20 February 2024

Major freight rail network upgrades will mean fewer trucks on Sydney’s roads

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Freight trains

The duplicated Port Botany freight rail link bridge crossing on Southern Cross Drive just east of Sydney Airport. Photo: ARTC.

Two freight rail lines that run to Port Botany and the new Cabramatta Loop in Sydney have been commissioned following a two-and-a-half-year major upgrade.

The works were conducted by John Holland and Fulton Logan for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), and will significantly increase the amount of freight that can be carried through the city by rail, thus removing trucks from Sydney’s roads.

The Botany Rail Duplication project has duplicated the previous 2.9-kilometre section of single-line track between Mascot and Port Botany, including the construction of four new and replacement rail bridges.

The Cabramatta Loop Project provided a 1.65 -km section of new track adjacent to the existing one, allowing freight trains travelling in opposite directions to pass each other, and the construction of new bridge structures and track realignment.

Final works in the past few months have included the installation of turnouts, signalling works, and the testing and commissioning of new signalling infrastructure.

The projects were funded by the Federal Government to the tune of $442 million, and both upgrades form part of ARTC’s transport supply chain.

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Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said Port Botany’s location and connectivity made it a major gateway for Australia.

“And now it will benefit from a major upgrade to its freight line, helping to move freight more efficiently and effectively in and out of the port,” she said.

“The Australian Government is committed to delivering a more reliable, efficient and sustainable rail freight network to support the modal shift from road to rail.

“That’s why we have invested in these upgrades, they are a vital boost to Sydney’s freight network to help meet the growing demand.”

Member for Kingsford Smith and Federal Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite added: “Port Botany moves the largest number of containers by rail of all Australian ports, with 86 per cent of regional New South Wales’s exports arriving by rail through Port Botany.

“Not only will this vital upgrade help to take trucks off local roads, it will also benefit the NSW and Australian economies.”

Freight rail upgrade maps

Maps showing the scope of works for the improved freight rail links at Port Botany (left) and Cabramatta. Image: ARTC & Andrew McLaughlin.

ARTC CEO and managing director Wayne Johnson said the successful completion of the projects was a significant boost for Australia’s freight network and would improve reliability and punctuality for freight customers.

“The upgrades will put more freight onto rail, helping with congestion on Sydney roads with reduced heavy-vehicle movements, contributing to a more efficient transport system and city,” he said.

“Each extra freight train travelling on the Port Botany Rail Line will take around 50 trucks off Sydney’s roads, benefiting local road users.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged the Australian Government’s continued support and investment, which enabled the upgrades to be completed.

“I would also like to thank our project teams along with our construction partners John Holland and Fulton Hogan, who worked tirelessly to safely deliver these vital upgrades in complex urban environments, close to other road and rail infrastructure,” he said.

“We also thank Transport for NSW for their supportive coordination in achieving this significant task.”

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