Critical freight rail line gradually reopens after floods

THE HUNTER Valley rail network is gradually reopening after heavy rains and severe flooding halted operations last week.

The closure on Tuesday July 5 had disrupted coal deliveries to the port of Newcastle and local power stations.

But the Australian Rail Track Corporation has announced services are returning to the line with limited operations following successful restoration work by local authorities.

The SES reportedly opened the floodgates at Maitland Station on Wednesday this week. ARTC and its contractors had assessed the damage to the track and refitted signaling and track equipment.

It is understood that the first trains resumed on Thursday evening. ARTC said the trains will deliver coal to power plants, and more coal trains are expected to run on Friday.

ARTC said it has worked closely with power producers and authorities such as the SES to resume services as soon as safely possible.

Wayne Johnson, director of the Hunter Valley network’s ARTC group, said he was very pleased to see trains returning to service on the network shortly after the major flooding.

“Returning services so soon is a testament to the exceptional work of our team and contractors, showing commendable resilience under extremely difficult working conditions,” Mr Johnson said.

“We have prioritized coal-fired trains as the first trains to resume service given the importance of resuming supply to power stations, with agricultural produce for food production expected to begin shortly thereafter.”

Mr Johnson thanked customers and the local community for their patience during the disruption of normal services.

“We would also like to thank local authorities, including Maitland City Council, Transport for NSW, with a special appeal to NSW Police and the State Emergency Service, for their cooperation during this difficult time.

“We will keep the local community informed as we return the network to normal operations.”

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