PROPOSED SITE: The St Mary's site has been vacant for a few years now.
PROPOSED SITE: The St Mary's site has been vacant for a few years now.

How St Mary's Hub will ease Sydney traffic

THE rapid expansion of Western Sydney has managed to be somewhat of a hindrance to anyone wanting to travel on Sydney roads.

Infrastructure has had trouble keeping up with the rapid expansion of the western suburbs, where a large amount of commercial infrastructure has been built, or is being built.

This has resurrected an idea that was rejected over three years ago. In order to assist freight movement in Sydney, planning and studies are under way to build a freight hub, placed in St Mary's on the edge of Western Sydney.

Taking up 10 hectares of the current 43 hectare Pacific National site, the hub will be the means to move containers from the docks at Botany out to the rapid growth area.

According to studies carried out by Pacific National, the planned freight hub will reduce container truck movements on Sydney roads by up to 15,000km a day.

This is to be done by an estimated 300,000 containers to be transported by rail from Botany out to St Mary's.

Sixty local jobs will be created during the construction, with 133 new full-time positions projected to be available once the intermodal is up and running.

Back in 2015, the Toll spinoff of Asciano attempted to build a freight hub at St Mary's, however the Penrith Council rejected the application due to "infrastructure and environmental reasons”.

An interesting fact is that Pacific National was owned by Asciano at the time of the 2015 project application.

Pacific National have since been sold on to a different consortium, and are looking to take another shot at establishing the site.

The local council is keen to support the establishment of a freight hub in the area (with two competing sites also looking to build), noting as such in a letter to the Department of Transport for NSW, as well as support for the NSW Government's Draft Future Transport Strategy 2056.

In order for the National Pacific freight hub to be given the green light, according to Penrith Council, a "number of crucial matters need to be addressed”.

These include but are not limited to improvements to the road and rail networks featured within the catchment of the intermodal, as well as mitigation of any transport noise and vibration impacts on the local community.

The build timeline shows Pacific National looking to have the St Mary's Freight hub constructed in January 2020. In October last year, the NSW Government gave the requirements for the Environmental Impact Study, which is currently under way.

Environmental and traffic studies are being carried out, along with community and stakeholder consultation.

The EIS is due in to the NSW Department of Planning in February, which will be the make-or-break part of the planning process.

The tender process for work on the intermodal hub is under way, with website EstimateOne closing quote applications on December 17.

Rising out of the need for an improved transportation system in a rapid growth area, the concept of a Western Sydney intermodal freight hub is a long overdue one, which will be welcomed by anyone who has faced Sydney traffic at any point.

Pacific National and NSW State Minister Stuart Ayres were both contacted for comment, but have yet to reply.

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