In less than a year, demand for more efficient freight between Canberra and Port Botany has shown a strong business case for a new rail freight hub in Fyshwick.
Access Recyclers, which ships out more than 1000 tonnes of scrap metal each week to South East Asia, has $1 million from the NSW government to repair a shunting siding at Fyshwick. It will also redevelop the old Shell fuel depot, which it bought last year, into a rail freight hub.
The last bulk fuel train left Fyshwick in 2010. The national recycler has invested $3 million on metal processing and container loading equipment at Fyshwick. The depot will prepare containerised freight such as recycled metal, timber, sawdust, furniture and old car tyres from the ACT and across NSW for rail, offering 20 to 30 per cent off the cost of the journey, compared to road transport. Access will also accept containers of imported steel, new car tyres and bulk materials such as wind turbine parts at the new freight depot.
Access Recycling director Adam Perry said rail freight out of Kingston stopped last year because the track-side surface could not handle heavy, fully-laden shipping containers and handling equipment. Excavating, draining and replacing the surface would have been too expensive.
Instead, Access will repair and lease the south shunt rail siding, has brought land between the siding and the former Shell depot and is finalising a development application for the new freight depot. It has negotiated with John Holland, which manages the railway corridor for the NSW government that in turn leases railway lines in the territory from the ACT Government.
"We want to make Canberra a rail freight hub," Mr Perry said. "We have support from the NSW Government with $1 million to reconnect the south shunt and damaged section. That is limited to rail infrastructure.
"We bring in metal from as far as Cobar, Wagga Wagga, Orange, Bathurst, Griffith, Goulburn, Tumut and everywhere in between. We bring it to Canberra, we compress it and pack it into containers."
Mr Perry said NSW had good reason for contributing to an ACT project.
"We pay track access fees, NSW leases the entire line in the ACT, they maintain it. The only train to Canberra from Crisps Creek, Tarago [where freight trains from Sydney terminate], is a passenger train and historical trains. The passenger train does not pay access. We provide revenue for them, we pay $7000 for access and take trucks off roads," he said.
"Container freight is more efficient on rail. Anyone who travels to Sydney regularly like I do on the M5 east tunnel, and when it is all jammed up, the amount of containers you see on the back of trucks in the tunnel is horrendous. They just shouldn't be there."