What is the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct?

The Moorebank intermodal freight precinct will enable freight to make part of its journey by rail. Located at Moorebank in south-west Sydney, the freight precinct will handle import-export (IMEX) and interstate shipping containers, and include warehousing for temporary onsite storage. It will provide direct access to Port Botany via the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL), which will connect to the terminal at the southern end of the precinct. It will be a single development comprising Moorebank Intermodal Company’s (MIC) and the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance’s (SIMTA) adjoining sites. The facilities will be open access, enabling any rail or road operator to use the IMEX or interstate terminals to provide freight transport services.

Who will build and operate the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct?

The Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) will build and operate the intermodal freight precinct at Moorebank. SIMTA is a consortium of Australia’s leading import export logistics company – Qube Holdings – and Australia’s largest rail freight operator – Aurizon Holdings.

Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) will oversee development of the freight precinct to make sure SIMTA delivers the core components of the terminal infrastructure to the required standards. During operations, MIC’s main role will be to monitor SIMTA’s compliance with its open access obligations.

Is the project a public or private sector facility?

The Moorebank intermodal freight precinct will be built and operated by a private sector consortium – the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA). The project will be funded by both Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC), which is an Australian government business, and SIMTA. SIMTA will deliver most of the capital investment, and both MIC and SIMTA will provide land to the precinct. MIC will oversee SIMTA’s development of the freight precinct to ensure Commonwealth Government policy objectives are achieved.

With MIC and SIMTA's sites being combined, does this mean there will be more container movements?

No. The railway line from Port Botany constrains the volume of IMEX freight that can be handled at Moorebank. The constraint is created by the capacity of the railway infrastructure and expected demand from other users of the railway. Even after future rail upgrades, the Moorebank area can only handle 1.05 million IMEX containers a year. The interstate terminal will have an ultimate capacity of 500,000 containers a year. 

if there won't be extra container movements, why are the sites being combined?

Developing the two sites as a single freight precinct provides more space for onsite warehousing and optimises the layout of the intermodal precinct. The rail tracks will be located in the centre of the combined site and surrounded by warehousing to contain noise and remove much of the terminal operations from view. The extra onsite warehousing also means more containers can be unpacked onsite and taken straight to their final destination, rather than having to first travel to warehouses elsewhere. 

What is the value of this project? What is the breakdown of the investment from SIMTA and the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth is expected to contribute around $370 million to the development as well as Commonwealth land (158 ha of developable land plus biodiversity offset land), which will be leased to SIMTA. The Commonwealth’s investment is significantly lower than the amount anticipated when MIC was established in 2012.

SIMTA will deliver funding for the terminal infrastructure and warehousing, at a cost of around $1.5 billion over the first 10 years, as well as contributing land (83 ha of developable land) to the development.

Does the Government intend to retain a financial stake in the intermodal terminal?

MIC’s role is to facilitate the development of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal by selecting a private sector operator and developer and overseeing the achievement of the Commonwealth’s policy objectives for the terminal. Once this has been achieved, it has always been the Commonwealth’s intention to sell its interest in MIC. While MIC’s monitoring and enforcement role, particularly in relation to open access, will not be sold, MIC’s revenue streams as a landlord have been designed as a saleable structure that will be attractive to investors.

Does the agreement include the sale of land to SIMTA?

No. Under the terms of the agreement, both Commonwealth land and SIMTA land will be combined in a single trust structure and leased to SIMTA for 99 years. 

Is the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct definitely going ahead?

Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) and Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) have signed contracts under which SIMTA will develop and operate the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct. Before building can begin, MIC and SIMTA must obtain planning approvals. If these approvals are obtained, construction of the first stage is expected to begin in late 2015 with the first stage of operation to begin in late 2017.

Why isn’t Badgerys Creek being considered as an alternative site for the intermodal terminal?

The Badgerys Creek airport site is unlikely to have enough spare space to also accommodate a container freight precinct. New rail and road connections to Badgerys Creek would also be needed if an intermodal terminal were to be built there.

Why is Moorebank needed now that Asciano is recommencing IMEX services at its Chullora terminal?

The Chullora and Moorebank terminals will each serve different parts of Sydney so both are needed to get more freight onto rail and off our congested roads. Freight in the Sydney basin is heading towards 7 million import-export shipping containers a year. Asciano has announced that the port shuttle rail service to Chullora will ultimately handle 135,000 IMEX containers a year on top of the capacity the Chullora terminal provides for interstate freight. Moorebank will be able to handle a further 1.05 million IMEX containers a year and another 500,000 containers of interstate freight.

