So finally there’s a a firm plan for airport rail, thanks to combined State and Federal funding just announced.
- Age: Melbourne Airport trains will run through the Metro tunnel every 10 minutes
- Herald Sun: A deal has finally been struck for Victoria’s airport rail link – here’s how it’ll work
- Airport trains to run via the Metro tunnel to Cranbourne/Pakenham
- Travel time from Town Hall to Airport of under half an hour
- One seat ride from the centre of the CBD, Parkville, and dozens of stations in the southeast
- Interchange to every other Metro line, at Footscray, Melbourne Central/State Library, Flinders Street/Town Hall or Caulfield
- Interchange to V/Line at Sunshine, Footscray (for some Geelong, see below) or Flinders Street/Town Hall
- 6 trains per hour (joining up to 12 per hour on the Sunbury line, leaving capacity for at least another 6 to other destinations such as a future electrified Melton line)
- Premium fare, similar to Skybus now, but paid via Myki
This looks pretty good to me – with a possible caveat on the fare – depends how high it is. Currently Skybus is really expensive if travelling in a group. (There’s hints of discounts for airport workers. This is definitely needed.)
While some want a dedicated tunnel all the way to the City, you don’t build dedicated tunnels for a measly 6 trains per hour and expect it to be affordable. This option gets the Airport connection built – and it doesn’t preclude Sunshine to City express upgrades later.
Airport to Sunshine 11 mins, Footscray 18 mins, Parkville 24 mins, Town Hall 29 mins, Anzac 32 mins, Caulfield 42 mins, with trains running all the way to Cranbourne/Pakenham.— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) November 20, 2020
Many of these travel times are very competitive with car/taxi. https://t.co/E2NAhdcjU2
I’m told data from Melbourne Airport says that well over 90% of airport users are travelling to/from home, so having one or two seat rides from more parts of the rail network is definitely beneficial, even if the trip to the CBD is a little longer than expected.
Travel times will be more reliable, of course, and capacity will be a huge boost over Skybus, particularly as airport peaks are often different to CBD commuter peaks.
Geelong express route
Also just announced: Geelong line upgrades.
- They’ll straighten the alignment and add express track from Werribee to Laverton
- Some Geelong trains to run via Newport, reaching the City in about 50 minutes. Some trains will continue via Sunshine.
- This allows more trains to serve Tarneit and Wyndham Vale, as well as potentially the Ballarat and Bendigo lines
The question might be how capacity from Newport to the City shapes up. There’s space for a few more trains in peak, but with the level crossings on the route (none currently slated for removal) and junctions at Newport and around Southern Cross, there might be some capacity challenges.
I’m told this project should be considered the first stage of upgrades for Geelong. Later stages would be aimed at further boosting capacity and reducing travel times, and could include upgrades to the Geelong to Werribee stretch, and potentially ultimately building Metro 2 to run (electrified) Geelong and Werribee trains direct into the City via Fishermans Bend.
Just as with SRL this project makes the case more compelling for better local and rail feeder bus services around Geelong.
Both projects are expected to be completed around 2029, though the government hopes it may be a bit quicker than that.
As I write this on Friday night, the Government statements aren’t out yet. I’ll link to them when they’re published and may add more details as I get them.
It’s great to see both these projects getting the go-ahead. Exciting times ahead.
Update: The official media releases have now been published
Update: It’s not actually confirmed that the Geelong line will get two extra tracks. After others noticed how vague the published information is, I asked and they actually have yet to reach a decision on whether it’s one extra track (for peak direction only) or two tracks. It would seem logical to do two if possible, because there is a fair bit of counter-peak commuting, though of course they also have the tracks via Wyndham Vale, and V/Line at least for now, remains overall a very tidal service.
Update Sunday: More reading: