AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Time for Melbourne airport rail link

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> An urban economist has called for a new study into the feasibility of an airport rail link for Melbourne. </span> <p>By Sean Stephens*</p><p>Melbourne’s ability to create a first class airport with excellent rail access direct to the CBD is achievable with most of the required infrastructure sitting just outside Melbourne Airport’s doorstep.</p><p>Rail is a clean, safe, efficient and green option. It is clear why many passengers in other global cities use rail as their preferred choice of travel to and from the airport.</p><p>A rail link that transports air travellers, workers and other airport users would be an important step in confirming Melbourne’s status as a genuine global city, and the State Government should urgently reconsider the project now.</p><p>The 2001 Booz Allen Hamilton study forecasting patronage for a potential airport rail link is now outdated in terms of expected patronage and current global trends.</p><p>The government’s decision not to build a rail line for airport commuters is based on outdated information. Since the rail link was cancelled in 2002, Melbourne Airport has seen airport passenger growth of 40%. We simply need to provide infrastructure that keeps up with this demand.</p><p><strong>Regional Rail Link extension</strong><br />The&nbspVictorian Government should consider extending the $4.3bn 50km Regional Rail Link in Melbourne’s west – that’s still in early stages of planning – to Melbourne airport.<br />This would see a 15km rail extension from the CBD directly to the airport’s Tullamarine terminal from Sunshine railway station, with 9km of this using an existing rail corridor and additional stops at major stations along the potential route.<br />This route was preferred in previous analysis undertaken for a potential airport rail link.</p><p><strong>Cost effective</strong><br />The airport link would alleviate pressure on the freeway system upon which access to airport almost exclusively relies, and would be a cost effective method of transport for many travellers.</p><p>Currently, Melbourne airport users are paying costs for car, taxi and SkyBus access which are well above virtually all comparable global cities which provide an airport rail link.</p><p>The current cost of one-way transport to the airport includes taxi for $50, two-day car parking for $40 and the SkyBus for $16 – the most cost effective of all three methods.</p><p>There are only three global cities which travel fares are more expensive than Melbourne’s SkyBus, including Milan for AUD$16.20, Tokyo for AUD$20.10 and Stockholm for AUD$29.50.</p><p>Travellers are sick of paying through the nose to get to the airport where their parking or cab fare can cost more than their interstate ticket.</p><p>Many global cities offer inexpensive fares for its airport commuters. A one-way adult airport rail fare costs as little as AUD$0.30 in Mexico City and $1 in Istanbul.</p><p>The government needs to use the Regional Rail Link as an opportunity to consider the real needs of air travellers and create an airport link – a fundamental transport link for most major global cities.</p><p>Other alternative transport concepts either under consideration or in progress did not offer the genuine improvements in accessibility and value-for-money for airport users that rail infrastructure would provide.</p><p>The government’s proposal to widen the Tullamarine Freeway again from four lanes to six between Western Ring Road and the airport is an expensive option which does nothing to provide airport users with genuine choice and the ability to bypass congested road links.</p><p>Freeway expansion is not a long-term solution and will only alleviate Melbourne Airport’s traffic congestion problems in the short-term, if at all.</p><p>The Regional Rail Link project has the potential to significantly reduce the up-front costs of delivering an airport rail link to Melbourne relative to previous rail link schemes considered for Melbourne Airport. It makes sense to leverage off this committed investment.</p><p><strong>To Read Part Two of this story, click <a href="">here.</a><br /></strong></p><p>*Sean Stephens is an urban economist at Essential Economics: <a target="_blank" href=""></a></p><p><br />&nbsp</p>