Mar 11, 2016

PM advances Badgerys Creek Airport rail link to opening day

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcing that the Sydney West airport at Badgerys Creek will be rail ready on its opening is a signal that public transport is one of his policy

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

PM Turnball arriving by train for this morning's assault on policy neanderthalism
PM Turnbull arriving by train for this morning’s assault on policy neanderthalism

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcing that the Sydney West airport at Badgerys Creek will be rail ready on its opening is a signal that public transport is one of his policy commitments that hasn’t been hand braked by the coalition’s conservative power brokers.

But apart from advancing the rail service from somewhere beyond 2050 to 2025 when the terminal is intended to be jet ready his saying it will have a four track station box built into its foundations was old news.

Those with long memories will recall that when Melbourne’s all new Tullamarine Airport opened in 1970 it had gone as far as reserving a location for a ‘station box’ for a line that mightn’t even get build until maybe 2040.

Today’s announcement attracted headlines about high speed rail to Badgerys Creek, which is a nonsense. An express train to Parramatta would be a good idea, since Sydney West is actually intended to serve the current 2.2 million or so inhabitants of, amazingly, western Sydney, starting around about Olympic Park or Rhodes, from where it can take rather longer to drive the short distance to the current Sydney Airport than it does to fly to Melbourne.

The prime need for Badgerys Creek, which the PM clearly understands better than the headline writers, is for it to be connected to the metropolitan rail network, which is a comparatively low cost and simple thing to do at this time while all of the easy surface routes that could do this remain readily accessible.

The recently opened SW Rail link to Leppington Station (and its train depot further on at Rossmore) would be easy to connect to Sydney West and the stations that could be added to it on the way would readily improve transport links to more of the growing population and business base of the far western suburbs which are separated from the lower southern Blue Mountains by the Nepean River.

This would be the more so if the extended Leppington service also carried on from the northern side of the new airport to a link to the main western rail line. It would as the PM said, be of enormous benefit to the NSW economy and the rapidly growing Nepean estates as well as making Sydney West even more attractive in terms of access to a potentially large market for air travellers.

This assumes of course that the station under Sydney West doesn’t price itself out of contention the way the two stations under Sydney Airport have already done.

There is no case for building a 320 kmh high speed rail link along an incredibly expensive corridor above or below ground to a station in the Sydney CBD.  It would cost billions of dollars for a low demand proposition compared to the much nearer existing Sydney Airport.

Nor is there a rational case for a dedicated link between Sydney West and Kingsford Smith to use its original and seldom uttered proper name.  The current airport line can already run all the way to Leppington via Glenfield if desired, since the SW Rail Link was always seen at the outset in some quarters as the clandestine railway to Badgerys Creek. You could get the trains in use today to travel between both airports without stopping in little more than 30 minutes but airlines try very very hard not to make customers change airports when making connections at intermediate cities anyhow. The length of such a trip would be around 50 kilometres from Wolli Creek station depending on the exact route followed from Leppington or Rossmore to the Badgerys Creek terminal location.

There is a case however for express services from rail interchanges like Parramatta to Sydney West which is why a four track station in its basement makes so much sense.

The most efficient way to do such a service is to built the link between the new airport and the western line as a four track capable permanent way, two for expresses, and two for all-stops trains.  The express rolling stock could also be luggage friendly in a way that the current regular suburban trains using Sydney Airport are not.

In terms of future planning, such an express could one day continue on to Sydney as a Parramatta-Sydney fast train link, via no doubt several other stops, as already being floated not unreasonably by real estate and development interests.

Rail can deliver far more value to the Sydney economy by way of facilitating housing and business activity than costly motorway projects,even though there is a need for both types of investment in rational city planning.

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33 thoughts on “PM advances Badgerys Creek Airport rail link to opening day

  1. comet

    It’s strange how public transport is considered a left-wing agenda. The extreme right-wing politicians don’t want to invest in it.

    Public transport is actually good for the economy. Cities are all about people interacting. Public transport facilitates easier interaction between people.

    Rail transport actually improves road transport. There was a study done comparing the speed of Sydney’s M4 motorway with the western rail line. I think the study might have been done by Professor Michelle Ziebots, the UTS traffic expert, and the only one to correctly predict Sydney’s cross-city tunnel traffic numbers before it was built.

    Anyway, the result of the study showed that when the rail timetables were changed, and the trains were slowed, the M4 motorway also slowed. The two are linked. People take the fastest form of transport to get from A to B. If rail gets faster, then people switch to it.

