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ARA weighs into debate over 2nd Sydney airport

by Rail Express last modified Apr 24, 2012 02:33 PM
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The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) says the current debate over a second airport for Sydney should also factor in a high-speed rail network connecting Australia’s east coast cities.

ARA weighs into debate over 2nd Sydney airport

Courtesy Central Japan Railway Company

By Jennifer Perry

ARA chief executive Bryan Nye says a second airport for Sydney and high-speed rail (HSR) are not an “either or” proposition but both should be “on the table”.

“I’ve read the government report on the need for a second Sydney International Airport and it’s clear that airport capacity constraints need to be addressed to meet expected growth in international flights,” Nye said.

“However, what is missing from the current debate is the impact and benefit of a HSR network connecting our East Coast cities.”

The ARA says “decades of debate” are threatening to destroy the chances of Australia securing a HSR  network and the desperately needed alternative to Sydney’s only airport.

The ARA maintains however, that the viability of HSR is not reliant on the need for a second Sydney Airport.

According to the ARA, a “do nothing” approach will see Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane-Gold Coast grow into mega cities crippled by congestion and governments will continue to struggle to provide the necessary infrastructure to support them.

Domestic flights are clogging Sydney flight paths. The route between Sydney and Melbourne is the fifth busiest in the world providing 7.9 million passenger journeys a year. A further 1.1 million passenger journeys are made by air annually between Sydney and Canberra.

According to Nye, world experience shows that a 350 km/hr HSR link between Sydney and Melbourne with a travel time of 2hrs 50 min would see 60% of travellers change to rail.

“The Sydney to Canberra distance would see HSR become the dominant mode of transport on that leg,” he continued.

“This shift to rail would free up the desperately needed air paths and runway slots into and out of Sydney airport.”

The ARA claims that HSR can provide alternative solutions for an early construction of a second Sydney airport.

According to Nye, a 30 minute HSR trip could provide access to an alternate airport within a 200km radius of Sydney and could also provide overflow capacity through the existing Canberra and Newcastle Airports.

“Australia has the population to support a high-speed rail network. The European and Asian experience shows that people are willing to travel by high speed rail up to one hour for work and three hours for recreational journeys,” Nye concluded.


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