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Rail freight in NSW 2005
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Rail freight in NSW 2005


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Largely a historical document now, this outlines the commodities and freight flows moving by rail in New South Wales, Australia in 2005. I did this back when I was Editor of Railway Digest magazine.

Largely a historical document now, this outlines the commodities and freight flows moving by rail in New South Wales, Australia in 2005. I did this back when I was Editor of Railway Digest magazine.

Published in: Travel, Business, Technology

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  • 1. Railway Freight Traffic in New South Wales in 2005 Scott Martin Editor, Railway Digest
  • 2. Rail-hauled freight traffic in NSW consists of two distinct groups of commodities, namely: ‘Rocks and seeds’ • Coal • Grain • Minerals • Quarry products Industrial products • Cement • Petroleum • Intermodal • Steel
  • 3. Rocks and Seeds Commodities wrested from the earth in either vegetable or mineral form are the basis for rail freight traffic in NSW. The main ‘rocks and seeds’ hauled by rail are: – – – – Coal Grain Minerals Quarry products (ballast, limestone)
  • 4. Coal
  • 5. Coal • Coal is the largest commodity moved by rail in Australia each year. • In 2003/2004, 226 million tonnes of coal was moved by rail around Australia. • While Queensland accounts for some 143 million tonnes of this total, NSW moves almost all of the remaining tonnage.
  • 6. Coal - where does it come from? Extensive coal measures lie underneath the areas surrounding Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle. The three main coal measures mined commercially are: • Hunter Valley/Northern • Western • Southern/Illawarra
  • 7. Hunter Valley/Northern Coal
  • 8. Railing coal to Newcastle • The Hunter Valley/Northern coal system is now focused on the export terminals in Newcastle (Kooragang Island/Port Waratah) • Newcastle has been a centre for the rail movement of coal since the 1830s. • Newcastle is now the 8th largest coal exporting port in the world, shipping over 80 million tonnes of coal in 2003/2004.
  • 9. The Northern coal system
  • 10. Railing coal to Newcastle • The Hunter Valley coal traffic is the profit centre of the railways in NSW and this revenue value is reflected by infrastructure investment to handle coal traffic. • Future investment under ARTC will increase rail’s capacity to handle the demands of Northern coal traffic.
  • 11. Northern coal • The Newcastle coal network is set for expansion in the next decade. Capacity enhancements and new production will see coal exports top 115 million tonnes by 2008. • Capacity enhancements include: – Grade separated overpass for coal trains at Sandgate; – Resignalling, track remodelling and duplication between Muswellbrook and Maitland.
  • 12. Northern coal • Coal loaders are located near the mineable coal measures north, south and west of Newcastle, namely: – – – – Lake Macquarie South Maitland Hunter Valley North Coast/Northern Tablelands
  • 13. Northern coal • South of Newcastle, coal is loaded from Newstan (near Fassifern) and Teralba collieries. • One major non-export user of rail-hauled coal in this region is the Eraring power station near Lake Macquarie.
  • 14. Northern coal • The South Maitland coalfields are a shadow of their former prominence, with only one rail-served colliery remaining on the field, being Bloomfield. • The only other rail-served colliery on the South Maitland field (Southland) closed indefinitely in 2004 after a fire.
  • 15. Northern coal • The centre of the Hunter Valley coalfields lies between Maitland and Muswellbrook, with 12 rail-served coal loaders feeding into Port Waratah and Kooragang Island terminals. A further five coal loaders are located further afield, as far north as Gunnedah and west to Ulan. • Pacific National has dominated Hunter Valley coal traffic since its inception in 2002. Competition to PN’s monopoly is now underway.
  • 16. QR National
  • 17. Northern coal • A limited amount of coal is mined on the lower North Coast, with two coal loaders at Duralie and Stratford (between Dungog and Gloucester) also adding to the tonnage entering Newcastle. • These trains are hauled by QR National (formerly Interail), who are challenging Pacific National’s dominance on the Northern coal system. QR National is taking delivery of new, high-capacity coal wagons and heavy haul locomotives to challenge PN.
  • 18. Northern coal • Expansion of coal production in the Hunter Valley is due to take place in the next few years with two new mines coming on stream at Jerry’s Plains and Werris Creek. • Both new mines will send their coal to market by rail, thus adding to the tonnage travelling down the Main North to Newcastle.
  • 19. Western coal
  • 20. Western Coal • The Western coal fields are now located mostly to the west of Lithgow, with major rail-served coal loaders at Baal Bone and Charbon on the Mudgee line and also the Clarence colliery in the Blue Mountains. • Western coal travels by rail to Port Kembla for export via the Sydney and the Illawarra using Pacific National trains.
  • 21. Southern/Illawarra coal
  • 22. Southern coal • In recent years, the Main South has seen the amount of coal sent by rail drop. In 2005, only one colliery sends coal by rail on the Main South, this being Tahmoor colliery. • Tahmoor coal trains travel to Port Kembla via the Moss Vale - Unanderra line utilising the unusual (for NSW) practice of distributed power, with Pacific National 82 class units ‘topping and tailing’ the train.
