Almost 12 months after first being announced, funding for the first phase of Tamworth’s Intermodal Rail Hub has been released, with work to start on the rail in the next month.
In November 2017 Kevin Anderson handed Tamworth mayor Col Murray a cheque for $7.418 million to upgrade 6 km of track along the unused Barraba spur line, which will link the hub, and the proposed council owned enterprise area, or business park, to functional line in West Tamworth.
Mr Murray said that while this initial infrastructure is a “baby step in terms of what’s happening on the ground, it is a giant leap forward in terms of the economy of the broader region.”
When completed the hub will be a means of connecting inland produce to Port Botany and overseas markets, and was originally forecast to take over 9000 trucks off the road each year. It is also considered to be a major stepping stone towards the Tamworth Airport becoming an international freight terminal.
When first proposed Mr Murray suggested the entire operation could bring 5000 jobs to the region, and he backed up that statement on Tuesday.
“This is the start of the grand vision of council to establish Tamworth as a transport hub,” he said.
“The 5000 jobs is applied to this enterprise area, there is 246 hectares, which in my view is one of the best parcels of industrial land on the eastern seaboard now ready to be serviced by rail, and a strong road network, and in the not too distant future we are hoping to see the opportunities for air freight.”
At the initial announcement 11 months ago TRC Director of Business and Community John Sommerlad predicted the terminal would be operating by the end of 2018, however has since admitted to being “over-ambitious.”
On Tuesday Mr Anderson said the delay was due “to making sure we had the right project in the right place.”
“This will be a game changer, no doubt about that, we are looking at the big picture,” he said.
“Tamworth will be the regional transport hub. We have got the inland rail, the spine running north to south – we will be able to tap into that and be the link to the coast.”
Mr Anderson confirmed that John Holland is planning on having the old Barraba spur line removed by the end of the year, with the new line predicted to take nine months to construct.
Qube Logistics supply chain GM Sean Hovey confirmed the Intermodal Hub would also be built and operational in that same timeframe.