Queensland Rail National has announced plans for 10 new coal-train sidings as part of a $130 million train fuelling and maintenance facility at Hexam.
QRN said the project will lift the Hunter’s coal capacity to 180 million tonnes.
The proposal comes after federally owned Australian Rail Track Corporation plans to build five of its own sidings at Hexham, taking the total number of sidings to be built beside the main northern railway to 15.
QRN – which changes its name to Aurizon Limited – plans to build the centre in tow stages over two years.
The company expects to employ 30 people to service 12 trains a day by 2014-15, but says the number of trains will double by 2020 to 24 a day, The Newcastle Herald reported.
However, the plan to build the site next to the Hexham Swamp Nature Reserve has angered some locals.
Hexham Swamp Rehabilitation Project Committee member Dennis Hirst said QRN's environmental offsets ignored the work that had gone into the swamp.
"QRN was rebuffed when it proposed earlier versions of this in 2008 and 2010, but this still ignores all the work and effort that has gone into rehabilitating Hexham swamp," he said.
Documents show QRN plans to elevate the site above the flood plain by using 380,000 cubic metres of fill.
The project will also include storage tanks for 400,000 litres of fuel.