Shortlist for Port Botany rail duplication builders

By: Rob McKay

ARTC takes important step towards aiding container transport modal shift

Shortlist for Port Botany rail duplication builders
The rail and road approach to Port Botany


New South Wales is a step closer to boosting its ailing efforts to put more shipping containers to and from Port Botany on trains.

Modal shift targets aimed at reducing traffic congestion around the port and adjacent airport have failed to be met through the last decade and the percentage on rail has even shrunk.

But the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has revealed that major firms are now shortlisted to design and construct the Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop projects.

"Improving freight performance at Port Botany is critical for the economic growth and prosperity of Sydney, NSW and Australia with the amount of container freight handled by the Port set to significantly increase by 77 per cent to 25.5 million tonnes by 2036," ARTC CEO and MD John Fullerton says.

"Each freight train can take up to 54 trucks worth of freight off the road, tackling congestion and improving the everyday commute in Sydney.

"The Australian government has committed $400 million to meeting this future freight demand with the Botany Rail Duplication and new Cabramatta Loop projects long been identified as key projects to enable more freight to be transported by rail from Sydney.

"These two landmark projects will strike the balance between rail and road by duplicating the remaining single freight rail track section of the Botany Line between Mascot and Botany and constructing a new passing loop on the Southern Sydney Freight Line [SSFL] between Cabramatta Station and Warwick Farm Station to allow for freight trains up to 1,300 metres in length.

"Once completed, the Cabramatta Loop Project will allow freight trains travelling in either direction along the Southern Sydney Freight Line to pass each other and provide additional rail freight capacity for the network."

Read Pacific National’s Port Botany rail duplication call, here

The ARTC points out that the NSW Ports’ 30-year Master Plan shows 80 per cent of containers moving through Port Botany are delivered to locations within a 40km radius of the port, and port rail shuttles are essential to help move more of the freight task to and from outer Western and South Western Sydney freight precincts.

Three contractors have been shortlisted to bid for the Botany Rail Duplication Project including CPB Contractors, Laing O'Rourke and John Holland. Downer EDI, Fulton Hogan, and John Holland have been shortlisted to bid for the Cabramatta Loop Project.

"These major projects aim to improve rail capacity, flexibility and reliability for freight rail customers, encouraging more freight to shift from road to rail, and we are getting on with delivering these massive improvements," Fullerton says.

The formal tender process for both projects is to be undertaken this year.

The move was well received at Pacific National, which has called previously for progress on this duplication.

"Australia’s largest rail freight company, Pacific National, congratulates ARTC on progressing duplication of the remaining section of the Port Botany Freight Line, not to mention delivering an additional crossing loop on the already heavily congested Sydney train network," Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle says.

"New South Wales’ 21st century trade economy can no longer be subjected to 19th century rail infrastructure.

"Getting regional freight trains and intermodal shuttle services in and out of Australia’s second largest port shouldn’t be a logistical nightmare in battling rail bottlenecks and pinch-points.

"Extra crossing loops are also a blessing for rail freight services – they act as ‘pressure valves’ to help free up capacity on Sydney’s incredibly busy shared rail network.

"Better rail freight connectivity to and from Port Botany will also encourage investment in intermodal terminals in Western Sydney, notably Pacific National’s proposed St Marys Freight Hub.

"Urban freight hubs help take trucks off congested Sydney roads and motorways, in the process reducing carbon emissions and road accidents and fatalities."


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