In an exclusive interview with Rail Express, Mark Campbell, CEO and managing director of ARTC sets out his vision for the national rail track organisation.
If there was one phrase that was said in every session of AusRAIL Live & On Demand, it would be “never waste a good crisis” and in the final discussion of the three-day program, focus turned to exactly how rail would come out of 2020 and implement the lessons learnt during COVID-19. Read more
The federal Freight Industry Reference Panel has met for the first time to progress industry input into the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
According to panel chair John Fullerton, the work of the panel will cover all modes.
“Our advice to government will present a holistic, cross-network, multi-modal view and I look forward to working with these members on this critical goal.”
The panel, announced in June, will provide expertise on the delivery of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the agenda for government and industry action in freight for the next 20 years. These actions include investment, improved supply chain efficiency, better planning, coordination, and regulation, and more precise freight location and performance data.
The plan has been developed to grapple with a 35 per cent growth in freight volume between 2018 and 2040 and the changing profile of freight to more urban freight. At the same time, freight productivity and costs have plateaued, reducing competitiveness of exports.
“As we act to respond to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, we also need to maintain our focus on meeting our long-term freight challenges to support a bigger and more productive Australia and to secure a prosperous future for this critical industry,” said Fullerton.
“That’s why we’ll be working hard to ramp-up momentum on the strategy, with each of the panel members bringing a depth of knowledge and a range of experiences from across all freight modes and supply chains.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said that the shared and collaborative experience of COVID-19 for the freight industry highlighted the importance of working across government and industry.
“The strategy is important now more than ever to support this critical industry and indeed the entire nation by driving real improvements to Australia’s freight productivity, because that is good for jobs and the economy,” he said.
“The panel has an important role driving ambition for the strategy and acting as a vital conduit for industry views and providing independent advice on progress made.
“I look forward to seeing the panel’s work progress as we continue working hard to implement this critical strategy to achieve better outcomes for our national freight supply chain.”
The new Freight Industry Reference Panel will provide Australian federal, state, and territory transport and infrastructure ministers with an industry perspective on the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
Chaired by John Fullerton, who recently stepped down as the managing director and chief executive officer of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the body will provide input onto decision-making at the highest level.
“The new panel will provide industry a clear line of sight on implementation of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and annually report to Transport and Infrastructure Ministers its independent view on progress made,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
McCormack highlighted Fullerton’s 35 years of experience in the transport industry.
Fullerton is a leading figure in Australia’s infrastructure and transport industry and consistently promotes the value of rail and freight supply chains to the national economy.”
Other members of the reference panel include Nicole Lockwood, who is the chair of the Westport Taskforce Steering Committee and is on the board of Infrastructure WA.
“As a member of the Expert Panel which led the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities in 2017 and 2018, Lockwood is uniquely placed to bring both continuity and fresh perspectives in overseeing the Strategy,” said McCormack.
Sophie Finemore will also be a member of the panel. Finemore was senior manager – government relations at Toll Group before joining KPMG in January 2020.
“Finemore’s practical experience in navigating supply chain issues in her role with the Toll Group and her recent involvement in transport market reform will make her a valued member of the Panel,” said McCormack.
Other members include Peter Garske, chief executive of the Queensland Trucking Association and Brett Charlton, general manager of Tasmanian-based Agility Logistics and chairman of the Tasmanian Logistics Committee.
With membership now announced the panel will work with government to suggest areas for reform and the implementation of the National Freight and Supply Chain strategy.
Smart thinking between Pacific National and Wagner Corporation highlights the many possibilities of rail freight.
News broke in early March that two powerhouses of regional transport and logistics were coming together for potentially Australia’s only rail-air intermodal terminal.
Pacific National and Wagner Corporation are now deep into discussions for a major logistics hub at Wellcamp Business Park, just outside of Toowoomba.
The two companies are looking to build a 250ha logistics hub at the site next to the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, said Pacific National CEO, Dean Dalla Valle.
“The proposed 250-hectare Wellcamp Logistics Hub also has frontage to the future Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project, allowing extensive future intermodal operations for freight to be transferred between trains, planes and trucks,” he said.
The future Wellcamp Logistics Hub would include 2.7 kilometres of frontage to the rail corridor, allowing for 1,800m long freight trains to operate.
