Container rail into Port Botany. Photo: Sydney Ports

NSW provides information for freight industry to be COVID Safe

The NSW government has released industry-specific information for the transport and freight businesses to help them navigate the risk of COVID-19.

According to Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, the materials have been designed for non-customer facing businesses and to provide practical guidance to limit the spread of the virus.

“80,000 businesses have already downloaded the NSW Government’s COVID Safety Plans, and we’ve now created additional resources for transport, freight and ride shares, offices, construction sites, and manufacturing premises,” Anderson said.

The NSW government has kept borders open to rail freight throughout the crisis, with no restriction on interstate movement into NSW for rail.

In addition, freight trains were given extra access to the Sydney metropolitan rail network in what were ordinarily restricted periods for passenger rail only.

NSW Ports CEO, Marika Calfas, said such measures should remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“These measures should be continued in the longer term to deliver community-wide productivity benefits, allowing trucks to supply businesses during evening periods, to alleviate pressures on the road networks during peak hours, and freight trains and passenger trains to share the network safely,” Calfas said.

“This will be especially important during the recovery phase when road congestion is likely to be exacerbated due to reduced public transport usage.”

Anderson said that the NSW government was working to ensure that businesses can operate as smoothly as possible.

“Ultimately we want to focus on getting NSW’s economy back up and running and providing businesses with the right guidance to operate safely and successfully in the current climate.”

The online database of information includes checklists for a COVID-19 safety plan for businesses, covering wellbeing of staff and customers, physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning, and record keeping. Businesses are also encouraged to register as being COVID Safe. Links to financial assistance are also available.

Tamworth

Work begins on Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line

Work has begun on the Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line, with the first sod turned on May 5.

The work involves rehabilitating the West Tamworth to Barraba Rail Line, which will allow for the construction of an intermodal terminal on the edge of Tamworth that is connected to the main North-South rail line running from Tamworth to Armidale and south to Sydney and Port Botany.

According to Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson, the construction work includes rebuilding six kilometres of track, a level crossing, bridge and signalling work, service relocations, and drainage improvements.

“The work will be completed on behalf of Transport for NSW by John Holland Rail, and includes early procurement of rail and sleepers, installing fencing at selected locations along the rail corridor and removing redundant infrastructure such as existing rail and sleepers,” he said.

The announcement that work has begun follows years of waiting for those in the New England region, since $7.4 million in funding from the NSW was confirmed in November 2017. The hope is that by re-opening the rail line, producers in the region will have freight rail access to Port Botany, said Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole.

“Reactivation of the non-operational rail line between West Tamworth and Westdale will facilitate freight train services to the Tamworth Regional Freight Terminal, opening the gateway with direct rail access to vessels at Port Botany.”

Once complete, the rail line and intermodal terminal will form part of a logistics hub next to the Tamworth regional airport, which is tipped to be an airfreight hub for agricultural produce.

“The NSW Government is committed to moving more freight via rail and is investing in the rail freight network to increase capacity and meet future demand,” said Toole.

“The train line is expected to start operating next year which will also help to support ongoing employment in the region.”

Investigation work was completed last year, and work will maximise the use of rail infrastructure already present, said Anderson.

“The plan to deliver the Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line involves making the most of the existing infrastructure, which will provide a significant cost saving, and minimise the frequency of trains crossing Denison Street, reducing the impact on local traffic.”