FUNDING for the duplication of the remaining single-track sections of the Port Botany Rail Line was confirmed today in a statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He said the government would fully fund the $400m project, which is to include new rail bridges, duplicated tracks across the 2.9-kilometre length between Mascot and Botany and a 1.4-kilometre passing loop between Cabramatta and Warwick Farm.
“Duplicating the Botany line will improve freight movement on Sydney’s rail network and encourage a shift in freight from road to rail – reducing traffic congestion in and around Sydney Airport and Port Botany,” the Prime Minister said.
“Listed by Infrastructure Australia as a High Priority Initiative, this critical project will strengthen rail connection efficiency, improve freight transit times and increase service reliability for the Sydney region.”
Mr Turnbull said the upgrade would be vital to ease pressure on Sydney’s transport system.
“It will enable freight to be moved faster and easier – allowing businesses to get goods to market faster – and it will ease traffic around the airport by taking more heavy vehicles off the road.”
“This commitment will support the freight logistics and supply chain activities of existing intermodal terminals such as at Enfield and Chullora, as well as the new terminal under construction at Moorebank. This will ensure the region is prepared for the expected growth in containerised freight and future freight rail service needs.”
Qube Holdings managing director Maurice James welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement saying it will be very positive for the company’s Moorebank development.
“It is a much needed boost to the rail freight sector and will get more trucks off roads around Port Botany,” he said.
“It sets up rail for a much larger share of the container traffic at Port Botany by providing certainty and greater reliability for rail freight operations.”
Mr James said the single track is regularly affected by maintenance issues, reducing the effective capacity of the freight line.
“Once completed, it will ultimately enable the use of automated locomotives running a port shuttle service for containers between Port Botany and the Moorebank precinct,” he said.
The Australian Logistics Council also voiced its approval of the confirmation.
ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said boosting the use of short-haul rail from ports to intermodal terminals forms an essential part of efforts to enhance supply chain efficiency and safety.
“This sort of transformation will be essential if we are to improve urban amenity, reduce road congestion, decrease queuing times at ports and place downward pressure on consumer prices,” he said.
Mr Kilgariff went on, saying in many respects New South Wales is leading the nation in the development and use of intermodal terminals in its urban freight network.
“Construction of Qube’s Moorebank Intermodal Terminal is now well underway, which will complement other key intermodal facilities including the DP World Intermodal Terminal at Port Botany, LINX Cargo Care Group’s Enfield Intermodal Terminal and Pacific National’s facility at Chullora,” he said.
“Duplicating the freight rail line at Port Botany and constructing a passing loop at Cabramatta will help to alleviate congestion at the port, on urban roads and on the NSW freight rail network.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation is to deliver the rail duplication project on behalf of the Australian government, according to Mr Turnbull’s statement.