The planning and machinations of the Tullamarine Airport rail link: a historical outline and plans for the future

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - australasia, place - urban, place - airport, land use - planning


Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine, rail, airport, Airport City


Airports are city-shaping facilities and ground access to them is an important element of their city shaping effect. While many airports globally were treated as monofunctional transport facilities without the need for rail access, Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport was planned as the world's first ‘Airport City’, with direct access by rail as part of the concept. However, the construction of the link has been hampered by political vicissitudes. As recently as 2017, Infrastructure Victoria advised that rail access would not be needed before 2035 but by 2018, it was possible that Tullamarine could have rail access sooner. After almost 50 years in operation as a transport and commercial hub, the rail aspect of the ‘airport city’ concept now is set to materialise by 2029. This paper traces the history of rail access to Melbourne Airport within an international context, and discusses the current proposals against broader strategic transport and land use planning issues for the city.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.