Govt site subject to flooding: Qube

Qube Logistics boss claims nearly half the government's site for a planned intermodal hub at Moorebank is a floodplain

Govt site subject to flooding: Qube
Govt site subject to flooding: Qube

By Anna Game-Lopata | June 15, 2012

Qube Logistics claims close to a half of the government's
220 hectare site for a planned intermodal terminal at Moorebank in Sydney's west is a floodplain.

Speaking with SupplyChain Review, Qube Logistics boss Maurice James says government criticisms of the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance's (SIMTA) port rail shuttle venture on a 83 hectare across the road are therefore

While the government site is larger, James claims being prone to flooding
make it
difficult to develop.

He says Qube never suggested
SIMTA's intermodal facility would cater to interstate rail, but was always focused on the port shuttle which would be able to handle one million containers per annum.

"The government has now come out and said it couldn’t justify interstate rail on its site until 2027, so the argument our site is too small is la furphy," James says.

James also strongly refutes government
claims the port shuttle it intends to build and operate at Moorebank will not be open access.

goes a little further, suggesting both intermodal sites will be necessary to handle growth from Port Botany and achieve a 40 percent transfer of freight to rail.

"Demand from Port Botany is expected to grow from two million containers today to five million in the next few years," he says.

"We’ve never had the view our site is the only solution for rail, there’s got to be more solutions going forward. We believe 40 percent could be achievable but multiple intermodal terminals are required."

adds SIMTA, which
is 67 percent owned by Qube Logistics and 33 percent owned by QR National,
will compete with the government’s proposed intermodal facility if it has to.

"We doubt the government’s timetable of having
a facility
in operation
by 2017 is achievable, but if they are successful we’ll have a competing port shuttle on the other side of the road and the market will sort it," he says

"Our facility will be up and operating three to four years before, so if there’s a competing terminal, we’ll just compete with it, that’s our view."

James says SIMTA's $1 billion project at Moorebank has been delayed by the government’s budget process and its decision to go ahead with a separate terminal.

The government announced in April it would set up a Government Business Enterprise to seek tenders from the private sector for the operation of an intermodal terminal at Moorbank three years after SIMTA made its
original proposal.

James says it’s too early to make a decision about whether SIMTA will tender for operation of the government’s proposed terminal.

"We can’t tender until we understand the proposal, what the government is taking to the market," he says.

"We have had indications the project will involve the development of different parts of the (government) site prior to the its operation.

"It’s fair to say we have been trying to encourage the government to think about the design and layout of the whole precinct for nearly three years but the government has pointedly refused
to discuss anything but the development of its own site."

James says Qube has considered the option of converting SIMTA’s site to warehousing while operating the rail facility on the government’s site and will make a judgement further down the path.

"At this point we see no reason not to proceed with our own shuttle and terminal,"he says.

"We’re proceeding down the path," he says.

"We’ve already submitted environmental studies to the NSW government and we’re now in the position where our way forward is a bit clearer."

James re-iterates his hope that Defence Logistics, which currently leases the SIMTA site, will agree to a phased withdrawal which would allow SIMTA to begin construction of the intermodal rail facility.

"We understand Defence Logistics is moving towards exiting our site
in 2014 and has about $900 million funding to re-locate," James says.

"We need to sit down with Defence Logistics and work out that transition strategy.

"The bizarre aspect of this whole thing is everybody in government talks about private investment in infrastructure projects," James adds.

"Here you have the private sector willing to invest a billion dollars to invest in infrastructure that’s critically needed in this state, but the government is going down the path of doing it instead at a huge cost to taxpayers."

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