Foul weather keeps coal rail closed

Rail freight in the Hunter Valley between Newcastle and Maitland remains shut down due to heavy flooding at Sandgate, impacting on coal transport in the region.

Track inspections last night showed water levels were high at Sandgate, with status remaining unchanged.

A spokesperson for Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) said the line will remain closed “in the immediate timeframe” as access to the line was difficult in some areas, and pending high tides had the potential to create additional flood waters up the Hunter River.

“We continue to monitor the track condition. Once flood waters recede and weather conditions improve, ARTC will conduct in-depth track inspections and conduct any necessary repairs due to water damage,” the spokesperson said.

“We will then be able to provide a firm forecast regarding a return to operations.”

Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) was forced to halt all rail and ship loading operations at midnight on 5 January, but will recommence ship loading this morning.

A spokesperson for PWCS said stockpiles were sufficient to continue shiploading thanks to high productivity in December, and awaited news from ARTC about when incoming freight could continue.

ARTC will conduct further inspections this morning and provide updates with changes through the day.