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Victorian Government Announces Business Case for Melbourne Airport Overground Station and New Caylor East Station

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The Victorian Government has announced a business case for a surface station at Melbourne Airport and a new station at Caylor East as part of the Airport Rail Link project.

Transportation Minister Jacinta Allan said the elevated airport station would reduce disruption during the construction phase, speed up construction and save up to $1 billion.

“Cities all over the world have railroads to airports, and now Victoria has railroads,” she said.

A new rail station will also be built as part of the Keilor East project, which Alan said will connect 150,000 people in the area to the rail network.

“We will be connecting to the Victorian rail network for the first time,” she said.

This rail link is designed to take passengers between the airport and the CBD through Melbourne’s western suburbs, with trains running every 10 minutes.

Journey time between airport and CBD is 30 minutes.

The federal and state governments are each committing $5 billion to the project, which is expected to be completed by 2029.

Allan said Wednesday’s business case was in line with the Victorian government’s previous estimate of $8 billion to $13 billion.

Jacinta Allan says an elevated airport station makes the most economic sense.(AAP: Diego Fedel)

She said the rail link will connect to a subway tunnel, which is expected to be completed by 2025, and the existing 30 stations will be “directly connected to Melbourne Airport”.

“The rest of the network is handled by just having about one interchange,” she said.

Allan said the project will provide 8,000 jobs for Victorians during the construction phase.

She said ticket prices have not yet been determined and the business case is using figures from Sydney’s airport link fares.

In this business case, the cost-benefit ratio of the project is estimated at ~$2.10 for every dollar spent.

The SkyBus service, which carries passengers between the airport and Southern Cross Station, will continue to operate after the rail link is completed.

Jay McDermott, head of ground transport at Melbourne Airport, said the airport favored a rail line but preferred a subway station.

“Melbourne Airport’s priorities remain to provide an excellent passenger experience, protect future connectivity and be the metro station of choice for Victoria’s international gateway.

“It is important that the new train station serves all airport users, not just those arriving by train, and that it is a station that every Victorian can be proud of.

“While we will work in good faith with the Government of Victoria to bring this important project to Melbourne, we have not yet agreed on the location and design of the station.”

Allan said both state and federal governments support the ground station.

A map showing trains between Melbourne Airport and the CBD through the Western Suburbs.
The airport rail link connects to the subway tunnel.(victorian government)

A review by the auditor general released Wednesday found the government’s business case “too late to inform major government decisions on the project.”

It also found that the government’s review of alternative options was “not comprehensive enough to give decision makers confidence that appropriate investment options were recommended and selected.”

The government rejected the audit results, which were also critical of the Suburban Railroad Loop project.

“All our projects have had a strenuous and rigorous process,” Allan said.

“In the case of suburban rail loops and airport rail projects, they are large multi-year projects that require an approach appropriate to their size and scale.