  2. Zipper

    “It’s strange how public transport is considered a left-wing agenda. The extreme right-wing politicians don’t want to invest in it.”

    Sorry but that’s garbage, labor had plenty of opportunitys to improve public transport but did nothing, what did Bob Carr ever do for NSW in all his time in office except neglect it, now it’s up to Mike Baird to fix the mess, what he’s doing now should of been done 20yrs ago! The world has been let down badly by weak left wing politicians, look at the States, look at Europe, there all going to the right, the problem with the left is they care more about people who are trying to get into the country then there own citizens! That’s why Trump is so popular, everyone has had a gutful of it..

  3. Ben Sandilands

    C’mon, this is about the sensible and effective use of public transport to serve a much needed second Sydney Airport, not Trump, or a selective editing of the universally dismal relationship between the political estates and such projects in Australia.

  4. erikhb

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but there’s been so much to and from about both the airport and the trainline, and both sides of politics trying to trip each other up about this and everything else.

    I’ll believe it the day I step off a train at Buggery’s Creek to catch a flight…

  5. Crocodile Chuck

    @ Zipper: Vote with your feet.

    I suggest TX, FL or SC.

    Get out while there’s still time!

  6. ghostwhowalksnz

    Submarines last week, train stations this week, its election time promises that the person making them wont have to worry about. Could Turnbull, who probably hasnt been on a train since going to Sydney Grammar school in the 60s.
    Unfortunately for the train lovers, public transport budgets have a long list of priorities, and satisfying those strange creatures who want to fly and catch a train isnt way up there.

    Flying for holidays and business reasons has long passed from aspirational to everyday but the customer experience has fallen as well. At least driving there gives you some sense of certainty, catching a train takes away any control you have and starts you out with a low level of customer experience.

    This is why existing rail links at Brisbane and Sydney airports suffer from underuse syndrome.

  7. Dan Dair

    Did we not just agree last week that there were far too many people in Australia already & that you were going to take the lead by reducing the population by one right away.?

    Then I find you back here spouting more 5h1t to upset those here of delicate constitution.

    Donald Trump is a right wing ar5e. If anyone is perfectly positioned to set the various factions within the USA against each other it is him & his way of thinking.

    Sure, in ten years time white, black or Hispanic Americans may come-out as the victorious faction & a powerful and stable future might be their legacy, but how many ‘normal’ & unassuming US citizens will have died (one way or another) to get to that ‘new reality’.?

    Is that really what you want, either in the USA or at home.?

    If it is, I solemnly suggest that you sign yourself up to be on the front of the frontline when the civil-war happens.
    Once all the ‘true-believers’ in this ‘utopian’ ‘new-reality’ have been killed-off, perhaps the rest of us can get back to the kind of contented/discontented bumbling/grumbling along which has kept this country (& so many others) essentially sane (& functional) for so long.?

  8. Ben Sandilands


    Let me update you. Turnbull habitually catches public transport in every city or town he visits, and is a regular on the eastern suburbs line in Sydney. All captured of course by the media, who all have to catch the trams, buses and trains with him to get access. After ex speaker of the house Bronwyn Bishop hired a helicopter to fly from Melbourne to Geelong he went to that satellite city by train. As far as Sydney is concerned he isn’t alone in the number of people who can afford any car they like finding that they save an immense amount of time taking public transport.

    As to Sydney Airport rail usage. The trains are often packed, since they serve the busy CBD to Macarthur line via the airport and in so far as the city to domestic or international goes I can assure you that sometimes there are hundreds of joining air travellers, competing for space with regular commuters.

    The reason the heat is being turned up on rail is that the roads have failed. From casual observation, I agree about the Brisbane airport line. It’s not just poorly patronised, but on the occasions I used it, run in a filthy dirty state that would discourage a repeat journey.

  9. Geoff

    Ben – Brisbane’s airport link simply reflects the state of the city’s rail network. Tired old trains that need continuous policing to stop kids putting their feet on the seats and throwing garbage everywhere.

    It also takes forever to travel to the CBD and beyond because it is part of an already congested rail system that lacks cross river connectivity and multiple stops.

    A dedicated line independent of the commuter system, utilising traveller friendly carriages, with higher speeds, could have guaranteed more usage and passengers who would not abuse their surroundings.

