RFQ released for concept design of passenger terminal in Katherine, NT

The Northern Territory government has released a request for quotation for the development of a concept design for a rail passenger terminal as part of the Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub.

The concept design will cover the civil works for a new passenger terminal to the north of the current rail line. The design will include an access road, carpark, and rail platform. The design will establish the feasibility of the arrangement proposed, sufficient to define costs, achieve authority approval, and documented sufficient to tender for detailed design.

The new passenger terminal is part of the NT government’s aim to develop of Katherine as a horticulture and agricultural site and a transport hub for commodities from Queensland and Western Australia.

The Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub will be located next to the current Katherine Railway Terminal, and with the projected increase in freight, the passenger terminal will need to be moved to a separate rail loop to the northern side of the rail line.

Currently, passenger rail services to Katherine are provided by The Ghan, which stop twice a week. The tender documents indicate that this may increase to three times a week in future. Passenger trains use the same rail loop as freight services on the line and passenger trains extend into the freight operations area, necessitating the need for a new terminal and loop solely for passenger trains.

As part of the design, roadworks, civil works, earthworks and upgrades for the rail loop, a platform, utility services, and landscaping unique to Katherine.

The tender closes on May 19.

Freight continues as borders shut

With states closing their borders to interstate travel, those needing to continue to travel, including rail freight operators, into Western Australia and the Northern Territory are being asked to complete an arrival form.

The respective forms for WA and the NT can be found here and here.

From today, March 25, Queensland has also closed its borders. This has affected passenger rail services from NSW, which are now terminating at Casino, rather than continuing to Brisbane.

Due to the extensive connections between Queensland and New South Wales along the border at Tweed Heads/Coolangatta, local movements for shopping, work, medical appointments and travel home are not affected.

In addition, to limit the spread of the virus train and tram services in South East Queensland are only accepting pre-paid tickets to avoid the handling of cash.

While these measures have been put in place to ensure community safety, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has continued to press for freight services to be allowed to continue unaffected, due to their critical nature delivering food and supplies around Australia.

CEO of the ALC, Kirk Coningham, has said that he is happy with the measures put in place so far.

“It is pleasing that states and territories have all recognised the essential nature of the freight task by exempting freight and logistics from border closure arrangements,” he said.

“We now need states and territories to ensure that exemption is given practical effect, and make certain freight vehicles are not delayed for lengthy periods at border check points.”

Freight operators have been putting in place extra social distancing measures and cleaning measures to ensure that freight vehicle operators cannot spread COVID-19. With this in mind, delays at borders should be minimised, said Coningham.

“Those operating freight vehicles have rigorous restrictions around the number of hours they can work. Significant delays at border check points could end up producing delays of 24-hours or more in the movement of freight,” he said.

New name for Genesee & Wyoming Australia

Having completed the sale of Genesee & Wyoming Australia, the freight rail operator is now known as One Rail Australia.

The name change was published by the Australian Business Register on February 18, and follows a change of ownership for the operator.

The company has operated freight rail services in South Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Hunter Valley, and Genesee & Wyoming Australia also previously operated services in Western Australia in a joint venture with Wesfarmers.

Until 2019, Genesee & Wyoming Australia’s US parent company owned 51.1 per cent of the Australian arm of the business. The other 48.9 per cent is owned by a consortium of funds and clients, managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets.

The announcement in December finalised the sale of the US parent company to Canadian investment fund Brookfield Infrastructure and Singaporean investment firm GIC.

The transaction’s total value for the entire Genesee & Wyoming business is approximately $8.4 billion.

The Australian portion of the sale had to be completed separately due to Brookfield already owning rail assets in Australia. Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and Dutch pension manager PGGM will own the remainder of the company previously owned by Genesee & Wyoming’s US parent company.

According to reports, One Rail Australia will retain the Genesee & Wyoming livery however with a new logo.

In the US, Genesee & Wyoming is known for owning a number of short line railroads. The company also has operations in the UK and Europe.

GWA to haul concentrate from NT mine

Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA) has signed a binding heads of agreement to provide haulage services for mining company TNG.

TNG will use GWA’s freight line to run the roughly 1,100km journey from a rail siding near its Mount Peake mine to a processing facility in Darwin.

Mount Peake, located around 235 kilometres to the north of Alice Springs, is still in development. The project is focused on the production of vanadium, titanium and iron and is expected to become one of the largest global vanadium projects once mining commences in 2020.

TNG’s concentrate will be loaded at a proposed rail siding at Adnera, on the Tarcoola-to-Darwin rail line around 85 kilometres from the Mount Peake site, for transportation to TNG’s Tivan facility. GWA will also transport the final product from the Tivan facility to Darwin Port for unloading. The company will also supply all necessary locomotives, wagons, vans and fuelling equipment to accommodate the process.

“We are delighted to have engaged GWA as Mount Peake’s rail haulage service provider,” said TNG managing director and CEO Paul Burton. 

“GWA’s presence and expertise in logistics and transportation further strengthens TNG’s global network of high-quality partners assigned for the development and operation of Mount Peake.” 

GWA CEO Luke Anderson added that the company’s rail haulage solutions would ensure a successful logistics supply chain for the burgeoning project.