Big increase in rail freight planned: SCT

Dramatic plans to increase rail freight into PoM


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The rail operator, bringing containers direct to the Port of Melbourne, has bold plans for increasing capacity.

The rail operator, bringing containers direct to the Port of Melbourne (PoM), has unveiled bold plans to dramatically increase container services to the docks.

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SCT Port Services national development manager Matt Eryurek said it hoped to increase the current weekly shuttle from DP World’s Altona intermodal to the PoM to three services a day.

SCT currently ran a service from the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal (WIFT) at Horsham, to Altona, bringing down containerised grain, pulses and hay.

But Mr Eryurek said products were also now coming from outside Horsham.

“We started running containers from Kapunda (SA) and instead of coming through Adelaide, we actually chose to bring them through the Horsham business,” he said.

Expansion into non-traditional freight movements was due to the poor grains and pulses season.

“If we were just reliant on Horsham, we would not have been running the rail.” He said SCT had started to bring citrus, from the Riverina, into the port, rather than putting it through Adelaide.

And DP World commercial general manager Ben Moke said 45 per cent of all the trade through its terminal was exported, with most of it originating 250 kilometres from Melbourne. “At the moment, under two per cent of total traffic would be coming in by rail - certainly our objective would be to push that up to 30pc,” Mr Moke said. “It’s a Victorian government target – but we think it is a target which is both ambitious and achievable..”

He said DP World was “very well progressed” in bringing products out of areas such as Sunraysia and the Riverina. “That’s a huge focus of ours, to attract more of the regional rail freight through our terminal - we have a strategic advantages of having on-dock rail, at Swanson terminal,” Mr Moke said.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) conference has been told the Victorian rail network has not kept pace with the requirements of bulk containers, stock and perishable freight. 

Wimmera branch member Robyn Gulline successfully moved the VFF continue to lobby the state government to upgrade the load capacity of the rail network to 23 tonnes.

She called on state and federal governments to commit to building a network which was internationally competitive. “Frustratingly, due to the load restrictions on Victoria’s road and rail networks, partly filled containers and trucks are regularly despatched,” Ms Gulline said. “In Victoria, 60 foot rail cars are rented, but only 40 foot containers are able to be transported from them.”

Containers going to Perth were first railed to Adelaide, then double stacked for the rest of the journey. 

“Increasing the capacity of our rail network for containerised freight, will reduce the pressure on our road network – travel times are slower than optimum, as trains reduce speed due to track quality, and to negotiate bridges and railway crossings. The additional costs are largely borne by producers, reducing in less profitability,” Ms Gulline said.

With low interest rates, and at the start of planning for the Murray Basin rail upgrade, she said it was an ideal time to increase load limits.

RAIL BOOST: Transport company SCT and stevedore DP World are planning a big increase in rail freight, to the West Swanson terminal. Picture: Andrew Miller.

RAIL BOOST: Transport company SCT and stevedore DP World are planning a big increase in rail freight, to the West Swanson terminal. Picture: Andrew Miller.

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