  10. Mark Skinner

    Given that it was a Labor Government that got rid of the original tram system, plus has done very little for the railways in the interim, zipper is not far off the mark.

    Neither party in NSW has any real credentials in public transport infrastructure.

    While the present government is doing something, such as the tram to Randwick, and that isolated metro Ben has lambasted, these are still quite flawed projects.

    Sadly for NSW, it’s either a do nothing Labor Party, or a do something Liberal Party which is quite expensive and/or flawed. Add to that a Federal government which may or may not keep a promise to fund something by some nebulous date.

  11. ghostwhowalksnz

    I may have been off the mark with Turnbulls love of trains- but still question his personal use as Wunulla Rd Pt Piper is nearly 4 km from Edgecliffe Station- chauffeur to drop him off ?
    Perhaps ‘the train’ has become his leitmotif like going for a jog was Howards.
    A train station still has to compete with the acres of land at an airport- even more for a new airport- and the airport operator sees parking as a revenue source, a train station is money they lose out on. Even taxis pay around $5 per trip to pick up passengers from the airport.
    As I pointd out the vast majority of middle and higher income people who make up most air passengers see trains as a less than desirable experience to be avoided when possible.
    Sydney airport passenger traffic on the train line reflects that low usage when it has everything going for the trains- close to CBD, a modern system, two stations etc
    The expanding Chinese market relies on group tours which will be picked up and dropped off by tourist bus

  12. Ben Sandilands


    You would find Sydney a very puzzling place, since it doesn’t resemble what you presumably remember from a glorious past. I repeat, the airport stations are well patronised, too well for many regular commuters that have to use the same trains for longer journeys, and there was a recent story in the Fairfax media about the $$$ the NSW Government is raking in from its deal with the owners in relation to the gate pass fee (which is added to the Opalcard fare for your trip.)

    I have already been corrected as to the PM’s regular usage of the ESR. He habitually uses a bus, I might add a very scenic bus, that passes along New South Head Road, if he is going to the Commonwealth offices, make that bunkers, in the city.

  13. ghostwhowalksnz

    I remember this glorious past
    “Despite the cancellation of the rival Airport Express bus service, taxi surcharges and expensive airport parking, the Airport Link consistently failed to meet patronage targets.
    Less than a year after the line opened, the State Rail Authority stated that “patronage has been lower than expected to date”, but they remained optimistic, believing “that as airport users become more familiar with this facility and the ingrained habits of many years gradually alter, patronage will continue to increase,”
    In 2000, the Airport Link Company went into receivership, exposing the government to costs of around $800 million.It was put up for sale in early 2006.State Rail blamed “lower than expected patronage” and stated it was working with the company to increase it.”

    It gets worse:
    “In March 2011, it was announced that the State Government would cover the cost of the station access fee at Green Square and Mascot stations, meaning that passengers no longer need to pay a surcharge to access these stations.”

    So they abolished the access fee for stations before the airport which led to 70% patronage increase.
    But is anybody going to the airport ?

    Looking at 2104 barrier( per day) count from NSW BTE at the airport gives 6100 domestic station and 2950 international. Neither of which reaches the Mascot station count of 7090.
    As far as stations passengers go Domestic is ranked 43rd of all Sydney stations and International is 85th.
    Bondi Junction is 8th, Martin Place is 10th, while Granville comes in at 44th.
    Not really knowing Sydney that well I had to use a map to find Granville and wonder about its attractions and why it has the same traffic as Sydneys Domestic airport terminal.

    This is the real point, you might spend $1 mill at Granville station but hundreds of millions for an airport link?

    Remember that Melbourne’s Skybus has over 2 million passengers a year ( I have to admit I have been one around 10 years ago) and would use a train in Sydney if I darkened the skies of the harbour city!

  14. ghostwhowalksnz

    Just as an afterthought Edgecliffe, closest to PM Turnbulls Pt Piper home has daily one way traffic of 7190 (35th), compared to combined airport traffic of 8060.

  15. Ben Sandilands


    Here’s two links that will bring you up to speed on the railway.

    The first, to the operating company, quotes 14 million passengers a year.


    The second is the Fairfax story I referred to concerning the money it is making for the NSW state.


  16. ghostwhowalksnz

    THis is part of Sydney’s airport rail link problem- its financial history is a swamp- not facing up the facts about passengers numbers.
    Of course the rail line carries a main Sydney commuter service past the airport terminal, and those 14 mill are heading into the city mostly.

