Southern Sydney Freight Line upgrade

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Sydney South to Moorebank rail freight capacity
Priority Initiative
Sydney, NSW
Fast-growing cities
National Connectivity
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Longer term (10-15 years)
Proposed By
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)
Date added to the IPL
17 February 2016


The forecast growth in interstate, intrastate and import/export freight, particularly with the development of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal (MIT), will place significant pressure on Sydney’s rail freight network and the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) in particular.

The SSFL forms a key connection between the proposed MIT and other logistics hubs. Without additional capacity when the MIT is fully operational, the SSFL could become increasingly unreliable and face capacity constraints. The potential future development of the Western Sydney Freight Line, which is proposed to connect Sydney’s rail freight network at the SSFL, would further exacerbate capacity constraints on the SSFL.

In 2018–19, approximately 18% of containerised freight handled at Port Botany was transported by rail, with the remainder transported by road. On average, Port Botany produces around 3,900 truck movements daily, contributing to significant congestion on key arterial roads including the M4 and M5, both of which were identified in the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit as highly‑congested corridors.

In order to facilitate a shift from road to rail for containerised freight movement in Sydney (consistent with both NSW Government policies and findings from the Audit), further capacity and higher levels of service are required on Sydney’s freight rail network. Investment in the rail freight network will be crucial to ensuring the competitiveness of landside freight infrastructure such as the MIT.

Proposed initiative

The SSFL is a 36 km single line from Macarthur to Sefton. The proposed initiative involves track duplications and additional passing loops on the line. The initiative aims to support the movement of freight by rail through the city, particularly between Port Botany and the MIT and a future Western Sydney Freight Line. It forms part of a broader strategy designed to sustain and drive growth in rail mode share.

The Cabramatta passing loop proposed for the SSFL is being delivered in conjunction with the Port Botany freight rail duplication, which is currently under assessment by Infrastructure Australia.

The proponent for this initiative was previously the NSW Government. The initiative was updated in February 2020 to list the Australian Rail Track Corporation as the proponent.

Next steps

Proponent to complete business case development (Stage 3 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).