QR National plans for Hunter Valley growth with new train facility
Australia’s leading rail transport company, QR National today signalled its long-term commitment to the Hunter Valley by announcing plans for a modern train support facility at Hexham near the Port of Newcastle.
At an estimated capital cost of up to $100 million, the proposed facility would support the company’s growing New South Wales coal haulage business and alleviate capacity pressures in the Hunter Valley coal supply chain.
The facility would consolidate ad-hoc maintenance and re-fuelling activities currently used by QR National. This will benefit the community by significantly reducing shunting and provisioning activities in and around Koorangang Island.
QR National is now working through required regulatory and environment approvals for the proposal with the New South Wales government and other relevant stakeholders. It has also briefed key stakeholders such as local state members and Infrastructure NSW.
The project is supported by the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Co-ordinator, which advocates relocating train servicing and fuelling facilities away from Kooragang Island at the Port of Newcastle, to improve the efficiency of the coal chain.
QR National’s Senior Vice President Service Delivery Coal Markets Ed McKeiver said the company had already invested several million dollars in project establishment costs and anticipated moving into detailed design by mid-2012.
"Depending on government planning approvals and consultation with stakeholders, QR National plans to have the facility operational by mid 2014," Mr McKeiver said.
"QR National is strongly committed to the Hunter Valley – to our customers, to the community and the local economy.
"QR National intends to have a long-term presence in this region as a proactive and responsible local business and supply chain participant."
David Down, who is QR National’s Newcastle-based Vice President Service Delivery NSW, said that over the last three years, the Company’s local workforce grew threefold to just under 300 employees. The construction of a train support facility would create an additional 100 jobs during construction to the benefit of the community and local contractors.
"We understand that with growth comes a responsibility to effectively manage the footprint of our business and our relationship with the community," Mr Down said.
"Our aim is to consolidate our maintenance and provision requirements into one low-impact facility and to make our train operations the most efficient they can be with the latest and quietest new-generation locomotives.
"We’re also working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to identify environmental reserve area(s) for conservation of native flora and fauna."
The 255 hectare project site at Hexham is a strategic parcel of industrial land that QR National has owned since 2008.
QR National plans to redevelop approximately 30 hectares of the site for the facility. The balance of the land will be environmental reserve and future use.
The footprint of QR National’s proposed Hexham project does not limit future opportunities for the site, including the F3 freeway extension and any potential freight by-pass projects and holding roads being considered by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).
QR National is finalising a Heads of Agreement with ARTC to collaborate on these complementary developments at Hexham to improve efficiency and limit any community and environmental impacts during construction.
Since launching coal haulage services in the Hunter Valley in 2005, QR National has secured approximately 30 per cent of the railed coal market.
QR National hauls thermal coal from mines in the Ulan and Hunter Valley regions to the Port of Newcastle and domestic coal users.