What demand is expected for the terminal?

There is strong demand for the IMEX terminal due to ongoing container growth at Port Botany and limitations on the number of containers that can be transported to and from the port by road. Even with recent additions to Sydney’s IMEX intermodal capacity, such as at Chullora and Enfield, more capacity is needed to cope with demand and reduce the growing burden of freight transport on our roads. Demand for the Moorebank IMEX terminal is expected to reach around 1 million containers a year by 2030, if not sooner.

The interstate terminal at Moorebank will drive demand for rail transport of containerised freight between Sydney and other capital cities and regional areas. The Commonwealth Government has been investing heavily in the interstate freight rail network but a network of large, modern intermodal facilities is also needed to make the most of this investment. The Moorebank interstate terminal will be a particularly important part of this network as Sydney currently has the lowest domestic container rail throughput of the major capitals, despite being Australia’s largest city. 

What is the land used for now?

Since the 1800s, the Moorebank Estate has been used for military purposes with the School of Military Engineering (SME) being established in 1940. The Moorebank Units Relocation (MUR) project has moved the SME to a new purpose built facility at Holsworthy Barracks. The Defence National Storage Distribution Centre (DNSDC) is located to the east of Moorebank Avenue and leases this land from the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance.

When will construction and operation commence?

Construction is planned to begin in late 2015 with the first stage of operation to begin in late 2017. The first stage of the interstate terminal is expected to start operating in late 2019.

How will trains access the site?

Trains will access the site using a connection to the Southern Sydney Freight Line that enters the precinct at its southern boundary. Building the rail connection to at the southern end of the precinct means the connection is as far away from local residents as possible. The connection can also have wider turns, which will reduce the potential for noise from trains using the connection. Having the connection at the south also improves the layout of the precinct. For example, the loading and unloading facilities can be located in the centre of the precinct and surrounded by warehousing to contain noise. 

How have community concerns, raised in public submissions on the Environmental Impact Statement, been addressed in the Response to Submissions report?

All submissions received have been taken into account and common community concerns have influenced some of the precinct’s design elements and mitigation measures. For example, the rail connection will be located at the south of the precinct to minimise noise, warehousing will be located strategically to contain noise, locomotive standards will be adopted to limit diesel emissions and noise, gas powered equipment will be used to reduce pollution and local road intersections will be modified to negate the impact of the precinct.

Once planning approvals for the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct are granted, SIMTA will have a legal obligation to ensure the precinct is built and operated in strict compliance with the conditions of approval.

What changes to the Environmental Impact Statement does MIC propose in the Response to Submissions report?

A number of refinements have been made to MIC’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as a result of MIC’s and SIMTA’s agreement to develop a combined precinct and submissions made on the EIS. These refinements include confirmation that the terminal will connect to the Southern Sydney Freight line at the southern end of the precinct, and a revised layout for the terminal facilities and warehousing. The layout of the combined freight precinct will allow the rail tracks to be located in the centre of the precinct and surrounded by warehousing to contain noise. The technical studies have also been updated to reflect these changes and show that the terminal’s impacts on air, noise, traffic, human health, biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage will meet all relevant NSW and Commonwealth requirements.

The terminal capacity will not change due to practical constraints on the volume of freight that can be handled at Moorebank.

Will Moorebank Avenue close?

Part of Moorebank Avenue will be upgraded and the road may be moved in the future (after a further planning approval); however, it will remain open for public use.

What sort of jobs will the terminal create?

The terminal will employ administration staff to carry out financial control and accounts, reception, contract administration and office IT. Operational staff will be needed, including managers, rail and truck operators, control room operators, as well as crane and forklift operators. Maintenance staff will include staff to manage electrical, mechanical, terminal control and IT systems. The onsite warehousing will also require administration staff and operational staff, including logistics managers and supervisors, store people, packers and forklift drivers.

What hours will the terminal operate?

When the terminal is fully operational in about 2030, the terminal is expected to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes truck access to the site. During the early years, from late 2017 onwards, the truck gates to the terminal are likely to be open 16 hours a day, 5.5 days a week.

Does the zoning of the land need to be changed?

The Department of Planning and the Environment has exhibited a planning proposal to change the zoning of the land for the terminal and the rail connection to facilitate the development of the terminal, should it be approved.

