Opportunities for freight rail growth in the NT

 
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
So what do we think?

Could we have oil on rail up the centre?

new oil fields coming on stream in the NT could this be traffic?

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  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

To where and from where?

“Traffic” doesn’t come out of thin air.

These discussions about running trains carrying things in circles are just nonsense.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
I am quite sure I do not understand the last comment.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Hi x31,

In reality most of us know as much as you do.

What I would recommend as a starting point is to look at some of the NT/SA/Qld transport plans and see what they say about traffic volumes and types.  Then look at RDA and council commissioned reports to see what might be possible in the area.  A few good google searches should help you out.  Also have a look at the Queensland rail information packs on the Mt Isa line, and the work being done by the Mt Isa-Tennant Creek economic development zone.  Some mining companies might have some info.  Finally press and newspaper articles might be useful to understand.  There is some of this discussed here on RP (eg the phosphate mining near Tennant Creek that looks to have not eventuated) but I'm sure you might find some things that might not be discussed.

Have a look around and see what you find.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Tonnage wise, rock phosphate mines between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa offer the greatest potential for additional rail traffic to Darwin. As for oil...the lack of refining capacity in either South Australia or the Northern Territory makes rail transport unlikely, unless unexpected geopolitical ructions disrupt the current import of refined fuel from Singapore. Northern Territory gas, which may drive oil field development, is already building to be Queensland's primary supply of domestic gas, replacing the locally extracted QLD gas now being exported.

https://theterritory.com.au/invest/investment-opportunities/onshore-oil-and-gas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadeus_Basin
  woodford Chief Commissioner

So what do we think?

Could we have oil on rail up the centre?

new oil fields coming on stream in the NT could this be traffic?
x31
Sorry for the lat reply!

The answer would be no, normally oil fields are connected to there consumption point by pipe lines. IN the NT there is already throusands of kilometres of gas pipe lines, a crude oil pipe line to a tank farm at Port Darwin would be no problems.

woodford
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
The answer would be no, normally oil fields are connected to there consumption point by pipe lines. IN the NT there is already throusands of kilometres of gas pipe lines, a crude oil pipe line to a tank farm at Port Darwin would be no problems.

woodford
woodford
Finally use the Oil Tunnels for their intended purpose! Wasted on tourists.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The answer would be no, normally oil fields are connected to there consumption point by pipe lines. IN the NT there is already throusands of kilometres of gas pipe lines, a crude oil pipe line to a tank farm at Port Darwin would be no problems.

woodford
Finally use the Oil Tunnels for their intended purpose! Wasted on tourists.
apw5910
There Is no way the old WW2 oil tunnels would hold oil to the EPA's requirements, presides the Darwin heavy Industrial port has relocated to East Arm Berrimah.
  NG Sulzers Deputy Commissioner

Location: Quorn
Yes, there are opportunities for rail freight growth in the NT. There will be new customer containers on existing AD1/DA2 services, as well as new bulk services starting. I don't know start dates.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Do they still run Iron Ore trains on the Darwin Line ? or Is Iron Ore mining In rescission.
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

Wasn't the Port of Darwin supposed to create the new growth in freight rail? What happened to FreightLink??

... We can always mine more yellow cake and load it on wagons....
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Wasn't the Port of Darwin supposed to create the new growth in freight rail? What happened to FreightLink??

... We can always mine more yellow cake and load it on wagons....
ANR

Not without significant investment, the port that is - they just didn't tell you that in the brochures.

FreightLink was purchased by Genesee & Wyoming Australia in 2010.

No iron ore at the top end of the line, but after a couple of years break Bootu Creek manganese is again being railed 800km north to Darwin.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Wasn't the Port of Darwin supposed to create the new growth in freight rail? What happened to FreightLink??
ANR
Yes they hoped the new port and railway would be used for land bridging of containers to Southern Australian markets (saving days on shipping times to say Singapore)
But shipping agents weren't happy with the rail freight costs for trans continental land bridging (they found the longer journeys of  ocean going ships much more economical)

FreighLink only ended up carrying local NT goods.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

If it's not time sensitive, the superior efficiency of a ship wins that contest hands down.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
If it's not time sensitive, the superior efficiency of a ship wins that contest hands down.
justapassenger
Yes pretty easy for ships to continue their ocean going journey around the Australian coast.

But other areas of the World, like Asia to the East Coast of North America, ships have to pass through the Panama Canal (size restrictions)

Asia to Europe, passing through the Suez Canal and past the Horn of Africa has problems with pirates.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Wasn't the Port of Darwin supposed to create the new growth in freight rail? What happened to FreightLink??
Yes they hoped the new port and railway would be used for land bridging of containers to Southern Australian markets (saving days on shipping times to say Singapore)
But shipping agents weren't happy with the rail freight costs for trans continental land bridging (they found the longer journeys of  ocean going ships much more economical)

FreighLink only ended up carrying local NT goods.
Nightfire
This will sound very much in hindsight, but I still difficult to accept that so many actually believed the whole "Land bridge" sales pitch. Was any market research actually done? Even at the time there was mass criticism in RP about the use of lighter rail and limited number of passing loops (I think originally spaced 400km apart)  because of the huge amount of traffic that was supposed to come.

