The Government of New South Wales has extended the consultation for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor until August 31, instead of the previous term (August 17), due to pandemic restrictions. The extension will ensure that all community members are provided with enough time to submit their feedback.
The community feedback will help shape plans to protect land for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor for a future 30-km freight rail bypass of Newcastle, designed to boost rail efficiency and ease pressure on the main passenger line. The corridor has an identified width of 60 metres, excluding sections in tunnel.
This is a significant step in planning for a future freight corridor which will allow for a dedicated freight rail line between Fassifern and Hexham, bypassing Newcastle’s urban areas and will ensure forecast freight needs can be accommodated and will deliver more flexibility for both freight and passenger services. At present, the Main North Railway Line through Newcastle is a shared passenger and freight line.
The majority of land on the proposed route is owned by the government, but Transport for NSW is contacting any landowners who could be potentially impacted. Transport for NSW’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy has identified the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor for potential delivery in the next 10-20 years.
The New South Wales regional freight transport is expected to increase by 12 per cent in the next 15 years and the authorities want to provide essential freight rail infrastructure to meet transport demand. Within the Hunter Region, the number of weekly rail freight services transporting coal on the existing shared freight and passenger corridor has grown by approximately 150% since 2013. The Hunter Regional Plan 2036 highlights the importance of freight to the Hunter’s economy and establishes a direction to enhance interregional linkages to support economic growth, proposing the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor project.