Daily cargo jet flights operate from a fully licensed and bonded international air cargo terminal next door, and the site has the potential to process up to 350,000 shipping containers by 2030, and up to half a million by 2040. The airport in question, the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, is owned by the Wagner Corporation, and is an example of how that company has pedigree when it comes to innovative investing in regional logistics.
The family-owned property and infrastructure developer was behind the first, privately funded major airport, built on an old quarry site owned by the Wagner family. Today, the airport connects Toowoomba and the surrounding Darling Downs region not only to domestic jet services, but also direct freight connections to Hong Kong with weekly flights operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo.
Building and operating an intermodal terminal next door, at the connected Wellcamp Business Park, allows for rail freight services along in the Inland Rail corridor to connect to global freight and logistics supply chains.
While such a connection between rail and freight would be new for Australia, it has been successfully adopted elsewhere. In Germany, the Leipzig-Halle airport forms logistics company DHL’s European hub, with plans for a network of high-speed rail spanning from the airport. Despite being the 11th largest airport in Germany for passengers, the regional airport is the second largest in the country in terms of freight, and the 5th busiest in Europe.
Similarly, at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in France, two air-rail cargo interchanges allow for air cargo to be seamlessly transported from air to a high- speed rail network connecting France, Belgium, and the UK.
Although both these projects have had a focus on moving mail and parcels, rather than bulk cargos, there is potential for rail to air freight playing a role in the movement of food and produce. Here, the Darling Downs can play its part as the food bowl of South- East Queensland, and a producer of foodstuffs intended for export to growing markets in Hong Kong and Asia. As Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton outlined, locating intermodal freight and expert facilities close to where the food is being produced, allows for value adding in terms of advanced processing and packaging occurring locally, ensuring these benefits remain in the community.
“Inland Rail is a once in a lifetime project which will better link regional businesses to our fast-growing capital cities, farmers and producers to national and global markets, generate new opportunities for industries and regions and reduce large truck congestion on our roads.”
Inland rail leads to spark
The initial idea for the project came from another transformative Pacific National intermodal terminal, 800 kilometres south. The idea of being the private developer behind an intermodal terminal came to John Wagner, non-executive chairman of the Wagner Corporation, when he saw what other projects were underway in Parkes.
“When Wagner Corporation attended the October 2019 opening of Pacific National’s logistics terminal in Parkes – also located on the Inland Rail alignment – it gave us an exciting picture of what could be achieved with future rail freight services at Wellcamp,” he said.
The potential for rail to improve communities was also highlighted by Fullerton.
“The growth opportunities are endless, with Inland Rail unlocking job security potential not seen in decades through strategic industry investment.”
Partly due to the region’s topography, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs region had lacked interstate rail freight connections and was thus unable to access the benefits of rail transportation. Not only will the future hub improve supply chains, but lead to community benefits, highlighted Dalla Valle.
“Integrated with Inland Rail, a future Wellcamp Logistics Hub would help reduce road accidents and fatalities, traffic congestion, vehicle emissions, and road ‘wear and tear’,” he said.
“Picture this – at a minimum, a 1,800-metre- long freight train hauling shipping containers is equivalent to removing 140 B-double return truck trips from our roads.”
Freight rail delivering community benefits
The Wellcamp Logistics Hub announcement is tangible evidence of the $13.3 billion in benefits that a new report estimates that Inland Rail will bring to regional communities along the alignment.
Prepared by consultancy EY on behalf of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the report identified the key role that intermodal hubs would play in Inland Rail’s delivery of billions of dollars of economic benefit back to regional communities over the next 50 years.
The report found two key growth pathways as a result of Inland Rail, Supply Chain Efficiencies and Value Chain Growth.
Prepared in 2019, the report accurately predicted the kinds of outcomes that the Wellcamp Business Park could deliver.
“Inland Rail may lead to a reorganisation of supply chains and fundamentally change how freight is moved in Australia,” write the authors of the report.
The findings, spread across the four regions of South-East Queensland, northern NSW, southern NSW and Victoria, point to how greater connectivity can benefit regional communities, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
“Inland Rail gives these communities new ways to grow and rebuild with better connections to interstate and international markets, new jobs and a stronger case for attracting public and private investment.”
Fullerton reiterated the importance of rail in exporting Australia’s commodities.
“Without freight trains, bulk exports like grain, meat, fresh and dry produce, cotton and coal cannot be efficiently hauled to ports, the gateways to global markets.”
