QUEENSLAND’s Premier Peter Beattie and Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer joined celebrations at Brisbane Airport’s Domestic station on May 7 to mark the opening of the state capital’s privately-promoted airport rail link. After an arriving train broke though a banner, the Premier and Airtrain Chairman Martin Kriewaldt unveiled a commemorative plaque.

The 8·5 km electrified branch from Eagle Junction has been built by the Airtrain consortium of Reduct Pty Ltd, Macquarie Bank and Transfield Infrastructure Investments, under a 35-year build-own-operate-transfer concession awarded in April 1998. Construction began in February 1999 and was completed in time for driver training to start two years later.

Airtrain services operate four times an hour between the two airport stations and the city centre. Services are worked by QR EMUs, and are integrated with the Citytrain suburban and interurban network. Two trains each hour run through from the airport to South Brisbane and the Gold Coast line. Airtrain is charging a basic fare of A$9 to or from the city centre, with through tickets available to QR Citytrain stations, and discount fares for airport staff.

General Manager Ken Devencorn expects Airtrain to carry 2·7 million passengers in its first year of operation, reaching 5·7 million by year 10 and 16·5 million at the end of the concession.