INTERMODAL | OPINION: Why it won’t work

The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal simply won’t work because of the cost of upgrading the local road and rail freight networks (download complete references for this story).

Traffic studies show that the local road network reached peak period capacity in 2010. This means vehicles couldn’t enter the network in peak times because it was full.

By 2030, natural growth alone will see peak demand exceed capacity by 29 per cent.

Existing excess traffic demand in peak periods means that peak periods are becoming longer – and that’s without the extra Intermodal traffic.

But even though the government has approved construction to start on the Intermodal, the essential road studies are still being done.

“The NSW Government has committed $3.4 million to progress studies into road infrastructure options to manage traffic impacts from the proposed Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and forecast growth in the broader Liverpool and Moorebank area,” Duncan Gay told state parliament in August, when he was Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight.

Unrestricted local access

To operate properly, the Intermodal requires unrestricted access to local roads.

The Intermodal will have an impact on 27 local intersections and several pinch points. However, the state government isn’t revealing any details of the studies under way.

At current growth, without the addition of the Intermodal, traffic queue lengths at three key intersections with the M5 – Newbridge Road, Heathcote Road and Moorebank Avenue – will exceed the distances between the intersections because they’re so close.

The queue length will grow along Moorebank Avenue until it reaches the M5 intersection where it’ll clog the M5 interchange.

30,000 more cars

The Intermodal will add the equivalent of an extra 30,000 passenger cars a day to natural growth.

One of the reasons given for the Intermodal is that it’ll reduce the number of container trucks on Sydney’s roads.

Latest government estimates show that container trucks on Sydney’s roads will increase from 2250 per day in 2015 to 5480 in 2040 if the Intermodal operates at full capacity and Port Botany container throughput reaches 7 million containers a year.

The Intermodal requires more rail capacity than is available.

Capacity of the Metropolitan Freight Network is 1.1 million containers per year but the Intermodal’s capacity is 1.2 million containers.

However, the NSW government estimates that 2.4 million containers will be railed to all of Sydney’s intermodal terminals by 2040. How rail freight capacity will be more than doubled by 2040 has not been disclosed.

Improvements to the Southern Sydney Freight Line are required, including a link to the Intermodal site. Duplicating the rail freight line between Port Botany and Mascot is required as well as building the Western Sydney Freight Line linking Chullora to Eastern Creek, costing $1 billion.

Greg Cameron

Greg Cameron

A road link between Port Botany and WestConnex is required because 65 per cent of all Port Botany containers will be carried by road in 2040.

No NSW or Australian government funds are allocated for these rail and road projects.

  • Greg Cameron worked for BHP for some years and is now a self-employed policy analyst based in Canberra. He is advocating for building a rail freight bypass for Sydney between Newcastle, Eastern Creek and Glenfield – and paying for it by railing containers from the Port of Newcastle, rather than trucking them from Port Botany.

A SIMTA spokesman responds:

“Mr Cameron's claims are wrong and some very simple fact-checking would have shown that.  

“His campaign against Moorebank isn’t surprising given he’s been trying to convince various governments for years that Port Botany should be shut down entirely and moved to Newcastle.

“The truth is the Moorebank facility has been approved after seven years of expert independent assessment, it’s now being built and it will deliver thousands of jobs and economic benefits for decades to come.”

  • SIMTA was approached for a response to Greg Cameron’s piece. The company’s statement (above) was added 14/02/17.

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