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Customer Outcome 6: Economic development is enabled by regional transport services and infrastructure

Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan

Customer Outcome 6: Economic development is enabled by regional transport services and infrastructure

Regional businesses and tourism are enabled by appropriate, coordinated, efficient and effective transport services and infrastructure

The transport system powers NSW’s future $1.3 trillion economy and enables economic activity across the state. The Hunter region, including Greater Newcastle, is critically important to the state’s economic growth. The largest freight volumes in NSW move through the Hunter region, accounting for one third of the NSW freight task. Every year nearly 200 million tonnes of coal are moved through the region to local power stations and global steel and energy markets.

Although the mining industry dominates in volume, agricultural production is one of the Hunter’s greatest strengths and the region’s agriculture is its highest value commodity. The region produces world famous wines and fresh produce that is enjoyed throughout the state and internationally. Beef, poultry, eggs, horses, fruit, vegetables and fishery produce are moved through the region every day by truck and air. An efficient road and rail network that connects regional NSW to Newcastle Airport and port and between Newcastle and other major cities will provide opportunities to facilitate this growth.


The NSW Government recognises that airports are catalysts for economic growth. Infrastructure NSW has noted that it is important that sufficient aviation capacity is available for the projected 10 million annual international tourists who will come to New South Wales by 2036.

The NSW Government has previously allocated $11.1 million for the expansion of Newcastle Airport, as part of the $450 million the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund established in 2011. Stage One of the project included a new arrivals hall and quarantine and customs areas. These works were completed in 2015. Stage Two of the project is a full refurbishment of the existing terminal to cater for check-in and an expansive departure lounge.

Newcastle Airport terminal expansion has helped position Greater Newcastle as a Global Gateway City. Passenger movement through the Airport has grown by 25% in the past 10 years and is forecast to double in the next 20 years up to 2.65 million passengers annually. In addition to growing domestic visitation, Newcastle Airport could receive international flights.

With more than 1.25 million passengers passing through the airport in the 2016/17 financial year, it has been estimated that Newcastle Airport contributes over $1 billion in economic impact to the state’s economy.

The economic benefits of an airport extend beyond the passenger and freight facilities. Newcastle Airport has released a Masterplan that sets out a vision to take advantage of the unique commercial development opportunities on level land surrounding the airport. The airport already has shared airside facilities with the RAAF Base, Williamtown and other organisations that hold long-term leases including BAE Systems and Jetstar Engineering.

Improving the quality of transport infrastructure and planning will provide people with greater ease of access to the airport and remove barriers to visitation, trade and investment. This in turn will assist in growing the positive impact created by Newcastle Airport and its regional airports.

Newcastle Airport Vision 2036 – Delivering the airport the region deserves

Newcastle Airport released a visionary plan in March 2018 to expand the Airport to meet the needs of the local community.

The Master Plan describes the airfield, terminal, landside, ground transport and aviation support facilities needed to cater for increased numbers, including:

  • terminal transformation with facilities expanded over two levels
  • additional food, beverage and retail businesses
  • international services implemented into the facilities
  • aero-bridges from the upper level
  • major modifications to integrate ground transport and road access
  • creation of a pedestrian plaza
  • additional car parking areas and offerings
  • creation of a ‘campus’ style business precinct.

Supported by the NSW Government and developed in consultation with local, state and federal government stakeholders and the community, the Master Plan provides a clear direction and capitalises on the role of the Airport in stimulating economic and social prosperity.

Intended to guide the ongoing development of New South Wales’ second busiest airport, the Master Plan supports continued investment in vital infrastructure that provides capacity to support strong regional, national and global connectivity, benefiting both the NSW visitor and knowledge economies.



A snapshot of the importance of the Hunter region to the NSW economy shows that in 2016 the region produced and moved:

62% of the NSW volumes of coal
100% of NSW alumina and aluminium
34% of NSW fuel
15% of NSW building and construction materials
14% of NSW manufactured goods
13% of NSW oilseeds
12% of NSW milk and dairy products

In addition, in 2016 the Newcastle port imported 21% of NSW’s fuel supply.

The total volume of freight transported into and out of the Hunter region was 176 million tonnes in 2016. This is forecast to grow by around 18% to over 200 million tonnes by 2036.

