AUSTRALIA: Five civil engineering groups have been shortlisted by Australian Rail Track Corp to undertake improvements to the freight lines serving the busy Port Botany south of Sydney.

The government has committed A$400m to improving rail capacity in order to meet a projected 77% increase in the volume of containerised freight handled by the port, which is expected to reach 25·5 million tonnes by 2036. According to the NSW Ports’ 30-year Master Plan, 80% of containers passing through Port Botany are delivered to locations within a 40 km radius. Several train operators have been developing shuttle services to move this traffic between the port and freight precincts in the outer western and southwestern districts of the Greater Sydney metropolitan area.

The two projects involve double-tracking the remaining single-track section of the freight-only Botany branch between Mascot and Port Botany and constructing a passing loop between Cabramatta and Warwick Farm on the Southern Sydney Freight Line able to accommodate 1 300 m long trains.

CPB Contractors, Laing O’Rourke and John Holland have been shortlisted to bid for the Botany Rail Duplication Project. Downer EDI, Fulton Hogan and John Holland have been shortlisted for the Cabramatta Loop Project. Final tenders for the design and build contracts are due to be invited later this year.

‘These major projects aim to improve rail capacity, flexibility and reliability for freight rail customers, encouraging more freight to shift from road to rail, and we are getting on with delivering these massive improvements’, said ARTC CEO & Managing Director John Fullerton. ‘Each freight train can take up to 54 trucks worth of freight off the road, tackling congestion and improving the everyday commute in Sydney.’