First trainload of timber arrives for snowy region mills

19 April 2023
The first trainload of Walcha softwood sawlogs has arrived by rail in Wagga, bound for timber mills in the snowy region, who have seen their local timber supplies significantly reduced after the Black Summer bushfires. The rail transport initiative will see Forestry Corporation of NSW deliver around 270,000 tonnes of sawlog timber to Tumut and Tumbarumba processors over the next three years.

This timber was initially set for export, however the impact of the Black Summer bushfires and local timber shortage have meant Australian timber mills have been given priority, said Forestry Corporation’s Sales and Procurement Manager Peter Stiles. “A minimum of 90,000 tonnes of softwood logs will be railed each year from Walcha to Wagga, and then trucked onto Hyne in Tumbarumba and AKD in Tumut,” Mr Stiles said.

“Both Hyne and AKD are major regional employers who had their locally supplied sawlog volumes significantly reduced after the bushfires, so we are very pleased to support their operations.” The first rail trip arrived in Wagga earlier last weekend and was transported by road for the final leg to the sawmills. Between 35 and 50 train trips per year are anticipated from here.

There is an emerging issue with finding and retaining skilled truck drivers in not only the forestry industry but in the wider road freight industry. This task had it been done by road is an 800km journey that would have required another 18-20 drivers. “This initiative means safer roads and is estimated to save up to 3 million litres of diesel,” Mr Stiles said.

The transport units built to carry the logs are a purpose-built log bunk manufactured by Kennedy’s trailers that are fixed to container flats sourced and supplied by Container Options. Manufacturing delays due to Covid-19, steel supply and high demand on shipping containers created some delays in the project.

“Harvesting contractors C3 and Progressive Felling Services, Brian Smith Timber Transport, PHC Rail, Linx and HR Forestry amongst others were instrumental in getting the 40-year-old pines from the forest to the doorsteps of Hyne and AKD,” Mr Stiles said. “Thanks to all of our suppliers and contractors in delivering this outcome.”

Source: FCNSW