The Hunter region has the highest rail mode share for freight in NSW. The transport network carries 150 million tonnes per annum by rail and over 20 million tonnes by road. Rail freight movements are mainly used to transport coal. Almost all, 99 percent, of coal freight movements are by rail. In contrast, most other freight movements are by road.

Greater Newcastle is well connected to the state-wide network of road and rail. However, almost all freight needs to either cross the Hunter River or travel through the metro core to reach the port.

Regardless of the global future of coal, the Hunter region will continue to be an important part of NSW’s future freight task. Access to the trade gateways of Newcastle port and airport from inland NSW will continue to be important for the next 40 years and managing the transportation of increased volumes of freight through a densifying metro core will be a major challenge for the transport system.

Better separation of freight and passenger movements is a key focus in Future Transport 2056 as it provides benefits to both customers. An example is the committed initiative for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor Protection.

With technological advancements, ‘first and last mile’ freight movements will likely be transformed by technology and deliver efficiencies in logistics and small parcel movements, incorporate innovative direct-to-consumer deliveries and support ‘freight as a service’ models. Advances in technology relating to drones and 3D printing also have the potential to impact supply chains and freight movements.


Air freight potential

When we were undertaking consultation as part of Future Transport 2056, we heard strong feedback from regional communities, Councils and industry about the role of aviation in the freight task.

The privately financed Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport was frequently referenced as an example of an airport that has responded to the demand for freight to be transported by air. It is now a major hub for the export of perishable agricultural goods direct to Asia.

Greater Newcastle’s location within the Hunter Valley and its close proximity to major agricultural producers in the North Coast, New England North West and Central West and Orana regions presents an opportunity to capture access to growing markets in Asia and around the world.



Greater Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter region is home to nationally and internationally significant tourism destinations and events. Visitors, residents and students are attracted to Greater Newcastle’s amenity, heritage, natural environment, especially its surf beaches, unique waterways, national parks and wetlands. Its diverse range of sporting and cultural events, such as Surfest and Ben Ean Cessnock STOMP Festival, and its cluster of vineyards and wineries add to Greater Newcastle’s tourism appeal and make it an important contributor to the state’s growing visitor economy.

The Hunter received over 3.6 million domestic overnight visitors in 2017, up by 8.7% on the previous year. This number represents a 16.3% share of all domestic visitors to regional NSW. The Hunter also received 194,300 international overnight visitors in 2017, an increase by 13.8% and representing around one in five international visitors to regional NSW.

Newcastle port, already upgraded to host larger ships carrying up to 3,900 passengers, is now well underway to position Newcastle as an international cruise destination. The direct expenditure of passengers and crew makes a significant contribution to the local economy. In 2015/16, 10 cruise ships visited Newcastle meaning Greater Newcastle hosted over 14,000 passengers and 3,500 crew members who spent more than $4.5 million in the local area. The number of ships scheduled to visit will almost double to 18 ships in 2017/18.

Seamlessly connecting cruise passengers and other domestic and international visitors from their point of arrival to their desired local and regional destinations within Greater Newcastle and beyond will support the local and regional economy and help continue to grow visitor numbers.

Newcastle Cruise Terminal and the visitor economy

Newcastle port is upgrading its infrastructure to support the growth of cruise shipping for Greater Newcastle and the Hunter region. The NSW Government has committed $12.7 million to develop a New Cruise Terminal to provide home port facilities, including a new cruise terminal building, a dedicated car park, improved accessibility and wharf in-fill enhancements.

The terminal at the Channel Berth, within the port’s Carrington Precinct, can handle vessels up to 320 metres in length, such as the 317 metre long Celebrity Solstice, the largest ship to visit the port. More than 30 coaches can park at Channel Berth, enabling passengers to quickly transit from the ship to attractions across the Hunter region.

Funding provided by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund will greatly enhance the cruise passenger experience in Greater Newcastle. The cruise terminal development will be a key part of Newcastle’s revitalisation and is estimated to add around $26.7 million to the local economy.

The construction of the cruise terminal will take place in 2018 and Newcastle port will continue to welcome cruise ships and their passengers as the works take place.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

Read more