Qube

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.

Moorebank Intermodal Terminal. Graphic: MICL

Moorebank Logistics Park recognised for sustainability

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) has awarded the first stage of the Moorebank Logistics Park an Excellent Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating for design.

The IS rating scheme seeks to evaluate and promote sustainability in infrastructure programs, projects, networks, and assets, and looks a broad range of indicators to assess a projects governance, economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Excellent is the second highest rating a project can receive.

Michael Yiend director of development at Qube, which manages the development of the Moorebank intermodal site, said that the rating highlights the innovations that were a part of the project.

The Moorebank Logisitics Park’s use of automation in particular helped the project reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. By using automated gantry cranes, straddle carriers, sortation systems and terminal operation systems, Qube can reduce energy use, while enhancing safety and productivity.

Overall, the site’s energy efficient design will save two million tonnes of CO2 equivalents over 40 years of operations, however through transporting freight via rail, rather than road, the site will contribute to a reduction of four million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

CEO of ISCA Ainsley Simpson said that with 70 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions enabled by the infrastructure sector, with the majority coming from transport, projects such as Moorebank are critical.

“Moorebank Intermodal demonstrates that freight infrastructure presents an opportunity for decarbonisation through better measurement, reporting and implementation of reduction initiatives.”

Ian Learmouth, CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) which invested in the project, said that Qube had exceeded Australia-first sustainability standards.

“Qube’s success reflects its commitment to sustainability and demonstrates the possibilities for decarbonisation across even the most complex infrastructure operation,” said Learmouth. Infrastructure is considered a challenging sector to decarbonise, yet this project shows that it also offers great potential. Qube tapped into that potential to find many creative ways to lower its carbon emissions.”

Half the energy required for the 243-hectare precinct will be generated by solar power, and the first warehouse will have one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the southern hemisphere, generating 3MW. In addition, the project used a unique modelling technique to address climate risks related to the urban heat island effect, a first for Australia.

Learmouth said that the project would serve as a guide for future developments.

“The lessons learned from the design and construction of Moorebank will see the benefits of this project multiplied across the infrastructure sector – another significant step towards its decarbonisation and Australia’s transition to a clean energy economy.”

Simpson concurred.

“The leadership demonstrated thought this project could shift the freight industry to move beyond compliance on multiple fronts – decarbonisation, reliability and safety. It sets a new standard for intermodal infrastructure.

“There is real potential to influence wider supply chain activity, shaping a resilient freight sector that delivers innovation and improved productivity now and in the long term.”

Woolworths

Woolworths commits to Moorebank distribution centre

Woolworths has agreed to be a new, major tenant at the Moorebank Logistics Park in south west Sydney.

The supermarket giant has partnered with Qube, which is the manager of the Moorebank Logistics Park, to build a national and regional distribution centre across over 75,000sqm.

Qube managing director Maurice James said that a key advantage of the site was its rail connection.

“We’re delighted Woolworths has recognised the significant competitive advantages available to tenants at the Moorebank Logistics Park,” he said.

“The benefits of railing containers direct from Port Botany to a terminal co-located with warehousing across a site the size of the Sydney CBD will deliver Woolworths time and cost efficiencies.”

The recently developed Moorebank Logistics Park has a direct rail link to Port Botany and there are plans to develop an interstate rail terminal in the future. When complete, 1.5 million TEUs will be able to be transported between Port Botany, Moorebank, and the national rail freight network.

Moving more freight via rail will reduce heavy truck movement on Sydney roads, with Woolworth’s estimating that rail access will remove least 26,000 truck movements in NSW per year.

Australian Logistics Council CEO Kirk Coningham said the agreement between Qube and Woolworths showed the benefits of investing in rail.

“ALC has been a long-time advocate for the development of the Moorebank Logistics Park and its direct rail connection to Port Botany. This allows more freight to be moved via rail, helping to alleviate road congestion, which in turn delivers environmental benefits through reduced emissions.”

According to Qube, rail from Botany to Sydney’s south west enables containers to be delivered to the warehouse, unpacked and dispatched on the same day as the container is unloaded at the port.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said that locating at Moorebank would improve the company’s operations.

The new facilities will help us improve on-shelf product availability with faster restocking, reducing congestion in stores, and enabling a safer work environment for our teams with less manual handling.”

The move to Moorebank is a consolidation of Woolworth’s distribution sites at Yennore, Mulgrave, and parts of Minchinbury.

Both the national and regional distribution centres are subject to NSW government planning approval and are expected to open in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Qube container. Photo: Qube

Qube purchases four Australian-made locomotives

Qube has awarded the contract to build four locomotives to UGL, part of the CIMIC Group.

The four locomotives will be built in Newcastle at UGL’s workshops there, said UGL’s managing director Jason Spears.

“These contracts extend our light rail capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence and commence our relationship with Qube Logistics. UGL has a strong reputation for quality and safety and we look forward to exhibiting that through these manufacturing, maintenance and operations contracts.”

Qube has recently signed extensions to its freight rail logistics business. Late last year, the company announced that it had signed contracts with Shell Australia and Bluescope Steel. In its Half Year results announcement, Qube indicated that it would spend $73 million on new rollingstock and infrastructure to support the Bluescope contract.

Additionally, its Moorebank Logistics Park began rail operations with a major warehouse for retailer Target.

Further agreements for tenants at other sections of the Park are in the final stages of being negotiated.

According to UGL, its base in Newcastle was key to the purchase by Qube.

“UGL’s long history of manufacturing is key to our success in Newcastle. We’re proud that UGL has had a presence in in NSW for more than 120 years, including a strong presence in Newcastle.”

The news follows the announcement that UGL, along with Transit Systems and John Holland will operate the Adelaide tram network from July 2020.