TORRENTIAL rain has impacted the rail network travelling into Port Kembla, one of New South Wales’ two bulk grain ports.
It is damage to these rail lines, rather than damage to Kembla’s two terminals, that is causing ongoing headaches for the supply chain, with ship movements delayed by at least one week.
The Moss Vale-to-Unanderra section, which connects Port Kembla to southern NSW grain sites, as well as the Berrima Junction-to-MacArthur interstate line were hit by localised flooding.
Moss Vale received 238 millimetres of rain in the seven days to 9am Thursday, with Wollongong, just north of Port Kembla, recording 269mm.
An Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) spokesperson said services on these lines were suspended due to the conditions.
“The network between Moss Vale to Unanderra remains closed due to unsafe operating conditions,” the spokesperson said.
“Services are currently suspended on the interstate network between Berrima Junction to MacArthur due to ongoing repair works being carried out.
“There is no current timeframe for the recommencement of operations on these sections.
“A full inspection of impacted areas of the network has been undertaken and necessary repairs to the track are underway where possible.”
The closure of Moss Vale to Unanderra has taken its toll on GrainCorp operations with the Port Kembla terminal impacted by delays due to the closure of the line as well as road condition issues.
“The weather has resulted in some impacts to the ability to execute rail and road coming in and out of the terminal, with some road closures and track issues,” a GrainCorp spokesperson said.
“However, the terminal has had no flooding issues itself and, as with all of our ports terminals, vessels cannot be loaded in the rain.”
Major users of the NSW rail network, freight company Pacific National (PN), has experienced delays to services due to the closure of several lines.
A PN spokesperson said the company is communicating with ARTC to make sure services can resume safely once the rail lines reopen.
“The significant and unprecedented rain event impacting NSW is disrupting rail freight services into the main export ports,” the PN spokesperson said.
“We continue to work closely with our customers and the rail networks to ensure our rollingstock and people are kept safe with mobilisation of services to rapidly occur as the networks reopen.”
In today’s market wire, Lachstock Consulting said the rain had caused up-country as well as port delays for road transport.
“The weather does not let up along the east coast as we continue to hear more port delays due to rain pushing vessels back,” Lachstock said.
Minimal disruptions at Port of Newcastle
Services at the Port of Newcastle were the least impacted by the severe weather with road and rail connections remaining open.
The Hunter Valley network remains operational after a brief closure on Tuesday due to localised flooding.
It is understood that rain caused disruptions to loading vessels at the GrainCorp Carrington site, but no delays were experienced due to flooding or problems with grains arriving by road or rail.
Like the GrainCorp site, the Qube-owned Newcastle Agri Terminal escaped much of the issues sustained by terminals further south.
A spokesperson for Qube Agri said operations continued at the site despite the weather-related challenges.
“The Newcastle Agri Terminal has escaped the majority of the weather that has impacted the Northern NSW and Sydney regions, and whilst the Hunter River is in flood, operations are continuing at the terminal,” the spokesperson said.