Route 59 tram to Airport West does not serve Melbourne Airport

If you are new to Melbourne there is something you need to know – the route 59 tram to Airport West doesn’t actually go to the airport! So why the confusing name?

B2.2030 heads along the reserved track along Mt Alexander Road in Essendon with an outbound route 59 service

The Yarra Trams website calls out the fact.

Route 59 tram to Airport West does not serve Melbourne Airport

Route 59 begins outside Flinders Street Station, then heads north-west through North Melbourne, Moonee Ponds, Essendon and Keilor, until it finally arrives at the Airport West terminus.

Route 59 terminus at Airport West

Where Airport West is the name of the suburb – given because the location west of Essendon Airport. Melbourne Airport is five kilometres further north-west from the tram terminus.


Today route 59 just passes by Essendon Airport, but until 1976 it actually ran along Vaughan Street to the passenger terminal. Some photos from that time:

Liked it? Take a second to support Marcus Wong on Patreon!
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

18 Responses to “Route 59 tram to Airport West does not serve Melbourne Airport”

  1. Note 1:
    When the freeway was built around Essendon Airport, a bridge over it was constructed to join English Street with Matthews Avenue, right where those tram tracks used to turn into English Street.
    That bridge is about to be demolished, and rebuilt to allow four freeway lanes each way under it.
    (Originally it was two lanes plus an emergency lane, then the emergency lane was converted to a traffic lane in the last lot of road widening.)

    Note 2:
    Melrose Drive was originally wide enough to run a tram line all the way from Airport West out to Tullamarine Airport.
    Some bright spark had an idea to sell half of it off for housing, so now it’s too narrow from Catherine Ave to Tadston Drive to ever run the tram through there.

  2. Moya says:

    Interestingly, there’s no mention of or link to the convenient and cheaper option of the 901 Smartbus to Melbourne Airport from Broadmeadows station. This option to the Airport is poorly publicised and under utilised.

  3. rohan storey says:

    Wonder why it was kept beyond Keilor Road at all – to serve workers at essendon airport who already used (and now had to walk a bit) and the industrial area where it terminates? Be interesting to know how popular it is at the terminus.

    Alternatively, why wasn’t it extended those few miles to serve Tullamarine?

    The answer is I suspect that there wasn’t a lot of support for trams generally – it was only the year before that the first new trams for decades started service, and it was to be another 10 years before any lines were extended (burwood highway mid 80s amiright?)

    I was always fascinated by the tram next to freeway whenever we went to the airport (Tullamarine) as a teen – the wire supports were shorter and stripy painted, so planes didn’t crash into them I suppose.

  4. Beren says:

    Just wanted to add, to all those people who believe we need a train line to the airport. During peak time, there is a bus which runs as often as every 13 minutes, takes around 15 minutes to get to Broadmeadows Railway Station, before eventually ending it’s long journey hours later in Frankston. During offpeak, it’s around every 20 – 30 minutes. During the week, there is literally only about 5 – 6 hours it doesn’t run.

    Why do we need a train to the airport? In Sydney, if you get off at the airport, you lose like $10 during the process. That line also continues on and serves the wider community. A dedicated train service to the airport is a complete waste of time, especially for Melbourne. The area around the airport is already well served with public transport. We also now have Uber, which is half price a taxi fare.

    The airport bus options go from many different areas around the city, not just from the city. So, a train to the airport, will simply just leave passengers stranded in the city.

    If you were to do anything, I would spend the money you would have spent on a train line, on upgrading the Broadmeadows area, similar to what they did to Dandenong, and gentrify the suburb. Create a better bus interchange with the station.

    Public transport runs at a loss, we need to create solutions that don’t make that worse. Last time I was in Sydney, 5 or so people got on the airport train for the city. That was money well spent. Not!

  5. Andrew S says:

    The former Essendon Airport tram terminus went along the southern side of Vaughan Street, a little further north of English Street crossing on the level what was then ‘Lancefield Road’. It was extended on its own reservation on ballast during WWII in a similar way the lines around Maribyrnong were done to serve the munitions factories at a time of fuel rationing – the projects subsidised by the Commonwealth Government as part of the war effort. Essendon served as a maintenance hub for military aircraft which was the ultimate reason for the similarly-funded tram extension.

    The changes can be seen on the over-watermarked Melway pages from The University of Melbourne. The old arrangement still there in 1976 with the section of Lancefield Road the only bit not freeway standard – the freeway to the north was built in the late 60’s with that to the south opened in the early 70’s:

    1977 sees it cut off with a new terminus built. Aerials will show the new track concrete embedded with the original on ballast, as per the last link in the main article above:

    1979 sees the bridge built and it nearing completion

    As noted above the bridge only allowed two lanes plus a shoulder each way, later made into three lanes each way. A fourth currently under construction requiring complete demolition and reconstruction.

  6. and now I know the tram went up Vaughan Street, not English Street, the background buildings make sense.
    There’s no Google street view inside Essendon Airport yet, so I stopped in to take some current photos tonight. You can see that Vaughan Street has totally changed, but the hangars in the background are still there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *