Rail hub a blueprint for Riverina

John McNamara, Ettamogah hub owner Colin Rees and National Transport Commission chief executive Paul Retter explore the Ettamogah Rail Hub works. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

John McNamara, Ettamogah hub owner Colin Rees and National Transport Commission chief executive Paul Retter explore the Ettamogah Rail Hub works. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

THE Ettamogah Rail Hub could be just the first in a series of similar regional freight hubs across the Riverina — or even Australia.

Representatives from the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the National Transport Commission were unquestionably impressed when they visited the hub this week.

Corporation general manager for customer relations John McNamara and commission chief executive Paul Retter looked on as a train from Melbourne pulled into the hub and was loaded with thousands of dollars worth of goods bound for Brisbane.

“This transfer just added $40,000 of revenue to this train,” Mr McNamara said.

“And there are times when that is double.”

Once upon a time, those goods would have been transported down to Melbourne to be loaded upon the train, before whizzing straight back past Ettamogah.

Hub owner Colin Rees said it showed how the introduction of the hub five years ago had made the freight network more efficient.

“There’s wonderful opportunities to expand the freight market in the Riverina,” Mr McNamara said.

“There’s talk of one in Wagga and other potential terminals are being considered.

“(Ettamogah) is already looked at by other local councils and regions as an example of what can happen through local and private investment.”

Mr Retter agreed the hub was “a perfect example” of taking freight off the roads and putting it on rail and the benefits that came with that — from improved efficiency, safety in having fewer trucks on roads, and the environmental impacts.

He said there was interest among the federal and state governments at improving freight movement and that “the need for hubs is a key element of that”.

“The great challenge for governments and private enterprise is to select the locations with the best potential in terms of customers and end points,” he said.

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