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OPINION: Containers and rail will go well together – Newcastle Herald

By Greg Cameron

Oct. 13, 2012, 4 a.m.

A Newcastle terminal connected by rail to an intermodal terminal in north-western Sydney can be privately built and financed.

The sooner Port Botany container- terminal operations are moved to Newcastle the better it will be for Sydney’s road congestion.

In 2009, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) reported: “The M5 East is already at capacity and would be operating significantly above theoretical capacity (114 per cent) by 2016 .”

By 2018, container-carrying trucks will require up to 15 per cent of the passenger-vehicle-carrying capacity of the M5 East westbound tunnel and 8 per cent of the eastbound tunnel.

By 2030, container trucks will require one-third of the passenger- vehicle capacity of the existing west-bound tunnel. It will take 10 years to duplicate the M5 East.

Over the past five years, $700 million was spent reclaiming land for expanding Port Botany container terminal.

Sydney airport can be expanded – including a third parallel runway – by incorporating the container terminal site.

A March 2012 study on aviation capacity in the Sydney region for the NSW and Australian governments identified the container terminal as a major impediment to expanding the airport.

Another possible use of the terminal site would be for a new east coast naval base, for which the Australian government is reportedly planning to spend $1 billion.

Half of that has been allocated by the Australian government to move the army from Moorebank so that an intermodal terminal can be built on the site to service containers from Port Botany. Moving the base would not be required if the Newcastle option is pursued.

A container terminal in Newcastle will stimulate the northern NSW economy by reducing the costs of imports and exports, supporting new jobs and delivering better utilisation of regional infrastructure by attracting people from Sydney to live.

That city’s economy will benefit from an improved container service, less demand on its infrastructure and less traffic congestion from trucks on the M5 East – with a reduction in hazardous emissions.

Last week, NSW Treasurer Mike Baird launched the formal transaction process for the 99-year lease of the state-owned port assets Port Botany and Port Kembla, and the Cooks River and Enfield logistic centres “to unlock funds for priority infrastructure across NSW”.

Instead, the NSW government can sell a 99-year lease of the Newcastle container terminal site. After all, which is the better for NSW: trucking containers from Port Botany to multiple destinations in south-western Sydney, or railing containers from Newcastle to a single destination in north-western Sydney?

Greg Cameron represents himself and is interested in regional economic development and urban water supply through rainwater tanks.

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