The Port of Melbourne says a decision on where to build Victoria’s new intermodal freight terminal needs to be made urgently, warning that logistics firms will start to build infrastructure haphazardly around the city without certainty on the issue.
Two sites have been proposed for a new hub to handle the growing volume of containers moving in and out of the state, with the Andrews government favouring Truganina in Melbourne’s west, while the former Morrison government pushed a 100-hectare site in Beveridge, in the outer north.
Melbourne’s new freight terminal was caught up in a political fight between Victoria and the Morrison government. Credit:Joe Armao
Port of Melbourne executive general manager of growth and planning Caryn Anderson said the freight industry was worried that more progress had not been made to replace Melbourne’s existing hub, which cannot support double-stacked trains and will close after 2030.
“If there’s one ask, it’s let’s make a decision so that we can all get on with it,” she said in an interview.
“Regardless of what the political debate has been up until now, industry just needs a decision made so we can start planing for and investing in it.”
Anderson said Australia’s busiest container port wanted the Truganina site – the Western Interstate Freight Terminal – built first because it was where most freight was moving through.
However, she said Victoria would eventually need the northern site – the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal – too.
A new terminal would take thousands of trucks off Victoria’s roads by transferring cargo onto double-stacked trains using the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland rail line, which is set for completion in 2027.
Logistics giant LOGOS’ local head, Darren Searle, told a Property Council event on Wednesday it would take 10 years for the industry to build a new terminal, and the longer a decision was delayed the less land would be available to build it.
“One way or another that certainty is required to get it done,” Searle said. “We keep talking about it. The important part is that discussion needs to turn into … an actual outcome.”
An artist’s render of the proposed Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal, where containers travelling south on the Inland Rail would be loaded onto trucks.
Anderson said uncertainty meant the industry would make unco-ordinated decisions about where to build their infrastructure and operations, denting the productivity opportunity available.
An Andrews government spokeswoman said the state had committed $6.1 million in its recent budget to plan for its preferred Truganina option, and would “work with the Commonwealth to deliver this”.
The state government’s investment case for the new terminal found Truganina, with a rail connection along the Outer-Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor, was the priority location.
The Morrison government committed funds in its last budget to both locations – $1.48 billion for Beveridge and $1.6 billion for Truganina. Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine King was approached for comment, but did not respond by deadline.
Praveen Reddy, executive director of government agency Freight Victoria, told the same event that the future of Victoria’s new terminal would hinge on the Albanese government’s review of the Inland Rail business case.
“[When] the Commonwealth government has resolved time frames for inland rail, it’ll then have a cascade effect for the other two, and what kind of Commonwealth commitment there might be,” Reddy said.
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