While the Inland Rail project itself may be focused on ensuring that the rail corridor is built, to access the benefits of such a major infrastructure project, the links between Inland Rail and the communities it serves will be essential. Demonstrating this, the EY report found that in each of the regions studied, intermodal terminals opening from 0-10 years after the completion of the Inland Rail project will be part of the first wave of investment.
As nodes within the network, Fullerton highlighted the role that intermodal hubs will play.
“Intermodal freight hubs drive increased investment, growth and more jobs across regional Australia the added safety and environmental benefits of shifting more freight volumes from trucks to trains.”
These are then expected to lead to the development of industry hubs, which take advantage of the supply chain efficiencies offered by Inland Rail and congregate complementary businesses. In the case of the Darling Downs and South East Queensland, this could see grain and cotton being transported to the Wellcamp Logistics Hub, manufactured at the Wellcamp Business Park and then shipped by Pacific National on rail to other locations in Australia or via air to the globe.
As a comparative example, EY looked to the Santa Teresa Intermodal Facility in New Mexico, as an example of how an intermodal terminal can lead to the aggregation of businesses, not only in the transport and logistics sectors, but manufacturing and professional services.
Mark Campbell is the new CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).
Campbell will take over from John Fullerton after his appointment was confirmed by the board of the ARTC.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack welcomed Campbell to the top of the national rail track manager.
“We look forward to working closely with Campbell and continuing a strong professional relationship with the ARTC board and management as we deliver the 1,700-kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail and improve and maintain some 8,500 kilometres of rail,” said McCormack.
Campbell will oversee some of the many projects that Fullerton led, including the Inland Rail project which began during Fullerton’s time as CEO, as well as improvements to Australia’s national freight network. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann thanked Fullerton for his time at the head of ARTC.
“During Fullerton’s tenure, the ARTC made significant improvements to the efficiency and competitiveness of Australia’s interstate rail network.
“The ARTC also commenced delivery of Inland Rail under Fullerton’s leadership. Inland Rail will be the spine of Australia’s freight network, supporting 16,000 jobs during construction and providing a $16 billion boost to our national economy over the long term.”
Warren Truss, ARTC chairman, welcomed Campbell to the organisation and acknowledged the work done by Fullerton.
“We look forward to Campbell leading ARTC into an exciting future for Australia’s rail sector, which is set to play an increased role in the freight and transport industry over the next decade to help drive national productivity and the economic growth of the nation.
“On behalf of the ARTC Board, I would like to pay tribute to Fullerton for his outstanding career in the rail industry, which has spanned more than 40 years, including the past nine as head of ARTC. Unyielding in his efforts to promote the value of rail and transport supply chains to the national economy, Fullerton’s knowledge and guidance will be greatly missed, but we wish him every happiness in the future.”
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie welcomed Campbell’s appointment and thanked Fullerton for his work in the rail industry.
“Under his leadership, the ARTC has been reinvigorated through a wide-reaching transformation program that has seen the company become more competitive, customer-focused and results-oriented.”
Fullerton has put in place an organisation with the capacity to construct and maintain billions of dollars’ worth of rail infrastructure, and led change within ARTC itself, resulting in major advances in the company’s safety performance, customer focus, and asset improvement.”
Kirk Coningham, CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) highlighted the significant steps forward taken during Fullerton’s time as CEO.
“The decision of the Federal Government to fund the construction of Inland Rail in 2017 was a watershed moment, following many years of advocacy by our organisation and the leading transport and logistics companies we represent.
The success of the industry-led Inland Rail Conference first staged by ALC and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) in Parkes in 2018 and then in Toowoomba last year was greatly enhanced by ARTC’s active support, and in particular by Fullerton’s commitment to ensuring regional communities share in the economic benefits of this once-in-a-generation freight infrastructure project.”
Campbell was most recently the CEO and managing director of Holcim Australia and New Zealand, which supplies aggregates, concrete, and concrete products in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to Holcim, Campbell worked in other construction materials and quarrying companies in Australia, Malaysia, and the UK and has a background in civil engineering.
“Campbell’s extensive prior experience in the construction and infrastructure sectors means he is well-placed to continue driving the improvements to rail infrastructure and safety which are at the heart of all ARTC’s activities,” said Coningham.
“ALC looks forward to working closely with Mr Campbell and the entire ARTC team when he takes up his new position.”
