AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Toll’s Brighton terminal – a closer look

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Last week Rail Express reported that the Toll Group has begun work on its $24m intermodal freight terminal in the new Brighton Transport Hub near Hobart. This week David Sexton from Lloyd’s List Australia takes a closer look at Tasmania’s plans for a freight terminal which is touted to set the standard for decades to come. </span> <p>Toll’s&nbsp$24m investment on its own freight terminal is separate from a combined $79m investment by the state and Federal governments towards the creation of the hub.</p><p>Tasmania Premier Lara Giddings and Brighton mayor Tony Foster recently met with Toll Tasmania general manager Tony Stewart to turn the first sod on building the Toll facility, the first for the new hub.</p><p>Proponents believe the intermodal facility will go a long way towards easing Hobart truck congestion and allow for easier container movement between the capital in the south and the northern Bass Strait ports of Burnie, Devonport and Bell Bay.</p><p>Critics such as independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie and former members of the old Tasmanian Freight and Logistics Council believe the hub is too expensive and will fail to achieve its objectives.</p><p>Toll currently has facilities close to the centre of Hobart, a reflection of a bygone era when the city hosted a fully-functional port rather than simply a service centre for cruise ships, Antarctic vessels and recreational boats.</p><p>Speaking at the hub launch, Mr Stewart said Tasmania’s largest provider of transport and logistics was pleased to be starting construction of its new $24m Brighton transport base.</p><p>“Toll’s investment in this facility underpins our commitment to Tasmania, in particular to Hobart and the southern regional businesses,” he said.<br />“By mid-next year we will have the most modern and efficient transport terminal in the state.</p><p>“Once built, the new facility will enable us to move operations from our three current Hobart sites into the one purpose-built site and it will reduce the amount of traffic going in and out of central Hobart.”</p><p>The Toll 16,000 sq metre transport facility is on a 6.8ha site and is to handle general and refrigerated freight, offer warehousing and distribution services and to provide container storage for domestic and international shipping.<br />Mr Stewart said the Toll long-term lease involves a freight haulage deal to allow Toll to increase its rail use.</p><p>“The new facility will allow us to increase the amount of freight we can carry via rail. More freight on trains will mean fewer trucks on Tasmanian roads.”<br />Construction is expected to be completed mid-2014.</p><p>At present the Brighton Transport Hub includes an intermodal freight terminal, bulk loading and container facilities, distribution centre, a trucking depot, associated rail freight businesses and eventually, warehousing facilities.</p><p>The hub also has its own rail sidings with access to the main rail line along with the Midland Highway.</p><p>“TasRail is presently investigating cold and dry storage and its own heavy-lifting capability. It is presently in negotiation with potential customers as to their needs,” a Tasmanian government spokesman said.</p><p><strong>Permanent</strong></p><p>So is funding required beyond the $79m already provided by the Federal and Tasmanian governments?</p><p>“The recent state budget included $1.5m to construct a second hardstand area at the Hub,” premier Lara Giddings said in a recent statement.</p><p>“Toll will also make a joint contribution of $1.5m to the hardstand project over the next four years,” she said.</p><p>“This additional hardstand will enable freight to be loaded and unloaded from trains on both sides of the railway line and will be a permanent fixture on the site.”</p><p>TasRail has been operating from the Brighton Hub since March and is expected to move all southern operations there over the next 12 months.</p><p>“TasRail has a contract with Forestry Tasmania for the loading and shipment of some of their logs – three trains per week from Brighton,” a government spokesman said.</p><p>“The intention is that other businesses will set up operations at the hub, and TasRail will be working to develop commercial relationships in that regard in the future.”</p><p>Premier Giddings recently reflected on the value of the project to Tasmania and to Hobart.</p><p>“Toll is also Tasmania’s biggest freight carrier and this multi-million investment is a strong sign of confidence in the future of both Tasmania and TasRail,” Ms Giddings said.