On 5 September 2004, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) commenced a 60-year lease of the interstate and Hunter Valley rail lines of New South Wales.
In late 2004 and early 2005 the Hunter Valley network aspects of the ARTC’s investment program were reviewed and updated in the light of the rapid growth in coal demand over the last few years. A first draft of the resultant Hunter Valley Corridor Capacity Improvement Strategy was released in February 2005, and following extensive consultations an updated ‘Version 4′ was released in May 2005.
This 2006–2011 Hunter Valley Coal Network Capacity Improvement Strategy is a further development and updating of the ‘Version 4′ strategy of May 2005, using revised forecasts of coal demand and the results of further analyses during 2005 and early 2006.
In common with the earlier strategies, it identifies the constraints on the coal network’s capacity in the Hunter Valley, the options to resolve these constraints and a proposed course of action to achieve increased coal throughput.
The fundamental approach of the ARTC in developing this Strategy has been to increase capacity (with a reserve surge capability) to levels sufficient to meet anticipated demands for export and domestic coal transport , while at the same time achieving greater operational harmony between the various sections of the Hunter Valley network.