The planning proposal would amend the Liverpool Local Environmental Plan 2008 by:

  • rezoning the proposed intermodal site from SP2 Infrastructure (Defence) to E3 Environmental Management and IN1 General Industrial;
  • amending the Height of Building Map and the Floor Space Ratio Map to allow for maximum building heights and densities respectively;
  • inserting local provisions to allow additional uses on the intermodal site, including on land subject to the proposed rail connection; and
  • inserting a ‘satisfactory arrangements’ clause to ensure adequate provision is made for infrastructure upgrades.

How much vegetation will be cleared and how will MIC offset this?

Around 50 hectares (ha) of vegetation will be cleared for the terminal. This will mainly be offset by conserving and improving land on site and securing and improving other sites immediately surrounding the terminal.

Three biodiversity offset areas will be protected including:

  • the riparian zone along the east bank of the Georges River within the terminal site (approximately 30 ha and referred to as the Moorebank offset area);
  • the western side of the Georges River opposite the terminal and south of the Casual Powerhouse Arts Centre (approximately 3 ha and referred to as the Casula offset area); and
  • east of Moorebank Avenue and to the west of the suburb of Wattle Grove (approximately 80 ha and referred to as the Wattle Grove offset area).

A restoration plan for the Georges River riparian zone and Casula offset area includes re-vegetation of around 16.7 ha of land, weed control on approximately 20 ha of land, widening the existing vegetation corridor along the Georges River and improving the habitat for native animals and plants, particularly threatened species.

This land will be preserved through a secure a BioBanking or conservation agreement with the relevant regulators so it cannot be used for other purposes in the future.

MIC will also purchase additional biodiversity offsets through the NSW Government BioBanking scheme.

Will local wildlife be relocated when vegetation on the site is cleared?

Local wildlife will be relocated when vegetation on the site is cleared using a range of measures. A trained ecologist will accompany clearing crews in order to ensure disturbance is minimised and to assist in relocating any native fauna to the adjacent conservation areas.

A number of measures would be implemented to protect local wildlife. These include:

  • identifying and marking all trees that provide potential roosting and breeding habitat;
  • clearing hollow-bearing trees in March-April when most microbats and birds are unlikely to be breeding or caring for young;
  • searching for native wildlife that can be captured and relocated to the retained riparian Georges River Corridor, for example reptiles, frogs, and the Cumberland Land Snail;
  • providing all contractors with contact numbers for wildlife rescue groups and instructing them on how to coordinate with these groups in relation to any animal injured or orphaned during clearing;
  • relocating animals to adjacent retained habitat by an ecologist during the supervision of vegetation removal;
  • supervising the drainage of any ponds on the terminal site by an ecologist to relocate native fish (e.g. eels), tortoises and frogs; and
  • designing the site fencing and any overhead powerlines to reduce the potential for collision by birds and bats.

Is there any Aboriginal heritage and how will it be protected?

Some areas of Aboriginal significance have been identified, including three potential scarred trees and some potential archaeological deposits. Scarred trees are trees which have had bark removed by indigenous Australians for the creation of canoes, shelters, shields and containers, such as coolamons.

In consultation with the local Aboriginal community, a range of mitigation strategies will be further considered and implemented during the detailed design and construction phases of the project to respect and preserve Aboriginal heritage where possible.

Will the water quality of the Georges River be affected?

Water capture and treatment ponds incorporating environmental habitat, and other water sensitive urban design features, will be included in the design to ensure no degradation of water quality in the Georges River. Water quality monitoring water in the Georges River has and is being undertaken to better understand current conditions to ensure water sensitive urban design features maintain or improve water quality.

What noise impacts will the Moorebank intermodal freight precinct have?

A variety of measures will ensure the combined terminal meets all noise guidelines. For example, combining the MIC and SIMTA sites enables the layout of the terminal to be arranged to contain noise. The terminals will be located in the centre of the combined site and surrounded by warehousing to provide a buffer. The rail crossing from the Southern Sydney Freight Line will be at the south of the precinct to minimise noise for nearby residents. Also, automated cranes will be used to eliminate the need for warning alarms, and Transport for NSW noise standards will be adopted for trains using the terminal. 

What traffic impacts will the intermodal freight precinct have?

The combined freight precinct will handle largely the same number of heavy vehicles as would use a terminal on just the MIC or SIMTA site. This is because the additional land does not enable the precinct to handle extra shipping containers. The number of shipping containers is limited by the capacity of the railway line connecting Moorebank to Port Botany and forecast demand for interstate rail freight. 

However, the combined precinct has more space for onsite warehousing, which means that more containers can be unpacked onsite before delivery to their final destination. This removes a leg from the supply chain, thereby reducing the total distance each container needs to travel by road. It also means that the terminal will be served by more smaller trucks.

