Western Sydney Airport has been allocated $26 million over the next two years to study design options for a train station and rail links at the proposed airport.
The funding commitment, which also included $89 million for “critical preparatory activities” at the Badgerys Creek site, was outlined in the 2016/17 federal budget published on Tuesday night.
In total, the federal government has provided $115.1 million over the next two financial years to “progress preparatory works” at the proposed airport.
“The funding will be used to provide specialist advice on planning and development of the project, ongoing management and security of the site, minor land acquisitions and design work for the provision of utilities,” the budget papers said.
“The concept design for the provision of rail services to the site will be prepared with assistance from Transport for New South Wales and will recommend and preparatory works to ensure the WSA side is rail ready.”
In November 2015, the federal and NSW governments announced a joint-study on train links to the proposed airport, as well as the broader transport network that would support growth in Western Sydney.
The “rail options plan” was expected to take 12 months to complete and consider the economic, population and commercial factors, as well as map out costs and timeframes.
The scoping study would also consider funding and financing issues, including whether value capture techniques could assist meeting the funding requirement.
In August, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss confirmed the proposed airport would be designed “rail ready”, with provisions for a station within the terminal facilities, as well as rail tunnels linking that station to the Sydney rail network, included in the design plans.
Further, the cost of the rail tunnels and cavity for the railway station would be about $500 million and that cost was being included in the design plans.
However, buses were expected to be the only form of public transit available when the proposed airport was scheduled to open some time in the mid-2020s.
In November, Labor transport spokesperson Anthony Albanese called for Badgerys Creek to be served by rail from the day it opens.
— ABC Sydney (@abcsydney) November 12, 2015
Road upgrades have already begun around the Badgerys Creek site as part of the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.
In February, Sydney Airport said it expected to receive a “Notice of Intention” – effectively a sales contract to build and operate the proposed airport – from the federal government some time around June.
Sydney Airport has a right of first refusal (ROFR) to build and operate a second airport within 100km of the Sydney CBD.
The government said on Tuesday night the environmental impact statement and airport plan were expected to be finalised in the coming months.
There were about 5,000 public submissions to the draft EIS and airport plan, which were published in October 2015.
While the draft airport plan outlined a 24-hour, curfew-free airport that would begin with a single 3,700m runway configured in a north-east/south-west orientation, in April Labor proposed creating a “no fly zone” between 2300-0600, where all aircraft during that seven-hour period would depart in a south-west direction on Runway 23, while arriving flights would approach from the south-west to land on Runway 05 to avoid residential areas.
The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), the union representing Qantas pilots, said the Labor proposal would place a heavy restriction on the airport’s operations.
“It would not be possible to have simultaneous operations in an opposite direction on a single runway unless those operations were separated by 15 to 20 minutes,” AIPA treasurer and Qantas Boeing 747 first officer Adam Susz said.