CONSTRUCTION is about to commence on the Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility, which is expected to service neighbouring agribusinesses and attract new companies to the area.
The $8 million facility will be built and operated by Qube, Australia’s largest integrated provider of import and export logistic services.
Located within the new Tamworth Global Gateway Park, the freight hub is adjacent to Baiada’s large-scale poultry-processing facility and the Thomas Foods International (TFI) and Teys meat production plants, as well as the Tamworth Airport.
The site is also on the West Tamworth rail line which runs via Werris Creek through to Port of Newcastle and Port Botany.
Both the Tamworth Global Gateway Park and Intermodal Freight Facility are owned and managed by the Tamworth Regional Council.
Qube logistics and infrastructure director, John Digney, said the facility will service a range of bulk goods, such as grain and agricultural products as well as have the potential to handle supplies for solar projects in the region.
“We’re very pleased to be backing the Tamworth Regional Council’s investment in the local economy with the construction of the Tamworth Intermodal which will enable local producers to efficiently get their products to market, through Qube’s unprecedented Paddock to Port export supply chain,” Mr Digney said.
“Delivering the Tamworth intermodal is consistent with our plans to continue investing in intermodal and rail infrastructure – getting trucks off highways, contributing to emissions reductions and supporting regional communities with competitive and cost-effective freight and logistics services.”
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Russell Webb said he was excited to see construction of the facility about to begin.
“The Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility will enable suppliers, businesses and producers to have competitive rail access to ports for imports and exports, opening Tamworth up to international markets,” Cr Webb said.
Announced in 2015, the freight facility was originally set to open last year, but now is expected to be fully operational by mid-2023.
Mr Digney said the delay was due to extended but necessary period of negotiation, following disruptions due to COVID-19, significant supply chain impacts, and inflationary pressures.
According to an October 5 report from the Northern Daily Leader, the project was held up due to contract negotiations between TFI and Qube.
The TFI site at Tamworth produces chilled lamb and mutton products.
Grain Central understands TFI has finalised a deal to rail freight chilled products in containers using the Qube-operated facility and infrastructure.
The facility could also provide Baiada improved access to canola meal and imported soybean meal via the Port of Newcastle.
On top of these current industries, Burke & Smythe managing director Gavin Knee, who is handling the listing of lots within the Global Gateway Park, said the project has already had positive interest from a wide range of agribusinesses.
“There is very strong interest from a good mix of industry and agricultural businesses,” Mr Knee said.
“Three of the large deals are ag-based businesses as well as heavy industry businesses that cross over with agriculture.
“It is certainly going to benefit the ag industry, not only that direct-commodity-type industry, but the people that supply the ag industry with different products.”
Mr Knee said the neighbouring intermodal hub has been a major drawcard for the Global Gateway Park, as it will enable direct rail freight access to both NSW ports.
“The intermodal loading facility is certainly going to be a big benefit because it is going to service product going out and the raw material coming in.
“It is going to be a dual win with products coming both ways.”
Although the project is set to deliver financial and efficiency gains for agribusinesses, Tamworth region farmers have questioned whether these benefits will be passed on to producers.
NSW Farmers Tamworth branch chair and mixed farmer Kevin Tongue said he did not believe producers will see any direct financial rewards from this project.
He said large businesses, like Baiada, TFI and Teys, were unlikely to give back these savings to local farmers.
“Are they going to pass on the benefits to the producers or are they going to pocket it?” Mr Tongue said.
“This is my concern.”
Mr Tongue said he was also sceptical about the projected gains for businesses rail-freighting agricultural goods to port.
He said currently the high-output businesses truck the products daily out of the region, which may not be possible via the coal-dominated rail line.
This is also the case for bulk grain coming out of producing regions, such as the adjacent Liverpool Plains.
“On the Liverpool Plains a lot of grain is produced and exported through the Newcastle Port.
“They won’t put it on a semi-trailer, bring it to Tamworth, put it in a container and then send it via rail back to Newcastle, because they are halfway to Newcastle when they come out on the highway at Willow Tree.”
Like Mr Knee, Mr Tongue said freighting raw goods to the hub will most likely be where the gains are seen.
“Where I can see the big benefit for the intermodal terminal is the freight coming out of Port Botany or Newcastle and distributed from Tamworth.”
To prepare for construction of the intermodal hub, the NSW Government undertook works on a five-kilometre stretch of non-operational rail line between West Tamworth and Westdale.
Completed in December 2021, the $35M rail line project will enable the Intermodal Freight Facility to connect with the existing rail line and allow goods to be transported to ports at Newcastle and Sydney.
Nationals Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said these works will further boost the interest in the facility and the Global Gateway Park.
“We are giving businesses the confidence to choose Tamworth by investing in major rail and road infrastructure projects,” Mr Anderson said.
“[This] announcement welcomes big business into our region which means more jobs and more investment into our local economy.”
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