Monorail proposal to link Melbourne airport

The Herald Sun is reporting plans are underway for a $1 billion monorail link between Melbourne's CBD and Tullamarine Airport. The plan is reportedly in its early phases and has garnered interest from a local infrastructure developer.

8 to 10 minutes travel time from either Flinders Street or Southern Cross station are the numbers being reported as well as the benefits of prefabricated construction techniques utilising factory line labour that is being laid off from the automotive industry.

The journalist quoted Peter O'Brien, the brainchild of the plan, as saying:

The whole problem with heavy rail is you have to buy the land from the public and that’s expensive and takes years. Newly proven technology means we can now follow the established use of airspace in the northern hemisphere without building huge concrete edifices.

Peter O'Brien

The report doesn't go into much detail and leaves many questions unanswered however that should not distract from taking this proposal seriously - any unsolicited private sector project should be assessed on merit once more public domain information is released and we very much look forward to that day.

Having said that, the following is an attempt to make sense of the limited information contained in the article.

The road distance from Southern Cross to Tullamarine is 22km as per Google maps which takes a route along Spencer Street, Dynon Road, Citylink and the Tullamarine Freeway. It's safe to assume that an 8-10 minute trip would mean the monorail vehicles would have a top speed in the range of 200kph given it takes approximately 20 minutes to drive the same distance and the speed limit on the freeway section of the route is 100kph.

Claims about not needing huge concrete edifices is interesting given utilising airspace is mentioned. The assumption here is that the monorail guideway would be elevated and therefore would need to clear the multiple overpasses currently crossing the Tullamarine Freeway - Ormond Road, Dawson Street, Victoria Street, Albion Street, Moreland Road and the very high Bell Street overpass just to name a few.

The Herald Sun report likewise mentions the Melbourne plan would be similar to that of a monorail built in Seoul without mentioning the Seoul project is in fact a maglev for the Incheon airport district yet the Melbourne proposal is reportedly to run on rubber-wheels.

Whether a classic steel wheel on steel rail, rubber-wheel or a maglev technology is utilised for the train, the bulk of any guideways (and therefore visual impact) depends on the width of the vehicles and whether there will be dual track or not - and this amongst other things is not made clear in the report.

If the service is to have capacity for 40,000 passengers an hour one can only assume this would be configured with dual track and vehicles with a capacity for 1000 people running every 3 minutes in each direction - impressive given the reported $1 billion price tag as reported by the Herald Sun.

The Herald Sun report is available for viewing.

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