RFI Media Release on Federal Government’s Melbourne Airport Commitment

Rail Futures
Institute Inc No. A0059839B

Media release April 13, 2018: for immediate release

Melbourne Airport rail link must serve all Victorians

Advocacy group Rail Futures Institute has welcomed the Federal Government’s $5 billion commitment towards building a Melbourne Airport rail link but warns that the project should enable faster airport access for all Victorians, including residents of regional Victoria.

None of the four route options for an airport rail link presented following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s April 12 announcement includes connections from the airport to regional rail services, and one option suggests running airport trains on the slow and congested Craigieburn metropolitan line, which already carries frequent suburban services and V/Line and freight trains on the Shepparton and Seymour corridors.

Another of the four options – a direct tunnel link passing underneath and including a station at the Commonwealth-owned former Defence complex at Maribyrnong – could see the project delayed many years due to the need to rehabilitate this contaminated site and restore heritage-listed buildings. All four options include at least four stations between the airport and the Melbourne CBD, resulting in slow services that will not be competitive with taxis or bus services, or attractive to international visitors.

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. Rail Futures President John Hearsch said overseas experience showed that the best airport railways are those providing fast, direct services between an airport and the major cities they serve.

“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.”

Media enquiries: John Hearsch, Rail Futures Institute President phone 0419 736 816

Further details are contained in our InterCity report – see www.railfutures.org.au