Infrastructure Australia will add the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop project to the body’s Infrastructure Priority List.
The recognition signals the project as a significant one for not just the rail freight network, but wider, national supply chains. Chief Executive of Infrastructure Romilly Madew highlighted how the project is critical.
“Port Botany handles 99 per cent of NSW’s container demand, making it a critical international gateway for Australia and a backbone asset for economic product within Sydney and New South Wales,” she said.
“With demand only increasing, it is vital that Port Botany maintains throughput capacity to meet container growth over the long term.”
The dual projects provide for an increase in the capacity of rail to deliver containers to Port Botany. The project involves duplicating 2.9km of the line and constructing a passing loop at Cabramatta on the Southern Sydney Freight Line.
Moving more containers by rail will also benefit surrounding suburbs and road networks, said Madew.
“Currently more than 80 per cent of containers to and from Port Botany are transported by road.
“This worsens congestion on the Sydney road network, particularly in and around the already constrained Port Botany precinct, which includes Sydney Airport and the M5 Motorway.”
The project would further improve supply chains by increasing capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line and the Port Botany rail line, which are forecast to exceed capacity by 2023 and 2026, respectively.
A number of intermodal terminals are also planned for the Sydney basin, including at St Marys and a future site near Western Sydney Airport, and demand for greater rail capacity is also being generated by the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and the Enfield Intermodal Terminal.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s determination on the $400 million project.
“It’s great to see job-creating infrastructure and freight initiatives such as these recognised as priority projects by Infrastructure Australia, particularly at a time when getting goods to consumers is so essential.”
An upgrade of the existing line to Port Botany was also recently completed.
John Fullerton, CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which is overseeing the project, highlighted that efficient supply chains are more important than ever.
“We have all seen how critical our transport and freight sector is during the current COVID-19 crisis.
“These two projects are essential to helping Sydney, and New South Wales, in meeting its future freight demands. Containers are expected to grow from 2.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to 8.4m TEUs by 2045. Rail can and needs to carry more of the freight task, not only through Port Botany – but across the country.”
CEO of NSW Ports, Marika Calfas, said that work should begin as soon as possible on the duplication and passing loop.
“Having been under development for many years, this project is ‘shovel ready’ and should be progressed as a priority to deliver long term port supply chain productivity benefits and provide needed economic stimulus for NSW.”
Calfas highlighted that Port Botany is hoping to significantly increase the number of containers moved by rail.
“Port Botany is the only container port in Australia with on-dock rail at all three of its container terminals and, together with the stevedores, we are making significant investments to increase port-side rail capacity to meet this goal. The first stage of investment of $190 million commenced in 2019 and will be complete by 2023. This will double existing rail capacity at Port Botany.”
CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Kirk Coningham, said that the organisation is ready to progress the project.
“ALC hopes governments will now work with industry to expedite the delivery of this priority project, to strengthen the efficiency of our supply chains and help provide economic stimulus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In January this year, ARTC announced that it had shortlisted three contractors for the Botany Rail Duplication project, and that John Holland has been shortlisted for the Cabramatta Loop project.
Australia’s rail network is ensuring the nation’s supply chain stays intact.
People are working around-the-clock to ensure safe passage for 1,800-metre freight trains carrying essential products for all Australians.
John Fullerton, ARTC CEO said in a recent interview that was broadcast on Sky News that transport companies are moving as much as they can to boost the flow of essential goods and services.
“Rail is no different, we move around five million tonnes across the continent from the eastern seaboard to WA and a lot of our product involves groceries and the hardware that sits on those supermarket shelves,” he said on Sky News.
Fullerton said the sector is crucial and rail freight movements on the ARTC network are up approximately 14 per cent due to the unprecedented demand for goods.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has sparked an unprecedented challenge for Australia’s freight and transport industry, with the country’s demand for critical supplies prompting a surge in rail freight,” he said.
“The rail freight sector has stepped up to ease Australia’s strained supply lines.”
The ARTC CEO leads a team of more than 1600 employees to manage and maintain 8500km of the national rail network.
ARTC employs more than 300 people at its Keswick headquarters in South Australia including network controllers who ensure coordinated passage for the country’s freight trains.
“Freight trains are playing a crucial role in Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – and our frontline teams are really part of a group of workers making sure the economy and society is able to keep functioning during these difficult times,” Fullerton said.
