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A separate express train line would be needed if people were to travel by rail to a Badgerys Creek airport, not a simple extension of Sydney's existing train system, says one of the authors of the major study in support of the airport site.
The Abbott government is poised to announce its support for a Badgerys Creek airport in western Sydney within weeks. Determining who pays for the transport links to the airport is almost certain to emerge as a source of tension between the federal and state governments before the airport is built.
But Peter Thornton, a former general manager of infrastructure at the engineering firm WorleyParsons who worked on a federal-state study into the airport site, says a rail line to the airport may not be required for many years. But if a line were built, he said, it would need to be an express service and not a simple extension of the south-west rail link that runs close to Badgerys Creek.
''If the government actually does decide to look at Badgerys Creek, we are not going to see a twin runway, 70 million passenger per annum airport built there,'' Mr Thornton told an audience at the University of Sydney on Tuesday.
Mr Thornton was one of the main participants in a study between 2010 and 2012 on future airport sites for Sydney.
That study, commissioned by then transport minister Anthony Albanese, recommended Badgerys Creek as by far the best option for another Sydney airport, though no government has been prepared to back one yet.
Mr Thornton said that in its initial years of operation, a Badgerys Creek airport would probably operate only limited budget flights.
He said this would probably not require a rail connection, which would be the most expensive element of the transport infrastructure potentially built around an airport.
But if a train line was built, it would need to offer attractive travel times.
''I think having an airport rail link over which travel will involve stopping at every station between the Badgerys Creek site and the CBD probably doesn't cut it,'' Mr Thornton said.
If the south-west rail link, which is being built to nearby Leppington and should open next year, was extended to Badgerys Creek it is not clear how express trains could run between the western airport, the existing airport at Mascot and the city.
''It particularly doesn't cut it because if you think about the travel decision-making process, you can see people saying, 'why am I going through an airport to go to another airport?''' he said.
The federal government has signalled it will support a Badgerys Creek airport with an initial $200 million funding package for roads around the airport.
However NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has said this figure appears to be missing a zero.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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