Broad backing for Melbourne container rail system
Salta Properties’ concept popular as Sydney steals a march on southern rival
The ability to utilise the Port of Melbourne’s latent capacity hinges on the long-delayed metropolitan intermodal rail hubs system linked to it, senior proponent Salta Properties asserts.
The message sits in one of 64 submissions to the Port of Melbourne Select Committee’s Inquiry into the proposed lease of the Port of Melbourne and comes as public concern at the lack of progress in getting containers on to rail grows.
Pointing out that the city currently lacks any metropolitan rail freight services Salta presents the Legislative Council committee with industry endorsements of its long-held Metropolitan Intermodal System (MIS) concept.
This links a Metropolitan Intermodal Terminal (MIT) at the port with suburban intermodal terminals at Altona in the west, Somerton in the north and Dandenong South in the east.
The 10th anniversary of the Salta concept passed last year and backing in its current form comes from a spread of transport, business and social organisations.
It also aligns with a Department of Transport Planning and Local infrastructure (DTPLI) industry’s Port Rail Shuttle Project presentation from last September, just before last year’s state election.
On the back of work by researchers GHD and Hamburg Port Consultancy, Salta notes possible advantages including port lease value gains of $545 million, an extra 1.4 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) a year in capacity, reduction in 3,200 truck trips daily reduction in domestic supply-chain costs of 20 per cent, "positive externalities of $970 million over 50 years, more jobs and less pollution.
Up to $345 million of the $545 million comes through a 13-year delay on the Webb Dock extension.
The lack of port rail services in Melbourne has attracted negative comment in the media and politically.
given it contrasts starkly with Sydney, which is more advanced and looking forward to the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal development.
Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) director Neil Chambers puts the disparity down to a combination of factors including geography, congestion and resultant rail investment, amongst others.
"It’s a truism that Melbourne is blessed by an extensive metropolitan arterial network, that ,while suffering the strains of congestion at peak time now, in relative terms is still pretty good compared to Sydney," Chambers, whose organisation backs the Salta submission, says.
With Australian Rail Track Commission help, more has been done in Sydney to separate freight rail from passenger rail and to link with handling facilities farther flung from the port than in Melbourne and in similar directions.
Meanwhile, with the outlook uncertain on the Melbourne business case and volume projections, along with politically difficult decisions on routes, the will to bite the bullet has been less strong.