 4€ (5.50$) to Ciampino (15km), but there are a few bus companies providing the service.
In some airports you have the underground directly linked to the airport.

More choices turn into a cheaper price.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

I'd love for that to be the case in Melbourne, but the main agency - PTV - has set itself dependencies of building Melbourne Metro before rail will head out to Tullamarine. And the current State Govenrnment - and if Abbott wins the Federal election - aren't helping in this regard.

I actually used Ciampino's bus back in 2009 - very handy, despite a slower than normal journey up into town (well, hey, it is Rome!), very cheap and worth it. Just like skybus without the price tag.

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Melbman's picture

Whoever wins on the weekend offers very little at this stage for either project.

The Coalition has promised 1.5 billion for a project worth $6-8 billion in its first term and the Labor pledge was $3 billion for the Metro Rail Tunnel with most of the money only available after 2019. Hardly ideal in either case, but the EWL atleast would get funding quicker and be able to build the project in the next few years. We certainly need atleast 1 major project underway.

many things happen in Europe that struggle to happen here, and much of that relates to a series of different factors (ie. higher population densities, appetite for higher debt loading over previous years leading to the current euro crisis). Cutting and pasting an example from there to be relevant in Australia is not so easy.

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Andrew's picture

" Cutting and pasting an example from there to be relevant in Australia is not so easy."

I totally agree. That's why I posted my question.

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Melbman's picture

^^ In the end, I just hope that we get a Metro Rail Tunnel, EWL and a MEL rail link within the next decade :)

It will definitely require some risk though in the way of debt, which will likely see us lose that coveted AAA rating. Will be it be worth it? I guess time will tell.

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Martin Mankowski's picture

There's been some talk about integrating Skybus with Myki and subsidising the fare to make it the equivalent of a Zone 1+2 fare. Introducing Myki would be great - tickets could be sold at the airport as a myki card, allowing tourists to already have one before they reach the CBD. Would somewhat negate the argument for introducing a paper ticket alternative for tourists (which would cost a substantial amount to maintain and police) the PTUA keep bleating about. As for the subsidy, I dunno. As Melbman mentioned, its pretty competitively priced given the distance from the CBD, especially compared to Sydney where the price is basically the same for half the distance traveled. Maybe a small short term subsidy (say $12 tickets for 2-3 years) to get mode share up would be OK.

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Martin Mankowski's picture

^^ Agreed, though given how low interest rates are at the moment, if there was ever a time to borrow large amounts of money without compromising the credit rating too much (maybe not at all) it has to be now. And given Abbott's well publicised stance on urban rail projects, its gonna be the only way to fund it for the next 2-3 terms/6-9 years if we're unlucky.

If we don't get the metro tunnel in the next decade I think I'll leave town! I'm gonna make a big bold statement here - if Labor wins government in the state election next year, they MUST turn soil on the metro within the first term - ie by the end of 2018. Otherwise interest rates will rise again and it may be an opportunity lost.

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Melbman's picture

^^ Unfortunately, apparently we are already relatively close to the credit rating review trigger point as it is, and only actions taken by this state govt actually gave the agencies confidence that all is under control from a cost perspective.

Taking on more debt, even at lower rates, just won't satisfy those agencies, so it will likely have to be a decision taken to sacrifice the rating to build.

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Fedsquared's picture

Napthine has announced airport rail link will go ahead under his government.
- will depart Southern Cross
- electric service
- Albion East route
- 25 min travel time
- depart every 10 mins at peak times.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

From the HUN, looks like a potential unsolicited proposal for monorail to the airport might be in the offing:

Consortium website:

Map of proposal:

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

It is not clear what route this proposal will take through the city. Will this involve elevated railways through the CBD?

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theboynoodle's picture

I can't read the newspaper piece - but the website re. the proposal is from 2014 (and has not been updated with any news since then) so is there anything at all to suggest this be taken seriously? Or is it just a journalist reprinting some vapourware (vapourstructure?) on the back of the Plan Melbourne paper?

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Nine news on Sunday night had snippets of an interview (which looked fresh) with Peter O'brien (from Air shuttle).

Looks like many are getting a fair bit of media time re: transport projects around the release of IV's strategy. Air Shuttle on Sunday and looks like Bus Assoc. of Vic and its wish-list of smartbus routes is next.

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