Monday, 14 April 2014

A train to the Airport

Well, we've had an announcement that there's going to be an announcement about a rail link to the airport. It's all vague at this stage, but we keep reading that lots of Melbournians want a train to the airport - and there's an election coming later this year!   Daniel Bowen was quick off the mark with his as-ever sensible comments (although that's not to say I agree with everything he says) 

Yes, a rail link would be nice, but, really, is this the best use of our urban transportation dollars? 

The starting point has to be the existing Skybus service.   Unfortunately, it isn't perfect, especially when compared to services such as Narita airport's "Limousine Bus".   We haven't been to Tokyo for some years, but when we did, there was an counter inside the terminal with helpful staff to assist (instead of a booth outside on the pavement), and you were allocated a set departure time for a bus service that often took you directly to the part of town where you wanted to be (including a number of major hotels).  

Wouldn't fixing up Skybus be a lot cheaper than a new rail line?  Crikey thinks so.  Additional buses could add to the frequency and if there are delays at certain times of the day at the airport end of the freeway (which I'm told is the case), then a dedicated roadway (elevated if necessary) for buses as they neared the airport would be a lot cheaper than a rail line (even if it's now going to be elevated instead of underground).

Yes, Skybus costs $18 one-way (cheaper if you buy a return ticket).   But does anyone seriously think that there wouldn't be a premium charged at an airport railway station?   And let's not forget that the basic Heathrow Express fare is now £21.

Skybus operates 24 hours a day.  Would a train do that?   Further, Skybus is door to door (via a connecting shuttle) if staying in the city (6am - 10.30pm Mon - Fri and 7.30am - 5.30pm weekends).

Another issue in relation to a train is the route.   Public Transport Victoria has recommended the so-called Albion East route - but in their report it was integrated with the Metro tunnel, and there's no sign of that happening.   It now seems that this isn't a requirement (and in fact, my hunch is that an airport rail link is likely to squeeze out funding for the Metro proposal).  Perhaps we'll end up with a service into Southern Cross via the new regional rail tracks.  A 10 minute frequency to the airport would run the risk of creating congestion on this line, although Daniel Bowen seems relaxed about this.

At least the proposal for a monorail that briefly flickered across our TV screens a little while back seems to have flamed out.  Hopefully we've heard the last of this.

No comments:

Post a Comment