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Canberra Airport backs bullet train role as second Sydney airport

By David Flynn     Filed under: Sydney Airport, high speed rail, second Sydney airport, Canberra, Canberra Airport, bullet trains, very fast trains

Canberra Airport has enthusiastically welcomed plans by the NSW Premier to build a high-speed train line between Sydney and Canberra and entrench the national's capital as a de facto second airport for Sydney.

Canberra Airport chief Steven Byron expects a Sydney-Canberra bullet train would reduce travel time between the two cities to just one hour, and that building the dedicated high-speed rail link would cost the same as a second airport – but with far less political fallout and much greater opportunity for both cities.

The line has already been proposed as part of a much larger and far more ambitious Aussie bullet train running from Brisbane to Melbourne.

This has already seen a new Southern Concourse Terminal opened in late 2010, which is currently used by Qantas.

Work is now underway on a mirror-image Western Concourse Terminal which will be home to Virgin Australia and regional carriers. 

The airport's runways have also "been lengthened, strengthened and widened to 747 and A380 standard" Canberra Airport chief Steven Byron told Australian Business Traveller last year.

"So we've got a fully kitted-up airport, you can go anywhere off our runway with a fully-laden aircraft that you can go out of Sydney Airport."

Byron considers Canberra as an ideal "overflow airport" as Sydney's congestion continues.

"Sydney will become more crowded and that's when our role as an overflow airport comes into play. We won't formally be a second Sydney airport but we believe there will be parts of the market that will grow for us in response as Sydney's capabilities are challenged."

Byron says he expects services from Canberra "will be flying across the Tasman to both Auckland and Wellington" once the Western Concourse Terminal is completed, after which "we'll see one of the airlines commence services to Singapore." The airport's 2009 'masterplan' also flagged China as a likely 'medium-term' route.

Byron also sees Canberra eventually becoming the natural home of low-cost Asian carriers such as Air Asia X and Jetstar Asia. "I think a decade down the track (Canberra) will be Sydney's low-cost airport for international services" he predicts.

"They'll be squeezed out of  Sydney in due course as the capacity constraint hits, just as the low-cost airlines have been squeezed out of Heathrow and other major 'first airports' in larger cities around the world. We think we'll see the Air Asia X's and Jetstar Asias will be flying out of Canberra."

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

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1 on 10/4/12 by spentan

With the Bullet train, what they should really do is have a railcar that can hold vehicles. It would be great to be able to ride a train to sydney with your car on a railcar and drive it off at the other end, so that you can still get around Sydney/Melb/Bris with your own car.

2 on 10/4/12 by AirportAddict

When Albanese says, "The solution for a second airport in Sydney is not an airport in another city, the solution to a second Sydney airport is a second Sydney airport", why does he think we need another airport in Sydney? Are you going to want to do a 50 minute trip from SYD to wilton? or would you want to do a one hour train trip to canberra?

What i say is build the high speed train regardless of whether canberra acts as a second airport.

3 on 10/4/12 by highflyer

Something that the government would have to consider, and as seen as an example of when Taiwan brought their High speed bullet train into commission is that 80% of the Domestic airline routes became unprofitable and collapsed/decomissioned because of the highspeed bullet train.  Passengers preferred to get on a train, no security screening required, no 30 minute check-in prior required, as compared to flying, having to check-in, security screening, then waiting for baggage at the other side.  Train travel became convenient, however it destroyed the airline market.  If a Canberra/Sydney route became operational, or even Sydney/Melbourne or the Golden triangle, you could really perhaps see the collapse of the Australian flying industry on the East coast.

1 on 11/4/12 by romaau

And the problem with that is? Airlines will just concentrate on other routes. Not to mention the environmental benefit.

2 on 11/4/12 by David

Well, London-Paris on Eurostar is very popular but there's still plenty of London-Paris flights each day – despite the many benefits of train vs plane!

I'd expect that if a Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne fast train got up and received the necessary patronage it may well see a reduction in frequency of flights between some markets to reflect demand but not a wholesale collapse of these routes. And if HSR takes off, well, airlines will just have to adjust to that - it's the nature of the competitive beast.

Personally, I'd rather see high-speed rail for the many benefits it brings and then have a choice of plane or train to suit my needs.

 

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