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Moorebank intermodal crunch time

Hurlstone Agricultural College at Glenfield. Could it be affected by a proposed intermodal road?

Hurlstone Agricultural College at Glenfield. Could it be affected by a proposed intermodal road?

The Environmental Impact Statement about to be released on the intermodal proposal at Moorebank could confirm fears its impact tentacles will spread south into Campbelltown territory.

In about two weeks or less, people who built homes in the relatively new housing estate on Glenfield Road, will find out what the EIS says about a proposed plan to build a road from the terminal site on the other side of the Georges River in Moorebank to the Hume Highway near Hurlstone Agricultural College.

Plans for such a road are secret and few details have been released, but according to the minutes of Liverpool Council’s No Intermodal committee, they involve a reservation along Cambridge Avenue, as well as land between the Glenfield residents and Hurlstone College. None of these people have been notified of such plans.

If this road plan is given the go ahead, the intermodal proposal could face a new front of fierce opposition, especially if Campbelltown Council enters the fray. Liverpool Council is leading the fight, devoting substantial resources to its campaign to stop the intermodal.

In the meantime, the current opponents of this plan for a gigantic container terminal have ramped up their calls for the whole thing to be scrapped and a better location found for it, either at Badgerys Creek or Eastern Creek, where it will impact on far fewer local residents. And where warehousing will probably be built as part of the container terminal network.

John Anderson, who lives in Wattle Grove, a stone’s throw from the intermodal site, says it’s all about the pollution it will bring to an already polluted part of the Sydney metropolitan area.

“Liverpool has pollution streams that are driven out to the south west each day and I have no doubt that is a huge cause of the health problems of the area,’’ says Mr Anderson, who is a member of Liverpool Council’s No Intermodal Committee.

‘‘About three weeks ago they were doing burnoffs in the city and the pollution count was 74 in Liverpool, which is well above the limit of 30-40, which shows how pollution roars out to the south west.’’

Air quality modelling done by the Moorebank Intermodal Company shows that once operation begins air quality around the site will be worse than before, but still less than the required standard, in other words, still at safe levels.

Councillor Peter Harle, told the most recent No Intermodal Committee meeting that there is an air quality monitor at Rose Street in Liverpool and it records “worse than good air quality in Liverpool two days out of seven’’.

John Anderson, like a lot of those fighting the intermodal, concedes that it’s an important infrastructure project. Or in the national interest as the Federal Government has been saying for many years.

“The only thing wrong with it is the location,’’ he says.

“It should be at Eastern Creek, where some people argue it may even cost the Federal Government a lot less.’’

Another location would be a better option for the intermodal, says Menai MP  Melanie Gibbons

Another location would be a better option for the intermodal, says Menai MP Melanie Gibbons

The State Member for Menai, Melanie Gibbons, who is also on the No Intermodal Committee, says a better location would be Badgerys Creek, a view she shares with the mayor of Liverpool Ned Mannoun.

”The required infrastructure, roads and rail, will be built anyway for the second Sydney airport, so the intermodal would be perfect there. This is just wrong, with so many people living around the proposed site.

“It’s not about the merits of the intermodal itself, it’s just about the right location and Moorebank is not that,’’ Ms Gibbons says.

Both companies involved in the two headed proposal offer figures which purport to show that truck and rail movements will not adversely affect the air quality nor damage the environment, including the Georges River, which flows adjacent to one of the intermodals.

The EIS will have the final say on that, but in the meantime, Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) and The Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) continue to argue their case both via face to face engagement with the local community and their online websites.

The two are also engaged in essentially merger talks, but the local community don’t see this as a top shelf issue. If SIMTA and MIC merge it will just mean one operator of a giant intermodal across two sites facing each other. Or, as SIMTA calls it, an “integrated precinct’’ at Moorebank.

‘’We have undertaken community consultation throughout key stages of the existing SIMTA site and will continue to speak with the community as we progress with discussions on an integrated precinct,’’ its website says.

“An integrated precinct will allow more internal transfers to warehouses and will remove up to 80 per cent of the SIMTA generated heavy vehicle container road movements from the road network, as these will be serviced within the precinct.

“This means a reduction of 6,500 off site truck movements per week compared to a single site, by reducing the need for the secondary pick-up and delivery.

“An integrated precinct does not mean more traffic compared to a single site operating at Moorebank, as the size of the South West Sydney market and the total number of truck movements will remain the same.

“An integrated intermodal terminal precinct would support efficient rail freight movement between Port Botany, Australia’s most important port, and Moorebank. It would enable freight to be moved by rail along the Southern Sydney Freight Line between Port Botany and Moorebank.This would remove freight trucks from the M5 between Port Botany and Moorebank, easing congestion on this arterial road and increase capacity at Port Botany.

“As a result, the number of trucks on Sydney’s roads related to Port Botany would be reduced by more than 2,700 vehicles per day.

“The proposal is for an intermodal terminal that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The peak times for vehicle movement activity will be 7am-8am and 2pm-3pm, corresponding with employee movements to and from work. Goods will arrive in containers from Port Botany by rail, along the Southern Sydney Freight Line. Some containers will be unpacked onsite, and either stored in warehouses or distributed on smaller trucks. Some containers will be transferred directly from train to truck and distributed in the local area.

‘’Truck arrivals will be scheduled to prevent trucks queuing and waiting on surrounding roads.

SIMTA’s proposal is for an intermodal terminal with the capacity to process 500,000 TEUs per year by 2021 and one million TEUs per year by 2031. This is enough to meet forecast demand for the south western area of Sydney. Demand is not expected to reach one million TEUs before 2031.’’

Local resident Paul van den Bos, who is a an engineer and a traffic modeler, explains that TEU stands for Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit.

“This is the standard measuring unit. In the old days, containers were 20  feet. Now we have 40 foot and even 60 foot containers. A 40 foot container is equivalent to 2 TEUs, and a 60 foot container is equivalent to 3 TEUs,’’ Paul said.

The MIC, for its part, in stating its case, says on its website:

“The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal is one of the most important freight infrastructure projects being developed in Australia. An intermodal terminal is made up of a rail yard, trucking terminal and warehouses, which allow for shipping containers to be transferred between rail and road. The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal will include:

“An import-export (IMEX) terminal to manage shipping containers moving between Port Botany, and west and south-western Sydney. The IMEX terminal is ultimately expected to handle 1.2 million twenty foot shipping containers per year. Also An interstate terminal linked to the national rail freight network via the Southern Sydney Freight Line. The proposed capacity for the interstate terminal is 0.5 million twenty foot containers per year.

“Containers that arrive at the terminal by rail will either be transferred to their final destinations by semi-trailer or broken down on-site or at associated warehousing and transported to their final destinations by smaller vehicles. The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal will be able to handle a significant proportion of the expected growth in containerised freight moving through Sydney. By enabling more freight to travel by rail, the intermodal terminal will respond to Sydney’s need for more freight handling capacity that is not limited by Sydney’s congested road network, and take advantage of the Australian Government’s investment in the interstate freight rail network.

“The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal site is an ideal location for an intermodal terminal that will handle both interstate and import-export freight. This is because it is long enough to handle interstate freight trains, which can be 1.5km to 1.8km long.

  • big enough to handle the number of containers expected – up to 1.1 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) per year of import-export freight and another 0.5 million TEU per year of interstate freight
  • next to the Southern Sydney Freight Line, which is a dedicated freight rail line that provides a direct link to the interstate freight network and, together with the Metropolitan Freight Network, a direct link to Port Botany
  • next to the M5 Motorway, and near the M7 Motorway and Hume Highway – all key freight corridors
  • next to existing industrial areas, and close to major freight markets in western Sydney, which is where most of the containerised freight received at Port Botany is headed – nearly two thirds travels to western Sydney
  • sufficiently far from Port Botany to make rail a viable alternative for moving containers to and from the port
  • owned by the Australian Government and available for an alternative use as the current occupant of the site, the Department of Defence’s School of Military Engineering, is moving to new, purpose-built facilities in mid-2015.

John Anderson says that according to modelling done by  Mr van der Bos, if the intermodals go ahead 35 intersections will need upgrading.

“But the thing is everyone knows Liverpool has reached its traffic capacity limits, so if you had thousands more vehicle movements as you will end up with the intermodals, you will have big problems.

“But of course it all goes back to the air pollution that all those extra diesel trucks will bring to us.

“We know that there are 39000 residents in a 2km radius and 135000 in a 10 km radius from the intermodals.’’ Mr Anderson says.

‘’Don’t forget that the south west region is earmarked for massive population growth over the next 20 to 30 years, so more people to be affected, but also more and more vehicles on our limited road system.’’

Mr Anderson, who has been fighting the intermodals for six years, on August 21 wrote to the Federal Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, a Liberal Party member and a decent fellow who has been sympathetic to the concerns of the people in his electorate. Parts of the letter said:

“Mr Kelly: As you are aware the Environmental Impact statement is due out soon and the residents and stakeholders will get their say on a very contentious issue about our futures.

“What constantly amazes me is that the people behind these projects have virtually no knowledge of the area and never see the things that I believe make it virtually impossible to bring in it and if so it will virtually destroy the area as we know it.
‘’No one seems to care about residents and we are just pawns in a very strange attempts to  try and reverse the Impact on Port Botany and provide some measures for future container growth. We all know the true destination for this cargo is Eastern Creek.

“Sometimes I wonder if we live in a democracy as we are continually dictated to as to what has to happen and the politicians are doing what is opposite of what their role should be.

I always wonder why are we just the dumping ground all the time the area deserves much better . I know you have been fighting hard on our behalf but we must make greater efforts to show the mistakes they are going to be responsible for.

John Anderson

And the final word goes to Mr Anderson because the South West Voice asked him if he thought the intermodal will go ahead at Moorebank.

“No, it won’t be, because it will adversely affect too many people in the south west,” he said.intermodal


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