Monday, July 29, 2013

New regional rail service takes off with big contract

The Ettamogah Rail Hub is set to expand its services to Brisbane after being awarded one of the largest regional freight contracts in the country.

The rail hub has announced a new twice-weekly service from Albury to Brisbane after securing contracts to shift 100,000 tonnes of freight annually from three major manufacturers in the border region.

Mountain H20, Norske Skog and Mars Petcare are among the first major customers to use the service, with plans to increase services between the two cities as demand grows.

Ettamogah Rail Hub owner Colin Rees said the rail service would shift the equivalent volume of freight as 3,000 trucks, producing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the contract was a major coup for the region and a proud moment for the business, which identified an opportunity to attract new services to the area by combining three of the region's biggest manufacturers into rail.

The announcement has also been celebrated by Albury City Council.

"The Ettamogah site is ideally located to service the Albury Wodonga region. It is adjacent to the Hume Freeway and has sidings with direct access onto the main interstate rail line between Melbourne and Sydney. The growth in demand for services is testimony that this is a prime location for servicing intermodal freight," said Tracey Squire, director of economic development and tourism for AlburyCity.

"AlburyCity has recognised the logistical advantages the Ettamogah Rail Hub offers our regional industry and has been supportive of Colin Rees' development. Council's development of our Nexus Industrial Precinct at Ettamogah is acknowledgement of the hub's key role in our economic growth", Ms Squire said.

Australian Rail Track Corporation chief executive John Fullerton said there is a growing demand to use rail to carry a larger share of the freight task.

"With recent improvements in rail infrastructure, particularly on the corridor between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, customers can increasingly look to rail as a competitive choice in terms of reliability, available capacity and transit times," he said.

"ARTC congratulates Pacific National and Ettamogah Rail Hub on this new business win. It's a sign of the renewed confidence in rail across the country and we look forward to further successes.

"The future of freight rail in Australia is bright and this can only be a good thing for the supply chain, road users and the wider community."

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has congratulated Ettamogah Rail Hub on the signing of the regional intermodal freight contract.

ARA CEO Bryan Nye said the announcement was a great win for rail freight and an important step towards getting more freight on rail and less on roads.

"Getting more freight on rail is imperative towards achieving a more efficient national logistics chain and a less clogged and congested road network along Australia's east coast," said Mr Nye.

"It is rail services like this, which develop regional areas and link with our major capitals, that will see Australia achieve a more productive, efficient and safe supply chain network.

"Governments and industry need to work together, not only at a local level, but at state and federal level in order to achieve the continual efficiency improvements that our supply chain network needs.

"One project that will take us significantly closer is the Inland Rail Project, a large-scale rail infrastructure project connecting freight from Melbourne right through to Brisbane," said My Nye.

"With the government committing $300 million of funding over four years to the $4.4 billion project, the foundations are there, now more than ever we need to keep the momentum moving forward and not lose sight of this nation building project," said Mr Nye.

"This project will cut transit times, create regional jobs, grow business and shift more freight off roads and on to rail however most importantly it cuts out the middleman – Sydney.

"Inland Rail has the potential to unblock an infrastructure bottleneck that currently sees Melbourne to Brisbane freight unnecessarily travelling through Sydney, congesting road and rail networks alike.

"The rail industry hopes to see this committed funding for the project used suitably to see the project advanced appropriately," Mr Nye said.

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