  • 23. Illawarra coal • Illawarra coal trains work out of coal loaders near the mines located along the Illawarra escarpment, north and south of Wollongong. • Illawarra coal hauled by rail is mostly exported, although some trains supply the BlueScope Steel plant at Port Kembla.
  • 24. Illawarra coal • North of Wollongong, coal loaders serve two collieries: – Metropolitan colliery, and; – Coal Cliff (Clifton) colliery • These collieries rail their production to Port Kembla for export.
  • 25. Illawarra coal • South of Wollongong, BlueScope Steel maintains two mines to supply their Port Kembla mill with coking coal; – Elouera, and – Dendrobium. • Both mines are located on private lines that were owned and operated by BHP. In 2003, Pacific National took over coal haulage duties for BlueScope Steel.
  • 26. Grain
  • 27. Grain • Grain is another important commodity to the railways in NSW. Unlike coal however, grain is a seasonal traffic. • The grain railways of NSW have two distinct tasks to fulfill: – Railing grain to ports for export, and; – Railing grain to domestic processors.
  • 28. Grain • The grain growers of NSW are served by a network of silos and receiving points on the main and branch lines of the state. • The trend to consolidate grain on rail at large main line receiving points, thus making the existence of many lightly laid and poorly maintained grain only branch lines uncertain at best.
  • 29. The NSW grain line network
  • 30. Export grain • NSW has two grain export terminals, at Bullock Island (Newcastle) and Port Kembla (Wollongong). These facilities were provided in the 1970s and 1980s to decentralise grain exports out of Sydney. • A third export grain site can be accessed by growers in southern NSW, namely Melbourne’s Appleton Dock terminal.
  • 31. Grain • Domestic users of grain take grain by rail to their mills for processing into flour, starches, malt and other products. • The major domestic grain user in NSW is the Manildra Group, who use rail to transport grain to mills around NSW and also to move the finished product to market. • ARG won the Manildra Group haulage contract in 2003 off Pacific National.
  • 32. Manildra Group
  • 33. Manildra Group • ARG runs trains from country grain silos to Manildra Group plants at: – Manildra (near Parkes); – Gunnedah – Narranderra • Flour from these mills is also sent by rail for further processing to Manildra Group’s Bomaderry (Nowra) mill. • ARG also operate trains carrying export flour and starch products from Manildra Group plants to Port Botany for export.
  • 34. Domestic grain • Examples of some domestic grain processors using rail include: – – – – Ingham Poultry at Sandgate (Newcastle) Nestle Purina (Friskies) at Blayney Weston Milling at Enfield (Sydney) Goodman Fielder at Summer Hill (Sydney) • These plants produce flour, stock feed and pet food.
  • 35. Domestic grain • Other domestic grain users include: – Kellogg’s at Botany – Cargills Australia at Kooragang Island (Newcastle) – Joe White Maltings in Tamworth • These plants use non-wheat grains (rice, canola/soy beans and barley respectively) to produce breakfast cereals, cooking oils, starches and malt.
  • 36. Minerals
  • 37. Minerals • Mineral traffic is another major user of rail transport in moving a variety of minerals from mines to smelters or ports. • The main mineral traffic in NSW is as follows:
  • 38. Minerals • Cobar – copper and zinc. Rails its output in containers from Cobar for smelting in Hobart (Tas), Newcastle and Port Pirie (SA) • Cadia – copper and gold. Rails its output in containers from Blayney to Newcastle for export to Japan
  • 39. Minerals • NorthParkes – copper and gold. Output railed in containers from Goonumbla to Newcastle and Port Kembla for smelting. • Broken Hill - silver, lead and zinc. Output is railed in open wagons (with covers) to Newcastle and Port Pirie (SA) for smelting
  • 40. Quarry products
  • 41. Quarry products • Quarry products encompass non-mineral rocks recovered from the earth. • Included in this are commodities such as limestone and the varieties of rock used for ballast, roadbase and gravel.
  • 42. Limestone • Limestone is an important element in making both cement and steel. • Rail plays an important role in shipping the limestone from quarry to end users in the supply chains in both cement and steel industries.
  • 43. Limestone • Marulan limestone is also railed to BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla to be used as flux in the steel making process. • Limestone is also quarried around Kandos and Portland on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains and processed into cement at the Australian Cement plant at Kandos.
  • 44. Aggregates • A small but significant traffic for Pacific National has been the Dunmore – Sydney aggregates train (aka ‘Bedrock Betty’) • This train carries stone aggregate and roadbase material from the Boral quarry at Dunmore to Boral plants at St Peters and Enfield in Sydney.
