Access to ARTC Hunter Valley rail network is regulated via an access undertaking with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Known as the Hunter Valley Coal Network Access Undertaking (HVAU), this document sets out ARTC’s obligations to entities seeking access (Access Seekers) and covers areas such as:
- The definition of the network covered
- The application process, and Access Seeker’s rights and obligations
- Pricing limits, indicative prices, criteria for differentiating prices and the method for annual price adjustments
- How ARTC will manage network capacity including interaction with the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC).
- How parties can connect to ARTC’s network
- The means by which investment in the network will be carried out and related consultation processes with the HVCCC, those parties holding an Access Holder Agreement (Access Holders) and Access Seekers
- Performance Measurement
The current HVAU covers the following parts of ARTC’s network:
- Newcastle Ports (Port Waratah, Kooragang, NCIG) – Turrawan (near Narrabri), excluding Newcastle main lines
- Muswellbrook – Ulan
A diagram of the network covered by the HVAU can be accessed here.
Access to the network is managed through an Access Holder Agreement, a contract between an Access Holder and ARTC. The contracting structure has been designed to provide Access Holders with certainty regarding their rights to train path capacity on the network while also facilitating investment in the network and competition between train Operators.
The HVAU has as an annexure an Indicative Access Holder Agreement (IAHA). The IAHA is a standard contract between ARTC and an Access Holder for coal train paths. This sets out the actual terms and conditions for access between the Access Holder and ARTC. The Access Holder Agreement is negotiable in some respects. However, an important element of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain is the interdependence of coal producers and their service providers and this means that it is important that many elements of the contract must be uniform across all Access Holder Agreements. Therefore, the IAHA, in tandem with the HVAU is structured in a way such that a substantial proportion of the terms and conditions contained within the IAHA are required to be common across all Access Holders and in some aspects are dependent upon all other Access Holder Agreements.
Typically, Access Holders will not operate their own trains. To complete the access contracting structure, Access Holder Agreements will have one or more Operator Sub-Agreements (OSA). A standard form OSA is an annexure to the IAHA. The OSA is a tri-party contract between ARTC, the Access Holder and the Access Holder’s train Operator. The diagram below sets out the structure of contractual relationships for access to the Hunter Valley Coal Network.
The current HVAU can be accessed here.
Parties seeking access for non-coal train paths may apply for access under the HVAU and will be offered an access contract based on the current Indicative Interstate Access Agreement. For further details of this type of contract go here.
Under section 2.6(b) of the HVAU, ARTC has committed to make available, on the ARTC website, information which will assist Access Seekers with development of an access application, and will assist during the negotiation of an access agreement with ARTC. This information can be viewed via the website menu.
ARTC may also publish information other than that required by the HVAU, which it believes will provide further guidance to Access Seekers.
The information provided should be considered as indicative only and ARTC will take all reasonable steps to ensure it is accurate and up to date.
Information forming part of ARTC’s Network Interface and Coordination Plan, as well as ARTC’s operating schedules can change frequently, and may not be immediately reflected in information provided on the website. Access Seekers who are undertaking detailed service planning are encouraged to contact ARTC to obtain the most recent information available.
Further information regarding the development and chronology of the HVAU can be found here.