</p><p>“Toll is a major tenant at the Hobart railyards. Its relocation to Brighton is a key step towards returning the waterfront to the people.</p><p>“Not only will the Brighton Hub project create jobs in the construction phase, we know that having a more efficient transport system creates opportunities and jobs across the economy.”</p><p>Ms Giddings said freight was the lifeblood of a community, “be it exports of valuable refined metals, agricultural products, fine food products and newsprint, or imported consumer goods”.</p><p>“The transport hub will significantly reduce travel times between southern Tasmania and Bell Bay and Burnie ports and that means lower costs and greater efficiencies for businesses,” she said.</p><p>“The development of transport hubs on urban fringe areas is a strategy that many other parts of Australia and around the world are implementing to make freight more efficient.</p><p>“The hub will be a freight terminal for Tasmania that will set the standard for many decades to come.</p><p>“It will enable direct access to contemporary terminal facilities that support longer trains with reduced shunting and a more efficient interface with customers, both large and small.”</p><p>She said: “a seamless interface between road and rail and road and road transport” would allow heavy road vehicles carrying freight no longer needed to travel from the northern suburbs into the Hobart CBD, meaning less traffic congestion and safer roads.</p><p><strong>Argument</strong></p><p>“The resultant reduction in travel time between southern Tasmania and the Bell Bay and Burnie ports combined with the ongoing upgrades of bridges, track and rolling stock, will improve the competitiveness of rail transport in the state.”</p><p>Is there a reasonable argument that the hub has taken too long to build and at too great a cost?</p><p>While there have long been criticisms of the cost of the project, the spokesman said costs would stack up in the long run.</p><p>“Changes of this magnitude take time to plan and implement but the outcome will transform the way the two transport modes interface,” he said.</p><p>“Ultimately it will deliver significant commercial opportunities through wide ranging efficiency gains only available through a development of this nature.”</p><p>Earlier this year Tasmanian independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie savaged the transport hub concept.</p><p>Speaking to Lloyd’s List Australia as part of a longer interview about the Freight Equalisation Scheme, Mr Wilkie said the logic behind the hub was unclear.</p><p>“Personally I think the [intermodal] transport hub is a dud,” he said.<br />“It has only been opened quite recently and its main tenant, Toll, is yet to move out of the old Hobart railyards, to move up there.”</p><p>Mr Wilkie said it made more sense to rail freight all the way into Hobart, rather than having to switch to trucks at Brighton which is almost 30km north of the Tasmanian capital.</p><p>“The logic of the transport hub escapes me because what’s going to happen is you’re going to have all this freight come down the railway line from the north,” he said.</p><p>“It’s going to reach the Brighton Transport Hub where it’s all got to be transferred onto other trucks and onto the highway, which is in very poor condition.”</p><p>Going back five years, the now-defunct Tasmanian Freight and Logistics Council (TFLC) had a similar view to Mr Wilkie.</p><p>TFLC chief executive Rob McGuire predicted an increase in truck movements.</p><p>“As I see it, [the plan] means more trucks on the road because the big trucks and trains will deconsolidate at Brighton and the freight will be put on smaller trucks which could mean additional trucks on the road between there and Hobart,” Mr McGuire said at the time.</p><p><strong>Timeline: Brighton Transport Hub</strong></p><p>A few key moments in the history of the Tasmanian Brighton Transport Hub</p><p>June 2008 – The Tasmanian and Federal governments announce joint funding of $79m into the proposed intermodal hub with the aim of reducing truck congestion the TFLC questions whether it will work.</p><p>September 2008 – Construction on the hub tipped to begin as early as the first quarter of 2009.</p><p>September 2008 – The Tasmanian government moves ahead with planning for the hub north of Hobart, allocating a 50 ha site.</p><p>December 2009 – Hobart port rail yards to become a development site under a draft master plan for Sullivan’s Cove released by the Tasmanian government.</p><p>October 2012 – Toll say it isn’t committed to moving to Brighton.</p><p>July 2013 – Toll announces it has begun work on a Brighton facility.</p><p>This article originally appeared in <strong><a href="">Lloyd’s List Australia</a></strong></p>