A future for rail link while car parks increase
Train line linking Melbourne Airport to the city is at least 10 years away according to planning minister Matthew Guy.
Melbourne Airport's massive car park should have its own suburb name and postcode, given
"it is so enormous", says Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
The ever-expanding airport car park is one of the largest in the country, with 25,000 parking spaces for passengers and employees. Another 2850 spaces are planned. Chadstone Shopping Centre, by comparison, has about 10,000 spaces.
There was no doubt the airport needed a rail link to the city, the minister told a Property Council growth summit in Melbourne, but there was no "definitive timeline" on when that would happen.
The airport makes $114 million a year from parking charges and increased the hourly short-term parking rate by 17 per cent this year.
Mr Guy said a rail link to the airport was "something that the government is looking at and has looked at both publicly and behind the scenes".
"There is always a debate in this city about what form a rail link might take - broad gauge, standard gauge, electrified, diesel, all of those things are still obviously being looked at - but there is no doubt the link to Melbourne Airport is going to be a necessity in the future," he said.
"Now that I have got responsibility for place names I am tempted to rename the Melbourne Airport car park a suburb's name, given it is so large, and give it a postcode because it is so enormous, it can't keep expanding the way that it is," he said.
He said Melbourne Airport would continue to grow as a curfew-free airport and was "simply relying on Skybus alone".
"There is no definitive timeframe [for a rail link] unfortunately, but it is an issue we are certainly working with behind the scenes," he said.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission annual airports report shows Melbourne Airport has the highest level of airport car parking revenue in the country and the highest proportion of total revenues from car parking.
Passenger numbers at Melbourne Airport are expected to more than double from the current 80,000 a day by 2030.
While the airport supports a rail link and has included one in its master plan, it is also expanding parking and road links including extending the Airport Drive connection from the Western Ring Road and calling for a widening of the Tullamarine Freeway.
"The reality is that a rail link is at least 10 years away, so we believe that in the meantime the Tullamarine Freeway should be widened," airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said.
Asked if the airport was exploiting travellers with its parking fees given the lack of a rail link, Ms Gillett said the airport offered a "variety of parking options for people at varying prices".
"We have options to suit families in the long-term car park or for people who want the convenience of being closer to the terminal," she said.
"There are also some great deals available for customers who book online."
She said there was also "the Ring and Ride wait zone - an area where people can wait free for up to 20 minutes, $2 for up to 40 minutes or $4 for up to an hour for arriving passengers".
"For those people who don't wish to drive, there is the excellent Skybus service, taxis, private hire cars and public buses for which we have recently relocated the stop into the main forecourt area," Ms Gillett said.
The Napthine government's new Plan Melbourne blueprint for the city lists a rail extension to Melbourne Airport as a "long-term" project in the 2025-50 time frame.
Committee for Melbourne chief Kate Roffey said Melbourne was an international city and needed a rail link to the airport.
Ms Roffey said the government's 2025-50 airport rail timeline was "too long a wait".
The Property Council's executive director for Victoria Jennifer Cunich said the group supported improved transport links to Melbourne and Avalon airports as part of a long-term plan for improving Greater Melbourne's mobility.