Transport minister says Moorebank intermodal terminal is right for Sydney, national productivity and the environment
By Brad Gardner | April 24, 2012
The Federal Government has defended its decision to support an intermodal terminal in Sydney’s west, saying it acted in the interests of productivity.
The terminal is due to be built at Moorebank on 220ha of land currently occupied by the Department of Defence and is expected to be finished by July 2017 at a cost of close to $2 billion.
It will feature a rail line to Port Botany to reduce truck numbers, with the promise of an expansion to an interstate terminal after 2029 to meet future growth requirements.
Residents have campaigned against the project, claiming it will lead to noise and air pollution, chemical spills and congestion from trucks heading to the terminal.
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has conceded the terminal will affect residents but says governments “have a responsibility to get these big decisions right in the interests of productivity”.
“This is right for Sydney, it’s right for national productivity, it’s got good environmental outcomes as well,” Albanese says.
“And in terms of number of trucks off the road, I think out there if you do a survey in terms of punters out there and say you do you want more trucks on the road or do you want more freight on rail, I think there is a very clear case that we need to get more freight onto rail.”
Albanese claims the terminal will reduce truck numbers by 3300 each day from 2020 and inject $135 million a year into the local economy.
“This is a big difference in terms of congestion on the M5 and on Sydney’s road network. We know that at the moment two-thirds of freight that goes into or out of Port Botany is for or from Western Sydney,” he says.
“For every million containers transport to the port shuttle by rail, 3.5 million litres of fuel and 9500 tonnes of CO2 greenhouse gases will be saved annually.”
The Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) proposed establishing an intermodal terminal on an adjacent smaller block of land, but Albanese says the government opted for the bigger parcel of land to deliver a long-term solution.
“In Sydney already you have intermodal facilities at Enfield and Chullora. They essentially are full,” he says.
“You need to build in the capacity to get this right for the entire east coast. And what this will be is the most significant freight facility for the east coast. Because it can be not just a port shuttle, but it can be the interstate facility as well that’s so vital.”
Finance Minister Penny Wong says the benefits of the intermodal terminal have been valued at $10 billion over 30 years, along with reduced road congestion and improved reliability for freight services.
The Federal Government will begin a tender process in 2013 to have the private sector build and run the terminal.
Wong says a government business enterprise will be set up at arms-length from the government to manage the process and act as a landlord as the site is developed and becomes operational.
“The government will clear the way for the private sector to develop and operate this terminal on the Commonwealth site,” she says.