NSW roads, maritime and freight minister Duncan Gay has announced the first two projects which will receive funding under a grain rail sidings upgrade program.
Following consultation with major grain receivers and regional transport operators, the state says it’s identified a list of key sites for potential upgrades.
The first two funded projects are at Ardlethan and Nevertire.
At Ardlethan, $3.44 million will be spent to extend the existing rail siding by 750m, to a total of 1170m. GrainCorp and Emerald Grain will install new over-rail loading equipment. Together, the upgrades are expected to save seven hours of loading time by reducing train shunting.
At Nevertire, $2.9 million will be used to extend the current grain loop by 750m, to a total of 1215m. Transport for NSW says this will allow a 600m train to load in a single pass at the existing GrainCorp site. Together with more new over-rail loading equipment to be installed by GrainCorp, the improvements at Nevertire are expected to save between five and seven hours in loading time, again by reducing train shunting.
Gay said the funding announcement was the first of many.
“A total of $21 million is being spend on upgrading rail sidings on the Country Regional Network over the next three years,” he outlined.
“The broad acre grain crop is worth $4.2 billion each year to the NSW economy and is reliant on an efficient rail and road network including strong connections to silos and intermodal terminals.”
As suggested through the first two commitments, the upgrade program is going to focus on lengthening sidings to allow faster loading, and passing loops to allow to allow longer trains to operate more efficiently.
“These upgrades will help build stronger freight infrastructure across the grain belt to ensure producers can move their goods to market on time and more cost effectively,” Gay added.
Under the rail sidings program, which was announced in the 2014/15 state Budget, it is expected upgrades will be carried out at up to five more sites across the state in the next three years.
Gay welcomed the recent announcement by GrainCorp that the handler would invest $60 million in upgrading its sites, including 11 in NSW.
“Eliminating constraints on the freight network requires a sustained and collaborative effort between industry and government,” Gay said. “I look forward to seeing the cost savings from our targeted network improvements being passed onto growers.”