Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Airport Link

Wouldn't a train to the airport be a marvellous thing for us Melburnians? I reckon so and it is absurd that we don't have one already.

But would I use it? Let us assume R and I are paying full fare and I don't consider Skybus a serious competitor against us getting a taxi. A taxi costs about $65 and gets us to the airport in less than half an hour.

If our airport train was to be similarly priced to Sydney's and Brisbane's, then to catch an airport train from the city to the airport would cost around $15 each, plus a two hour ticket tram ticket each and we are nearly at $20 each, $40 for both of us as against adding another $12 each and getting a taxi. So, price is not going to convince me.

If I have an appointment in the city, I allow half an hour to get there by tram. This covers me because if the tram and bus service completely fail, I can walk to the city in this time, obviously depending on where I need to be in the city. I would add another 15 minutes to get to Southern Cross Station.

So, there is 45 minutes and it would be hoped the train would get us to the airport in less than 15 minutes, but you need to factor in waiting time for the train too, maybe 15 minutes.

So, in total one hour and fifteen minutes as against thirty minutes in a taxi. And don't forget about hauling cases on and off trams and trains.

It really doesn't look terribly viable for us to use the much longed for airport train.

Unless, the line was was incorporated into the proposed Footscray to Caulfield rail tunnel. It would mean a five minute walk to the Domain Interchange and hop on a train that takes us directly to the airport, or even with one convenient change along the way. That would be so convenient, I wouldn't care how much it cost.

I wrote this Tuesday morning and co-incidentally, a Crikey writer published this afternoon.


  1. I can see your maths... but also the traffic. I use the Tullamarine Freeway pretty often en route from Melbourne to Lockwood and have seen a few near misses when drivers, making their once every ten years trip to the airport become disoriented and suddenly realise they have to cross four lanes to the airport turnoff about 100 metres away. All with traffic thundering down upon them at 100k. The traffic flow is better than it was a few years ago when the road people altered the geography of the road thus putting the turn-off onto the right side lanes from the left hand side. We saw the aftermath shortly after the new turnoff opened when one poor soul was collected after she slowed down to cross to where she wanted to go after realising things had changed. At least that is the hypothesis... Not to mention parking, people everywhere etc. It's almost at capacity now.

  2. Hello Andrew:
    As you may imagine we have absolutely not a clue about Australian transport systems, but what we do know is that we love to travel by train. Sadly, it is so often prohibitively expensive to use the train as opposed to any alternative. Nevertheless, we have goosebumps just thinking about the overnight train from Budapest to Venice ....such a romantic way to travel.....!!

  3. Christine, the change from exiting on the left for the airport to the right nearly caught me out the first time I drove on the road after the change. But people need to concentrate and read the signs and I confess I wasn't that day but something clicked in my head before it was too late. We were at the airport three times in January. It was not a pleasant experience and an expensive one.

    JayLa, I am envious of the wonderful train trips available to you. We pre bought our train tickets for travel from London to the north, but I was astonished at the price if you want to travel on the day, or even booking the day before. It was nearly £100 one way.

  4. Good points. I have found travelling round the world that once there is more than one of you often a taxi is better value (or a similar car service). Though maybe with the exception of places like London where you can end up stuck in traffic and where there are several train options.

    I can't see potential ticket prices being much less than $20 when you consider skybus cost and other airport trains.

  5. A train does sound like a good idea, but may potential problems would have to be ironed out.
    Here in Adelaide it just wouldn't work. The train lines don't go anywhere near the airport and many suburbs don't have rail service. Interstate trains arrive and leave from Keswick Station, miles out of the city and not going anywhere near the airport, the city train station has trains going to several outer suburbs, but not inner suburbs, so getting to the airport is easier by bus or taxi. If you drive and park there, the fees are horrendous.

  6. Katya, taxi is certainly the best option in Sydney for two people. We did catch the train, because we could and had the time. I feel very conflicted about the Melbourne airport train.

    Fen, you being younger, will have much longer to dream about it than I will.

    River, I have heard the bus service to your airport is very good and I can see a train is not required, but hey, in the future...
    Where the eff is Keswick where you catch a country train. How do you get there from the city? I will look it up. Adelaide's station is now a casino, not for trains.

  7. Well, most of the comments on the Crikey article are way over my head, but I've never let something like that stop me from sounding off:
    When I first moved back to Melb I was a pest on the freeways because the signs are downright pathetic. I imagine that plenty of country people travel to the airport via freeways - precisely because the alternatives are ludicrous. The signs could be a lot more considered, and the whole state deserves more consideration in metro transport planning.

    I've taken a taxi once in about 30 years, and I won't bother again unless my life depends on it.

    I think Barry Jones made a point 30 or so years ago that we are insanely obsessed with building freeways for vehicles using fossil fuels, given that we know the supply is finite.
    We are rarely morally outraged enough to take up arms unless an international hot spot is connected to an oil supply. So for reasons ranging from pollution to world peace we should be planning now for "then".
    Biofuels are not yet viable as a widespread alternative to fossil fuels and, in any case, it's insane to just keep expanding the number of lanes on freeways.

    I've never tried Skybus because the freeways are often a carpark - even driving I have to allow 2 hours "in case".
    Every time something is privatised it's an expensive SNAFU at both ends - development and delivery stages, and it's time we stopped kidding ourselves privatisation is a way to get out of paying for something ourselves.

    "User pays" theories are usually silly - The one thing we can't measure in dollar terms is public good. Less pollution, less congestion, fewer cars, less stress... An alternative to Skybus should be planned as a complement to a larger and more visionary plan, not just for its own sake.

    Oh, and just to complicate things, soon visitors to Melbourne will need to buy a Myki card before they pay for their fare. Duh.

  8. Good stuff FruitCake. I do like the idea of a visionary plan, rather than patchwork catch up they we do. I am sure the guv will come up with something for casual users of our transport system, although at $6 for a Myki card, maybe that might do? No, not really.

  9. Keswick is out of Adelaide along Anzac Highway at the junction where Greenhill Road becomes Richmond Road. Near the Keswick Military Barracks.
    The city station is still there, under the casino, with lines out to Port Adelaide, Semaphore, Outer Harbor etc and more lines connecting or going through the Keswick terminal down to the southern suburbs, branching off in several directions.

  10. I've never had a good look at Adelaide's trains River, but I will. Thanks for the explanation.