Freight terminal to take 500,000 truck trips off Melbourne roads each year

freight terminal

Work is finally underway on a $400 million freight terminal in Melbourne’s north that is expected to take 500,000 truck trips off the city’s suburban roads each year.

The Somerton Intermodal Terminal being built at the 45-hecture Austrak Business Park by the Intermodal Terminal Company (ITC) is forecast to create 400 jobs during construction and a further 90 permanent jobs when operational in 2025.

It follows the start of services between the SCT Logistics Interstate Freight Facility in Altona and the Port of Melbourne last month in a major milestone for the Port Rail Shuttle Network.

Port Rail Shuttle Network will enable trucks to deliver or pick up containers from hubs in outer metropolitan Melbourne instead of driving to the Port of Melbourne, which is in turn investing $125 million in new rail infrastructure to cater for these shuttle trains.

ITC CEO Mishkel Maharaj was joined by Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne at the Somerton site for a sod-turning ceremony earlier this month.

Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne, second from right, breaks ground at the new site. Photo: Melissa Horne/Facebook

“The investment by the State and Federal Governments and the private sector into the Port Rail Shuttle Network, enables these major investments to occur which will put more freight onto rail, take trucks off local roads and support exporters,” Horne said.

A recent report by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) criticised the Andrews government’s efforts since 2014 in getting more trucks off the city’s roads.

The report found millions in government funding had so far failed to increase the share of freight going by rail.

To reduce rising traffic congestion the state wants to have 30 per cent of freight travelling on trains by 2050, compared to about 5 per cent now.

But to reach that target, there would need to be 215 return train trips a week, or 31 per day, between the port and hubs at Dandenong South, Somerton and Altona, and that seems unlikely.

“The share of rail freight going in and out of the Port of Melbourne by rail is now less than half its 2013–14 peak,” VAGO wrote.

“The volume of freight carried by train has stayed static over this time.

“This means that trucks have carried most of the 30 per cent growth in the port’s container freight trade.”

Opposition ports and freight spokeswoman, Roma Britnell, said delays to the program would make cost of living worse.

“The longer local freight is on trucks instead of trains, the higher everyday prices will be for Victorians,” she said.

“The Andrews government’s freight failure is a missed opportunity to deliver lower prices at the checkout and safer, less congested roads across the state.”

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