Eighty-five per cent of the grain to be exported through a new terminal at Port Kembla will arrive on a train, but a NSW minister has ruled out putting a timeframe on completing the port’s missing inland rail link.
The Maldon-Dombarton rail line, a 35km line that sits partially-constructed, would allow for freight to be moved to from Port Kembla without using the South Coast commuter line or Illawarra roads.
The state’s Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, has indicated Maldon-Dombarton “will be part of the future”, but “just can't give an honest timeframe for that”.
“There's a lot of people that have been vying for it and fighting for it and lobbying for it for a very long time, and they should continue,” Ms Pavey said.
The minister’s comments came as she visited Port Kembla to officially open a new Quattro Ports grain terminal this week.
“This terminal will be serviced by 85 per cent rail,” she said.
“We are still getting good rail down here into the Illawarra but we have to think and plan for the future.
“I think that the Maldon-Dombarton will be part of that future but I'm not going to be disingenuous and create a timeframe that I can't meet just at this moment.”
The new terminal, which has loaded almost 700,000 tonnes of grain onto 19 ships since it began operating in March last year, took three years to plan and construct.
As part of that process, NSW Ports extended a berth at the harbour to cater for larger vessels, 19 silos of various sizes were built, and a 1500-tonne per hour loading conveyor was installed.
“It [Port Kembla] is one of Australia's great harbours,” Ms Pavey said.
“This investment by Quattro will improve a lot of things; capacity here at this port but also give a price competitive edge to farmers across NSW and Australia by providing another freight terminal for grain to export around the world.”
Quattro Ports chairman Simon Barney said the Maldon-Dombarton line, which would leave the main southern line near Picton and join the Moss Vale-Unanderra line near Port Kembla, would be “a strong link”.
“It’ll come at the right time when there’s the right basis of investment,” Mr Barney said.