Oct 16, 2015

Badgerys Creek Airport must be linked to rail network

Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek must be connected to the city’s passenger rail network from the day it opens to optimise its economic benefits and improve public transport in western Sydney.

Incredibly, under current planning, the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments do not propose to link the airport to rail when it begins operating from 2025.

This is ridiculous. The existing passenger line from Leppington should be extended through to the western line near St Marys via Badgerys Creek.

This will allow passengers as well as workers at the airport and associated businesses easier access and complete a loop line around Sydney, improving public transport services throughout the region.

Labor is encouraged by reports that Malcolm Turnbull today agrees with our position.

But the Prime Minister should do more than just agreeing with Labor.

He must make it happen.

Mr Turnbull should work with NSW Premier Mike Baird to end the senseless funding standoff and look for ways to fund the rail link that they both know is critical to the future of Sydney.

The line could be funded at minimal public cost by understanding that the land around the airport will be more valuable if the airport is served by a railway line than if it is not.

The commonwealth can capture this uplift value by factoring in the rail line to the lease price of the airport. The airport operator will then be able to lease out land to aviation-related businesses in the area at higher rates than could be achieved if the airport has no rail access.

The existence of the rail link would also increase land values of the employment lands in the nearby precinct owned by the NSW government.

The NSW government should factor in that uplift value to its contribution to the rail line.

Labor wants the second Sydney airport to be more than just a terminal and a runway.

We want it to be a job factory that reinvigorates western Sydney’s economy by producing tens of thousands of high-value jobs.

Failing to link the airport to the rail network will limit its capacity and its ability to drive growth in jobs.

That makes no sense at all.