Transcript - Minister for Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton making an Inland Rail announcement in Newcastle.

MARK COULTON:

Today we’re at the Port of Newcastle to announce that the federal government through the ARTC will inject $44.7 million dollars to upgrade the final section of the Hunter coal mine line from Turrawan from the Narrabri underground mine through to connect to the inland rail at Narrabri. That will be the missing link that provided great freight efficiencies for the produce that comes out Northern NSW, higher capacity trains, heavier axle weights, longer trains, here to the port of Newcastle that is going to be a great saving for the farmers of the north-west, and add to complete efficiency of the supply chain.

JOURNALIST:

So when are you expecting that to be completed?

MARK COULTON:

Look, it’s just the announcement today but I will imagine it will be done in conjunction with the construction of the Inland Rail line, so Narrabri to Narromine construction will commence in 2022 and to be completed probably about 2024 and so in that within that timeframe this job will be done.

JOURNALIST:

And huge economic benefits once it’s completed?

MARK COULTON:

Look, early estimates is $3 a tonne saving by just upgrading that 35-kilometre stretch but ultimately with the Inland Rail and whatever builds off that, the potential is quite huge, so the possibility of a fertiliser plant at Narrabri or recycling coming up and down into the northwest, the possibilities are quite endless.

JOURNALIST:

And rail is really the way to go with this kind of infrastructure isn’t it? It’s not something you can do with a road.

MARK COULTON:

We’ve seen a great resurgence of rail because of the efficiency because of the fact that it has a lower carbon footprint the fact that our trucking companies are struggling for workforce to keep the number of people driving trucks interstate safety, taking trucks off the highway and putting freight on rail makes sense for a lot of reasons.

MARK COULTON:

Yeah ok so the Inland Rail construction is well underway, we’ve already seen parks to Narromine completed. Construction is started now on Narrabri to North Star, so the Hunter line will connect into the Narrabri to Narromine section.

The environmental impact statement was released a couple of weeks ago for that section and so Inland Rail is progressing on track so to speak with trains going end to end about the middle of the of the twenty’s, 2026.

JOURNALIST:

So what does this mean for the port of Newcastle ultimately?

CRAIG CARMODY, NEWCASTLE PORT CEO:

Oh, this very exciting news for the Port of Newcastle, it’s such a welcome announcement.

This is to the same link as the Minister said, this connects the Port of Newcastle directly to those agricultural districts and with the Inland Rail, the $3/tonne saving on grain.

Yeah it’s just perfect for the farmers and it’s great for the port.

JOURNALIST:

So this will ultimately come into Carrington, is that is that the plan?

CRAIG CARMODY:

That’s it, it now means that you can run from the farm gate all way down to the agricultural precinct sitting there behind me, with most stops.

JOURNALIST:

And what does that mean in terms, long term for the port to have that sort of reliable heavy rail service?

CRAIG CARMODY:

Yeah, we’re rail heavy port, we’re highly reliant on rail, and this just continues to add to that natural advantage that we have and it keeps the costs down for the farmers and ultimately that’s good for everyone.

Ends.

Media Contact: 

Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920