Mega train makes inaugural grain haul

Industry bodies hail inaugural train journey a success, look forward to increased runs

Mega train makes inaugural grain haul
The Port of Newcastle, the grain's destination.


Described as a massive win for farmers and the supply chain industry, what is believed to be the largest, continuously-tipped export grain train in Australian history has made its inaugural trip from New South Wales' north west to the Port of Newcastle.

Leaving Narrabri with more than 5,000 tonnes of wheat divided among 73 wagons, the 1,250m train required five locomotives to bring the haul, destined for Southeast Asia, to the Newcastle Agri Terminal.

Stretching almost twice as long as the usual grain trains that travel the route, which sit at 650m long and 40 wagons, federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss says the train is a boon for the farmers.

"In simple terms, the increase in payload means at least a $5 to $10 a tonne reduction in hard costs for the grower—a massive saving," Truss says.

Able to unload the grain in one pass on a continuous balloon loop, Port of Newcastle CEO Geoff Crowe says the train also takes advantage of existing facilities.

"The Port of Newcastle is well positioned to support the growth of NSW's grain trade, with plenty of capacity in the rail networks to the port, multiple grain terminals for ship loading and a shipping channel that can handle double the Port's current total trade," Crowe says.

The trip will be the one of two this season, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton says, a number he believes could increase in the future.

"We believe there is opportunity to run many more similar heavier train services in future harvests," Fullerton says.

"We have dedicated train paths ready and available today to help growers get their product to market, and through heavier, more productive trains and improved cycle times, we can help increase farm gate returns and make the entire supply chain more efficient."

A point not lost on the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), who has applauded all parties involved.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says the train is a "fantastic achievement and shows what can be achieved when all parts of the supply chain work together to maximise the efficiency of the network and freight infrastructure."

"With Australia’s freight task predicted to double by 2030 and nearly triple 2050, industry is continually looking for ways to get more freight onto our trucks, trains, planes and ships safely and efficiently.

"In light of these figures, Australia needs to improve rail freight efficiency, which underscores ALC’s strong support for the inland freight line between Melbourne and Brisbane and port shuttles to improve the movement of freight to and from our major ports," he says.

With new rail infrastructure, allowing for higher axle loads and freight numbers, the ALC chief hopes the "significant advantages" of rail ensure the inaugural trip is a "sign of things to come."


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