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Anger mounts over cost of reaching Sydney Airport by rail

March 21, 2014 Rail No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The outrageous cost of travelling by rail to and from Sydney Airport and is surrounds is arousing the ire of industry groups as well as travellers.

The decision to make the Airport Link underground rail line private has meant that its fares are way out of kilter with fares on the Sydney Trains network. While the International railway station (located below the International terminal) and the Domestic railway station (located under the car park between the domestic terminals (Terminal 2 and Terminal 3) are part of the Sydney Trains suburban network, they are privately owned and operated by the Airport Link consortium.

As a result, as of 2014, a single ticket from the Domestic railway station to the city is AUD 16.40 (day-return ticket AUD 32.80), which includes an airport station surcharge (GatePass) of AUD 12.60 (AUD 25.20 for a day-return GatePass).

Now, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has called on the NSW Government to accept the recommendations of a cross-bench parliamentary committee to provide concessions for families, groups and workers travelling by train to the Sydney Airport precinct.

TAA, which represents the interests of the Australian hotel sector, says that the prohibitive charges on the airport train link are stymieing tourism growth for the city and making it financially difficult for some of the city’s lowest paid workers to work in the precinct.

The NSW Division of TAA submitted a discussion paper to the committee, which included a number of supporting submissions from hotels in the area that highlighted the increased turnover of staff because of the excessive transport costs. 250x250

One airport hotel reported 58 resignations in the past year due to transport costs taking a disproportionate amount of their daily wages. In some cases the train costs represented up to 20% of their daily pay.

Director of the NSW Division of TAA, Carol Giuseppi, said that the station access fee was adding AUD 12.30 per adult to the standard one-way, single fare, meaning that workers were paying over AUD 30 a day travelling to and from the airport precinct. For groups coming to and from the airport the Airport Link was even more prohibitive.

She said an average taxi fare from Sydney CBD to the airport is AUD 26, but by comparison a single fare for three passengers on the Airport Link is AUD 47.70 or AUD 43.20 with one or more children.

“The Airport Link a crucial piece of infrastructure for both the State and the nation because it is often the first service that visitors experience upon arriving in Australia, and it doesn’t create a favourable impression,” Giuseppi said.

“The cost of the train pushes people into taxis or private cars, which simply clog up the roads, so what we are calling on the Government is to implement special concessional fares for workers and groups to increase patronage on the Airport Link and reduce congestion between the city and airport.

“Regular travellers from Sydney Airport know how difficult it is at times to catch a taxi, which would make the train service even more attractive, but basically unless you are a single traveller to the city, it doesn’t make any economic sense to catch a train, especially when a taxi takes you from door to door.

“We appreciate the constraints placed on the current NSW Government as a result of the Airport Link contract, but what we are proposing are solutions that will increase patronage, increase revenues and increase customer satisfaction. At present the Airport Link is failing on all three counts.”

TAA NSW has recommended:

  • The introduction of a family pass for the airport stations where the ticket is valid for 3-4 passengers and the gate fee is charged on the first 2 adults. This would provide a more competitive fee to passenger ratio. For example for a trip to Sydney CBD a Family One way would cost AUD 31.80 versus the current price of AUD 43.20.
  • In addition TAA recommends the introduction of a group pass for large group movements through the airport
  • The introduction of an airport staff rate where bona fide staff of airport businesses can present photo ID to access a discounted weekly, fortnightly or monthly ticket. The discount would remove the station access fee levied on top of the existing City Rail fare. 

Giuseppi said that TAA had submitted these recommendations to the NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, but she had rejected them. However, with the new report from the cross-parliamentary committee – with a majority of Liberal National MPs represented on the committee – she hoped the Minister would review TAA’s recommendations.

“Sydney Airport is the only international airport serving Australia’s largest city and it is therefore important to the economy of NSW that the Sydney Airport precinct functions effectively to service both visitors and residents of NSW,” Giuseppi said.

“Our proposals would actually make the Airport Link more profitable, where as currently it is not coming close to meeting the usage projections made when the contract was signed.

“Our recommendations tick all the boxes when it comes to reducing congestion, improving the visitor experience, and making it affordable to work in the area.”

Giuseppi said she welcomed the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendations to introduce more dedicated airport train services in the morning peak, installing free Wi-Fi at the airport stations and in the airport tunnels, and allowing the independent pricing regulator to control future fare increases on the airport line.

Written by : Peter Needham

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