Rail operations are an increasingly vital component of the logistics network that can contribute to the sustainable movement of freight to and from ports and intermodal facilities. 

NSW Ports works closely with government and industry to encourage a greater role for this transport mode in meeting the port freight logistics task.

Port Botany Rail

A dedicated rail freight line connects Port Botany from/to metro and regional areas.

Maximising the transport of containers by rail between Port Botany and Sydney metropolitan intermodal terminals will be essential for cost-effective, efficient and sustainable container distribution throughout Sydney. Growth in use of rail will benefit the road networks surrounding the Ports by reducing the numbers of trucks. Significant growth in containers moved by rail will reduce the growth of trucks around the Port and will enable Port Botany to achieve its optimum capacity.

We have set a target of three million TEU per year to be transported by rail by 2045 – around 40 per cent of forecast container volumes. Achieving this target requires action by all stakeholders involved in the container rail supply chain including NSW Ports, all levels of government, rail operators, shipping lines, stevedores and intermodal operators.

The majority of imported containers will remain destined for metropolitan Sydney, with 80 per cent delivered within a 40 kilometre radius from Port Botany. There will be a greater proportion of containers destined for west and south-west Sydney over this time period.

Port Botany is uniquely placed to tackle this growing rail task, with existing sidings within all three stevedores – on dock rail, thus minimising any need for ‘last mile’ road movements into the Terminals. Through NSW Ports’ 30 Year Masterplan, there is specific tasks and initiatives under way which will complement the required growth in rail and will ensure Port Botany’s longevity.

These are around improvements in the current rail operations, an increase in empty container movements on rail and the ongoing development of the intermodal concepts within Sydney.

Port Kembla Rail

Port Kembla’s coal, grain, copper concentrate and steel are the main products handled by rail. NSW Ports’ rail infrastructure and sidings have the capability to handle a variety of bulk export products as well as containerised freight. The extensive rail yard within the port allows the movement and storage of multiple train sets in excess of 1.2 km. NSW Ports’ also has the capability to offer common user intermodal rail access in the Outer Harbour.

NSW Port’s manages the rail network within the Inner Harbour and the Outer Harbour consisting of rail lines, sidings and loops. The Illawarra Line and the Moss Vale-Unanderra Line, managed by the NSW Government and ARTC respectively, provide rail connections to Port Kembla from markets in regional NSW. The Illawarra Line is a shared passenger and freight rail line.

Bulk product transport by rail results in lower transport costs for many bulk products and is more environmentally sustainable than transport by road, where a rail alternative exists. Rail solutions need to be found to accommodate further freight rail demands, such as upgrades to the Moss Vale-Unanderra Line and construction of the Maldon- Dombarton Line.

The Moss Vale-Unanderra Line is a dedicated rail freight line with capacity to accommodate additional trade movements. The Moss Vale-Unanderra Line connects to the Main South Line which connects to the Sydney metropolitan freight network. Exporters compare the time and cost effectiveness and viability of using the Moss Vale-Unanderra Line with road and other rail transport options. Upgrades of the Moss Vale-Unanderra Line to allow longer, heavier and faster trains will improve the line for freight use.

The Maldon-Dombarton Line could unlock the potential of Port Kembla and maximise rail transport of bulk products. It would free up capacity for commuter needs on the Illawarra Line while providing a more direct rail connection to the Sydney metropolitan freight network.

The rail infrastructure requirements for an Outer Harbour container terminal would involve reconfiguration and upgrades of the internal port rail network. The Maldon- Dombarton Line will be important for the efficient movement of containers between the Port and the growth areas of western Sydney.

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