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Blog Five:

Sydney Metro & Western Sydney Airport

The Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport, will connect the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport to St Marys and the main T1 rail connection to Penrith, Parramatta (38 minutes) and the Sydney CBD (70 minutes from airport). The 23 km line is scheduled to open in 2026, in time for the opening of the Airport with driverless trains running every five minutes. There will be six stations to be located at St Mary’s, Orchard Hills, Luddenham, two stations within the Airport, including one at the terminal and one at the business park and a station at Western Sydney Aerotropolis.

This will be Stage 1 of what will become part of a comprehensive Metro grid for Sydney. Future extensions and connections may extend the Metro north through Schofields to connect to the North West Metro, south through Oran Park and Narellan to connect to Campbelltown and Macarthur and possibly a connection to Liverpool via Leppington. Longer term there is the potential to extend the Metro West to the Airport from Westmead thereby providing a direct metro connection to Parramatta and the Sydney CBD.

Blog 5 Infrastructure

Source: Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement, 2020

In tandem with the Metro and Airport construction, major road infrastructure upgrades have been and still are being implemented including the upgrade of the Northern Road, Bringelly Road and the M12 connecting the Northern Road to the M7 Orbital as well as many other road and intersection upgrades. This is essential for efficient operation of the airport and employment lands when they come on-line. It will also provide good connectivity for vehicular and commuter traffic particularly to service the employment lands although it will dilute the use for the metro.

Development of town centres, employment lands, residential apartments, and estates as well as schools, health services and other amenities in Orchard Hills, Aerotropolis and elsewhere will take time to be developed, sold and occupied. Considering the improved roads, the lead time for development to be delivered and the growth of airport traffic it may take several years for the usage of the metro to reach an acceptable capacity. ‘Infrastructure Australia’ has estimated that passengers will occupy less than 40% of the seating capacity of the metro in peak periods at the time of its opening in 2026 with demand increasing to 80% in 2056, with the caveat that “technical limitation may be resulting in demand for the project being underestimated”.1

Infrastructure Australia also looked at the possible northbound passenger movements as of 2036 for the one- hour morning peak. Their analysis showed that the northbound movement boarding at Orchard Hills would be higher than at Aerotropolis by about 10% and significantly higher than from the Airport with even fewer people boarding at the Business Park. (This makes sense as one would expect that southbound commuters would be going to the Business Park in the morning peak). Although this is highly speculative the approach assumes that Orchard Hills, Aerotropolis and Luddenham will have residential precincts with residents travelling to the main T1 rail connection at St Marys to commute other parts of Sydney for employment. Of course, there is likely to be southbound commuters to Aerotropolis, the Business Park and other employment lands as well. Airport passenger movements were not the focus of this analysis.

The metro will form part of the Sydney Metro System. However, in the short to medium term the benefits may be more limited. The point we drew from Infrastructure Australia’s Evaluation Summary is that although the broad objective of the Metro project is to ‘improve transport connectivity and land use outcomes’, the majority of benefits will be reflected in property values. The report states a figure of 64% of project benefits will be applied to property, ‘when wider economic benefits are excluded’. These benefits will manifest in an upzoning of property around the metro stations.

St Marys Town Centre is already a major beneficiary of the Western Sydney Airport Metro with upzonings and densification of residential areas. The St Marys station will support the State Governments Transport Oriented Design Strategy which aims to increase the density and amenity around the new interchange. This will be transformative for St Marys and will greatly increase the residential apartment density from the current low-density dwellings in the area. It is anticipated that St Marys will provide accommodation for some of the 200,000 or so employees for the new airport/Aerotropolis and the associated industries located along the line.

Orchard Hills will likely support a new town centre with mixed use development including higher density residential development. Luddenham Village being a smaller town will likely expand into a town centre later. Ideally the stations including the Business Park should have education and science facilities in proximity to the station for increased utilisation. Although it is envisaged that the employment corridor will attract defence and aerospace, along with freight logistics, advanced manufacturing and other employment uses may be accessed mainly by road except for those elements located in walking distance to a station.

The Airport, Aerotropolis, Airport Metro and associated works, once fully developed, will re-shape Western Sydney as a place to live work and play. This will promote the vision of the ’30 minute city’ as expressed in ‘A Metropolis of Three Cities’ where jobs, services and quality public spaces are in easy reach of people’s homes.

If you are an investor or developer who is considering how to maximise the value of your property and minimise risk in relation to infrastructure projects, our Strategic Advisory experts are equipped to provide detailed highest and best use analysis, feasibility studies and design input and advice to optimise your asset or portfolio. Contact our expert and author below for more information.

1 Infrastructure Australia, Project Business Case Evaluation Summary, Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport.


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