Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop

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Sydney freight rail network capacity
Priority Project
Sydney, NSW
Fast-growing cities
National Connectivity
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Near term (0-5 years)
Proposed By
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)
Evaluation Date
20 February 2020

Problem to be addressed

The annual volume of shipping containers moving through Port Botany is expected to increase by 4.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) over the coming decades. Investment in on-dock rail infrastructure at Port Botany to increase its capacity, combined with growth in containerised rail freight demand at metropolitan intermodal terminals, will increase pressure on the Metropolitan Freight Network. In particular, demand is expected to exceed capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) and Port Botany Rail Line (PBRL) from 2026.

The Cabramatta Passing Loop will increase rail freight capacity on the SSFL by allowing freight trains travelling in either direction to pass each other, while the PBRL Duplication will enhance the reliability, flexibility and capacity for container freight operations to and from Port Botany. Undertaking both project components concurrently provides a necessary supply-chain solution to encourage freight owners to transport more containers by rail and help reduce road congestion.

Project description

The project will 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. The proposed construction timeframe aligns and integrates with the design and construction of the Sydney Gateway (road) Project, located adjacent to Sydney Airport.

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.

The proponent – the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – proposes a design and construct delivery method. Tendering and award of the contract will be carried out according to ARTC’s procurement policies and procedures. This is an appropriate delivery strategy, as the ARTC has the experience and capacity to deliver the project and will build, operate and maintain both components of the project once complete.

Economic, social and environmental value

Economic benefits of the project include road decongestion and road safety benefits. Other benefits include reduced vehicle emissions, resulting from more containers being moved by freight rail rather than by trucks.

The proponent’s reported net present value for the project is $429.7 million, with a benefit-cost ratio of 2.68 using a 7% real discount rate and P50 capital cost estimate.