Transcript of Interview: ABC NewsRadio



13 November 2015

Topics: Western Sydney Airport

Sandy Aloisi: Here at home Federal and New South Wales state ministers are meeting today to hammer out plans for a new rail link from Central Sydney to the planned second airport at Badgerys Creek. The study is being undertaken as part of an overall plan to have the airport operating within a decade, and to have a rail line established when it opens. To look at the plan Marius Benson is speaking to the Federal Minister for Major Projects Paul Fletcher.

Reporter: Paul Fletcher before I ask you about the rail link to the proposed Badgerys Creek airport can you just remind us of the status of the airport itself? It's been discussed for decades, how real is the prospect now?

Paul Fletcher: You're right that successive governments failed to take a decision in relation to Western Sydney Airport. The Abbott Government took a decision to proceed with Western Sydney Airport, and the Turnbull Government is very much committed to that. The Western Sydney airport is scheduled to open in the mid 2020s. Recently we issued an environmental impact statement, that's open for public consultation now with comments due by 18 December. We've also issued the draft airport plan, and there's a $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan which involves major upgrades to the Northern Road, Bringelly Road and so on. In due course there will be the new M12 motorway which will run west from the existing M7 to access the airport. So there's a huge amount going on in relation to Western Sydney airport, and the scoping study that we're announcing today into Western Sydney airport rail, and the rail needs of Western Sydney more generally, is another part of that work stream.

Reporter: Okay that scoping study of the rail link, what sort of cost will it be to tie Central Sydney and Western Sydney to the airport, and as you mentioned there's also this wider question of rail transport in Western Sydney?

Paul Fletcher: That's one of the questions the scoping study jointly conducted by the New South Wales and Federal Governments is going to look at. So we want to look at what's the right route? When should the rail link be built? And how best should it be funded? And one of the key questions is the connectivity to Western Sydney Airport from the major urban centres of Western Sydney, so that's Campbelltown, Liverpool, Penrith, the whole range of other major Western Sydney urban centres, how do we make sure that there are the best possible transport connections from those centres to the airport, first of all for passengers, so the airport will start with about 5 million to 10 million passengers a year in the early years, over the coming decades that will rise very sharply, it's projected to hit 80 million by around 2063. But also for jobs; by 2031 the airport is expected to be generating around 9000 jobs, so it'll be very important that there's good connectivity to the airport from Western Sydney.

So the study, this joint New South Wales-Federal Government study will look at what's the right route for rail, both to meet the needs of the airport, but also all of the economic development that we expect around the airport. Western Sydney is expected to grow from 2 million to 3 million people over the next 20 years, the airport obviously intended to be a major economic catalyst, but there'll be much more activity that will be coming, and it's important that we look at holistically the rail needs of the area, and that's what the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government working together with this study propose to do.

Reporter: A question in the mind of prospective travellers might be what the cost of a rail link from Sydney to the new airport might be? Particularly if they travel to the existing airport by rail, because it's just a private rail link of a couple of stations, but it's a punitive expense that makes taxis pretty tempting for a lot of travellers.

Paul Fletcher: Certainly one of the questions to look at of course will be the fares on the system, but that- the preliminary question to ask is which route? Where should the rail link go? When to build it? And then how best to fund it? And we want to look at a range of options there, one of the options to look at is what's called value capture—this is something the Prime Minister has spoken about a fair bit—the idea that rail infrastructure and other transport infrastructure produces a very substantial uplift in property values.

Sandy Aloisi: That's the Minister for Major Projects Paul Fletcher speaking to Marius Benson.