Melbourne’s airport rail another ‘back-to-front’ pork project

Melbourne’s $10 billion airport rail project will reportedly commence construction this year following the belated release of the project’s business case:

Global construction giants have been short-listed to build two key sections of the $10 billion Melbourne Airport Rail Link – including the Tullamarine station.

Federal and State infrastructure ministers have lauded progress being made on the mega project, which means early works can begin later this year.

Before then, a business case backing the link is expected to be released, after it was recently finalised and sent to the federal government…

The shortlisted bidders have been announced despite an ongoing dispute between the state government and the airport about whether a station should be elevated or built below ground…

Passengers have been promised services at least every 10 minutes, with 30-minute trips between the heart of the CBD and the airport.

The lack of business case is a giant red flag. This $10 billion project should have been first subjected to a rigorous business case and cost-benefit analysis before funding was committed, not after the fact. That the reverse is true shows just how busted Australia’s infrastructure system is.

Since the project would stop at existing stations, airport trains would compete with the existing congested commuter network, making them both slow and crowded.

Meanwhile, the existing SkyBus service – which costs taxpayers nothing – already achieves similar travel times at a similar projected ticket cost.

Other than tourists and those living in the CBD, I cannot envisage many locals actually using an airport rail link. Why? Because they would still need to get to the CBD, where the cost of parking is equally exorbitant as the airport. This means passengers would either have to carry luggage on the public transport network, or catch a cab. In which case, why not just go directly to the airport and avoid the changeover hassles?

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. Strange EconomicsMEMBER

    It probably took a while to remove the cost accountants, and instead find some new fresh consultants from the Marvel Movie industry to finally dream up enough benefits to get the cost benefit over 1$ for each $ spent.
    e.g. relaxing trips and traffic-free vibes for pollies to go to Noosa for holidays .must be worth $ 10 million per year, which at 1 % interest rate is worth a billion in benefits..

    Just make Skybus buy electric buses and delete pollution benefits (probably costed at $ 1 billion) from the case.

    Currently they can only fill one 50 person skybus every 15 minutes,
    how are they going to fill a 1000 seat train every 10 minutes?

  2. TheLambKingMEMBER

    Meanwhile, the existing SkyBus service – which costs taxpayers nothing – already achieves similar travel times at a similar projected ticket cost.

    From someone who obviously never uses public transport and has a complete distain for it. Like most rail networks around the world – patronage will increase by 3-5 the amount of people.

    Other than tourists and those living in the CBD, I cannot envisage many locals actually using an airport rail link. Why? Because they would still need to get to the CBD, where the cost of parking is equally exorbitant as the airport. This means passengers would either have to carry luggage on the public transport network, or catch a cab. In which case, why not just go directly to the airport and avoid the changeover hassles?

    From someone who has obviously never traveled in Europe without a car or only experience is a Contiki Tour. Public transport in Europe is full of tourists and locals with luggage (from someone who lived on the Piccadilly Line in London.) People take trains to get to airports!

    Melbourne’s train network is perfect for using to get to Southern Cross then out to the airport with guaranteed frequency and arrival times! The Tulla from about 5pm turns into a car park.

      • TheLambKingMEMBER

        Of course – I too believe there should be business cases, independent analysis and an ‘Infrastructure Australia’ independent oversight of money on big builds stop corruptions and gets value for tax payer dollars.

        But uplifting the rail network to Bendigo/Sunbury, Geelong and Ballarat, joining with Metro tunnel, with a side trip to the Airport is a no-brainer and any consultancy will be able to do a business case for (and no – SkyBus does NOT cut it! Just taking traffic of the Tulla and reducing the need for expansion will pay for it.) Yes, a business case should be compulsory – but there are probably at least 3-5 other historical business cases already. A rail link proposal has been presented every election cycle since the airport was built in 1970 🙂

      • Arthur's Poodle

        It’s cost is nothing compared to the waste of Job Keeper, Negative Gearing, Snowy Hydro Mk2, the privatisation of the Australian Electricity System, Manis Island Refugee Detention, the Tiger Attack Helicopters, the Karman Anti Submarine Helicopters, East Link, the gifts to TransUrban, the Gas Cartel, etc, etc, etc.

        At the end of it there will be a tangible asset that will serve millions of trips, along with the citizens of Melbourne for at least 100 years. (Even if Air Travel stops it will still serve Melbourne’s NW corridor.)

        Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Just flaming build it!

        Edit: Cross Melbourne rail is flipping awesome too!

    • AdrienneMEMBER

      It does continue to shock me that somebody with presumably Dutch heritage has such disdain for anything that isn’t sparse density urban living and transport that isn’t the automobile.

      • Yeah, cause demanding proper business cases and due diligence before projects are announced is so irresponsible of me?
        What is it about the word “rail” that makes people lose all analytical capability?

  3. Camden HavenMEMBER

    Won’t happen, in fact no infrastructure for Victoria for another 20 years