Politics

Hooray, Melbourne Might Finally Be Getting An Airport Rail Link

But some people want the Skybus to stay.

Good news for Skybus haters — Melbourne might soon be getting a rail link to the airport!

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced this morning that the Federal government will contribute up to $5 billion, or about half the cost of the project, and has asked the Victorian government to chip in to cover the rest.

There’s no word yet on whether the state government will definitely commit to those terms, but we know they’ve been discussing a rail link for years. At the moment, Melbourne’s only options for getting to the airport are car or the infamous Skybus, which can either be a pleasant air conditioned trip or a hellish never-ending nightmare, depending on who you ask and also the level of traffic.

As Turnbull said this morning, “other great cities, most great cities with big airports, have railway linkages. Melbourne has been left behind by failures to make decisions about investment in this railway.”

There are still a fair few decisions that could fail to be made, though. Once the state government gets on board, they’ll need to agree with the Federal government on a route, of which there are quite a few on the table.

melbourne train airport

Some of the potential routes being considered.

Speaking on 3AW this morning, Turnbull also suggested that construction on any rail link would begin shortly after 2020 at the earliest, meaning there’s still a while to wait.

Weirdly, lots of people seem to be defending the oft-maligned Skybus in the wake of the rail announcement, even saying they’d prefer it. And some of them do have a point — building a priority bus lane for the Skybus would be much, much cheaper than putting in a rail link.

But as Treasurer Scott Morrison said at a press conference this morning, “this is a railway of national significance. This airport is an airport of national significance. And what the Commonwealth is doing, the Turnbull government is doing, is recognising the national significance of this transport link and making it happen”.

It’s significant, you guys. Get on board.