The traffic generated by the freight precinct will be addressed by widening part of Moorebank Avenue and modifying local intersections to negate the impact of trucks using the terminal. Traffic access arrangements have been designed to prevent trucks from entering from or leaving to the south to minimise traffic impacts on local communities. Almost all trucks will access the terminal via Moorebank Avenue and connect to the arterial road network via the M5 Motorway. The terminal is not expected to have a substantial impact on the operation of the M5 or the regional road network.

Will there be adequate parking on the terminal site?

All required parking will be provided on site during both the construction and operation of the terminal to prevent any need for parking elsewhere, such as on nearby local streets. The number of parking spaces proposed is based on the controls for development on industrial land in the Liverpool City Council Development Control Plan 2008.

To accommodate staff working at different locations within the site, parking will be available at the import-export terminal, administration buildings and warehousing precincts. The number of car spaces will be calculated based on projected staff numbers and will take into account the overlap at shift changeover times.

A ‘troubled truck’ parking and holding area will be included in the terminal to accommodate inbound trucks that do not have valid paperwork, or for trucks that arrive early and need to wait for their allocated time slot. This parking area will accommodate up to 25 trucks. There is also ample truck queuing space included within the terminal.

Will trucks be restricted from using particular streets?

There are existing load and vehicle size limits on Anzac Road for B-Double vehicles and these limits will continue. Stakeholders, such as Liverpool City Council and NSW Roads and Maritime Services will be consulted to determine if further restrictions are required and how they could be implemented.  

Will road infrastructure be upgraded before the terminal is built?

When the first stage of the import-export terminal begins operating, there will be no change to Moorebank Avenue or the surrounding intersections. During construction of the interstate terminal, Moorebank Avenue will be simultaneously upgraded by widening the road to a four-lane carriageway between the M5 Motorway, and the intersection of Moorebank Avenue and Anzac Road. Roads and local intersections will be modified to maintain their performance at the levels that would have been experienced without the terminal.

How does the terminal take trucks off the road? Aren’t you just moving trucks from Port Botany to Moorebank?

Once containers arrive at Moorebank by rail they will need to make the final leg of their journey by truck. However, the distance they need to travel by road will be significantly reduced. Ultimately, the IMEX terminal will reduce the total distance travelled by trucks in Sydney by over 60,000 km every day. This reduction in truck travel will reduce the growth in congestion across the Sydney network, reduce travel times, and increase the reliability of trip duration.

The terminal will also reduce the growing pressure on the roads to and from Port Botany. Currently, around 5,000 shipping containers travel to and from the port by truck each day. Without Moorebank, this number will increase to at least 14,000 containers a day by 2040. Moorebank will reduce this increase to around 11,000 containers a day that need to travel by road.

How much traffic would be generated if the site were used for a different type of development?

A residential development would generate around 8 times more traffic than an intermodal terminal during the morning and/or afternoon peaks in equivalent passenger car units (1 heavy vehicle is equivalent to 2.4 PCUs).

What impacts on air quality will the intermodal freight precinct have?

The intermodal precinct will make a small contribution to local air pollution, but this is likely to be lower than the pollution caused by alternative uses of the precinct. It will also be well within government air quality guidelines in the suburbs near the terminal. In any case, the terminal’s contribution to emissions will be minimised through various measures, including the use of LPG-generated equipment instead of diesel, and Transport for NSW emission standards for trains using the terminal. Regional air quality is expected to be slightly better as a result of the switch from road to rail caused by the terminal. Local and regional air quality is more likely to be adversely affected by external factors like future vehicles standards and the frequency of bushfires. 

Will local residents be at risk of developing cancer, asthma or other respiratory illnesses?

Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) and the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) each conducted human health risk assessments as part of their Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). MIC’s studies have been updated in its Response to Submissions report, which also measures the impact of a combined MIC and SIMTA freight precinct.

The human health risk assessment analysed the link between existing and likely future air quality conditions near the terminal and the affect this could have on the future health of the community (e.g. asthma and other respiratory diseases). These studies used the most up-to-date science, including reports and data from the World Health Organization and Australian government bodies. The assessments found that the health impact of a single or combined freight precinct are low due to the low levels of exposure and low particulate matter emissions from the terminal in the surrounding area. 

How can I contact a translating service to discuss a question about the project?

If you need an interpreter, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 and ask them to telephone Moorebank Intermodal Company on 1300 382 239. Our business hours are 9.00am – 5.00pm weekdays.