Canberra Airport pledges high-speed rail terminal ... ahead of government commitment
In what some might see as being overly-optimistic, Canberra Airport has announced that it will build a $140m high-speed-rail (HSR) facility adjacent to the new airport terminal, even though the Federal Government has yet to commit to building a HSR network, and phase two of its study into the implementation of HSR on the east coast of Australia is still to be released.
Artist's impression of Canberra Airport's proposed high-speed rail terminal
Canberra Airport’s statement outlining the proposal for the HSR terminal, released last week, advocated for the role of both HSR and Canberra Airport in helping to solve Sydney’s second airport dilemma.
“We have long been advocates of a HSR link between Canberra and Sydney, and that reality is getting closer with strong support from NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and the ongoing stalemate over where to build Sydney’s second airport,” Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said.
The statement said O’Farrell had recognised the role Canberra Airport could play given the difficulty in delivering a second airport for Sydney, though the premier declined to comment further on the matter when contacted by Rail Express.
Despite the fact that the Federal Government is yet to commit to actually constructing a high-speed rail network, and minister for transport and infrastructure Anthony Albanese appearing somewhat unfazed by Canberra Airport’s proposal – he told a press conference last week that a “track and train” and “fact based policy” was needed before any HSR terminal could be built – Byron remained optimistic and said that Canberra Airport was committed to funding the HSR facility.
Canberra Airport’s statement cited a number of facts from the first phase of the government’s strategic study into a HSR network between Brisbane-Melbourne, via Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra, in support of Canberra Airport’s stance on the role that both HSR and Canberra Airport could play as an alternative to a second airport for Sydney.
These included: i) the study found that patronage demand for regional services to and from Canberra would be 11 million in 2036, without considering any role for Canberra Airport in meeting Sydney’s aviation demand needs, ii) the cost to construct a HSR from Sydney to Canberra is forecast at $10.9bn, but it would eliminate the need to spend $11bn on a new airport for Sydney and iii) the construction of a HSR from Sydney to Canberra Airport would expand the ability of the airport to use its 747-capable, curfew-free infrastructure to service part of Sydney’s growing aviation demand.
Once the HSR facility was completed, Bryon said Canberra Airport could become a multi-modal hub for HSR, domestic and international airlines, regional and local buses and onsite car parking.
“Passengers will be able to transfer from arriving aircraft to their train in under five minutes without baggage and be in Sydney in less than an hour [57 minutes to the Sydney CBD],” he said.
“The HSR from Canberra to Sydney should be delivered by 2020, with the terminal at Canberra Airport constructed over the last two years of that period.”
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) chief executive Bryan Nye welcomed Canberra Airport’s proposal and told Rail Express that the airport’s commitment was the kind of “long term vision” that Australia desperately needed if it was to secure a HSR network.
“Sydney Airport capacity constraints need to be addressed to meet expected growth in international flights but it’s the domestic flights that are clogging Sydney flight paths,” Nye said, adding that the Sydney-Melbourne air corridor was the fifth busiest in the world, with an additional 1.1 million passenger journeys made by air annually between Sydney and Canberra.
“World experience shows that introduction of a HSR network to cover a distance like Sydney to Canberra would result in the majority of travellers switching from planes to trains. This sort of shift would free up the desperately needed air paths and runway slots into and out of Sydney airport.
“Premier O’Farrell’s support for HSR shows he is a premier with a long term vision for New South Wales and Australia. HSR can provide alternative solutions to a second Sydney Airport in Sydney and premier O’Farrell can clearly see the many benefits HSR could bring to our nation.”
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