The NSW infrastructure authority has dismissed the idea of a fast rail link between Sydney and Canberra as an expensive and impractical solution to overcrowding at Sydney Airport.
The group’s State Infrastructure Strategy, published yesterday, instead argues that a second airport should be built in Badgery’s Creek in Sydney’s west, an idea that has been ruled out by both the state and federal governments.
The federal government is moving ahead with a study of a second airport site in Wilton, while NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has opposed a second airport anywhere in Sydney and has instead pushed the idea of a fast rail link to an expanded Canberra Airport.
But Infrastructure NSW said the rail link was a risky and unproven idea.
“A commitment of this scale requires a high degree of certainty that it will achieve its identified objectives,” it said in its report. “To date, Infrastructure NSW believes the case has not been made as to why a rail option would provide such transformative benefits that it would compete with aviation, even with a heavy subsidy.”
The cost of an east coast high speed rail network from Brisbane to Melbourne has been estimated at between $68 and $108 billion.
Sydney Airport welcomed the Infrastructure NSW report and called on the state government to improve public transport and road links to the airport.
“Infrastructure NSW has rightly recognised Sydney Airport’s importance to the state’s economy and that it will remain the state’s primary airport now and into the future,” Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather said in a statement. “The report recognises that the NSW government needs to improve access to the airport, by enhancing public transport options and making changes to the road network.”