There’s some interesting stuff in this new Inside Infrastructure podcast with Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus.
I’ll forgive the trio of out-of-towners for not knowing the name of Melbourne’s most popular street directory, the Melway. (Gregory’s? Puh-leeze.)
But apart from that, a couple of interesting things grabbed me…
Firstly, about 400 people work for the airport, but 20,000 people work at the airport.
20,000 people makes the Airport a significant employment precinct – and presumably there are many more people working in the surrounding area. In the podcast they don’t specifically talk about the rail link, but this is is one reason why it’s important – it’s not just for air travellers.
Argus also talks about how traveller traffic through the airport is recovering – recent numbers say there are now 30.7 million passengers per year (an average of 84,337 per day, likely higher on weekdays, lower on weekends). This puts it at 82% of the 37.4 million in 2018-19, pre-COVID.
And the rail link is doubly important for the Keilor East station that will serve local residents who currently don’t have rail access.
Secondly, Argus talks a bit about the future development of the airport, including the new runway and the prospect of a new terminal across the tarmac from the existing ones.
This explains why the Airport is very keen on a railway station being underneath the existing terminals, not above ground level where the line would have to terminate, with no chance of later extension.
Underground also means a quicker more seamless change from train to plane and vice versa.
The whole project (including upgrades at Albion and Sunshine*) is currently paused pending a Federal review of infrastructure priorities. Let’s hope it gets the nod soon and continues.
Worth a listen – and other episodes of the podcast may also be of interest.
*Edit: the government tells me that the Albion and Sunshine upgrades will go ahead regardless of Airport rail – but the timing is dependent on Airport rail – that is they’ll be done at the same time assuming it goes ahead.
Update 10/9/2023: More reading on this in The Guardian