Newcastle pushes ahead with container bid

Port of Newcastle Port of Newcastle is currently operating at only 50% capacity. Credit: Port of Newcastle
Industry Database

Port of Newcastle plans to continue its fight to win funding and establish a container terminal, following news that the Australian government will fund rail expansion at Port Botany.

In March, the Port of Newcastle made a submission to the New South Wales government regarding its Draft NSW Freight and Ports Plan (FPP), in which Geoff Crowe, chief commercial officer at the port, said the port has the capacity to double its existing trade to over 328m tonnes per annum and its channel and land capacity, plus road and rail connectivity offered “enormous” opportunity.

The submission notes that the port is operating at only 50% capacity: “By providing a level playing field for a Newcastle container terminal, the NSW Government can leverage the capacity that already exists within the Port of Newcastle and its existing road and rail supply chains, and save billions which can be invested in other priority projects for the State.”

In the submission, Mr Crowe, who will leave his position at the end of June, said that last year the port’s trade was over 167m tonnes with a trade value of more than AUS$24bn.

AUD$400m to Botany

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that a AUD$400m project to duplicate 2.8km of the 18km Botany to Enfield freight rail line to help expand Port Botany’s container capacity would be fully funded by the Government, as part of the Inland Rail Project.

Newcastle’s FPP submission stated: “The draft plan notes that significant infrastructure upgrades will be required if NSW container freight growth is to be met by Port Botany and Port Kembla.”

The port’s 2018 Master Plan will be published this year and highlights the development opportunities it sees as key, including the container terminal, an automotive and Ro-ro Hub and construction of the Newcastle Bulk Terminal at Walsh Point.

The Deloitte NSW Container and Port Policy also presents the case for the Port of Newcastle as “an untapped solution in managing freight challenges in NSW.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently reviewing the Newcastle container terminal fee, paid to NSW Ports.

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