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$22b savings seen in high-speed rail link

Date

John Thistleton

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron. Photo: Graham Tidy

Opposition to a second Sydney airport at Wilton will help a fresh push for a high-speed train, Canberra Airport's managing director Stephen Byron says.

Even though major airlines and the federal government want a second airport near Sydney and have ruled out Canberra, the airport and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell believe four decades of political indecision will continue to stop the project from proceeding.

Instead, Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport's capacity constraints are creating a more compelling case for a high-speed rail link to Canberra, says Mr Byron, who committed to a $140 million terminal at Canberra airport last week.

Wollondilly Council's deputy mayor Benn Banasik said 400 people at a rally opposed to a second airport at Wilton on Saturday included transport and infrastructure experts and people from Campbelltown and surrounding towns.

He said Wilton homes would be directly under flight paths of the proposed site while 600 homes would be within a five-kilometre radius and 20,000 people lived within a 30- kilometre radius.

Mr Banasik said studies over 25 years had ruled out Wilton, and even though federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese favoured Wilton for political reasons, environmental studies would rule it out as an airport site.

''Wollondilly is home to five major dams that feed Sydney's drinking water supply. It is actually in a catchment zone,'' Mr Banasik said.

''It is quite amazing that they would even consider putting it in that area. I guess politics knows no bounds when you are in an election period for federal government, unfortunately.''

He said ecologist Ian Wright and transport analyst Philip Laird, from Wollongong University, who spoke on the Sydney-Canberra high-speed train case, were among those to address the rally.

Mr Byron said the Joint Study into Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region released earlier this year questioned Wilton's viability in 2030. He said the site did not have an existing natural catchment as a base for underpinning an airport.

Richmond's Royal Australian Air Force facility would need to be developed as an interim airport with a price tag of more than $10 billion, on top of $7-11 billion for Wilton, according to the joint study.

''So if you think about it, a high-speed rail to Canberra might save up to $22 billion in government costs to build airport capacity in Sydney,'' Mr Byron said.

While a high-speed train would also lead to more air traffic, Canberra airport would not have the noise-sharing requirements of a second airport at either Wilton, Badgery's Creek or Richmond, which would need a curfew as well to comply with environmental restrictions.

''The key difference is that at Badgery's Creek and Wilton there are existing houses built under flight paths,'' Mr Byron said. ''This in turn means that airports there would most likely operate with noise sharing with more people getting affected.''

Rural corridors into and out of Canberra airport would avoid noise sharing. Canberra did not have a curfew.

13 comments

  • The water catchments are miles from WIlton. Planes from Mascot airport already fly over the water catchments, every time I travel.
    20,000 people live within 30 km of the Wilton airport site ? So what, about 2 million have to live within 30 km of Mascot.
    Its curious that they seem to be about to build thousands of houses under the flight path on both the north and south ends of Canberra airport.

    Commenter
    enno
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 10:55AM
    • I welcome Mr Byron's entry into the railway business. He must see the writing on the wall for any hope of Canberra becoming Sydney's second airport!!!

      Commenter
      Liberte
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 11:54AM
      • Canberra Airport would need to become a fully-fledged international Airport otherwise a high speed rail link would be an unused white elephant.

        Commenter
        yumq
        Location
        cbr
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 12:21PM
        • Nonsense. It would be viable if just 10% of current domestic air travel moved to high speed rail. Sydney - Melbourne is the 4th busiest air route in the world and Sydney - Brisbane is the 12th busiest. 10% of that traffic would be 10 trains per day in each direction carrying 400 passengers each. One train could replace 2 or 3 planes, freeing up 4 or 6 slots at Sydney airport.

          Commenter
          Meanwhile
          Location
          in the real world
          Date and time
          June 18, 2012, 4:12PM
        • @Meanwhile

          Why would anyone fly from Melbourne to Canberra to catch a train to Sydney? They wouldn't, of course. They would fly from Melbourne to Sydney. Same with Brisabane to Sydney. Meanwhile, if flights from overseas are landing in Canberra as an alternative to Sydney, the train link becomes more worthwhile. Without Canberra being an international airport, the only viable passengers would be the ones who would normally fly Canberra/Sydney. And if they all did that, then why have an airport in Canberra at all? Just have a train station!

          Commenter
          yumq
          Location
          cbr
          Date and time
          June 19, 2012, 11:44AM
      • Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport DOES NOT have capacity constraints! It has an artificial cap on the number of movements per hour and a curfew. Get rid of those and Sydney is fine for another 50 years. Move just 25% of domestic Brisbane - Sydney - Canberra - Melbourne traffic to high speed rail and Sydney doesn't need a second airport for another 100 years.

        If high speed rail gets to Canberra is should NOT go to the airport. It should be in the CBD.

        Commenter
        Meanwhile
        Location
        in the real world
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 1:46PM
        • I heartily agree with your first paragraph. Sydney's airport congestion could be solved with a few strokes of the pen, not a new $10 billion airport. Sydney claims to be a "global city, open for business 24 hours a day"...... except when it comes to access. Imagine if New York City closed all the bridges leading into Manhattan each night because poeple on the island wanted some sleep? Sound silly, that's what we do when we close Sydney airport each day. You want to be a global city Sydney, act like one.

          As for a HSR terminal in Civic, no way buddy. Our airport is actually close to the CBD (it really is) and will form a fantastic transport hub for the city if a rail head gets there. What we really need is some decent public transport from the airport/train station into the city.... and then into the rest of Canberra. Light Rail anyone? The announcement is due in the next 10-12 days. I bet you $800million that we stuck with good ol' Action buses. Why mess with success;Canberra's future lays in dirty, smelly, costly, diesel guzzling buses that go almost where you want them to every 2 hours or so (4 hours on Saturday or Sunday).

          Discover the pluses of buses, then tell the rest of us what they are.

          Commenter
          Stir the pot
          Date and time
          June 18, 2012, 4:34PM
      • No one wants an airport in their back yard. The water catchment stuff is a non - issue for Wilton, if you look at Heathrow Airport you will find it is located next to Staines Reservoir. Far more air traffic than Wilton is ever likely to carry. Also a fast train to Canberra would take much longer than one hour, unless it were to start from Campbelltown which is already more than an hour from the Sydney CBD. It's just too built up thru the suburbs to fit in a high speed track without massive demolitions. Steve Byron and Barry O'Farrell are dreaming if they think Canberra is a viable alternative to Wilton.

        Commenter
        DaveB
        Date and time
        June 18, 2012, 2:36PM
        • That's crazy!! I'd love an airport in my backyard. Sure, I'd have to move the clothesline and be really careful when walking to the garage but the benefits would be outstanding. I could take three steps from the laundry and be on my way to Helsinki.

          Commenter
          Stir the pot
          Date and time
          June 18, 2012, 4:13PM
        • ~290Km (by road) from Canberra to Civic on trains that can do up to 350Km/h means that they should be able to do it in about 50 minutes.

          I find it rather odd that people seem hung up on Canberra being further away from Sydney than Heathrow is to Central London. Have you tried catching the tube between Heathrow and Central London? Sure it's not far on the map, but it takes ages to get into town - longer if you catch a taxi too! Same goes for pretty much anywhere else - t can take half an hour to get from Mascott into Sydney on an ordinary day...

          Commenter
          SteveF
          Date and time
          June 19, 2012, 11:05PM

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