An artist’s impression of the proposed freight hub … trucks will unload cargo onto trains at Moorebank for transport to Port Botany.
TODAY the federal government is to announce the go-ahead for a $1.6 billion freight terminal in south-west Sydney that is expected to take thousands of trucks a day off the city’s roads.
Freight will be transferred from trucks onto trains at the terminal in Moorebank, from where it will be taken to Port Botany, reducing the number of truck trips by 3300 a day.
The Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, and the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, will announce plans this morning to call for tenders for the project.
Advertisement: Story continues below
The 220-hectare site, on the western side of Moorebank Avenue, is occupied by the Defence Department’s School of Military Engineering. It is near the M5, the M7 and the southern Sydney freight line.
An alternative proposal is being pushed by a private consortium led by Chris Corrigan’s Qube Logistics, which has secured land on the other side of Moorebank Avenue. A report by the advisory firm Greenhill Caliburn to the government finds that the Commonwealth site is the better option because it is bigger and is nearer the freight line.
A spokesman for Senator Wong told the Herald that the government’s proposal would ensure that the terminal remains “open access”, meaning that freight firms would not have to apply to a potential competitor for access to the terminal.
Cabinet approved the project last week. Construction will start in 2014 and be completed by 2017. More than 1600 workers will be employed on construction and 950 when the terminal is up and running, rising to 1700 jobs if it is expanded to handle interstate freight.
“It will deliver significant dividends across the entire Australian economy: more jobs for south-western Sydney; savings for Australian businesses, and less congestion on Sydney’s roads,” Senator Wong’s spokesman said.
“It will contribute significantly to Australia’s productivity. More than two-thirds of the freight that arrives in Port Botany does not stay in the Sydney region.”
The freight hub could allow the state government to lift the cap on the number of containers that can pass through Port Botany, thereby improving its sale price when it is privatised in 2013.
Federal government projections suggest that without a facility such as the Moorebank freight hub, truck traffic at Port Botany will rise fourfold in the next 20 years.
A study prepared for the government finds that Sydney’s industrial materials exchange container market is almost entirely dependent on Port Botany. Freight volumes have risen by 7 per cent per annum in the past five years and are expected to grow by 6.7 per cent a year in the next 25 years.
The freight hub would help to alleviate some of the negative environmental and social effects of road freight movements, including air pollution, traffic delays and traffic accidents.
Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU