AusRAIL, Market Sectors

$30 truck levy to fund modal shift and Enfield facilities

<p>A mooted $30 levy on containers being moved by truck out of Port Botany will punish small truck operators at the expense of multi-million dollar rail operators, the New South Wales Road Transport Association said.</p> <p>According to New South Wales Government cabinet papers leaked to the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em> , the government wants to impose a $30 levy to fund $2bn in rail freight facilities and track and new roads.</p> <p>The association’s government and commercial relations manager, Hugh McMaster, said that his organisation did not oppose the principle of a levy or the goal of increasing rail share.</p> <p>It welcomed the government’s intention to improve rail and road infrastructure to and from Port Botany &#8211 especially the move to incorporate and strengthen existing links, he said.</p> <p>"But, we do need to work out where the best part in the chain is to pass on the levy," Mr McMaster said.</p> <p>"We don’t believe struggling container carriers should be slugged to fund rail growth for multimillion dollar rail operators."</p> <p>Mr McMaster said he also wanted to see the debate widened to include stevedoring rates.</p> <p>A Pacific National spokesman said the rail operator was generally supportive of proposals or initiatives that promote modal shift from road to rail.</p> <p>"We look forward to seeing the detailed strategy," the spokesman said. </p> <p>NSW planning and infrastructure minister Craig Knowles is expected to confirm details from the leaked papers as early as today (Monday, December 13).</p> <p>It is though the government will introduce the levy by January 1, 2006, the <em>Herald</em> reported.</p> <p>The levy is to help fund the government’s ambition to achieve a 40% rail share as container throughput at Port Botany grows.</p> <p>The papers propose an additional rail freight line to connect with facilities at Enfield and another rail-road transfer station at either Ropes Creek or Holsworthy. </p> <p>A new freight line from Macarthur or a similar western branch line would also link Enfield, the Herald reported.</p> <p>The plan also proposes track duplication from Sydenham to Port Botany. </p> <p>Road improvements could include a tunnel from the port to the M4 East and additional lanes on the M5, it stated.</p> <br />