October 16, 2015
13th October, 2015
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Doug Conway
SYDNEY is set to join third world cities Islamabad in Pakistan and Khartoum in Sudan as the only global destinations building major airports without a planned rail link.
The short-sightedness of building the new Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek without a fast-rail connection has sparked warnings of an economic “catastrophe” from business and community leaders.
Research conducted by the Committee for Sydney found that of 10 international airports now being developed overseas, only Khartoum and Islamabad had no planned rail link.
Cities making sure their new airports are connected by high-speed rail include Beijing, New York, Berlin, Mexico City, Qatar and Istanbul.
Of the 17 existing world airports comparable in size and passenger numbers to those anticipated for Badgerys Creek, each one has rail connections completed or in planning, the research shows.
The federal government is providing most of the $3.6 billion to upgrade roads to the airport ahead of its expected opening in 2025.
The airport design will include the capacity to enable up to two train stations to be built in the years after the facility is opened and a rail corridor is expected to be preserved.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has said he expected international travellers will be looking for a “turn up and go” high frequency train service to get them into central Sydney, “no ifs, no buts”.
But political squabbling over who pays for it seems inevitable, with federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss’ office saying his government had made it clear “from day one” that passenger rail is a matter for the state.
Supporters of the Western Sydney Airport project said Badgerys Creek was in danger of becoming a potential “white elephant” and a gateway to nowhere without a rail link.
They want to prevent Badgerys Creek from becoming another Avalon, the Victorian airport that has struggled since opening 20 years ago without a rail link.
The Victorian government is now considering “retro-fitting” a rail link to Melbourne at far greater expense.
Committee for Sydney chief executive Tim Williams said the design of Badgerys Creek required the sort of foresight shown by Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer John Bradfield almost a century ago.
“There was no demand in the 1920s for the number of car lanes he planned for, but he had foresight and ambition,” Dr Williams said.
“We need the same spirit when planning for our global city’s next airport. With Badgerys, let’s do a Bradfield.”
Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils president Tony Hadchiti said: “It would be a catastrophe if that airport goes in without rail. Let’s get it right from day one.”
Tourism and Transport Forum Australia chief Margy Osmond said: “The federal and NSW governments are in denial when it comes to rail.”
Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chairman Christopher Brown called for a rail service linking Badgerys not only to the CBD but also to Liverpool and Penrith.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has backed the need for a rail link to Badgerys but wants the airport to operate under an economically debilitating curfew.
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