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Melbourne Airport train to include elevated ‘sky rail’

written by Adam Thorn | December 29, 2020

Melbourne Airport’s $10 billion airport rail link will include long stretches of ‘sky rail’ through the city’s north-western suburbs.

The Victorian government has confirmed the elevated sections will run through Sunshine North, Keilor East and Airport West, while the wider line itself will require homes to be purchased.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in November they were committing $5 billion each to the project, which is due to be completed in 2029.

Victorian Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said, “There is a massive amount of engineering work to go through and there are options that look at elevated rail particularly over the parts of the network that go over parts of the Maribyrnong River.

“With every project, big and small, where there may be acquisitions required, we work very, very hard to minimise the number of properties that need to be acquired.”


“A project of this size and scale will go through an extensive design and consultation process.”

Shadow transport infrastructure minister David Davis has labelled the project the “slow train” because the 30-minute transfer time is slower than the current bus link’s 22 minutes.

“The market-led proposal that the government seems to have rejected would have added new and additional capacity in the form of tunnels,” Davis said.

“Those that would have come in from Melton, Ballarat and Bendigo will have capacity taken from their lines to substitute for the Melbourne Airport Line.”

Davis was referring to the state and federal government rejecting earlier plans for a six-kilometre, $5 billion rail tunnel between the city and West Footscray, proposed by a private consortium.

The approved six-kilometre line will, however, depart at 10-minute intervals.

The rail line will operate new ‘High Capacity Metro Trains’ and the existing SkyBus service will also be maintained.

The final route will see a fresh track run from the airport to Sunshine and then continue beneath the city via the $11 billion Metro Tunnel before continuing onwards to the south-eastern suburbs via the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.

Travellers on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, will be able to travel to the airport directly, while other metro lines will require one swap inside the tunnel which is due to be completed by 2025.

A new exchange at Sunshine, meanwhile, will connect Geelong passengers in an hour, Ballarat in 90 minutes and Bendigo in two hours.

“This has been talked about for decades,” Premier Andrews said at its unveiling. “The fact that it’s going to become a reality because of our partnership is a proud moment and a very important moment.

“You are getting to the centre of Melbourne quicker, you are using a service that isn’t available now and going where you want to go, rather than everybody having to hub through Southern Cross Station.”

PM Morrison added that international travellers have an “expectation of world-class cities that such infrastructure would be in place”.

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Comments (8)

  • Adrian P


    Skybus Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to Airport 35 minutes

    Bus Shuttle Ballarat to Airport 1 hour 30 minutes

    Bus Shuttle Bendigo to Airport 2 hours 15 minutes

    So the benefit is what?

    ‘High Capacity Metro Trains’ are high capacity because most passengers are required to stand and do not take into account baggage.

    If it s dangerous to sit in the back of a ute or not wear a seat belt in a 40 km zone, then why is it safe to stand on a train travelling at over 100km?

    • Patrickk


      Adrian, most people going to Melbourne don’t go to southern cross they go into town, factor that in an there is a huge savings in time. Not to mention Geelong. Most passengers boarding at the airport won’t have to stand as it is an end of line stop. Most airports around the world and all in Australia have similar arrangements. Outside Australia the Heathrow express is outrageously expensive so people take the commuter tube and the Hong Kong one is to get people to a very large remote airport.

  • Paule


    So we’re getting a Piccadilly Tube style connection instead of the gold standard Hong Kong rail option. Not only is this the inferior option, it’s NOT convenient for people on lines from the eastern suburbs (eg: Box Hill & Heidelberg). Where do they change trains?
    Importantly, this option is going to impact on the capacity of the new Metro line servicing the new connection between Sunbury and Dandenong.

  • David Heath


    I’ve always said that there should be a new underground platform at Spencer Street Station with airline check-in facilities. The train should run underground to a point just past the Queen Victoria Markets then skyrail along Flemmington Road and the Tullamarine facility.

    EVERY airport rail system that was integrated with the suburban system has failed to deliver on all promises.

  • Patrickk


    David not sure ‘every airport system integrated to local rail have failed to deliver’. I’ve tried, in no particular order, New York JFK, la Guardia (city bus), Paris (both) London (tube), Sydney, Brisbane, Tokyo, Seoul, Milan, Istanbul, and a few others and they all worked fine.

  • LC KoolG


    The new rail line will cost 20 billion dollars.
    There are no time savings.
    The majority of airline travellers do not go to the CBD.
    The Bendigo line could have been diverted after Clarkfield and Northern lines diverted before Craigeburn to run through the proposed Airport terminal. Anyone who has been to CDG or Amsterdam knows the benefits of extending rail into the countryside. Another strategic blunder.

  • Peter


    There is a choice of standard gauge and 5ft3in between Spencer St and Airport West. This exists now.

  • Brian


    Regardless of which route is taken, I’m just grateful that I can board a train, let someone else do the driving, and to not have to pay exorbitant parking fees.

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