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Melbourne Airport Rail Link

Alastair Taylor's picture

From an article published on 27/03: https://urban.melbourne/transport/2013/03/27/half-of-the-melbourne-airport-rail-link-is-currently-under-construction

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 (http://urbanmelbourne.info/transpor...joins-the-30-million-passengers-pe...) 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: http://urbanmelbourne.info/transport/2013/06/18/melbourne-a-city-of-two-...

And earlier I did as well - http://urbanmelbourne.info/transport/2013/03/27/half-of-the-melbourne-ai...

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: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/a-melbourne-airport-monorail-t...

Consortium website: http://www.airshuttleaust.com.au/

Map of proposal:

Melbourne Airport Rail Link

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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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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Looks like the federal government is keen on a route with stops at highpoint and the defence site in Maribyrnong.

Since the defence site is commonwealth property land the federal government could bypass the state government, and Victorian planning requirements, and develop the site with a high density development centred around a new rail station.

Exciting times indeed.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Interesting to note this Ballarat Courier article on how the committees from the various regional cities have begun lobbying for the State Government and Federal Government to prioritise these regions - over, presumably, the Federal Gov favouring a direct line via Maribyrnong Defence site (which would push the values up, netting the Fed Gov more cash when they flog it off).


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Peter Maltezos's picture


Drilling Underway To Shape Airport Link
31 January 2019

Soil testing to help inform the detailed Business Case for Melbourne Airport Rail Link has begun as preliminary planning works ramp up.

Geotechnical drilling is the latest stage of preparatory work for the project that will boost connectivity between Melbourne and the regions.

Geotechnical investigations are used to establish ground conditions and soil quality, and involve drilling boreholes up to 25 centimetres in diameter and 45 metres deep to collect soil and rock samples.

Rail Projects Victoria, which will oversee delivery of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL), is assessing ground conditions across several locations to enable detailed planning.

These investigations are being conducted at six sites around the M80 Ring Road in Tullamarine and near the Maribyrnong River to guide further planning of the preferred Sunshine route. Each investigation takes around two weeks to complete.

The works will inform the design of the new rail line and how it will be built, with a further phase of testing to occur later this year.

The investigations are a crucial element of the full Business Case process, which is assessing design options for the long-awaited rail link to Melbourne Airport.

Expert technical advisors started initial environmental investigations in late 2018, with ecological surveys to identify any protected flora and fauna.

Construction of Melbourne Airport Rail Link is scheduled to start in 2022, subject to required approvals. Construction is expected to take up to nine years.

The Andrews Labor Government has committed up to $5 billion to build this vital project, which will run from the CBD to Melbourne Airport via Sunshine and form the north-western section of the Suburban Rail Loop. The Commonwealth has also committed funding to make the Link a reality.

The total cost of the project will be determined in the full Business Case and is estimated in the range of $8-$13 billion.

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au

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Peter Maltezos's picture


Airport Rail Link Closer To Takeoff As Joint Agreement Signed
13 March 2019

Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) is set to become a reality, with the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments formally signing off on the project.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the signing of the Heads of Agreement today, which sets out the strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information sharing processes for the $10 billion joint commitment.

Mr Morrison said the people of Melbourne and Victoria had been waiting far too long for the rail link to become a reality.

“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport. We are delivering it. In last year’s Budget we made a $5 billion investment in the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, it was the biggest infrastructure commitment in the Budget.

“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city and get people home faster and safer.

“I’d like to thank the Premier and Minister Tudge who have worked constructively with me to land this agreement and bring the project closer to fruition.”

A project team will be established to drive the development of a full Business Case for the project, which will not only connect Melbourne Airport to the rail network for the first time – but also integrate it with the Metro Tunnel and the future Suburban Rail Loop, and pave the way for fast-rail to the regions.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Government is not wasting a minute leading the planning work for an Airport Rail Link that delivers for all Victorians.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link has been talked about for far too long – we’re doing the detailed planning and development work to make it a reality,” Mr Andrews said.

“By choosing the Sunshine route, we are ensuring all Victorians can benefit from the rail link, including people living in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. As we complete the business case, we’re also doing the work needed to deliver fast rail to the regions.”

Melbourne Airport is a key part of Victoria and Australia’s economic growth. In 2016-17, it handled more than 35 million passenger movements and by 2038, it is expected to almost double to more than 67 million, as Victoria’s population continues to grow and demand increases.

Melbourne Airport Rail Link will alleviate congestion on the main road connection to the airport, the Tullamarine Freeway, and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said following the successful widening of the Tullamarine Freeway, the airport link would bust congestion for generations to come.

“This is a critical project for Melbourne. It will make it easier for residents and make our city more attractive to visitors,” Mr Tudge said.

“When complete, someone in Pakenham, Frankston or Ringwood will be able to get onto the train, and be at the airport in the time it would have taken to drive, but without having to worry about parking.”

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said this is part of the Victorian Government’s unprecedented pipeline of major transport projects.

“We’re building the Metro Tunnel, removing dangerous level crossings and getting on with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.”

“This is not just about getting from the airport to the city – it’s about better connecting our suburbs and regions, so people have better services wherever they live.”

Planning and development of the MARL Business Case is already well underway. Rail Projects Victoria has engaged expert technical and commercial advisers for the project, and ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations have begun.

Early market engagement on the MARL attracted submissions from more than 100 local and global organisations. Further market sounding will be undertaken to assess equity partners, private sector involvement, financing arrangements and other matters.

A reference group including community, industry and local government representatives will be established to provide guidance and feedback to the project team as the Business Case is developed.

The State and Federal Governments have committed up to $5 billion each to deliver MARL. The total cost of the project is estimated to be in the range of $8-13 billion, with construction to take up to nine years and due to commence in 2022.

The Business Case will be delivered by 2020 and will assess station and procurement options, value capture and creation opportunities, and economic analysis of the recommended solution.

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au

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Peter Maltezos's picture


Airport rail to be done by 2031, could go through Metro Tunnel
March 13, 2019 — 1.56pm Timna Jacks

Airport trains could be directed through the new $11 billion Metro Tunnel, Premier Daniel Andrews has said.

The Premier also revealed the airport rail project was unlikely to be completed until 2031, in contrast with previous claims that the project could be finished by 2027.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Andrews stood side by side at Sunshine train station on Wednesday morning to announce the signing of a heads of agreement, which locks in a $5 billion commitment from both state and federal governments towards the rail project.

Mr Morrison confirmed the $5 billion for airport rail was a "grant" that would not rely on funding models such as value capture, which leverages money from private development. The whole project is tipped to cost $8 billion to $13 billion.

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au

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