Peter Smith

Using the lessons of the past to drive innovation for the future: Peter Smith of SCT Logistics

Recognising a career of over 40 years in the rail freight industry, in November this year SCT Logistics founder and current director Peter Smith was awarded the Australian Freight Industry Award for Personality of the year. To mark the accolade, Rail Express sat down with Peter to hear how the company emerged from humble beginnings to where it stands today. Read more

Bullsbrook intermodal terminal takes the next step

The Western Australia state government is taking a market-led proposal for an intermodal terminal at Bullsbrook to the next stage.

The intermodal terminal proposed by Harvis Capital would be built at Bullsbrook, north east of Perth, and could facilitate further development in the outer Perth suburb.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the WA government is considering the proposal and the proposal has progressed to stage 2 of the project assessment process. Harvis Capital will now submit a detailed business case for the project.

“An intermodal terminal at Bullsbrook has the potential to boost the efficiency and capacity of the rail freight system, reduce truck movements on metropolitan roads and to increase job creation and economic development in Perth’s north-eastern corridor,” said Saffioti.

“We will continue to work closely with industry to encourage and support more freight on rail, to make our freight supply chains as efficient and cost effective as possible.”

The WA Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is preparing a district structure plan for Bullsbrook to support the proposed intermodal terminal.

The area is earmarked for further industrial expansion, with an intermodal terminal supporting rail to connect the future businesses with the Fremantle Port and Kwinana Outer Harbour, as well as the northern regions of Western Australia.

The proposed intermodal terminal would be located alongside the narrow-gauge freight rail line passing through Bullsbrook and connecting north to Dongara.

Saffioti said that the intermodal terminal would be a catalyst for moving freight onto rail and ensuring future freight needs produced by the development are handled by rail.

“One of our key election commitments was to move more freight onto rail to help ease road congestion and improve safety,” said Saffioti.

Mildura Line

Ouyen intermodal future awaits MBRP outcome

A community group in in Ouyen, north-west Victoria, is closing in on the construction of a new intermodal terminal, however is awaiting one missing link; the replacement of a rail siding removed in the aborted Murray Basin Rail Project (MBRP).

The Ouyen Intermodal Project, backed by local development organisation Ouyen Inc, hopes to remove roughly 9,000 trucks off rural roads in the region with five weekly train services between Ouyen and the Port of Melbourne.

The facility would serve local agricultural businesses seeking to get products to port, including hay growers Wingara AG who announced this week its subsidiary JC Tanloden is planning to construct a hay processing plant in Ouyen. The hay, grown in the Mallee region, would be processed at Ouyen and then transported by rail to the Port of Melbourne for export.

Other industries keen for an intermodal facility at Ouyen include grape growers and mineral sands enterprises.

According to Ouyen Inc president Scott Anderson, the facility would be welcomed by growers, transport businesses and the local community.

“With the right governance structure and operators in place we are confident of getting these big freight volumes off the road and onto the rail network. We don’t want to compete against the road transport industry in North West Victoria, but instead work with them. These companies already have existing export warehouses and cool rooms established, so working in conjunction with them means not having to duplicate this system at Ouyen.”

Project consultant Michael O’Callaghan said the choice of situating the intermodal facility at Ouyen was also strategic for freight rail operations.

“Our selected site will allow a short road haul from warehouse or farm to a rail terminal that is the furthest distance from the Port of Melbourne, where trains can get up and back in a day, unloading and reloading at both ends and refuelling on a consistent basis. This is considered the ‘holy grail’ of running freight trains into North West Victoria.”

With an agreement now negotiated between Ouyen Inc and the landowner, a Heads of Agreement with a national intermodal operator, and support from local exporters, the only thing holding back the terminal is its connection to the rail network.

The former rail siding was removed during the first stage of the MBRP, which involved converting the Mildura and Murrayville lines, which Ouyen sits at the junction of, from broad to standard gauge. With the revised business case for the MBRP awaiting federal government approval, Ouyen Inc. is calling upon the Victorian government to ensure that the siding is replaced.

While a Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson would not commit to the works, they encouraged further development of the proposal.

“The Department of Transport is aware of ongoing work towards establishing an intermodal terminal in Ouyen and encourages the proponents to continue working on the necessary elements to demonstrate the terminal is commercially sustainable,” the spokesperson said.

“We look forward to further discussions regarding this proposal as the proponents continue to advance it.”

With a business case being prepared on behalf of Ouyen Inc, the construction of the facility, scheduled for December 2021, hinges upon government support.


Qube invests in rail despite COVID hit to profits in 2020

Qube has reported a net profit drop of over 50 per cent due to the impact of COVID-19, bushfires, and floods during the 2020 financial year.

These impacts were offset by growths in Qube’s revenue and the commencement of new rail contracts.

During the past financial year, Qube began rail operations from the IMEX terminal at the Moorebank Logistics Park as companies including Woolworths committed to significant distribution centres at the site.

Qube also signed new contracts with Shell and BlueScope Steel. For BlueScope, Qube will provide interstate rail haulage services as part of a 10-year contract and intermodal operations at Qube’s North Dynon facility in Melbourne. To deliver the contract Qube will invest $73 million in new rollingstock and infrastructure, as well as leased equipment.

Qube managing director Maurice James said that the company’s overall performance was sound.

“The events of 2020 tested the strength and resilience of the company in ways which no-one could have predicted. This result once again demonstrates the success of our diversification strategy which protected the company as markets were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We were also able to adapt rapidly as an organisation to protect the health and safety of our people, deliver on customer requirements and minimise the economic damage to the Group. We are also well positioned for growth post pandemic with conservative gearing, and a strong balance sheet with substantial funding capacity.”

