Bold plan to build $1 billion monorail above the Tullamarine Freeway under way

Herald Sun: Bold plan to build $1 billion monorail above the Tullamarine Freeway under way. Ellen Whinnett, Brendan Casey. 4 March 2014

Victorians are split on a proposal to build a $1 billion monorail from the airport to Melbourne’s CBD, although most feel it is a step in the right direction.

The bold plan to build the monorail high above the Tullamarine Freeway is under way.

The Airshuttle proposal is being developed by tourism infrastructure entrepreneur Peter O’Brien, who describes it as a hi-tech alternative to a slow diesel train link that could take years to come online.

Themonorail would be above major roads including CityLink and the Tullamarine Freeway and would connect with either Southern Cross Station or Flinders St Station.


Herald Sun reader Dane Baicos said the plan was an excellent idea.

“(It’s) cheaper than heavy or light rail and much quicker. Japan has been utilising this technology for years with great success,” he said.

Fellow reader Russell Hopkins said: “$1 billion? Imagine the fares. Like the idea but not the price”.

And Lou Power wrote: “Why not just build a railway line? We know what happened to the Sydney monorail.”

Premier Denis Napthine said the State Government had received the six-page proposal for the monorail and the “door is open to ideas.”

“We’ve received a very brief outline of their proposal and we’ll have further discussions with the proponents of the monorail,” Dr Napthine said.

“We are always open to ideas as a government but they need to be properly evaluated and properly considered.”

“Clearly the people of Melbourne and Victoria are saying we need a better public transport link to the airport and we as a government committed to providing that better public transport link to the airport,” he said

The monorail would be similar to one recently commissioned in Incheon, South Korea, and would be driverless, operated from a central command office.

It is virtually silent, runs on rubber wheels, can be powered by green energy, and would be capable of moving 40,000 people an hour.

The plan is in its early stages of development, but has piqued the interest of leading Australian infrastructure developer the Plenary Group.

The founding principal of the Plenary Group, John O’Roarke, said more analysis was needed to determine if Airshuttle was the best option.

“It’s early days, but the concept does have merit,” he said.

“Are we interested in improving public transport and an airport rail link? Yes, we are.

“We are keen to explore the best ideas in the private sector to make unsolicited project submissions to the Government.”

Mr O’Brien, the developer of the Melbourne Aquarium and the man behind the acquisition of land for Federation Square and Jeff’s Shed, said he wanted to develop an innovative plan for an airport link that didn’t rely on congested roads.

“The whole problem with heavy rail is you have to buy the land from the public and that’s expensive and takes years,” he said. “Newly proven technology means we can now follow the established use of airspace in the northern hemisphere without building huge concrete edifices.”

He said the monorail could be built with prefabricated parts, and workers losing their jobs at car makers Holden and Ford would have the right skills to work on the project.

The monorail would runwith possibly one interchange stop. The trip between Southern Cross Station and the airport would take eight to 10 minutes, Mr O’Brien said.

He was considering further plans for the monorail to run to Doncaster and to Rowville.

Some Herald Sun readers raised questions about the problems the monorail might cause while under construction, and pointed out that a project of this size should not be solely organised by private investors.

“It would all depends on the most cost effective way of using Taxpayer money to build this – would this interrupt traffic flow and also how long?” Kerry Bennett wrote.

“It would also mean creating jobs as well, everything has to be taken into account before going ahead.”

Many readers were quick to draw comparisons to the famous Simpsons episode, in which the town of Springfield is duped into building a monorail that ultimately failed.

“Is Lyle Landy in town? It’s more of a Shelbyville idea anyway, we would never go for it,” Mark said.

“Monorails were sold to Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook and by gum it put them on the map!” Stuart said.

“Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!” Dimi Makris said.

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