    I got actual electronic barrier counts from NSW Bureau of Transport Economics which show comparable station passenger numbers that use the station.
    [lists their reports on station barrier counts]
    Im sure that the train passenger numbers that pass through Granville far exceed 14 mill as its the main line west with 4 tracks goes through to Parramatta, and onto the Blue Mts.

    Indeed since there is a $6 ticket for using the train to transfer between domestic and international terminals, how many of those 5K per day passengers are merely transfers and arent interested in going beyond the airport boundary.
    This makes the real passenger numbers using the rail network even less.

    In reality the passengers using the stations on the so called Airport line, Wooli Creek, Green Sq , Mascot ALL have higher traffic than the airport stations. Cant be anything of importance for travellers at Domestic & International then.

  17. Ben Sandilands

    We, my good friend Ghost, and I seem to have lost our way in this conversation. The post is about the need to connect Sydney West to the metropolitan rail network.

    I regard that as a so called no brainer. Sydney West is in the middle of the major population growth area of Sydney. Because it is the only one left. If the projections are right, and so far all official Sydney population growth estimates have proven under-estimations in hindsight, half the 7.9 million population of greater Sydney by 2055 will be closer to or equidistant from Sydney West compared to Sydney KSA.

    Far more transport users in the vicinity of either Sydney Airport will use their cars or trains or trams or bikes more for daily life than air travel access, which also ought to be obvious.

    This isn’t a reason to denigrate the need nor role of rail as part of the airport access in either case.

    At times I think Ghost just doesn’t like the notion of transport expansion, and has no real grasp of the demographics of Sydney, or Australia, in the 21st century.

  18. ghostwhowalksnz

    Of course its about the new Airport at Sydney West, and why it wont have a train station when it opens or soon after.
    Because as I have shown with the huge passenger counts of Sydney airport the train boardings are in line with a place like Granville. The airport line boardings have all the other stations with higher numbers than the airport.They will be even lower when you remove train passengers just transferring from one terminal to the other.

    Can you imagine what the the boardings will be for the new airport ? This is not only observed at Sydney, poor patronage at Brisbane too. I just want to scream when an ‘airport line’ is talked about in Auckland.
    If the Wagners can use their construction expertise and build a short railway to the terminal at Sydney West at a reasonable cost, all well and good ( I would certainly use it, or an express bus for that matter) but lets not pretend that its an essential link.

    As a former shipping reporter you are probably aware that Tasmania tried a passenger service from Sydney to Tasmania as late as 2006, when all common sense meant it would be doomed to failure. people just dont travel longer distances like that anymore. Airport train stations in Australia are only a niche service of limited use even in largest airport. It is what it is and dreaming about what it could be isnt a rational use of public transport money ( better projects are much more worthy)

  19. Ben Sandilands


    If NSW decides as it has foreshadowed, to extend the SW Rail link north to the western line it would have to make a notable detour to avoid Sydney West airport.

    That’s why the trains will run through and dare to stop at Sydney West.

    Tasmania continues to have a passenger, car and truck sea link. If you are contemplating a driving holiday in either Tasmania or on the mainland, it works really well for enough customers to keep it running. It also seems to have a trade in visitors who like a short boat ride (overnight or day) even though there are times when the air fare costs less.

  20. Fred Myers

    Given that Perth is (at least theoretically) process of adding a rail line service to the (combined) airport terminal with the pledge that the fares will contain no airport surcharges, it will be interesting to see how its patronage compares with the massively surcharged examples in Brisbane and Sydney.

  21. ghostwhowalksnz

    For Perth is seems that the airport is just one station on a new rail link for an area that is left out of their current rapid transit network. As long as they can afford the large capital cost of 8km of twin bored tunnels ( unlikely with the end of the mining boom but well see) and they dont make the mistake of Sydney/Brisbane of thinking the airport will be a significant producer of boardings/disembark then they should be ok.
    Thats the catch, major airports are huge job generators and a major trip origin/destination and yet constantly the mistake is made that will produce train traffic in itself.

    The real stupid thing about Sydney is they have an airport train surcharge which is significant ( circ $15). Smart thinking would have the airport owner charged a ‘traffic congestion’ fee which then is paid to make it cheaper for airport train passengers than those who board at adjacent stations. Impossible to do now but should have been, rather than having unrealistic train boarding projections.

  22. dijical


    Your stats are incorrect. Domestic airport sees 12,220 passengers per day. International airport 5,900. That’s over 18,000 people per day who aren’t traveling by road. Or 6.6 million annually.

    Given that the road network around the airport is frequently in a state of gridlock 7 days a week, an extra 18,000 daily road commuters would be a disaster.

    If fares were normalised along the lines of the non-airport Airportlink station I have no doubt that patronage would double.

  23. michael r james

    Zipper Posted March 12, 2016 at 11:50 am
    [“It’s strange how public transport is considered a left-wing agenda. The extreme right-wing politicians don’t want to invest in it.”

    Sorry but that’s garbage, labor had plenty of opportunitys to improve public transport but did nothing, what did Bob Carr ever do for NSW in all his time in office except neglect it,]

    Hah! You’ve nicely proven what most of us think about NSW state Labor governments (and in fact to varying degrees over the past 20 years, most Labor governments state & fed): they are almost as right-wing in their adoption of economic-rationalism as the Libs. It comes down to the aversion to spending (and raising) public money on public infrastructure. I wrote a piece in Crikey years ago on this:

    Population in Australia: 2050 versus 1950?
    by Michael R James, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

    Bob Carr could also claim increasing use of public transport during Labour’s rule but the problem is that it has nothing at all to do with improved public transport but entirely to do with increasing road congestion. Not only could his government not implement any serious program for expanding the rail network but it managed to waste $95 million on a failed integrated travel smartcard. The same company awarded the Sydney contract, ERG, is responsible for the highly lauded Hong Kong Octopus card system, the first such card in the world.

    Bob Carr appears to be very Australian in his near-total pessimism and complacency about our ability to change to meet future challenges. His only “idea” is to shut the door on immigration, the only thing that has stopped us—just—from being the most boring place in the known universe. Instead of being Cassandra he should be part of the solution, but then he never did that when he held power. Being from the boomer generation he should remember the saying, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.]

  24. michael r james

    Ben wrote:

    [There is no case for building a 320 kmh high speed rail link along an incredibly expensive corridor above or below ground to a station in the Sydney CBD. It would cost billions of dollars for a low demand proposition compared to the much nearer existing Sydney Airport.]

    True, but it would make sense if Sydney West was the main and sole 24/7 airport for the greater Sydney conurbation. Though a 320 kmph HSR is not needed, especially as it could never achieve such speeds (hmm maglev could …). No, a “high-speed” commuter rail like Paris RER is all that is required. In fact, as you mention, the SW Rail is exactly that.
    On the cost issue, everything and anything in Australian infrastructure costs billions so really we cannot let that stop us building whatever is required.

    Interesting that Turnbull and Albanese are on the same page, but who has the credibility? I’m pretty sure Turnbull will have trouble pushing such a thing thru his conservatives, and Albanese will run into the same problems but if anyone might have any chance it is likely to be Albo. Not only is his enthusiasm for public transport genuine but his electorate is nearby.

  25. PaulM

    Train has to be the way to go to connect Badgery’s Creek to the rest of Sydney. The road network in western Sydney is just as congested as in the rest of the city.

    As an aside, I caught the train from the existing Sydney domestic station to Central last Friday, and walked to a meeting in Goulburn Street. A business colleague was on the same flight,caught a taxi from the airport and arrived 15 minutes later and, no doubt, considerably lighter in the pocket.

    In this regard, at least, Sydney leaves Melbourne in the shade.

  26. ghostwhowalksnz

    PaulM comment is exactly why Im highlighting the poor train station usage at Sydney airport, that situation cant be changed but for the new airport, putting in a train station ‘from day one’ can be ignored as hardly anyone will use it.
    But of course for those few people who ‘might say’ they will catch a train, they are immune to reason.

    Dijical however uses the politicians approach of just multiplying the numbers till it gets in the millions to make it look better.

    How many roads in Sydney have 6.6 mill cars a year, or 18000 a day?
    Luckily RMS has an interactive online tool to look up their traffic count records
    Fairford Rd in Bankstown ? 61k cars per day Liverpool Rd Ashfield 22k per day. Barranjoey Rd Moana Vale 44k .
    Its hard to find any of the dozens of roads shown who are less than 25k per day ( 9 mill a year). Oh theres one. Bridge St Richmond, way out in the outskirts, 20k per day ( but using politicians math it becomes 7.3 million a year !)
    This of course only proves that you can make lots of things into ‘millions’ if you want to cover up something else
    This exposes the other flaw, one days count isnt the average for 7 days let alone a whole year.
    Then we havenyt forgotten the airports little secret, how many station boardings are merely those transferring terminals, they should be removed , as of course they may have come from Perth or Canberra or many other places.

