Hope may not yet be lost for an opening-day rail line for Sydney’s second airport, after federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss announced plans to examine transport options in Western Sydney.
With a site officially declared, and community consultation underway on a detailed draft plan and environmental impact statement, the process of developing a major passenger airport in Western Sydney is well underway.
While the airport is currently designed to be ‘rail ready’ – with space for a station and tunnels excavated – community groups and the rail industry have raised concerns over the lack of a direct rail link between the new airport and the CBD from day one.
But the announcement by Truss on Friday could fix that issue.
A new study will aim to define “the right route, when to build it and how best to fund it,” the minister explained.
“We know Western Sydney’s population is set to increase from two million to three million over the next 20 years so this options plan will look at rail transport needs for the airport, as well as surrounding communities and employment lands,” he said.
“This options plan will consider rail as part of the broader transport network needed to support an airport and Western Sydney’s growth.”
Truss said there is “no doubt” a rail line will link to the airport “one day,” but said the options plan would help the state and federal governments determine “the type of rail, when it will be required and how much it will cost”.
The scoping study will also consider whether value capture techniques could assist meeting the funding requirement, Truss added.
The news was welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).
“The rail industry cannot stress enough the importance of including a rail line from the start of the construction of the Airport,” ARA boss Danny Broad said on Friday.
“A rail plan presenting options is a common sense approach – rail is the vital link, enabling people to move in and out of the Airport safely and efficiently.
“It’s pleasing to see the Federal Government now considering rail options for Badgerys Creek Airport, while establishing a new partnership with the NSW Government.
“Government must collaborate with industry to ensure the long term viability of the Airport, namely through a robust and efficient transport system.”
Broad said the ARA would continue to support the construction of a second Sydney airport, but said the plan “must include rail options to support not only the Airport, but the surrounding growth areas.”