Moving freight has been highlighted by the government as an essential service. Fullerton says the sector has never been more important “which is putting a lot of responsibility on our shoulders”.
However, in collaboration with rail freight customers, government, and industry partners, Fullerton said it’s been wonderful to see teams rise to the challenge to keep Australia’s supply chain intact and the nation’s economy moving.
“We’re really proud to be able to keep freight trains moving and do our bit for Australia, but like other essential service providers, these are testing times for everyone and there’s still a long road ahead,” Fullerton said.
The company also has teams maintaining rail assets across the nation, including in the middle of the Nullarbor, to help move vital freight to its destination.
“There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, but we’ll continue to work hard with our customers and partners to ensure supplies continue to ride the rails and get to where they need to be,” he said.
ARTC is continuing to implement strict hygiene protocols and preventative measures to protect the health and safety of staff and local communities in which it operates.
Freight operators and network owners around Australia continue to serve businesses and communities, and Tasmania is no exception.
CEO of government-owned TasRail, Steven Dietrich, reminded Tasmanians this morning that the state’s freight rail owner and operator is continuing to provide rail-based freight services across the 611 kilometres of operational network.
In the statement, Dietrich noted that like other operators, hygiene and cleaning practices have been stepped up in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“To keep our teams healthy we have been working hard to implement best-practice hygiene and physical distancing measures at our sites around the state, protecting essential frontline staff, and coordinating working from home and split-shift operations where possible.”
As federal and state transport ministers have reaffirmed that rail freight is an essential service, Dietrich reminded the community that trains will be continuing to operate and that people should remain safe around the rail corridor, which includes over 500 level crossings around the state.
“Working together we will keep the critical freight services operating and continue to provide Tasmanians with the goods they require access to at this time.”
In a written statement, CEO and managing director of the Australian Rail Track Corporation John Fullerton also noted that rail freight would continue, and the network owner would be providing a safe network and progressing major projects in NSW, Victoria, and South Australia, as well as the Inland Rail project.
“While it is positive the freight and logistics industry and the works supporting these sectors have been recognised as essential services, we also recognise that in our continued operations we have a significant responsibility to the ongoing health and safety of our people as well as the communities in which we operate. This includes a range of preventative actions to minimise risk, adjustments to existing work practices and to actively plan for the health and people effects of COVID-19,” wrote Fullerton.
Many ARTC staff are working from home and those on-site are following guidance and social distancing and hygiene. Additionally, travel is being limited, and work is being carried out by locally based employees and contractors.
Fullerton highlighted that demand for predictable and reliable freight deliveries is critical.
“The ARTC team remains committed to ensuring that the rail network is managed and maintained safely, and the major projects the economy needs are delivered successfully. That remains our focus and commitment to our customers, stakeholders and the community,’ wrote Fullerton.
While increasing freight volumes are putting pressure on infrastructure in some locations, elsewhere limited growth is leading to projects being deferred.
Intermodal terminals were described as the “essential building blocks” for overall rail- based supply chains, in a 2017 report by PwC, prepared for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
In Australia, these foundational blocks are spread throughout the country. However, they are under varying amounts of stress. In the eastern states, capacity is becoming strained by increases in freight volume. In South Australia and Western Australia, there is considerable room to grow with the existing infrastructure.
These differences were highlighted in recent announcements by state governments, rail, and port operators.
In NSW, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is proceeding with works on the Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop Projects to increase freight capacity at the congested Port Botany terminal.
In January, ARTC shortlisted three contractors for the two projects. For the Botany Rail Duplication project, CPB Contractors, Laing O’Rouke, and John Holland are shortlisted. For the Cabramatta Loop Project, ARTC has shortlisted Downer EDI, Fulton Hogan, and John Holland. The formal tender process will be undertaken in 2020 for both projects.
ARTC CEO and managing director, John Fullerton, noted that these projects will grow the potential of freight in Sydney.
“These major projects aim to improve rail capacity, flexibility and reliability for freight rail customers, encouraging more freight to shift from road to rail, and we are getting on with delivering these massive improvements.”
Both projects aim to increase rail capacity and service reliability to and from Port Botany, while increasing capacity across the Sydney freight network. According to NSW Ports’ 30-year Master Plan, 80 per cent of containers that arrive in Port Botany are delivered to sites closer than 40km away. Increasing freight rail frequency will allow for these containers to be moved to industrial and logistics sites in Western and South-Western Sydney.
