THE SYDNEY AutoStrad Botany Rail Expansion (SABRE) took out a top award at the 2024 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Awards in Melbourne last night (11 April).

SABRE was named winner of the Innovation Excellence category, which recognises innovation in a major infrastructure project or service through the use of technology, intelligent engineering, innovative business models, system optimisation, modernisation or disruption.

The SABRE project is a joint initiative between NSW Ports and Patrick Terminals. The four-year project cost $190 million and is said to be the first in the world.

It integrated an automated on-dock rail terminal (AutoRail) with an automated straddle-operated (AutoStrad) container terminal at Port Botany, creating a fully automated container exchange on and off rail wagons.

It incorporates four 600-metre-long rail sidings and three Automated Rail Mounted Gantry cranes, which automatically load and unload containers.

The new rail operations enable Patrick Terminals to handle up to 500,000 TEU on rail each year.

And, subject to demand, three additional ARMG cranes could be added to the new sidings to ultimately deliver more than 1 million TEU annual capacity, up from the 200,000 TEU capacity of the original rail terminal.

NSW Ports CEO Marika Calfas said the project would reap benefits throughout the supply chain.   

“Not only has this project increased rail capacity at the terminal, it has also improved efficiency through reduced train turnaround times,” Ms Calfas said.

“Credit must go to the project and operational teams from NSW Ports and Partick Terminals, who have delivered a world class project, while ensuring rail operations were able to continue during construction and commissioning.

“We have a goal of moving 3 million TEU by rail annually and the delivery of Project SABRE marks a significant step towards achieving this goal.”

And Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic acknowledged the efforts of all involved in bringing the project to life.

“Receiving this award is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our project team and valued partners who have delivered this world-class project,” Mr Jovicic said.

“Project SABRE’s success not only expands our rail capacity and capability but also establishes Patrick Terminals – Sydney AutoStrad as the new global standard for automated container terminal operations.

“By pioneering the integration of a fully automated on-dock rail terminal (AutoRail) with an automated container terminal (AutoStrad), we have revolutionised how goods move through ports.

“This achievement highlights our commitment to helping shape the future of logistics, with efficiency, safety and environmental responsibility at the forefront.”