Rail Futures Institute reiterates calls for long-term thinking on Melbourne Airport Rail Link

Rail Futures Institute reiterates calls for long-term thinking on Melbourne Airport Rail Link
Rail Futures Institute reiterates calls for long-term thinking on Melbourne Airport Rail Link

The Rail Futures Institute has called on the State and Commonwealth Governments to keep one eye on the long-term and get the route and operations of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link 'right' in the first instance.

A statement from the rail lobby group says "we have long advocated that the Airport route should be from Southern Cross Station via a single stop at Sunshine where a major rail interchange would provide easy connections with the Melbourne Metro corridor and the regional lines that pass through Sunshine."

"We therefore strongly endorse the Premier’s announcement that the preferred route will include a new Sunshine Super-Hub and pave the way for fast trains to Geelong and Ballarat"

As the Premier mentioned on Sunday, rail tunnels will be used for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and RFI re-iterated government needs to get it right.

"The major infrastructure needed to provide the Airport Rail Link is likely to include long tunnels and be designed for a useful life of 100 years or more. It is therefore of critical importance that the detail of the new corridor design and operation is right in the first instance."

The Rail Futures Institute advocates for what it has dubbed the AirTrain concept - a dedicated set of tracks linking Southern Cross, Sunshine, Melbourne Airport and in a later, second, phase, linking the airport with the Bendigo and Seymour-Shepparton regional lines.

There would be a dedicated shuttle service operating between Southern Cross, Sunshine and Melbourne Airport and all Bendigo/Echuca/Swan Hill and Seymour/Shepparton V/Line services would run along the route.

Shifting the regional services out of the existing Sunbury and Craigieburn corridors in turn frees up space to allow metro to run even more services on those lines in the long run.

RFI refines its concepts from time to time with the latest depicting three separate tunnels between the City and Melbourne Airport and they have designed track geometry to allow trains to operate at much higher speeds (hence the 15-20 minute journey time).

Travel time to the Airport will be a critical factor in its success. It must be faster than any private car, taxi or bus alternative. Rail Futures is confident that a suitably designed and operated rail corridor can readily achieve travel times in the range of 15 to 20 minutes, inclusive of the Sunshine stop.

Dr Bill Russell, Rail Futures Institute Secretary

After the weekend's announcement on route selection, the Victorian Government added the Melbourne Airport Rail Link to its re-election pitch.  

Routes via Craigieburn, Maribyrnong and Flemington have now been ruled out and the business case for the project will now focus on the route via Sunshine and the government said the business case will be completed in 2019.

As part of the Victorian Government's Regional Rail Revival program, the Ballarat line has come into focus with duplication of track from Deer Park to Melton.  On more than one occasion, the language surrounding the Melton duplication has pointed toward eventual electrification and operations shifting to Metro.

The 'Sunshine super-hub' concept for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link also applies to Melton electrification.  Sunshine station was upgraded as recently as 2014 as part of the Regional Rail Link.

Rail Futures Institute reiterates calls for long-term thinking on Melbourne Airport Rail Link
The Rail Futures Institute's AirTrain concept

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.

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Melbourne Airport Rail Link Melbourne Airport Victorian Election 2018

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Adam Ford's picture
This is a bid by these folks to lock in their larger concept, rather than a consideration of the most cost or network effective way to deliver airport rail. Having the airport as a stop on their fast rail concept would have *some* benefits, sure but scarcely enough to justify all the tunnelling, I'd have thought. So, sorry, RFI. The government won't necessarily be paying for the most costly component of your project today, but nice try.
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ModernBradfield
Shouldn’t the airport tunnel continue under the western side of the airport, under the land intended for a future western terminal complex? The line could then arc around to re-join it’s intended connection towards Seymour and Bendigo.
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