Jumping the queues

The New South Wales Government's proposed vessel arrival trial system for the Port of Newcastle is not a solution to the real problem of increasing coal exports from the region, Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) general manager Graham Davidson said.

The New South Wales Government’s proposed vessel arrival trial system for the Port of Newcastle is not a solution to the real problem of increasing coal exports from the region, Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) general manager Graham Davidson said.

“Whilst the system may create an impression that vessel queues have been eliminated, it should not be interpreted as a solution to the broader issue of accelerating coal exports from Newcastle and meeting customer demand,” Davidson said.

The trial will see ships monitored and given specific arrival times at the coal port, as opposed to the current system that sees the port work on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This system often sees ships attempting to ‘race’ to the port as quickly as possible in order to gain the best place in line.

The trial is designed to eliminate bottlenecks with vast numbers of coal ships queuing off of the Newcastle coast, which would in turn improve safety and avoid accidents such as the grounding of the Pasha Bulker in 2007.

According to Davidson, key to any changes made to the Port of Newcastle is improving the levels of coal throughput.

“It’s imperative that coal producers and the New South Wales Government reach a long-term solution on terminal access in the very near future so that the Hunter Valley Coal Chain can move towards increasing output,” he said.

The Hunter Valley Coal Chain is likely to achieve throughput of 91.5 million tonnes of coal by the end of 2008 in spite of the fact that the PWCS has capacity to load up to 102 million tonnes.

The NSW Government is also yet to implement recommendations from the Greiner Report presented earlier this year that would expand port capacity and develop a long-term system for rail-track access.

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