Rail will continue to play a major part in Qube’s operations during the next financial year as the company constructs the interstate rail terminal at Moorebank Precinct West along with further warehousing space. Further capital expenditure is planned in the 2021 financial year on rail terminals, precinct infrastructure and locomotives and wagons for the BlueScope contract.

Operations at Qube’s intermodal terminals will also become more automated as the company shifts from manual to automated mode at the IMEX rail terminal.

Victoria, Commonwealth fund freight connection between Dandenong and Port of Melbourne

A new freight rail connection in Dandenong South will remove 100,000 trucks of Melbourne’s roads a year.

The new rail line will connect the Salta Properties freight hub in Dandenong South with the Melbourne suburban rail network, allowing shuttle trains to run between the Port of Melbourne and Melbourne’s southeast.

The $28 million project is funded by the federal and state governments, with each contributing $18.3m and $9.7m respectively.

The project will be completed by the Level Crossing Removal Authority as part of the Cranbourne Line upgrade.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the connection would form part of a wider network of freight rail connecting the Port of Melbourne with intermodal facilities.

“The new spur line will connect the intermodal freight terminal at Dandenong South to the Cranbourne Line. As part of the Port Rail Shuttle Network it will help cut the number of trucks on inner Melbourne roads by up to 100,000 each year and support hundreds of jobs during construction and as part of the terminals ongoing operations.”

Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the project would make freight more competitive.

“We’re making rail freight a more attractive option for businesses, and this investment means containers can be transported by rail the entire way from the Port of Melbourne to Dandenong South,” she said.

“It will reduce congestion at the port gate and cut the high cost of the last mile that so often disadvantages containers moved by rail.”

The Port of Melbourne has recently made major investments to improve the capacity of rail to handle cargo. The port authority is investing $125m in on-dock rail, to enable freight to be taken directly from ship to rail and to intermodal terminals such as these.

The Victorian government has also invested in two other port rail shuttles, one to Altona and another to Somerton, with further funding to be announced.

Wagga Wagga

Contracts awarded for Wagga Wagga intermodal facility

Wagga Wagga council has approved two contracts to begin the construction and operation of the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) Hub.

The intermodal facility will connect producers and exporters from the Riverina region to the Inland Rail line.

Construction of stages two and three of facility will be carried out by Canberra-based Huon Contractors. Visy Logistics will operate and manage the RiFL Hub terminal and master siding in a public private partnership between Wagga Wagga Council and Visy Logistics.

Once complete the terminal will be the only inland terminal capable of servicing a 1,800m long train configuration.

Stage two of the project involves a 4.9km rail master siding and intermodal terminal area and is funded through a $14.4 million grant from Transport for NSW’s Fixing Country Rail Program.

Stage three of the project will create the industrial area surrounding the Hub. Across 60 hectares, the work will include fitting fibre to the premises internet in the existing Bomen Business Park. These $29.2m works are funded through the NSW government’s Growing Local Economies program.

Wagga Wagga Council general manager Peter Thompson said that having such a facility would put Wagga Wagga on the map for interstate rail freight.

“The partnership with Visy cannot be understated. This company moves significant amounts of freight volumes each year and seeing a large percentage of that processed and distributed through a strategically located freight terminal between Sydney and Melbourne has Wagga Wagga on everyone’s radar.”

Huon Contractors director Adam Howard said the company would be looking for local involvement.

“Having grown up in Wagga, I’m proud that Huon Contractors will be building this project. We intend to utilise local contractors and suppliers as much as possible to deliver this project.”

In July, Deputy NSW Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro opened public consultation on a new special activation precinct for the adjoining Bomen Business Park, which is hoped to drive businesses to take advantages of the connections offered by Inland Rail. The plan targets manufacturing, agribusiness and freight and logistics business as prime beneficiaries of improved freight connections.

Once complete, businesses located at the RiFL Hub will be able to get their freight to 80 per cent of the Australian population within 32 hours.


KiwiRail selects site for Palmerston North freight hub

KiwiRail have announced the preferred location for the Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North.

The intermodal Hub will be located between Palmerston North Airport and Bunnythorpe and occupy a 2.5km long site. The length of the site will allow it to accommodate 1.5km long trains, much longer than what is now possible on the KiwiRail network.

Designs are currently being finalised and KiwiRail hopes to have the land designated for rail use from September 2020. When complete, the site will be a focus point for freight in the central and lower North Island, said KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller.

“It will be New Zealand’s first, truly world-class supply chain logistics precinct – including capacity for a log yard, bulk goods silo, container terminal (including free trade zone capability for exports), significant warehousing for freight partners, and KiwiRail’s operations.”

Due to the efficiencies provided by the Hub, the site will help remove trucks from roads in the region.

“Integrating all of these services, on this scale, creates efficiencies and cost savings that will set the standard for New Zealand logistics and support the growth of Palmerston North as a distribution centre well into the future,” said Miller.

“The Hub is designed to enable our trains and heavy trucks to work efficiently together, while helping to get trucks out of already congested parts of Palmerston North city.”

Public consultations are now beginning and KiwiRail has been in contact with affected landowners. Miller will be leading public meetings in and around Palmerston North in the coming weeks.

The Regional Freight Hub has been financed through a $40 million investment from the NZ government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

“The Regional Freight Hub is designed to meet the freight needs of the Manawatu and the surrounding regions for the next 100 years. Announcing the preferred site is a major milestone in this important regional project,” said Miller.