Feb 5, 2009

Tackling congestion on the Sydney rail freight network

Tackling congestion on the Sydney rail freight network

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 5 2009

Today I advised Parliament that construction work has commenced on the 36 km Southern Sydney Freight Line, a project that will help clear the single largest bottleneck on the interstate rail network.

The $309 million project will create 500 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs.

The project is being built and funded by the Commonwealth Government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation. It is scheduled to be completed by early 2010.

Currently, freight trains face frustrating delays on the Sydney network because of the priority given to passenger trains and because of limited track capacity.

A dedicated freight line from Macarthur to Chullora will unclog this bottleneck by providing access to up to five freight trains per hour in the peak direction and 24-hour access to Port Botany through southern Sydney.

The construction project will also include:

  • Improved passenger access at Leumeah, Minto, Cabramatta, Sefton, Warwick Farm and Casula train stations through facilities such as lifts, pedestrian overbridges and wheelchair ramps;
  • $8.7 million towards additional car parking, improved lighting, and community amenity works along the train corridor; and
  • $13.5 million for the construction of noise walls along the corridor.

I can also announced two further measures that will improve the operation of Sydney’s rail network:

  • The allocation of $15 million to accelerate planning and design work on the Government’s $840 million investment in a new dedicated freight line between North Strathfield to Gosford; and
  • Work will start in March/April on a $27.2 million upgrade to the Port Botany Rail Line including track rearrangement, and circuiting and signalling work.

The northern Sydney project will provide access for four freight trains an hour for 22 hours a day, while the Port Botany upgrade will increase the average train load to the Port from 40 to 60 containers.

In addition to these projects in Sydney, the interstate freight system is set to benefit this year from the 17 projects announced as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion investment through the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Together, rail projects currently underway and those announced in December by the Prime Minister will cut freight times along the Melbourne to Brisbane corridor from around 37 hours to around 26 hours – a 30 per cent improvement.

Over the next six years, we will invest more than $3.2 billion in the interstate rail network, with almost half that funding expected to be spent within the next 18 months.

The purpose of this massive new investment is to make rail more competitive by slashing travel times and improving reliability, helping to reduce the number of trucks on our roads with each 1,500 metre train equivalent to around 100 semi trailers.