Frequently asked questions
What is Melbourne Airport Rail?
Melbourne Airport Rail is a transformational public transport project that will deliver a rail connection to Melbourne Airport for the first time.
It will provide a viable, reliable and much-needed alternative to road travel, bringing an airport rail connection to Melbourne in line with other cities across Australia and around the world.
What is the Melbourne Airport Rail route?
Melbourne Airport Rail will run from a new premium station at Melbourne Airport, via Sunshine and Footscray stations and into the heart of the CBD through the Metro Tunnel.
New dedicated tracks will be constructed along the existing Albion-Jacana freight corridor between Sunshine and Airport West. The tracks will divert off the freight corridor crossing the M80 freeway and head towards the airport following Airport Drive, before arriving at a premium station at Melbourne Airport.
Concept designs for key locations along the Melbourne Airport Rail route were released in June 2021.
Why is this route the best option?
This route delivers the best connections from Melbourne Airport to the regions and suburbs for all Victorians, getting people to where they want to go with easy transfers to all regional lines and direct trips into the heart of the CBD in around 30 minutes.
What are you building as part of the project?
Proposed scope as part of Melbourne Airport Rail includes:
- new dedicated tracks for airport services along the existing Albion-Jacana freight corridor between Sunshine and Airport West.
- major works at Sunshine Station, including a new, accessible second pedestrian concourse with escalators and lifts for better passenger connections between regional, metropolitan and Melbourne Airport trains
- track reconfiguration including new tracks rising over Anderson Road through to the start of the Albion-Jacana corridor, elevating the rail line over the Sunbury corridor, Ballarat Road and St Albans Road
- a new forecourt area, extra bike cages and some minor modifications to car parking around Albion Station
- a new rail bridge to cross over the Maribyrnong River alongside the existing heritage bridge
- a new rail bridge to cross over the Western Ring Road (M80)
- a new premium station at Melbourne Airportchanges to existing road bridges, pedestrian connections and other rail infrastructure upgrades – such as new signalling and power systems – along the length of the route.
We’ve released concept designs to show what the project might look like at key locations along the Melbourne Airport Rail route
We’re continuing to refine reference designs for these locations and others along the route, with specific details and project scope to be finalised once works contracts are awarded.
What are you delivering at Sunshine Station?
Sunshine Station is already an important interchange and will become a transport superhub in Melbourne’s west, as a key connection point for metropolitan, regional and airport services.
Melbourne Airport Rail’s improvements to Sunshine Station are just one part of a broader focus on planning for the wider Sunshine transport precinct, through the delivery of projects including Melbourne Airport Rail, the Metro Tunnel, Sunbury Line Upgrade and Suburban Rail Loop.
Rail Projects Victoria is continuing to work with the Department of Transport and other stakeholders on this important precinct planning work. Read more about the Sunshine Station masterplan.
Why aren’t you rebuilding or providing airport services to Albion Station?
Melbourne Airport Rail services won't stop at Albion Station. This decision takes several factors into consideration including travel times and expected patronage demand.
As part of the project, the precinct surrounding Albion Station will benefit from a new forecourt area, extra bike cages and some minor modifications to car parking. These works do not preclude future upgrades to Albion Station.
What work are you doing at Melbourne Airport?
Melbourne Airport is an incredibly busy thoroughfare, and the design of Melbourne Airport Rail, including a new station at the airport, has to consider a range of existing infrastructure and any future expansion plans of airport owners APAM.
Now that we’ve confirmed the Melbourne Airport Rail route between Sunshine and the CBD via the Metro Tunnel, we’re entering into more detailed discussions with key stakeholders – including APAM – to come up with the best design and determine the exact location for the new train station at Melbourne Airport.
The area from Sharps Road to Melbourne Airport is on Commonwealth land and subject to separate planning approvals processes.
The new station will accommodate a future connection with Suburban Rail Loop services.
Will you be building an additional station between Sunshine and Melbourne Airport?
There are several factors that need to be carefully considered regarding the creation of additional stations as part of this project or into the future such as location, impact on travel time, scope of works, expected patronage and construction cost.
At this stage, an additional station is not within the Melbourne Airport Rail scope. We’ll keep the community updated if this approach changes.
Will you be acquiring any land as part of this project?
Some land acquisition will be required for the construction and future operation of Melbourne Airport Rail. At this stage we expect this to be limited to commercial properties only.
There is a Public Acquisition Overlay (PAO 7) in place in areas between Tullamarine and Sunshine to reserve land for a rail line – this was put in place in 2005, when landowners and tenants were notified of a possible future acquisition.
There is still a considerable amount of design work to do to finalise land impacts, including identifying properties required under the PAO, whether additional land outside the PAO areas will be required and whether properties are required permanently or temporarily as part of the project.
RPV is committed to working closely with impacted landowners and tenants to keep them informed as planning progresses.
How much will it cost to build?
The Victorian and Australian governments have committed $5 billion each to the project to date.
We expect the project to cost between $8-13 billion – this is consistent with the figure outlined in the Sunshine Route Strategic Appraisal. The final project budget will be confirmed once all major contracts are awarded.
Who will build it?
Melbourne Airport Rail is a massive engineering project and informed by feedback from the industry, it is proposed to divide works up into several packages to provide more opportunities to different contractors.
The first of these packages to go out to market covers works within the Sunshine/Albion area along the existing rail corridor including the improvements to Sunshine Station and building new twin tracks dedicated to Melbourne Airport Rail.
Further work is continuing to refine the exact scope and timing involved in each of the remaining packages of work. Rail Projects Victoria will run a robust and thorough tender process prior to awarding any delivery contracts for the project.
How often will airport services run?
Melbourne Airport Rail services will run every 10 minutes, which equates to six services per hour with seamless travel to the heart of Melbourne’s CBD in around 30 minutes.
What trains will be used?
Melbourne Airport Rail will use the new fleet of High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMTs). The HCMTs will be the most modern, highest capacity and passenger friendly trains operating on the Victorian network. These bigger and better trains will have more carriages, better accessibility features, more hand-holds and more space than existing trains.
How will regional passengers benefit?
Passengers on the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland lines will be able to access Melbourne Airport with only one transport interchange.
Melbourne Airport Rail trains will stop at Sunshine Station, connecting passengers from the key western regional centres of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo. Running trains through the Metro Tunnel provides a direct connection to the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines allowing Gippsland passengers to access airport services through one interchange on that line.
When will construction start?
Construction will begin in 2022 with a target opening date for Melbourne Airport Rail services of 2029, subject to relevant Victorian and Federal planning, environmental and other government approvals. View our project timeline.
What happens from here?
We’re continuing to progress with detailed planning work for the project including site investigations, refining the reference design, consulting with key stakeholders and the community, working through the necessary statutory approvals and refining our procurement approach to deliver Melbourne Airport Rail.