Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Freight Rail, Intermodal Hubs, Industry Infrastructure

Pacific National on track with Little River plans

Little River


Pacific National is maintaining its push to develop a new intermodal rail terminal and surrounding warehousing precinct in Little River in Melbourne’s west.

The freight operator has recently submitted environmental referrals for the proposed project to the relevant state and commonwealth agencies, which will determine the environmental approval pathway and ultimately set the planning process.

Pacific National chief executive Paul Scurrah said for trains to remain a competitive option compared to trucks and continue to attract container freight volumes, a future rail intermodal terminal in Melbourne had to be located west of the CBD and port to service the existing freight demand zone where the logistics companies, warehouses, manufacturers and distribution centres were concentrated.

He said that if a terminal site is not secured in Melbourne’s west on the main interstate rail line, it would mean:
• An additional 250,000 unnecessary truck trips on Melbourne’s road network a year by 2031, growing to more than 400,000 by 2050
• An extra 2.5 million truck kilometres on the nation’s interstate road network each day in 2031, growing to more than four million km each day in 2050
• An additional 400,000 tonnes of C02 emissions in 2051 due to extra truck trips.

“Delivering new modern intermodal terminals is a fundamental step to help shift large volumes of containerised freight from trucks to trains. The result is less traffic congestion, reduced truck emissions, fewer road accidents and fatalities, and less wear and tear on local and state roads,” he said.

“The last decade has seen an explosion in bigger and heavier trucks transporting freight on our nation’s roads. Today for example, Pacific National estimates less than two percent of containerised and palletised freight is hauled by rail between Australia’s two largest capital cities, Melbourne and Sydney. Likewise, less than five per cent of general freight is hauled by trains between Sydney and Brisbane. This is clearly an unsustainable situation.

“Federal and state governments will find it difficult to achieve legislated emissions reduction targets without private sector investment in new intermodal terminals in Australia’s vast supply chain. Compared to road freight, rail haulage is more fuel-efficient thereby providing a lower emissions freight transport solution.

“Strategically positioned intermodal terminals also drive greater efficiencies in daily freight and logistics operations, helping to reduce transport costs for Australian farmers, miners, manufacturers, processors, supermarket chains, and retail businesses. A cost efficient rail freight network helps to curtail inflation in our economy, hence cost of living pressures for millions of Australian families.

“Pacific National has a proven track record of developing and constructing state-of-the-art freight terminals, including delivery in 2019 of regional Australia’s largest interstate intermodal terminal at Parkes in central west NSW. During the challenges of the COVID pandemic, the company also successfully delivered an import/export (IMEX) facility in the heart of Western Sydney.

“To help stimulate the future delivery of new freight terminals, federal and state governments need to continue to liaise closely both with each other and industry to help provide a greater level of investment certainty for the private sector. With the volume of freight carried in Australia expected to grow by more than 35 per cent between 2018 and 2040, it’s imperative long term strategies are developed and actioned to ensure our national supply chain can meet the task.”   

The Little River Logistics Precinct is estimated to support more than 3600 ongoing jobs at capacity.

Positioned on the main interstate rail line and close to the Princes Freeway, the Little River terminal would deliver efficient freight transport connectivity to nearby logistics companies, distribution centres, warehouses, shippers, and manufacturers.