Buses will be the only form of public transport to Sydney’s Badgerys Creek Airport when the new facility is opened in the mid-2020s, a senior Commonwealth public servant says.
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development deputy secretary Andrew Wilson says rail is “probably a longer term requirement” for the proposed airport in western Sydney.
“We are looking at the issue of rail infrastructure with NSW,” Wilson told delegates at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney on Monday.
“Rail is just one means of public transport. The first public transport to and from the airport will be buses. It will be buses provided through an efficient road network.
The state and federal government say they will spend a combined $3.6 billion over the next 10 years for road improvements around the Badgerys Creek Airport site.
However, there has been no funds allocated towards a rail link to the airport.
Asked if the master plan would include safeguards for an intermodal connection, or rail link, inside the terminal, Wilson said: “We are working to ensure that the airport is capable of being developed long-term in the most efficient way we possibly can and that includes the identification of what you may or may not need in terms of future rail infrastructure investment.”
“Of course it has got to be developed in such as a way that it would integrate into the NSW rail network which is why we are working with NSW transport officials.”
Wilson said construction planned to start in 2016, with the airport to open with capacity for 10 million passengers a year and be capable of handling domestic and international flights, as well as local and overseas freight, from day one.
“The first stage will be neither a shed in a paddock, nor a grand monument,” Wilson said.
“Think of Adelaide Airport today and you would be in the right ballpark both in terms of size but also capacity to handle a diversity of traffic it will serve.”
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said he was comfortable with the airport not having rail service on its first day of operations.
“With all of these infrastructure projects you do not want them to be over speced and over developed from day one,” Joyce told delegates at the conference on Tuesday.
“I think eventually Badgerys Creek will need a rail link, I’m open to the fact that at the start it doesn’t have a rail link.”
The Commonwealth recently concluded the nine-month formal consultation period with the owners of Sydney Airport and was preparing to release its Notice of Intention (effectively a sales contract) in late 2015.
Wilson said the Department was currently preparing its advice to government about the commercial and contractual structure of the proposal, including the detailed first stage requirements of the airport.
“If everything goes well, it is possible that the Notice of Intention will be with Sydney Airport by the end of the year,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Wilson said the environmental impact statement and airport master plan were expected to be released to the public in either late November or early December.
When the Commonwealth sold Sydney Airport in 2002 it included a 30-year first right of refusal to build and operate any airport within 100km of the existing terminals at Mascot.
During the formal consultations, the Department and Sydney Airport conducted an “extensive consultation process” that included 28 formal meetings, 33 technical sessions and 15 small sessions, Wilson said.
This was separate to the consultations with community groups, local councils and the NSW government departments and ministers.
While the formal master plan was yet to be released, Wilson said the government was keen to maximise the aeronautical capacity of the 1,700ha site and build an airport that was able to expand as demand grew.
In terms of the airport design, Wilson said the master plan would show a curfew-free facility where the terminal buildings and apron space were located between two parallel runways capable of handling large widebody aircraft.
Ultimately, the airport would be designed to be capable of handling more than 80 million passengers a year by the time it reached capacity.
“That is a lot of capacity but we want to ensure an enduring solution to Sydney’s aviation needs,” Wilson said.