“Improving freight performance at Port Botany is critical for the economic growth and prosperity of Sydney, NSW and Australia with the amount of container freight handled by the Port set to significantly increase by 77 per cent to 25.5 million tonnes by 2036,” said Fullerton.
“These two landmark projects will strike the balance between rail and road by duplicating the remaining single freight rail track section of the Botany Line between Mascot and Botany and constructing a new passing loop on the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) between Cabramatta Station and Warwick Farm Station to allow for freight trains up to 1300m in length.
“Once completed, the Cabramatta Loop Project will allow freight trains travelling in either direction along the Southern Sydney Freight Line to pass each other and provide additional rail freight capacity for the network.”
Work on the Sydney freight network will also increase rail’s share of freight, and alleviate congestion on the Sydney road network, highlighted Fullerton.
“Each freight train can take up to 54 trucks worth of freight off the road, tackling congestion and improving the everyday commute in Sydney.”
The Port of Melbourne is also looking at the potential to increase the volume of freight moved by rail from the Port to intermodal terminals in Melbourne’s north and west.
In late January, the Victorian government improved the Port operator’s plans to invest $125 million for the construction of a new on-dock rail.
The Port of Melbourne will introduce a $9.75 per 20-foot equivalent unit charge on imported containers and the funds raised from the charge will directly deliver new sidings and connections for the rail project. Improving rail access to the Port of Melbourne is a legislated condition of its lease, aiming towards a wider push to expand rail freight across Victoria.
The Victorian government said in a statement it is “also supporting the Port Rail Shuttle Network connecting freight hubs in Melbourne’s north and west to the port, new intermodal terminals planned at Truganina and Beveridge, new automated signalling for faster rail freight to GeelongPort and improvements in the regional rail freight network”.
“On-dock rail will make rail transport more competitive, cut the high cost of the ‘last mile’ and reduce truck congestion at the port gate – a big win for Victorian exporters delivering goods to the Port of Melbourne.”
Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the project will increase the competitiveness of Victorian industry.
“The Port of Melbourne is a vital part of our multi-billion dollar export sector and agriculture supply chain and on-dock rail will make its operations more efficient for Victorian exporters – removing congestion at the port gate.”
The project is set to be completed by 2023.
DIFFERENT ROUTES IN SA
In contrast to these announcements, the South Australian government has decided to pull back from a plan to move greater volumes of freight via a new network named GlobeLink. An election promise from the Marshall government, in late January, the government announced that the project would be terminated, as the business case did not stack up.
The proposed project would comprise a road and rail corridor behind the Adelaide Hills, which would connect the National Highway and the rail link from Victoria to Northern Adelaide. The project would have also included an intermodal export park and freight-only airport at Murray Bridge.
The SA government commissioned KPMG to produce a business case for the project, which found that rail freight in the corridor would decline.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll highlighted that investment in rail freight would not be of economic value for the state.
“Particularly, with respect to the rail component, the report highlights that limited and declining volumes see limited relative economic benefit for the state,” he said.
“Therefore, with rail volumes unlikely to increase sufficiently in the future, the benefits of a new rail corridor are very marginal.”
The KPMG report found that the benefit cost ratios for the initial rail corridor is 0.08 – a value of 1 is where a project would break even.
The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) welcomed the decision, with SAFC executive officer, Evan Knapp, highlighting that alternative projects would be a better fit for the state.
“The Freight Industry is both pleased and relieved GlobeLink will no longer go ahead, and that instead other options will be explored – we look forward to consultation on the new approach in due course.”
The report also suggested the potential of a new intermodal terminal south east of Adelaide, however Knapp pointed out that the terminal could go ahead without government investment.
“We understand that there is a proponent looking at it now and there’s no reason why that cannot go ahead,” he said. “Cancelling GlobeLink in no way impacts on that element at all.”
Of more benefit to the freight rail sector and the wider community in South Australia, would be the removal of level crossings in the Adelaide metro area, said Knapp.
“Currently we’re happy with the freight rail line, we do believe there is room for some work on level crossing removals towards Adelaide, particularly the level crossing on Cross Road, as you can imagine a freight train going through that crossing at a very slow speed and given their lengths of well over a kilometre does take some time and causes dislocation of a major road in South Australia.”