Rail Futures Institute calls on Melbourne Airport Rail Link to be built for all Victorians

Rail Futures Institute calls on Melbourne Airport Rail Link to be built for all Victorians
Rail Futures Institute calls on Melbourne Airport Rail Link to be built for all Victorians

The advocacy group behind the 'AirTrain' rail vision for Victoria has called on the $5 billion to be allocated in the Federal budget to be deployed on a Melbourne Airport Rail Link that will benefit not just the city, but the state.

Citing the four routes from a 5-year-old study that was on display at the Prime Ministers press conference at the airport last week, the Rail Futures Institute says none of them include meaningful connections from the airport to regional areas.

Not impressed with a direct route via the Maribyrnong defense site - which the Federal Government owns and is actively looking to unload from the balance sheet - RFI says rail to Melbourne Airport would likely be delayed due to widespread decontamination works required.

The Rail Futures AirTrain proposal is the only serious Melbourne Airport Rail option that includes direct connections from the airport to regional rail lines.

Fully executed, AirTrain would link Tullamarine to the Bendigo and Seymour/Shepparton/Albury lines and provide an efficient interchange to the Ballarat and Geelong lines and the coming Melbourne Metro line at a newly expanded station at Sunshine.

All other metropolitan lines and the Gippsland line would connect at Southern Cross station.

Rail Futures’ proposal will provide dedicated airport trains with large luggage spaces running every 10 minutes, stopping only at Sunshine, and take 15 minutes for the journey – half the average 30-minute duration of other proposals.

Partly in-tunnel, the AirTrain railway would be an entirely new build that would not share tracks with much slower metropolitan trains.

“The best Airport Rail links are dedicated builds with minimal stations between the airport and the city,” Mr Hearsch said. 

“Many overseas airports also have regional trains stopping at the airport station. We envisage that Melbourne Airport will progressively become a major public transport hub, with both heavy and light rail connections, a tram extension from Airport West and a greatly expanded network of metropolitan bus services, providing serious alternatives to our current car dependency.”

Rail Futures Institute media release.

The concept of a public transport hub at Melbourne Airport is gaining traction with some advocates calling for a more comprehensive ground transport plan for the area which would include projects like extending tram routes and creating new high-frequency bus services to areas not directly served by an Airport Rail link.

These areas that would not be served directly by an Airport Rail link are to Melbourne's middle-outer north, given that most rail alignment proposals are either running directly north-west from the city, swing via Sunshine in the west or use the Craigieburn train line. 

In the 'AirTrain' vision, people living in or traveling to the East, South East or South from the airport, broadly consistent with an arc sweeping from the Lilydale line to the Frankston and Sandringham lines, would use their local train service and then be able to make a connection to the new airport link.

Rail Futures Institute calls on Melbourne Airport Rail Link to be built for all Victorians
The alignment of RFI's 'AirTrain' vision

With an intermediate stop at Sunshine, people traveling on the Sunbury line, eventually an electrified Melton line, the Geelong & Warrnambool lines as well as the Ballarat-Ararat/Maryborough lines will all be able to make a connection outside of the centre of the city.

Sunshine already enjoys a very high amount of accessibility on rail-based public transport - a Melbourne Airport Rail Link would increase this accessibility markedly to an area which at present has just under 15,000 jobs.

The Sunshine National Employment and Innovation Cluster planning work is set to facilitate both employment and diversified mixed-use residential growth in the region.

Lead Image credit: RFI

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Airports RFI Airtrain Melbourne Airport

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This is a good plan, but I think there should also be a stop at Footscray since it's a major hub and provides a convient point of interchange for Weribee/Williamstown line commuters who would otherwise have to go all the way to Southern Cross and then out again.
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