Bowmans Rail bullish on Port Augusta facility opening

Upper Spencer Gulf sees rail operator link with Seaway Logistics for solar project

Bowmans Rail bullish on Port Augusta facility opening
It's a modest but important start near Port Augusta


South Australian freight company Bowmans Rail has opened an intermodal facility 12km from Port Augusta in a move designed to boost freight handling to the Upper Spencer Gulf (USG) region.

Bowmans director Malcolm May tells guests at the opening event that it was a "milestone in the efficient running of logistics".

"This will have a lasting, positive effect for this district, offering greater synchronisation of land transport with the Port; greater efficiency; cost savings; smoother scheduling and better co-ordination and management," May says.

"Importantly, it will also reduce air pollution in the Port Augusta area, which is a huge local issue.

"Rail is demonstrably cleaner and greener than road, and one freight train replaces 110 trucks on the road. It’s also 14 times safer than road transport, so there’s a big social benefit too".

The Port Augusta facility has a 3,600 square metre hard stand, semi-trailer access, 24/7 operation, and handling capacity of 3,000 containers a year.

The trigger for the development was Bowmans’ contract with Seaway Logistics for delivering solar panels and import construction components for the 300mW Bungala Solar Photovoltaic Project, about 12km from Port Augusta.

"This is the first time I know of that a renewables project anywhere in Australia was being supported by rail directly by rail and has significant merit for our renewables customer," Seaway Logistics manager Brett Beatham says.

Bowmans Rail CEO Scott McKay insists the facility is an intermodal infrastructure project Port Augusta has needed for many years and it will service a wide range of clients in industry, mining and agriculture.

"The commitment by the project contractor to use rail instead of road makes the project viable and use of the rail line and suitably located terminals provides the region with a road-rail intermodal for projects and industry and allows a portion of the Leigh Creek rail line to be utilised," McKay says.
"I hope that this development will generate new business and new jobs in Port Augusta and in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

"We will be employing two people directly on site, local maintenance and service contractors plus additional train crews to support the road and rail transfers between Port Adelaide and the project site. 

"By lowering freight costs, infrastructure like this generates further investment and jobs and I am confident that the Port Augusta Intermodal will have just this effect.

"It’s a new infrastructure development with positive implications for the entire Upper Spencer Gulf and I see it as very much part of the exciting renewables corridor emerging in the area.

"There’s a 30km belt of high-tech energy developments underway or planned in the USG.

"Bowmans Rail will be servicing that construction through a range of terminals and now we will also be providing infrastructure which will assist other developments in the region".

City of Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson backs the transport mode’s centrality in the project.

"We are very supportive of rail and its long term benefits for our region and this initiative of Bowmans Rail," Johnson says.

"These projects are fantastic for our region but our roads are not built for the volume of trucks we are seeing.

"We hope that rail can provide a further advantage for the existing and future renewable projects."

McKay notes that Bowmans Rail will initially run two to three trains a week between Port Adelaide and Port Augusta "and that will mean around 30 less trucks a week, a huge benefit for safety and air quality in and around Port Augusta".

Bowmans is also developing a facility at Roopena, 20km north of Whyalla, scheduled to open in May. It will have a hard stand of 4,500 sq m and a capacity of 2,000 containers a year.

"Rail offers greater flexibility in the context of accommodating increased freight volumes when compared with use of road transport," McKay says.

Bowmans Rail is a well-established South Australian company running Australia’s largest inland regional port, the intermodal facility at Bowmans, near Balaklava, and a specialised rail service.

The core business of the facility at Bowmans is the shipment of hay and other agricultural crops produced across the mid-north, via rail to Port Adelaide for export.

It also runs a rail service linking the Port Pirie smelters and a mine at Broken Hill with the export market, providing measurable economic benefit thanks to rail’s cost-effectiveness over road.

Both the intermodal and rail services are totally containerised.


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