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The Maldon-Dombarton freight line is still more than a decade away, according to the state government’s new Freight and Ports Plan.
The plan also formally identifies Port Kembla as the preferred location of a container terminal to support Port Botany during periods of overflow.
Freight Minister Melinda Pavey said the amount of freight moved through NSW was predicted to grow up 28 per cent to more than 618 million tonnes by 2036.
“To support this, the NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 provides more than 70 initiatives for increasing capacity on the existing network, including building new infrastructure,” Mrs Pavey said.
The plan lists the long-awaited Maldon-Dombarton freight line among its “initiatives for investigation", but provides no firmer time frame than “10+ years” .
“While there is sufficient rail capacity in the short to medium term, freight rail access to Port Kembla is recognised by Infrastructure Australia as an initiative of national priority,” the plan stated.
With the growing pressures of passenger trains on the South Coast lineexpected to limit the rail paths for freight, the plan acknowledged something needed to be done.
“The NSW Government will work with rail freight operators to optimise freight train cycle times, with an initial focus on freight moving to trade gateways, which will achieve more efficient allocation and use of freight train paths,” the plan stated.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully was disappointed the plan included no money or commitment to invest in the Maldon-Dombarton rail line.
“The Berejiklian Government – like the Greiner, O’Farrell, and Baird governments – have never supported the Maldon-Dombarton rail link,” Mr Scully said.
“The project was cancelled 30 years ago by Greiner and has been mothballed ever since.
“Despite warnings that the South Coast Line will be overwhelmed by increased congestion, the Berejiklian Government remains unwilling to invest real money to get the Maldon-Dombarton rail link back on track.”
He said the port of Port Kembla needed the freight line built to remain viable.
“The Maldon-Dombarton rail link just can’t continue to remain on a long ‘to do’ list in glossy, photo-filled documents,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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