Patrick and Port of Melbourne sign agreement for rail terminal at East Swanson Dock

Patrick Terminals and the Port of Melbourne have agreed to construct a new rail terminal to enable more freight to be delivered by rail to East Swanson Dock.

The new rail terminal, expected to be completed by mid 2023, will handle up to 200,000 TEUs annually, and provide a direct rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and suburban intermodal terminals, enabling more freight to be transported to and from the port via rail.

“The new facility will provide a direct interface with Patrick’s East Swanson Dock Container Terminal, reducing cost of last mile between the rail terminal and quayside for rail based container movements,” said Patrick CEO Michael Jovicic.

The announcement of the rail terminal is part of a wider push to get more freight onto rail at the Port of Melbourne. The Port of Melbourne is investing $125 million in on-dock rail as part of the Port Rail Transformation Project (PRTP) and this project is a significant part of that, said Brendan Bourke, CEO of the Port of Melbourne.

“The PRTP is a key project of our Port Development Strategy and Our Plan for Rail and is vital to successfully accommodating future growth at the port.”

In August, the Victorian and federal governments announced funding for a new freight rail connection in Melbourne’s South East.

The Victorian government is also providing funding for the Port Rail Shuttle network, which aims to reduce truck movements in metropolitan Melbourne by linking the port with intermodal facilities on the urban fringe.

“This new on dock rail terminal supports the introduction of the government’s Port Rail Shuttle Network, which will reduce truck trips on the Melbourne road network,” said Bourke.

The Patrick rail terminal will be constructed at the Coode Road site and is co-funded with the Port of Melbourne. Patrick is contributing $15m to the project.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2021 and the Port of Melbourne is currently undertaking a request for tender profess for the infrastructure works associated with the Port Rail Transformation Project.

Once complete, the terminal will include two dual gauge 23 tonne axle load sidings of 600 metres and interface with the Patrick international container terminal options.

The agreement is part of the extension of Patrick’s tenure at the Port of Melbourne to 2066. Maurice James, managing director of Qube which owns 50 per cent of Patrick, said in a statement to the ASX the project will enable more freight to be moved via rail.

“The development supports Patrick’s landside efficiency focus and is expected to facilitate the development of metro-based rail shuttle services over the medium term.”

Once complete, the Swanson Dock Rail Terminal will be an open access facility, in line with the Port of Melbourne rail access protocol, allowing Qube and other rail operators to use the facility.

Jovicic said that the terminal will be a key node in the Melbourne freight rail network once new intermodal facilities are completed.

“Over time, it is expected that rail modal share for will increase, with metro rail being a major driver of growth alongside the development of metropolitan inland terminals. Rail modal share and volumes on rail will be dependent on the take up of rail, particularly for metro container movements – which today are dominated by trucks.”

Next phase of construction for the $190m ‘on-dock’ rail project

The $190 million ‘on-dock’ rail project at Patrick Terminals – Sydney AutoStrad at Port Botany is entering its next progression phase of construction.

The on-dock’ rail project, undertaken in conjunction with NSW Ports, is expected to increase rail capacity at Patrick Terminals – Sydney AutoStrad from 250,000 TEU to 1 million TEU.

The company will shortly commence the installation and commissioning of three new  automated rail mounted gantry (ARMG) cranes and changes to rail windows will take effect from next month.

Patrick Terminals stated that current rail volume will be maintained and rail windows will be optimised by consolidating and removing inefficient services from the schedule.

Michael Jovicic, CEO of Patrick Terminals said he is very pleased with the current progress of the project.

“This decision to minimise disruptions to rail services at Patrick Terminals is supported by NSW Ports and the NSW Government who are committed to a long-term plan of sustainable freight modes,” Jovicic said.

Patrick Terminals’ largest international shipping container terminal is based at Port Botany (PBT) on NSW Ports land at Brotherson Dock.

NSW Ports reports the investment in rail infrastructure will reduce the growth in truck movements around the port. 

Patrick Terminals’ stated in a report last year that when fully operational, this investment will reduce truck-kilometres travelled in Sydney by at least 10 million per year.

Patrick’s agreement with NSW Ports will significantly increase the terminal’s rail capacity and enhance efficiency in container movements at the port that will in turn reduce the number of trucks required to visit the terminal.

Customers impacted by the changes to rail windows will be contacted by the dedicated Patrick Terminals rail team.

The first stage of the project, which includes four 300 metre sidings, is due to be completed by the end of the year.