Rail Links and Sydney’s Airports

Peter Thornton, a local transport consultant in Sydney released an interesting slide deck “Rail Links and Sydney’s Airports” discussing the factors that drive rail mode share to airports, which is of interest given the planned second Sydney Airport at Badgery Creek, and more generally given the desire to connect selected airports to CBDs via rail (Washington Dulles, New York’s Airports, etc.).

Western Sydney Airport
Western Sydney Airport

For the Western Sydney Airport, he argues:

  • If rail fares are simply set at Opal Card rates then for Sydney CBD and Parramatta then rail passengers are around 24%- 22% of all passengers from that location; if around $16 similar to Sydney Airport, %’s are 18%-20% and if around $30 then the %’s drop to 15%-16%;
  • Similarly, if travel times are based on the existing network, %’s are in the low 20%s but if travel times are cut to 30 mins (CBD) and 15 mins (Parramatta) then %’s increase to beyond 30%;
  • Cost of alternative modes such as taxi or Uber has a significant impact – Uber level fares reduce rail passengers to 12%-15% from 22%-24% for standard taxi fares. This has a major effect on the usage of rail;

There are other interesting and sound observations in the presentation.