Australia and the USA are similar in many ways. Both are large, developed countries with air travel-centric national transportation systems and automobile-oriented cities.
Rail transit connections to their respective airports are also similar – notably that they are few and far between.
Only airports in Brisbane and Sydney are connected to rail networks – defined as local metro or commuter rail systems, airtrains or national rail networks – in Australia, while 21 airports have similar connections in the USA. These numbers exclude those with bus connections to rail, for example the Skybus at Melbourne Tullamarine International in Australia or the airBART at Oakland International in the USA.
Map of US airports with rail connections
Surprisingly – or not – the rail connections in Australia touched more than 41% of enplaning passengers in the country despite being limited to just two – albeit two major – airports in 2012, according to data from Australia’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
Australia enplanements at airport with rail connections, 2012
Only 37% of enplaning passengers in the USA had similar access to rail transit in 2012, US Department of Transportation (DOT) data shows.
US enplanements at airports with rail connections, 2012
The main difference of course is that Australia’s smaller population is concentrated in a few large cities, including Brisbane and Sydney, that in turn account for the vast majority of air traffic. In the USA, population and air traffic is distributed across the country in numerous metro areas and through various airline hubs.
These numbers may change soon. New airport rail connections are under construction at Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Honolulu, Oakland and Washington Dulles airports that, based on the 2012 DOT numbers, will boost the percentage of enplaning air travellers in the USA with rail access to 47% when the respective lines open.
No airport rail connections are understood to be under construction in Australia – though if you know of one please let us know.