The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed an announcement that next week’s Federal Budget will contain $300 million to duplicate the freight rail line from Port Botany to Enfield as a major step forward for enhanced supply chain efficiency.
The funding forms part of an intergovernmental agreement signed in Parkes, NSW, between Ministers representing the Federal and NSW Governments. The agreement is a seminal moment in the progress of the Inland Rail Project that will form the backbone of the nation’s supply chains in the years ahead.
“ALC has been calling for the duplication of the freight rail line at Port Botany, as part of the Inland Rail Project, for a significant period of time. It was again identified as an urgent priority in ALC’s 2018-19 Commonwealth Budget Submission, and it is very pleasing that the Federal Government has now come to the party,” said ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff.
“Improving freight rail links into Australia’s major ports and boosting the use of short-haul rail from ports to intermodal terminals is essential in the drive to enhanced supply chain efficiency and safety, as outlined in Freight Doesn’t Vote, ALC’s major submission to the Inquiry Into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.”
“Currently, around 444,000 TEU per year moves to and from Port Botany by rail, and this continues to grow. Duplicating the freight rail line at Port Botany will allow NSW Ports to realise its objective of moving 3 million TEU annually by rail over the long term.”
“Ensuring efficient freight rail linkages to our ports and intermodal terminals is another critical piece of the Inland Rail puzzle, if we are to reap the full economic and efficiency benefits from the substantial public investment being made in the project,” Mr Kilgariff said.
Is it worth doing?
Ardent critic of the project Greg Cameron is not convinced, believing neither the Port Botany duplication nor the whole of the Inland Rail Project are worth continuing.
“If Botany is a commercially viable container port, why does the NSW government charge a fee of $150 per container at the Port of Newcastle, which it pays to Port Botany lessee, NSW Ports?” Mr Cameron said.
“A competing container terminal at Newcastle also makes the Inland Rail Line commercially unviable, because it will win container business from northern NSW. This explains why state and federal governments decline to acknowledge that the Newcastle container fee is anti-competitive.”