6. Regional and global transport connections

Melbourne will have fast and direct connections to Australia's network of major cities and global cities in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. Very high-speed business and tourist passenger transport will connect Melbourne to the eastern seaboards region (including Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra). This connectivity is essential for the future prosperity and global competitiveness of Melbourne, Victoria and Australia.

International air travel

In global terms Melbourne is a remote city. Direct air travel connections between Melbourne and other cities around the world are critical for Melbourne to remain a global city of standing and enhancing our standing in the future. This, in turn, is critical for Melbourne's prosperity.

Melbourne Airport is Australia’s second busiest passenger airport, and is the main aviation hub for the southern part of the continent. Unlike Sydney Airport, Melbourne's airport is free of curfews. Current growth forecasts (2007 to 2027) predict international passenger numbers will increase from 4.53 million to between 9.3 and 12.3 million, while domestic passenger numbers will increase from 17.77 million passengers to between 34.6 million and 42.6 million. Significant expansion is planned for Melbourne Airport.1

A major challenge emerging for all Australian cities is the likely, permanent and steep increase in the cost of aviation fuel. This is mainly due to oil shortage but, is also compounded by taxes on greenhouse gas emissions. Currently no viable solutions to this challenge have been identified.2 Developing Melbourne as an Online City with a workforce proficient in online culture, underpinned by state of the art telecommunications infrastructure, could be an important part of the solution.

Building and eastern seaboard multi city region

Some analysts such as Richard Florida3 argue that multi-city regions rather than individual cities are the future economic powerhouses of the world.4 Australian cities are very dispersed and the eastern seaboard region of Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney-Brisbane is highly dependent of very fast intercity travel to make it function as an economic region.

The Sydney-Melbourne air route is the fourth busiest air service in the world, with 851 flights every week5 with a CBD to CBD travel time of about 3 hours. During the last two decades, international and regional air travel has become much cheaper and therefore more popular. In the case of domestic trips, air travel costs compare favourably to the cost of road and rail options - with a much shorter travel time. As with international travel predicted rising fuel costs are also a major challenge for cheap domestic intercity air travel.6

Fast public transport links between airports and the central city

The Municipality of Melbourne is a major end-destination for many passengers from Melbourne Airport. Most trips to and from the airport to the central city are made by private car, taxi or hire car, supplemented by commercial shuttle bus. All journeys use the CityLink tollway. For attractive central city travel, particularly for business trips, the overall CBD to CBD trip time must be as short as possible, therefore airport-to-CBD links must be fast and efficient.

Projected increases in demand means serious reconsideration of the proposed fast airport rail link is required. The proposal in 2000 for the airport rail link (Albion route) is now due for review.

Very high-speed train inter-city service

Travel demand between Melbourne and Sydney is very high and growing. Sydney is confronting significant urban constraints on its airport capacity growth, while all air operators face costs due to rising oil prices. A very high-speed train(VHST) could service a significant proportion of the travel demand between Sydney and Melbourne with a direct CBD to CBD service, and also provide regional centres with better access to capital cities. It is timely for a serious re-consideration of this option.

A very high speed train travels at 350km per hour (or faster), using purpose-built tracks and is powered by electricity. The Japanese Shinkansen (bullet trains) and the French TGV are very high speed trains. The deployment of these trains is now widespread across the globe and growing rapidly.789 While high speed rail systems focus on passenger movement, they are being used increasingly for freight and this use is projected to grow in the future.

A very high speed train service provides direct CBD to CBD intercity connections. The Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane routes would be each within three hours travel. Experience from France is that, in the high speed train and domestic air travel mix, the trains capture 90 per cent market share for journeys of two hours; 66 per cent at three hours; and 45 per cent at four hours and for leisure travel the trains capture a significant share on journeys up to six hours.10 With high speed trains, travel on capital city routes would be much more energy efficient11 and emit up to 70 times less carbon dioxide emissions than air travel.12 Another significant benfit is that very high speed rail systems also carry freight.

A very high speed train service could operate directly out of Melbourne's central city, enhancing Melbourne's connectivity to Canberra and Sydney, increase tourism and provide better access for skilled workers who may commute from longer distances.13 Importantly for the future, these trains are far less vulnerable to rising costs from oil prices and a lower carbon economy than alternative modes.

Victorian regional rail links

Melbourne needs to provide easy access transport connections to the rest of Victoria as well as southern Australia. The Victorian Government's recent Regional Fast Rail project has significantly upgraded the speed of trains, up to 160 km per hour, reduced travel times and extended the network and hours of operation of the services between Central Melbourne and regional cities.

Melbourne's interstate and regional road connections

Freeway-standard road links have been completed from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley to central Melbourne. National Highway bypass projects are planned for the Goulburn Valley Highway (Murchison East) and the Hume Highway (Albury-Wodonga). Melbourne has many excellent road links with major country centres and with Sydney and Canberra.

A range of regional and interstate coach lines that service Melbourne operate (mostly) from Southern Cross Station. Tour and charter coach services also operate in the City of Melbourne. Coach parking is a major problem in the central city and this is discouraging operators from servicing city locations and increasing traffic congestion.

Goals Indicators Outcomes

Maintain international visitations to Melbourne

Ensure transport infrastructure maintains the capacity for attractive and affordable international visits.

International visitors per year compared to other global cities.

Target: Indicator to be developed.

Current: Indicator to be developed.

Melbourne and in particular central Melbourne retains its role as a global city.
Affordable very high speed CBD to CBD inter-city travel

Ensure that very high speed and affordable travel between the central city areas of major cities, in the eastern seaboard region and nationally, is maintained.

Very high speed CBD to CBD passenger trips between Melbourne and other major Australian cities.

Target: Indicator to be developed.

Current: Indicator to be developed.

Melbourne is connected into the eastern seaboard economic region.

Integrated central city coach terminal

Integrate regional, interstate, airport shuttle and tourist coaches in the central city to maximise mode transfer convenience and minimise the impact of large buses on the central city streets.

Number of separate coach stops/terminals.

Current: Indicator to be developed.

Efficient passenger transfers between modes promoting the convenience of public transport and minimising the impact of buses on city streets.

See Also

Melbourne-Sydney very fast train tops wish list for Rudd Government -, By Peter Veness, AAP. December 20, 2008

A Report to the Council of Australian Governments, December 2008 - Infrastructure Australia, Australian Government


1 : Melbourne Airport Master Plan - Melbourne Airport 2008. P34.

2 : The Airlines' Green Flights of Fancy. George Monbiot Interviews Andy Harrison, Cheif Executive of EasyJet. The Guardian 14 January 2009

3 : Who's Your City - Richard Florida. Random House 2008

4 : High-speed rail links urged for Ontario Economic success depends on network, report says. Ontario Star Dec 20, 2008

5 : Worlds busiest passenger air routes. - Wikipedia

6 : Could climate goals survive Heathrow's third runway? Robin McKie, science editor, The Observer UK Sunday 21 December 2008

7 : California High Speed Rail Authority - Official Website

8 : New Very High Speed Train...

9 : Spains High Speed Trains Win Over Fed Up Flyers. Giles Tremlett, The Guardian 13 January 2009

10 : High Speed Rail for Australia, An Opportunity for the 21st Century. A submission by the Canberra Business Council. April 2008.P 4.

11 : High Speed Rail for Australia, An Opportunity for the 21st Century. A submission by the Canberra Business Council. April 2008.P 5 and 6.

12 : The AGV: clean and energy-efficient. Alstom Transport website

13 : East Coast Very High Speed Train Scoping Study - The Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. October 2006 .

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