Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop approved as a priority project

Publication Date
29 April 2020

Infrastructure Australia has today announced that the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop project will be added to the independent advisory body’s Infrastructure Priority List.

In welcoming the project onto the Infrastructure Priority List, Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew drew specific attention to the critical role Port Botany plays as Sydney’s primary container port.

“Port Botany handles 99% of NSW’s container demand, making it a critical international gateway for Australia and a backbone asset for economic product within Sydney and New South Wales,” Ms Madew said.

“With demand only increasing, it is vital that Port Botany maintains throughput capacity to meet container growth over the long term.”

The NSW Ports Master Plan estimated that container movements through Port Botany would grow from 2.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2015 to between 7.5 million and 8.4 million TEUs by 2045.

“Right now, part of the Port Botany Line has only a single track but as demand for the import and export of freight increases, the single track will create a bottleneck that would significantly impact the broader Sydney freight rail network,” Ms Madew said.

In particular, demand is expected to exceed capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line by 2023, and on the Port Botany Rail Line from 2026.

To address constraint and reliability issues, the project, which is being delivered by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), aims to upgrade the capacity of the Port Botany Rail Line by duplicating 2.9km of the line, while the construction of a passing loop at Cabramatta on the Southern Sydney Freight Line will allow freight trains travelling in either direction to pass each other.

Infrastructure Australia’s evaluation of the ARTC business case found that there is strong strategic merit for the project as it supports the NSW Government’s aim to increase the mode share of containers being moved by rail to and from Port Botany.

“Currently more than 80% of containers to and from Port Botany are transported by road,” Ms Madew said.

“This worsens congestion on the Sydney road network, particularly in and around the already constrained Port Botany precinct, which includes Sydney Airport and the M5 Motorway.”

Infrastructure Australia’s evaluation found that undertaking both project components concurrently provides a supply chain solution necessary to encourage freight owners to transport more containers by rail and help reduce road congestion.

The project is also expected to provide the capacity required to meet forecast rail demand generated by the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, Enfield Intermodal Terminal, the St Marys Intermodal Terminal (from 2022), and future terminals, including a site planned near Western Sydney Airport.

A copy of the full evaluation summary can be found on our website.