THE upgrade and reconfiguration of the rail yard at Port Botany has now been completed, part of an ambitious project which will transform the movement of freight across the Sydney Basin and take up to 300,000 trucks a year off the City's road network.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has today also announced that work on the next stage of the $172 million Port Botany Rail Upgrade project has commenced, with Downer Australia selected for the job of expanding the Enfield rail yard so it can accommodate more trains at any one time.
"This vital nation building project will eliminate dockside bottlenecks and speed up the movement of freight into and out of what is the nation's second largest container port," said Mr Albanese.
"It will also add additional capacity, increasing the number of containers which can be transported along the line from 700,000 to around 1,000,000 a year.
"But the benefits of this project will extend well beyond the transport industry and include more than just lower costs and improved reliability for the nation's exporters and importers. With more freight on the back of trains, there will over time be up to 300,000 fewer trucks coming and going from the Port each year.
"For Sydneysiders, that means less congestion and fewer harmful carbon emissions.
"Increasing the rail network's capacity to shift ever larger volumes of trade into and out of Australia's major international gateway ports, such as Port Botany, quickly and efficiently is a key aim of the unprecedented $3.4 billion capital works program initiated by Federal Labor and which is now rolling out nationwide."
Subject to a successful conclusion to negotiations with the NSW Government over transferring management of the line to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), the Port Botany Rail Upgrade project will also install the latest signalling technology on the section between the Cooks River and Mascot.
ARTC CEO John Fullerton said the improvements being made to the Port Botany Rail Line will lift its capacity by more than 30 per cent.
"Once the entire project is completed in 2014, the Line will be able to cope with the growth which is expected in the years ahead, including the much higher volumes that will flow from 2013 when the Port's third terminal becomes operational," said Mr Fullerton.
"The upgraded Port Botany Rail Line, and the associated works at Enfield, will connect with the new Southern Sydney Freight Line, which is expected to commence operations in early 2013, and from there onto the Main North South Line between Melbourne and Brisbane.
"It will also complement the $1.1 billion project now underway to ease congestion and remove bottlenecks along the rail corridor through Sydney's northern suburbs to Newcastle as well as the proposed new intermodal facility at Moorebank.
"Together, these projects represent a major overhaul of Sydney's freight rail infrastructure, which in the longer term will significantly improve operations across the entire national and NSW rail networks.
"The ARTC is determined to make rail even more competitive and restore it to its rightful place at the heart of this nation's transport system."