    Domestic doesnt even match salubrious but unremarkable Edgecliff which too is on an underground line.

  27. dijical

    With respect, I’m simply quoting (correctly) the stats which you provided. It’s disingenuous to denigrate me for quoting your own data. “This exposes the other flaw, one days count isnt the average for 7 days let alone a whole year.” You put up this data – any flaws are your own, not mine.

    Likewise your data around road traffic merely reinforces the point. We both agree that the airport stations take something like 18,000 cars off the road. If they didn’t exist it would have similar impact to closing Liverpool Rd Ashfield 22k per day: total gridlock around the airport and total gridlock in the inner west respectively.

    You’re right when you say the airport stations were very slow to ramp up at the start. But a decade and a half later the story is very different.

  28. comet

    Sydney’s airport rail stations create probably the most expensive public rail journey in the world.

    What’s it cost? Somewhere around $17 for a 4km one-way journey. Where else in the world do you pay that much?

    Imagine the cost for a family of four to take the train to the airport. It’s cheaper to hire a limousine with a chauffeur to take you there. This is why the airport stations are poorly used.

    Plus, factor in the people who catch the train to nearby Mascot station, and then transfer to the ‘400’ bus to go that last stop to the airport, avoiding the excessive airport station fee.

    Transport planners have urged the NSW government to put on more trains to the airport, and remove the airport station surcharge completely, to alleviate the traffic bottlenecks in the Mascot area. It’s cheaper to reduce the fee than to construct new motorway infrastructure into the area.

  29. michael r james

    @comet Posted March 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm
    [Sydney’s airport rail stations create probably the most expensive public rail journey in the world. What’s it cost? Somewhere around $17 for a 4km one-way journey. Where else in the world do you pay that much?]

    Answer: Brisbane.

    But I think London Heathrow takes the prize:
    Typically British, they have turned a simple short express service into a nit-picked nightmare: there are 12 different fares, including a business class. The standard Express Saver (bought at the station on the day): US$33.20 (rtn $54.00). An online-only 90d-advance-purchase: US$10.80 (rtn $18.40)

    It is the pathetic Brits who we slavishly follow no matter the stupidity or inconvenience. It is the reason we privatised KSA and gave the new owners the monopoly over the entire Sydney basis forever (ie. if any airport is proposed within 100km of the GPO).

    Likewise, they waited 50-60 years, to provide a direct train service. Prior to Heathrow Express there was (and remains) the Piccadilly Line on the Underground that takes more than an hour because it stops at (a dozen) stops and it is seemingly always crowded with non-airport commuters and has no provision for luggage so is often a real bore.

    @ghostwhowalksnz Posted March 15, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Are you a Brit by any chance? (via Kiwiland) Seriously, have you looked at all the major international airports around the world. Tell me which on this list (compiled for other purposes) doesn’t have a train service; and also note that with only a few exceptions when built as a new airport the train service was built for the opening of the airport. Even US car-based cities like Atlanta, Dallas and LAX have a rail link (if not always of great quality), and JFK and SFO went to great expense to install theirs.
    Also note that Tullamarine continues to experience congestion on the roads servicing it so what do they do: still deny it needs rail and instead will spend $800m on widening the Tullamarine freeway–which you know and I know and everyone knows, will simply draw in yet more traffic.

    Heathrow is 23 km west of central London.
    Gatwick is 47.5 km south of central London
    JFK is ≈35 km to Manhattan
    Chicago O’Hare is 26 km to the Chicago Loop.
    Dulles is 42 km to Washington DC
    SFO is 21 km south of San Francisco
    LAX is 27 km to downtown LA
    YVR is 12 km to downtown Vancouver
    Paris-CDG is ≈25 km to Paris
    Narita is 78 km [57.5 km] to central Tokyo
    Kansai is 38 km southwest of Ōsaka
    Incheon is 48 km west of Seoul.
    KLIA is 58 km to KL
    Suvarnabhumi is 25 km to downtown Bangkok
    HKI is, even in tiny HK, 34 km to Central
    Singapore-Changi is 17.2 km to CBD
    Shanghai-Pudong airport is ≈40 km to central Shanghai
    Berlin Brandenburg (under construction) is 18 km south of Berlin

  30. ghostwhowalksnz

    Michael, just saying look over there is ignoring the issue here of why Sydney ( and Brisbane) airports have such poor usage of their train stations. Even when like Sydney the traffic is atrocious ( probably made worse by those that circle around waiting for the call or txt to say they are through to the curb side – come and get me!)

