The recent awarding of two new contracts for the $400 million Port Botany upgrades is good news for the rail freight industry.
The Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Loop will be delivered by John Holland and Fulton Hogan and will employ more than 620 people during construction.
While this immediate investment in jobs represents a significant boost to the NSW economy, these projects will also deliver lasting benefits for the industry. Port Botany’s freight task is projected to increase 77 per cent by 2036, and projects like these will be essential to support its growth.
Currently, Port Botany handles 99 per cent of NSW’s container volume making it a crucial international gateway for Australia. However, more than 80 per cent of containers are transported by road, leading to increasing congestion in and around Port Botany, Sydney Airport and the M5 motorway.
These projects are crucial to moving more freight on rail. They also support the ambitious target in the NSW Government’s Freight and Ports Plan of 28 per cent rail modal share by the end of this year. Presently, rail mode share remains much lower than this, with new approaches needed to support greater modal shift.
While policy reform is required, projects like these will also be part of the solution and improvements are key to driving efficiency and productivity. To move greater volumes of freight through ports, we need to have better connectivity and intermodal terminals that connect supply chains with rail lines. Upon completion, these projects will deliver additional capacity to smooth operations and support modal shift. Every additional freight train serving the port takes 54 trucks off our roads, positively affecting the health of our communities while easing congestion on key commuter networks.
The Port Botany Rail Line Duplication will replicate the remaining 3km section of single line track on the Botany line, significantly increasing capacity on the freight network. Daily train movements will more than double, from the current rate of 20 every 24 hours day to 45 trains every day by 2030.
The Cabramatta Loop will provide an essential passing loop for 1300 metre trains, allowing more services and a more reliable and resilient network. This gives the industry greater flexibility and agility to meet customer needs within increasingly tight schedules.
As our population grows, so does the pressure on our supply chain to deliver goods. Efficient access to and from Port Botany and other ports around NSW is vital to the growth and prosperity of Sydney.
The NSW Government is working on a Rail Freight Strategy and Port Optimisation Strategy to provide a vision and framework for the future. The ARA looks forward to working with Transport for NSW on critical projects such as these; stakeholder engagement is one of the many ways we support industry and government to advocate for growth in rail freight.