A six-month Australian Rail Track Corporation trial will see longer, heavier trains used along the 100-kilometre railway line between Moree and Narrabri.
ARTC executive general manager for the Hunter Valley Jonathan Vandervoort said the trial will bring big productivity improvements for farmers in NSW’s north-west.
“Producers have been saying for years in order to become more competitive they want improvements in the supply chain and that rail is the most cost-effective and efficient way to do it,” Vandervoort said.
“Well, north-west farmers looking to shift the last of the 2015/16 grain harvest and summer sorghum crops have the opportunity today to realise significant transport savings by using rail.”
ARTC has increased track weight tonnages by 15% along the stretch of track, and is also increasing the maximum train length from 850 metres to 1,000.
Vandervoort believes the changes can help farmers realise roughly $2-3 per tonne in savings from the increase to axle loads alone.
“Add in an increase in length and the savings are multiplied,” he said.
“And it is a progressive improvement, giving more back to the farmer with no hard infrastructure cost.
“In only two years we have moved from 19 tonne axle load, 40 wagon trains; to now 70 wagon trains at 1000m in length and 23 tonne axle loadings.
“That delivers an extra 11 tonnes of freight per wagon, straight payload,” he stated.
An added benefit of an improved pricing differential, he said, was that it could enlarge the geographic catchment for rail to attract more freight.
“The introduction of this size of train is also a bonus for our other customers as it improves network capacity by reducing the overall number of interactions between trains, decreasing the variations in freight cycle time and passenger train performance,” he continued.
“We are determined to continue pushing the envelope and finding smart ways of delivering more to our customers for less.”
The ARTC will monitor and review the performance of larger, heavier, loaded trains, operating at 50 km/h, over the next six months.
The ARTC’s review and risk assessment process so far has already included running a 1.25-kilometre grain train to the Port of Newcastle in December.