    Believe me no one was more surprised than me to see Domestic down there among the 40-50 rank for station boardings- just ahead of Granville for goodness sake. There are issues about the fare surcharge, but that was mainly because of hubris about the number of passengers who would use an expensive service- so you are back to square one why that is so in Sydney.
    An evidence based approach would have concluded that a tunnel only solution all the way to Central station wasnt economic and that a shorter loop off the existing line and back again was the answer.

    Then again Australia seems to be the home of wildly inflated modelling for transport projects, so having an evidence based solution just isnt something they do in your country.
    Your own confused reasoning is part of that- viz Sydney has a very good train link and terrible traffic so that Melbourne which has traffic getting worse should put in a train station when there is no evidence the road traffic will reduce much.

    I know they will put these future transport modes as they call them ( well they did when I did this sort of thing 30 years ago) and run their computer models to see the results, that should show the traffic will just be as bad if they are honest and give a low train usage.

    Just as a side issue, do you really consider LAX to have a ‘rail link’ when this is the current description of their ‘Green Line’

    ” At Aviation/LAX, passengers can transfer to any one of several bus lines from different operators, particularly the shuttle bus to LAX.”
    While JKF requires a transfer from the airport Skytrain to the Rockaway subway line – main use of this Skytrain is to service the long term carpark for the terminals.

  31. michael r james


    No one (but the ignorant, not you) ever claims that roads (or widened roads, Braess’ Paradox) will magically become decongested. They always fill to near-capacity in big cities. But if you want a lot of people (such as the ten million pax pa who ride the London/HK/Paris/NYC etc train links) off those roads (for lower congestion so the freight & utilities that must use them suffer less) and those people who opt to not use the roads can get to their destinations without a sweat.

    Much of your post is a kind of fatalism, which you will claim as simply pragmatic. I understand, but it is not going to work as Sydney lumbers (or sprints) towards ten million residents. It just kicks the can down the road to LA (or Atlanta) style dysfunction. The point is that a serous public transport plan is essential for Sydney’s future, and building the rail link at modest cost now is a sensible step, rather than delaying it forever. It’s not even a false choice between this and “more roads”. Naturally a city-wide PT network, based on rail not bus (the cheapskates & econo-rationalists choice), will have to be built. Do you think Sydney can continue BAU?

    The cost of the WestConnex (which began life to serve KSA) continues to climb; call it $18bn or maybe double if they ever build it. This money should be going into a rail network.

    The LAX Green line stopping just short of the airport is silly but it or another line is destined to properly serve the airport eventually. It rather points out why Sydney West needs to build its rail link now, not just “plan” for it. It becomes so much more difficult & expensive as time moves on.

    The JFK Airtrain goes from within the airport (and serves as internal shuttle free of charge to all five terminals and carparks) to all the way to Jamaica, which serves both the Subway connections and LIR to Nassau etc. (Haven’t’ been to NYC for years, and I would possibly still take the A-train because I am usually heading right up to Columbia Med School.)

  32. Dan Dair

    Just to stick my oar in…..

    As MRJ implied,
    it is always easiest to plan ahead & build the infrastructure in advance of the anticipated expansion.

    The HSR had corridors of access into the centre of Sydney 10-15 years ago. Not so now.
    Consequently, they’re talking about extensive & VERY expensive tunnelling to get close to the CBD now, rather than just to actually access the underground CBD station.

    The region around Badgerys Creek airport has seen a fair amount of development over the last 10 years & this is only likely to gather pace, since space within the basin is limited & more expensive the closer you get to the CBD.

    If the requisite infrastructure links are in place or at least ringfenced to prevent them being built-on by other projects, when the money is finally found, the links can be built without much trouble.

    Lets face it, if the routes are laid out now,
    there’ll not be much point in someone complaining in five years time, when the planned train line finally appears at the bottom of their back yard.

  33. ghostwhowalksnz

    Michael, Im far from fatalistic, indeed we can all heed the wise words of Marcus Aurelius.
    The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

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