Tamworth is set to become one of the biggest freight hubs in regional Australia on the back of the state government investing $7.418 million dollars in a new freight rail project.
The funding will be used to repair and re-instate the Barraba branch line from West Tamworth to Westdale along Wallamore rd.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said it “is all about getting the Tamworth region’s incredible produce from paddock to port as quickly as possible”.
“This is just the first stage of a larger project that will eventually deliver a multi-user Rail Freight Intermodal Terminal,” he said.
The announcement was made on site by Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson and Tamworth Regional Council Mayor Col Murray.
Mr Anderson said the rail freight hub is part of a much broader picture that will give “the city potential to knock on international doors”.
“We have a significant investment plan for Tamworth, and the rail freight centre is a major part of that. It will open up opportunities that we haven’t even realised yet,” Mr Anderson said.
“In terms of the inland rail, we will be the spoke and the hub. There is no other way for the inland rail to get product east, so to have this freight rail centre here will be a significant part of opening up those freight rail corridors, and Tamworth is now well placed to take advantage of that.”
Once the re-instatement of the Barraba branch line is complete, Tamworth Regional Council will put out tenders to private companies to develop and build the intermodal hub on the corner of Goddard ln and Wallamore rd.
Mayor Col Murray has been lobbying hard for the freight rail for some time, and believes once the intermodal hub is complete it will provide up to 5000 local jobs and put Tamworth even further on the map in terms of meat, food and grain processing in the immediate future.
“This heralds the start of a new era in Tamworth,” Cr Murray said.
“It will enable our businesses, our producers and our regional suppliers to have very competitive access to ports, and opens up a whole new opportunity to bring freight into Tamworth as well – it opens a whole new dynamic.”
In February 2016 TRC purchased a multi-million dollar 250 hectare parcel of land adjacent to the site, which will house a whole new industrial estate with direct access to the hub.
Intermodal Hub to be operating by late next year
Once built Tamworth’s intermodal rail hub will create between 3000 and 5000 new jobs in the region, and take 9000 trucks off the local roads, particularly between Tamworth, Newcastle and Sydney.
The hub got the tick of approval to go ahead on Friday, with a $7.418 million State Government grant to begin works.
TRC Director of Business and Community, John Sommerlad, said that the Goddard ln Wallamore rd site will be one of the best in NSW.
“We have a rail freight intermodal terminal on one side, an airport on the other, and all linked by heavy vehicle road networks – the best scenario we could ask for,” he said.
“We anticipate a six to nine month build, and trains to be rolling, up to three a week, in and out of this site by the second half of 2018.”
Huge boost to economy and growth
Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer has called the intermodal freight hub development “a very exciting time for the city.”
The chamber worked alongside TRC’s Economic Development Team in lobbying for the freight hub.
“It will be one of the biggest contributing factors for the region moving forward in terms of growth,” Mr Segboer said.
“5000 new jobs will mean new families moving to town. That means opportunities in the housing sector, the retail sector, hospitality – so it is not just about the hub and the rail.”
The move also brings the proposal for the Tamworth Airport to include an international freight terminal closer to realisation, while if the Shenhua Coal mine gets the green light the rail will be a direct link to harbour ports.
“This is the first step, and now we are well positioned to have international air freight in the future,” Mr Segboer said.
“It is a major part of the whole masterplan.”