There’s more to the Port of Newcastle than just containers

Building an extensive container port at Newcastle would have many roll-on benefits for Sydney, writes Greg Cameron.
A container terminal at Newcastle would justify building a rail freight bypass of Sydney between Newcastle, Badgery’s Creek and Port Kembla. This bypass would be paid for by replacing Port Botany’s container trucks with Newcastle’s container trains.
It would enable trains to replace trucks for transporting the bulk of Sydney’s regional and interstate freight.
Port Botany relies on trucks for transporting containers. There were one million container trucks that moved through Port Botany in 2014. By 2040, there will be six million.
An intermodal terminal is being built at Moorebank. This terminal requires all of Sydney’s available rail freight capacity. If Moorebank reaches capacity, there will still be 4.9 million container truck movements through Port Botany by 2040.
With the Moorebank intermodal terminal operating at capacity, the economic disbenefits of trucking containers will increase five-fold – from one million per year to five million per year – by 2040.
A rail freight bypass of Sydney will justify building the Maldon-Dombarton rail freight line to enable building a container terminal at Port Kembla to operate interchangeably with the Port of Newcastle.
The South Coast of NSW will be served by container ports at both Port Kembla and Port of Newcastle.
By building the section of the bypass line between Glenfield and Eastern Creek as the top priority, containers can be railed between Port Botany and a new intermodal terminal in outer western Sydney. The remainder of the line to Newcastle will take about 10 years to build. But there would be no intermodal terminal built at Moorebank.
Upon line completion, containers railed between Newcastle and intermodal terminals in outer western Sydney would be de-consolidated at the intermodal terminals and the goods transported to their end destinations in Sydney.
Export goods manufactured in Sydney would be consolidated into containers at the intermodal terminals and the containers then railed to Newcastle for export.
Empty containers would be railed from Sydney to all regional areas of NSW to be filled with export goods and the containers then railed to Newcastle for export.
All container trucks would be removed from Sydney’s roads.
Freight currently entering Greater Sydney by road can be railed.
There would be no need to build stages 2 and 3 of the $5 billion Northern Sydney Freight Corridor to provide the equivalent of a dedicated rail freight line between Newcastle and Strathfield.
There would be no need to build the $1 billion Western Sydney Freight Line, between Chullora and Eastern Creek, to enable containers to be railed between Port Botany and outer western Sydney.
There would be no need to spend $400 million on upgrading the Port Botany rail freight line.
Freight would be removed from the Wollongong-Sydney rail line.
All of Sydney’s current rail freight capacity would be used for passenger services to provide a higher economic return than freight.
The Southern Sydney Freight Line could be used for express passenger services from southwestern Sydney growth areas, including Badgery’s Creek Airport.
All of the current rail capacity between Newcastle and Sydney would be used for passengers.
A second rail bridge would be built over the Hawkesbury River as part of the rail freight bypass.
The short parallel runway at Sydney airport could be extended from 2,600 metres to 4,000 metres by terminating container operations at Port Botany.
A rail freight bypass would enable Sydney firms to relocate to regional areas.
It is appropriate and necessary for the state to examine the implications to NSW of removing the state’s anti-competitive fee for containers shipped through the Port of Newcastle.

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