I sent a letter to Duncan Gay, NSW Minister for Roads, asking a few questions about WestConnex. I recently received a reply, text and images available below.
Ray Williams MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads NSW Member for Hawkesbury
Thank you for your email to the Minister for Roads and Freight about WestConnex and Port Botany’s freight transfer methods. The Minister has asked me to respond on his behalf.
The full WestConnex business case was submitted to Infrastructure Australia in September 2014, as per the new Abbott-Truss Government’s request. Information on the project was also supplied to Infrastructure Australia for assessment, at the former government’s request, as the business case was being developed.
It is important to note Infrastructure NSW and Infrastructure Australia work closely together on developing and assisting in delivering NSW’s infrastructure program at best value for the taxpayer in a way that delivers on NSW’s freight and transport needs. WestConnex has now been recommended as a critical project for NSW in two State Infrastructure strategies. To this end, Infrastructure NSW has regular meetings with Infrastructure Australia in relation to WestConnex and other major projects where the Federal Government is contributing funding. We value the strong and proactive working relationship between these two agencies.
An Executive Summary of the WestConnex business case was released when the Government approved the project. The Parliament of NSW also requested information on the project through a Standing Order 52, which was complied with in full. Additional information on Stage 2 of the project, the M5 East duplication, was also released when it was announced in November 2014.
Each stage of the project is also required to undergo a full publicly exhibited environmental impact statement, which describes the project need in full. Consistent with our view that the community needs to be well informed about WestConnex, further information will be released as we deliver the next phases of the project.
WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) has conducted extensive community consultation on the project, in the lead-up to tho business case, and hold 23 community information sessions. Moro than 380,000 community update brochures have been distributed to residences and businesses. In addition to regular updates in the general media.
WestConnex is Australia’s largest transport project with a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of well above two. That is, for every dollar invested, two will be returned to the economy. As early as 2002, under the former Labor Government, the M4 East and M5 East were identified as priority projects, but never delivered by Labor. Nonetheless, even now the Labor Opposition is promising to deliver these projects — heralding bipartisan support on the need to build WestConnex.
Anyone who sits in traffic on the M4 or M5, or lives in Western Sydney, supports the project. This is why its BCR is so high and why the project enjoys strong community support and investment from both Federal and NSW Governments.
On the topic of Port Botany’s freight transfer methods, in November 2013, the NSW Government launched the NSW Freight and Ports Strategy. This strategy outlines actions to improve efficiency and plan the expansion of NSW ports, roads and the rail network to cater for the estimated doubling of the freight task over the next 20 years. Further information can be found at (www.freight.transport.nsw.gov.au).
Transport costs for containers sent by rail from Port Botany to metropolitan intermodal terminals are already competitive with road freight costs. This is supported by the existence of successful private intermodal terminals such as those at Minto, Yennora and Cooks River and private sector plans to invest in a new intermodal terminal at Moorebank. By collecting import containers from intermodal terminals, customers avoid Port Botany truck window booking fees and have more timing flexibility.
Work is also currently under way with Port Botany stevedores and the Botany Yard network provider to introduce flexible train window times to better match train arrivals. Less waiting time for trains will reduce costs for rail. Improvements in the productivity of stevedores at the rail interface will ultimately lead to cost reductions for rail.
Improving work practices to make better use of existing infrastructure is more cost effective than building new capacity. There IS room for growth in rail throughput at Port Botany through improved work practices before any new capacity is required.
For more information, please visit to register for project updates, contact WDA on 1300 660 248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this has been of assistance.
Ray Williams MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads
Member for Hawkesbury
9th Feb 2015