Rail moves in the country

Goulburn Valley Freight Logistics Centre

Councils and entrepreneurs around Victoria and southern NSW have realised that the growing freight task can only be solved by building up intermodal infrastructure and there is money to be made from the steel road, writes Charles Pauka.

Goulburn Valley Freight Logistics Centre (GVFLC)

A freight and logistics centre encompassing an intermodal terminal and general freight area is proposed by the Greater Shepparton City Council. The GVFLC will be built on 331 ha at 250 Toolamba Rd, 2 km south of the Midland Hwy in Mooroopna, 180 km north of Melbourne.

As a first step, the Greater Shepparton City Council has acquired the 331 ha Toolamba Rd site. The site is zoned special use that allows the development of the GVFLC. It provides for warehousing, packaging, storage and distribution of goods and associated uses consistent with the GVFLC.

The project will unfold in six stages. Each stage will take in development of land ranging in size from about 20-40 hectares. The estimated total cost of the project is about $70 million.

Subject to land sales and Government funding, stage one of the project is likely to begin at the end of 2008. This will involve developing four allotments on 22 ha, costing about $9.7 million.

A range of businesses such as transport and logistics companies, food processors, food producers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are expected to occupy the centre, with activities across a range of uses:

• Rail freight handling – operation of the container terminal, container storage.

• Outbound warehousing and distribution – for produce awaiting shipment.

• Inbound distribution – distribution to retailers and businesses.

• Freight related businesses – packaging, container servicing, pallets.

• Services such as truck maintenance, petrol, tyres, container cleaning.

The GVFLC through the intermodal terminal will provide a direct link to the Port of Melbourne. This strategic link will provide an integrated logistical opportunity for industry to access global markets.

The site was chosen in 2003, from 20 potential sites, due to access to the railway and to the Goulburn Valley Highway via the proposed Shepparton bypass. While the centre does not rely on the bypass, once built, it will provide an excellent link for southbound trucks to the Goulburn Valley Highway.

The site is split into two sections by the railway. East of the railway, the site is bounded on the east by the Goulburn River floodway, on the north by Geoffrey Thompson Coolstores and extends 1.6km south. West of the railway, the site is bounded on the north by Simson Road and the south by Pyke Road. The western boundary is staggered and lies 1 km to 2 kms west of the railway.

Toolamba Road is being diverted to create the intermodal terminal and to negate the need for level crossings. The deviation of Toolamba Rd means that development is not reliant on the timing of the Bypass/Freeway 4. Local traffic will continue to utilise Toolamba Road in the short term, however, ultimately the vast majority of traffic will be channelled onto the bypass.

The Federal Labor Government provided $3 million in funding to get the project started and there have been positive discussions with the state government. The GVFLC compliments a number of State and Federal Government policies and the project has received strong support from the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council.

When the new Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail corridor is constructed, it could follow the Hume corridor through Albury/ Wodonga, or a corridor through Shepparton and Tocumwal. The GVFLC will be viable for rail freight in either case, but the Shepparton inland rail corridor option would be of benefit to the freight centre.

There is currently one train per day that makes a return trip to Tocumwal, stopping at the existing Mooroopna container terminal on the way up and back. Prior to a drop in rail freight in 2006 there were two trains per day. One goal of the GVFLC is to encourage an increase of freight to be carried by rail. If successful, this could result in a return to two trains in the next few years and possibly more in the long term.

Greater Shepparton Mayor Eric Bott said the acquisition of the site marked another chapter in the development of the project.

“We are currently working on finalising the design of the stage 1 subdivision and are continuing our discussion with industry representatives,” Cr Bott said.

“Currently there are over 7,000 containers through the existing terminal and we see this doubling, subject to a range of issues, such as rail network issues and opportunities such as new investment and facilitation from road to rail opportunities for import and export containers.”

The main catchment for the centre will be the Goulburn Valley including southern NSW, however, this doesn’t preclude national opportunities for the NSW, VIC, TAS and SA markets.

Council’s acquisition of the site has sent a message that it is now investment ready and the council is in advanced discussion with several potential occupiers.

For more information contact Matt Nelson, manager of economic development at the Greater Shepparton City Council on (03) 5832 9846, email matthew. nelson@shepparton.vic.gov.au.

The Ettamogah Hub

Perhaps not quite as well known as its drinking establishment namesake, the Ettamogah Hub is the brainchild of well-known transport and intermodal businessman Colin Rees. Following the sale of his previous business CRT, Mr Rees has concentrated on rail and aviation activities and is also the current owner of Mangalore Airport.

“Having identified the strategic advantages of this site at Ettamogah some years ago, my team has been working with the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the land owners and AlburyCity to bring this project to fruition,” Mr Rees said.

Set on a 20 ha site, the hub is located adjacent to Norske Skog at Ettamogah and only 10 km from the Albury CBD. It will be readily accessible from the Thurgoona and Davey Road interchange is off the National Highway and will provide direct access to the standard gauge national rail line between Sydney and Melbourne.

The facility will be developed in three stages over a period of six years. Stage one will be developed at an estimated cost of $10 million and provide the rail platform, B-double access, warehouse sites, container handling and administration facilities. Total capital expenditure over all stages is estimated to be $22 million. When fully operational, approximately 100,000 tonnes per annum could be handled through this facility initially. It is envisaged that the hub will provide import and export facilities, Australian Customs service, AQIS service, an empty container pool and rail-connected warehousing and intermodal logistics. A rail technology and training centre is also planned for the site.

Site clearing works commenced in May and earthworks will begin in June this year. It is expected that the site will be operational by the end of 2008.

For more information contact project manager Phil Clement on (02) 6023 1200 or visit www.ettamogah-hub.com.au.

Logic Park Wodonga

The initiative of the Wodonga City Council, Logic Park is set to become a major hub for the purpose of manufacturing, distribution and warehousing in the Albury-Wodonga area. Set on 610 hectares of industrial land, the site runs adjacent to the Hume Highway and the Melbourne-Sydney rail line. Although this rail advantage is not being utilised at present, there are plans for it to become a major intermodal ‘port’ in the future.

Woolworths is already operating a 58,000 m2, $100 million regional distribution centre on a 25 ha site. In addition, Patrick has purchased a eight-hectare site for a 3PL warehousing facility and is the preferred rail terminal operator for the proposed intermodal container terminal.

For more information visit www.logicwodonga.com.au.

* Excerpted from Australasian Freight Logistics Issue 12, June/July 2008 (pp.28-30)

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