Push for rail at port

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

A RECORD num­ber of ship­ping con­tain­ers on trains is touted as sig­nalling more Fre­man­tle Port trade can go by rail even if the $1.9 bil­lion Perth Freight Link for trucks is not com­pleted.

“The link hasn’t even been de­cided yet, so this record means rail could be ideally placed to ab­sorb the port’s growth,” train haulage In­ter­modal Group chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ben Hig­gins said.

In­ter­modal’s 12-14 weekly trains took the equiv­a­lent of 104,000 20ft con­tain­ers (TEUs) be­tween the port, its rail de­pot, Kwinana and Kal­go­or­lie in 2015-16.

Mr Hig­gins said break­ing 100,000-TEUs re­sulted from fo­cussing on mov­ing a greater por­tion of con­tain­ers, which had fallen 5 per cent over­all at the port in the past year.

In­ter­modal claims its trains take 400 trucks off roads daily, and Mr Hig­gins said it could reach 130,000 TEUs.

But the com­pany al­leges that to pass 130,000 TEUs it needs 15,000sq m of State Gov­ern­ment land next to its For­rest­field yards to quicken train turn­around times, and the State Gov­ern­ment needed to se­cure the land by leas­ing it and not sell­ing it in any as­set sale.

“As soon as that is nailed down the vol­ume of con­tain­ers to rail can in­crease,” Mr Hig­gins said.

Trains cur­rently take about 15 per cent of port con­tain­ers, which PFL op­po­nents fear will fall if the truck toll route cre­ates im­pe­tus to get more money from road haulage car­ry­ing an an­tic­i­pated two mil­lion TEUs by 2030.

“In­ter­modal’s record is yet more ev­i­dence to show a Kwinana outer har­bour and an­other con­tainer de­pot in the south­ern cor­ri­dor are needed sooner, and it’s an­other rea­son for the Gov­ern­ment not to sign PFL con­tracts be­fore the State Elec­tion next March,” Re­think the Link con­venor Kate Kelly said.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Dean Nalder said the Gov­ern­ment would con­sider pro­pos­als for Pub­lic Trans­port Au­thor­ity land next to In­ter­modal’s For­res­field ter­mi­nal for freight and lo­gis­tics on a long-term lease.

He said the Gov­ern­ment would “con­tinue to aim” to in­crease the pro­por­tion of freight on rail, which had risen from 2 per cent since 2010.

Last Fri­day, PFL op­po­nents sought leave from the High Court of Aus­tralia to ap­peal a WA Supreme Court de­ci­sion al­low­ing the PFL’s Roe 8 sec­tion, which ear­lier, Mr Nalder said he ex­pected to start at the end of the year, un­less any­thing emerged from “left field”.

Picture: Jon Bas­sett

In­ter­modal Group gen­eral man­ager Dar­rin Smith and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ben Hig­gins want more con­tain­ers to be car­ried by train.

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