Freight rail access to Port Kembla

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Freight rail access to Port Kembla
Priority Initiative
Infrastructure Category
Proposed By
NSW Government
Near term (0-5 years)
Illawarra/Southern Highlands region, NSW
Freight rail access to Port Kembla


The 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit identified that Port Kembla would face capacity constraints in the absence of any additional rail network improvements. Port Kembla is a significant economic asset. Maintaining efficient movement of freight to and from the port is a nationally significant challenge.

Currently, 60–65% of freight travelling to and from Port Kembla is transported by rail on either the Illawarra Line or the Moss Vale–Unanderra Line. Operations on the Illawarra Line are limited by passenger rail services in the region, resulting in disruptions to freight scheduling. Freight services are often held for up to 11 hours as passenger services are given priority.

In the long term, Port Kembla’s Outer Harbour development is expected to attract overflow container traffic from Port Botany. The New South Wales Government has stipulated that Port Kembla should generally not accept more than 120,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units per annum by road. This is around 10% of planned Outer Harbour container capacity. This is likely to lead to a significant increase in demand for rail services.

Inadequate rail freight capacity may lead to a substantial increase in road freight, further constraining the Illawarra region’s road network.

Proposed initiative

Improve rail freight access to Port Kembla. This could be through enhancements to the Illawarra and/or Moss Vale–Unanderra lines, or through future development of an alternative rail alignment to the port.

Next steps

Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).