Federal urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher believes a rail link will not be vital to the new airport at Western Sydney from day one, reportedly saying a new rail line would not be justified in the airport’s early operations.
Fletcher was quoted by the Macarthur Advertiser at a business and community briefing at Oran Park this week, saying a rail link would eventually be a part of the airport precinct at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west, but that it was not a priority for the first day of operation, scheduled in 2026.
“The honest answer is, from an airport perspective, rail is not that important from day one,” the minister was quoted as saying.
He reportedly backed up his case by referencing the developers of Singapore’s Changi Airport – “the most efficient people in the world, arguably” – who did not build a rail link from day one, either.
“The question of rail is very important in terms of the urban growth and development in this region, but from a pure airport point of view, rail is not a critical success factor in the early years of the airport and you can’t justify the rail on the strength of the airport alone.”
Just 20% of travellers going to and from Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney’s south use the rail line, Fletcher said.
“When you take the expected passenger numbers and you ask what percentage of those people will use the rail, using Kingsford Smith and other numbers as a guide, then ask how many trains that would fill, the number goes nowhere near justifying a rail link,” he was quoted as saying.
“That is not a controversial opinion.”
Shadow transport and infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese has led the charge campaigning for a rail line to be built Western Sydney Airport’s opening day, saying the project should be about more than the airport itself.
Albanese has committed that a Labor Government would build such a rail link.
“A rail connection from day one is critical if we are make the airport a catalyst for job creation for Western Sydney – and will boost economic growth by up to $3.6 billion annually,” the shadow minister said in April.