On track to roads chaos

Train to nowhere: There will be no rail link to Badgerys Creek Airport when it opens
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More cars, more buses, more congestion.

Five million people are expected to use the new Badgerys Creek Airport (BCA) when it opens in the mid-2020s – and they will all be forced to share western Sydney’s already clogged roads.

Passenger trains are unlikely to service the new airport from its opening, putting immediate pressure on the $3.6 billion roads package that aims to prepare western Sydney for flight.

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development said road, parking and bus services will be available in the first stage of operation, but there was no suggestion of a rail link.

“An airport in its initial stage of operation will be supported by improved land transport services through road upgrades, park and ride facilities and new bus services providing direct links to major centres in western Sydney,” the spokesperson said.

“This is consistent with the Australian Government’s approach that the proposed airport be developed in stages, providing the right infrastructure at the right time to meet demand.”

BCA is expected to provide 4,500 job opportunities and service five million passengers per year, just a fraction of Sydney Airport’s 38.5 million annual passengers.

With Sydney Airport’s close proximity to the city, there are various ways of getting to and from the airport, such as car, taxi, bus, airport transfers, cycling, walking and train.

Sydney Airport’s rail system, Airport Link, moves around 19,500 people a day, 13 per cent of the airport’s total daily influx of 150,000 travellers, staff and ‘meeters and greeters’.

Airport Link’s CEO Tim Anderson said in the next year, they anticipate a further seven million passengers to use the service as their preferred mode of airport travel.

Workers and passengers at BCA won’t have this choice, and will need to drive themselves to the airport and pay for parking, get a lift or catch the bus.

Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler is concerned that without rail the amount of cars on the road may double, and said adequate infrastructure for road and rail access must occur.

“If a western Sydney airport has 5,000 people working, that’s at least 10,000 extra car movements per day,” he said.

“Sydney lacks good, efficient north-south linkages. The M7 is a start, but Sydney needs other forms of transport other than road, and rail is the obvious one. Penrith Council is 100 per cent for the railways, and we will argue very, very strongly for the railway as soon as possible, and there is plenty of time between now and when the airport opens to do that.”

Cr Fowler said if the Federal and State Governments do not reserve a rail corridor soon, they are not doing justice to western Sydney.

– Dale Drinkwater

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