When you arrive at Sydney airport and need to get to the city or your hotel, your public transport options are reduced to one. There are taxis and some private bus operators but the airport link train is the only way to travel by public transport. That’s fine except this train service is not a dedicated Airport Train and, therefore, there is no dedicated area/space for luggage. This train is a normal suburban train, and many seats will already be occupied by other suburban commuters.
There are rail stations located at both the International and Domestic Terminals. The Domestic rail station is located directly between T2 and T3 Terminals and is accessible from within the terminals from the arrivals level. The International rail station is located at the northern end of the terminal and is accessible from the arrivals level. At either of these stations go to Platform 1 where services run to Central, Museum, St James, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall stations in the central city.
Airport Link offers a A$5.00 (one way, per person) transfer ticket for passengers transferring between T1 International and T2/T3 Domestic Terminals. The journey takes only 2 minutes and there are frequent services between 5am and midnight, 7 days a week.
There is no doubt that Airport Link is a fast and convenient way to reach the centre of Sydney even if you might have to stand the whole way. Trains run approximately every 10 minutes and the journey into the city takes only 13 minutes. Trains link the international and domestic rail stations to the City Circle which means most city destinations are within a short walk of stations. Tickets can also be purchased to all Sydney stations from the International and Domestic rail stations. Simply catch the train from the International or Domestic stations to Central station and change for all other suburban services.
The cost of a ticket depends on where you are going. A single ticket from the domestic airport terminal to the city costs A$15.00 adult and A$10.00 for a child. A full adult same day return ticket to the city circle stations is $25.00. From the International Airport Station, to any of the City Stations, or Kings Cross, a one way ticket is A$15.80. That probably sounds high when you understand that two adults can travel by taxi to the central city for about A$30.00. It is also extremely high when you consider the normal cost on the suburban train network.
To travel roughly the same distance by train on the Sydney rail network it will cost you $3.60, a difference of $11.40 or $12.20. The reason is there are four stations along the Airport and East Hills Line - Green Square, Mascot, Domestic Airport, International Airport - that are not owned by the government, instead they are owned by the private company called Airport Link Pty Ltd.
So the railway line itself is owned by Sydney's RailCorp, while the stations/gates are owned by a private company, therefore, as a commuter you have to pay a $12.20 gate fee to pass through the gates of the International station. There is little you can do about this because the government has terminated the bus services which would compete with the train.