The Turnbull Government has confirmed it will refuse to invest in a rail link to the new Badgerys Creek Airport from the day it opens and has passed up the opportunity to fund the link using innovative value uplift mechanisms.
Despite Malcolm Turnbull insisting he wants to fund public transport in Australian cities, Major Projects Minister Paul Fletcher last week confirmed that when the airport opens in 2025, it will have no rail link.
Mr Fletcher made the comment in a speech in which he also advocated the use of value uplift models to fund major infrastructure projects – a term that refers to harnessing increased land values created by provision of roads and railway lines to help meet their cost.
Yet in refusing to commit to connect the Badgery’s Creek Airport to the rail network, Mr Fletcher is ignoring a golden opportunity to utilize value capture and also limiting potential jobs growth at the airport.
The existing passenger line from Leppington should be extended through to the western line near St Marys via Badgerys Creek.
This would 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.
The line could be funded at minimal public cost by understanding that land around the airport will be more valuable if the airport is served by a rail 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.
It’s easy to talk about value uplift and innovation.
But the Government must start acting to find ways to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit by actually using value capture.
The Badgerys Creek Airport has the potential to be an economic game changer for the people of western Sydney.
It could provide thousands of well-paid jobs – not only at the airport itself, but in aviation-related industries including logistics, engineering and research.
This potential jobs growth will be limited if the airport is not served by public transport from the day it opens.