  • 45. Ballast • Ballast is a vital part of the machine ensemble of the railway, anchoring track and sleepers in place and providing drainage to the permanent way. • RailCorp subsidiary RIC maintains three permanent ballast quarries located at: – Bombo (Illawarra) – Ardglen (Main North) – Martins Creek (North Coast) • These three quarries provide almost 60% of RailCorp/RIC’s annual ballast requirements (over 600,000 tonnes in 2002/2003)
  • 46. Ballast • Other sources of ballast are used by RIC and ARTC, such as: – privately-owned quarries – mobile ballast crushing plants on railway land (RIC has trialled mobile crushing plants at Mellelea (Western) and Bethungra (Main South)
  • 47. Industrial products
  • 48. Industrial products • Unlike the ‘rocks and seeds’ part of the railway, the industrial products are a yearround operation, and carry a wide variety of products. The main commodity groups are: – – – – Cement Petroleum Intermodal (containers) Steel
  • 49. Cement
  • 50. Cement • Limestone is quarried at Medway (near Marulan) in the Southern Highlands, and railed to the Blue Circle Southern Cement works at Berrima and Maldon to make cement • Limestone is also quarried around Kandos on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains and transported by a unique aerial ropeway to the Cement Australia plant at Kandos
  • 51. Cement • Cement from Berrima and Kandos is railed to Sydney for bulk distribution from Blue Circle Southern and Cement Australia terminals at Enfield and Clyde yards. • Cement from Berrima is also carried to Somerton in Victoria. • Pacific National carries all cement traffic in NSW and Victoria.
  • 52. Petroleum
  • 53. Petroleum • Petroleum products are carried by rail under NSW government Community Service Obligations (CSOs) aimed at getting dangerous goods off roads and onto rail. • Two petroleum refiners consign fuel by rail in NSW: – Shell – Ampol
  • 54. Petroleum • Shell awarded a 3-year transport contract to Freight Australia (FA) in September 2002 to haul petroleum products from Sydney to its bulk distribution depots in Canberra, Tamworth and Dubbo. • Pacific National had inherited the contracts from FreightCorp and has regained Shell’s contact since the takeover of FA in 2004.
  • 55. Petroleum • Ampol also rails fuel from Sydney to its inland terminal at Bomen (near Wagga). • The Ampol fuel traffic is handled by Pacific National
  • 56. Intermodal
  • 57. Intermodal • What is Intermodal freight? • A good definition is: “Movement of freight using a combination of transportation modes (i.e. truck, rail, ocean or air transportation)” • Rail plays its part in moving intermodal freight with container trains connecting freight terminals and ports in NSW and interstate.
  • 58. Intermodal • There are three distinct intermodal freight flows in NSW: – Intracity – to from Port Botany from suburban container terminals – Intrastate – from hinterland container terminals to Port Botany – Interstate – north-south and east-west freight flows that cater for terminating and through traffic
  • 59. Intermodal • In Sydney, rail handles containerised freight between Port Botany and intermodal terminals located in the peripheral and middle suburbs near industrial centres.
  • 60. Intermodal • Not all intermodal terminals are common user facilities, most are tied to a particular freight forwarder or rail operator. • Intermodal terminals in Sydney are located at: Clyde, Cooks River, Enfield, Leightonfield, Minto, Port Botany, Sandown and Yennora.
  • 61. Intermodal • Intrastate intermodal freight flows move containerised and non-bulk freight between freight terminals in inland NSW and Sydney. • A variety of commodities are moved in this way packed in containers, such as cotton, rice, specialty grains, wine, whitegoods, furniture, foodstuffs, pet food and chemicals. • An unusual intermodal commodity being moved by rail against the hinterland-port traffic flow is containerised rubbish, from Sydney’s Clyde yard to Crisps Creek siding on the Canberra branch.
  • 62. Intermodal • Inland intermodal terminals are located in the following NSW regional centres:
  • 63. Intermodal • • • • • • Blayney Cootamundra Dubbo Griffith Moree Narrabri • • • • • • Parkes Sandgate (Newcastle) Tamworth Wagga Warren Wee Waa
  • 64. Intermodal • Sydney lies in the middle on the Melbourne to Brisbane ‘north-south’ corridor, and at one end of the ‘east-west’ corridor to Adelaide and Perth. • Pacific National controls the majority of interstate freight services, connecting Sydney to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.
  • 65. Intermodal • In response to the Pacific National monopoly on the interstate network, other operators have begun running their own intermodal trains, such as: – QR National (Brisbane – Melbourne) – ARG (Adelaide – Sydney)
  • 66. Steel
  • 67. Steel • In 2002, Pacific National inherited National Rail’s long term steel haulage contract with BHP. This involves moving raw and processed steel between the Whyalla and Port Kembla steelworks and processing plants around Australia.
  • 68. Steel • Despite BHP’s merger to become BHP Billiton and the spin-off of BHP’s steelmaking businesses into OneSteel and BlueScope Steel, raw steel and steel products remain major rail-hauled commodities on the national network.
  • 69. Steel • Three PN steel services operate in NSW: – Newcastle/Whyalla trains move steel from Whyalla to processing plants in Victoria and New South Wales – Wollongong/Perth trains move steel from Port Kembla to processing plants in South Australia and Western Australia – Wollongong/Brisbane trains move steel from Port Kembla to processing plants in New South Wales and Queensland
  • 70. Questions?