On the positive side, despite the financial struggles, the company did very well quickly grabbing ~90% of the domestic land based N-S freight and has proven an enabler for some mines to start up, even if short lived and long-term others will surely follow.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
How does petroleum get distributed in the NT because there must be opportunities for rail use in that market?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Wasn't the Port of Darwin supposed to create the new growth in freight rail? What happened to FreightLink??
Yes they hoped the new port and railway would be used for land bridging of containers to Southern Australian markets (saving days on shipping times to say Singapore)
But shipping agents weren't happy with the rail freight costs for trans continental land bridging (they found the longer journeys of  ocean going ships much more economical)

FreighLink only ended up carrying local NT goods.
This will sound very much in hindsight, but I still difficult to accept that so many actually believed the whole "Land bridge" sales pitch. Was any market research actually done? Even at the time there was mass criticism in RP about the use of lighter rail and limited number of passing loops (I think originally spaced 400km apart)  because of the huge amount of traffic that was supposed to come.

On the positive side, despite the financial struggles, the company did very well quickly grabbing ~90% of the domestic land based N-S freight and has proven an enabler for some mines to start up, even if short lived and long-term others will surely follow.
RTT_Rules
I have a copy of what constitutes the business case.  If you thought business cases of today were sketchy, the ones back then were not much more than marketing documents.
  emerald-a Locomotive Driver

Was it a photo of a corn field with build it and they will come written on it
  mikeike Station Staff

Location: Port Macquarie
No iron ore at the top end of the line, but after a couple of years break Bootu Creek manganese is again being railed 800km north to Darwin.
bingley hall
G'day Bingley, are they still using the CHAY hoppers for the manganese?
Cheers, Ike
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

Boroloola has been in the news lately with cyclone Trevor doing the rounds. The McArthur river zinc mine (nearby) website, says it has a long future ahead of it. The ore is currently stockpiled at the site and taken by road train to the nearby coastal settlement of Bing Bong. It is a croc infested swamp on the satellite image. There has been a channel dug into the gulf and swamp for boats to take the ore away. Any chance it might be trucked to the main north south line instead (for Darwin), especially since there is a real prospect of contamination? I assume there is a stockpile on the mine site because it can't get loaded onto the boats efficiently, especially during the wet season.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Boroloola has been in the news lately with cyclone Trevor doing the rounds. The McArthur river zinc mine (nearby) website, says it has a long future ahead of it. The ore is currently stockpiled at the site and taken by road train to the nearby coastal settlement of Bing Bong. It is a croc infested swamp on the satellite image. There has been a channel dug into the gulf and swamp for boats to take the ore away. Any chance it might be trucked to the main north south line instead (for Darwin), especially since there is a real prospect of contamination? I assume there is a stockpile on the mine site because it can't get loaded onto the boats efficiently, especially during the wet season.
ANR
I'm guessing the ore gets shipped to Townsville for processing ?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Was it a photo of a corn field with build it and they will come written on it
emerald-a
Not so much a corn field but a range of other things, but essentially the rest of what you said is more or less accurate.  

Lots of faith put in land bridging which never eventuated..
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Boroloola has been in the news lately with cyclone Trevor doing the rounds. The McArthur river zinc mine (nearby) website, says it has a long future ahead of it. The ore is currently stockpiled at the site and taken by road train to the nearby coastal settlement of Bing Bong. It is a croc infested swamp on the satellite image. There has been a channel dug into the gulf and swamp for boats to take the ore away. Any chance it might be trucked to the main north south line instead (for Darwin), especially since there is a real prospect of contamination?
ANR
No.

If it was to go to Darwin it would go all the way by truck. No point taking it the ~750km to Katherine and then faffing around with an extra round of handling there to put it on a train for only a couple of hours.

~120km of land transport before it gets on a ship vs ~1000km makes it a no brainer, even without considering the benefits of having their own facility at Bing Bong rather than paying off all sorts of rent seekers at a port like Darwin.

The wet season would present a few challenges, but you're failing to consider that introducing 1000km of land transport would add even more risks - e.g. roads washing away.

I assume there is a stockpile on the mine site because it can't get loaded onto the boats efficiently, especially during the wet season.
ANR
Wrong.

The ability to hold some concentrate in reserve at the mine (in addition to that in the storage shed at the port) would be a necessity for handling the varying shipping schedules, not the result of an inability to get ships loaded.

If they really did have problems with the barge/ship operations at Bing Bong, getting a second barge would be a far better solution than adding over 1000km of unnecessary land transport.

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