Trade Resources Industry Knowledge The Australian Rail Track Corporation Declines to Disclose The Line's Capacity

The Australian Rail Track Corporation Declines to Disclose The Line's Capacity

In the interests of transparency, would you re-consider your decision not to disclose the container-carrying capacity of the Port Botany rail line? As you are aware, the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the line's operator, declines to disclose the line's capacity.

Based on available evidence, the line's capacity is less than the current number of containers moved through Port Botany, which is 2 million TEU per year. If so, all future growth in container movements will occur by truck. This means that Port Botany's capacity will be determined by the traffic capacity of roads used by container trucks.

NSW Government policy is that Ports Botany and Kembla will be fully developed before consideration will be given to developing a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle. According to NSW Treasurer, the Hon Mike Baird, a scoping study for leasing the Port of Newcastle "confirmed it was in the best interests of the people of NSW". Since this study is confidential, the claim cannot be independently verified.

The NSW Government leased Port Botany and Port Kembla to NSW Ports Consortium in 2013. Did the NSW Government give NSW Ports Consortium an undertaking that a container terminal would not be developed at the Port of Newcastle until after Ports Botany and Kembla became fully developed?

At present, 85 per cent of Port Botany containers are moved by truck. Northern NSW is significantly disadvantaged. Imported containers are trucked from Port Botany to destinations in western Sydney, where the goods are unloaded from their containers, loaded onto other trucks, and then trucked to northern NSW. Firms manufacturing for export face the significant burden of trucking their goods to western Sydney, where they are loaded into containers that are then trucked to Port Botany. By relying on trucks, the NSW Government is knowingly disadvantaging northern NSW.

In 1997, BHP proposed building a container terminal at Newcastle to service northern NSW. But the NSW Government prevented the container terminal being built when it accepted ownership of the site from BHP Billiton, in June 2002. A confidential cost/benefit study was conducted of the transfer.

Responsibility for contamination contained within the site was transferred to the NSW Government. Any damage caused by the contamination after June 2002 is now vested in the NSW Government.

Will the NSW Government release the cost benefit study so that it may be examined? How does accepting liability for damage caused by the contamination after June 2002 serve to benefit the people of NSW? Does the proposed lease agreement for the Port of Newcastle prohibit a container terminal being developed on the former steelworks site before Ports Botany and Kembla are fully developed? If so, how does this benefit the people of NSW?

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an Open Letter to The Hon Barry Farrell MP: Why The Secrecy Over The Port Botany Rail Line?
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