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This paper journeys through the fifty year history of a proposed rail link between Melbourne and its airport at Tullamarine.

The paper is separated into three sections. The first section is presented in broadly chronological order and discusses: 

- The early history from the first attempt to reserve a rail corridor to the innovative rail options proposed in the 1970s which were largely influenced by rail technology developments in Europe; 

- The 1980s, and the federal-state government partnership to develop a strategy to address ‘landside access’ issues for the airport; 

- The 1990s, which saw the beginning of partnerships with the private sector to invest in transport infrastructure; and the first feasibility study to identify the most appropriate route for reservation for an airport rail corridor on relevant planning schemes; and,

- The 2000s, where the involvement of private sector investment initiated further feasibility studies to discern the commercial viability of an airport rail link; accompanied by lobbying from various interest groups. The section ends with the 2016 recommendations for future transit options for travel to the airport. 

The second and third sections then briefly discuss:  

- Melbourne Airport and its operational and regulatory environment—providing some context on its position in regard to the rail link; and,

- Comparative studies in the literature on airport rail links around the world and factors that impact on their patronage, before turning to the Australian examples.

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