Logistics

Victorian Govt shelves Truganina terminal plans for now

Grain Central, June 3, 2024

THE VICTORIAN Government has shelved plans for the Western Interstate Freight Terminal (WIFT) at Truganina in favour of progressing a new Australian Government-owned terminal in Beveridge, located in Melbourne’s north.

It is a significant turnaround for the Victorian Government, which in 2021 pushed for the terminal to be prioritised over other options.

They included the Beveridge facility, which is owned and funded by the Australian Government’s National Intermodal Corporation, and a proposed facility at Somerton, also in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The decision comes over one year after Kerry Schott’s Inland Rail review recommended the Beveridge terminal be “available as soon as practical” before developing the WIFT project and connecting a rail link.

Since the review was released, the Aware Super fund-backed Intermodal Terminal Company announced plans to progress the Somerton Intermodal Terminal, a $400-million privately operated and funded site.

The facility would be located about 20km from the Beveridge terminal.

A statement published on the Victorian Government’s website confirmed that works on the competing projects were behind the decision to pause progress on the WIFT, in Melbourne’s outer western suburbs.

“The Commonwealth has endorsed the recommendations of an independent review of the Inland Rail Project that prioritised delivery of a new terminal in Beveridge in Melbourne’s north, ahead of delivery of WIFT,” the statement said.

“At the same time, the private sector is progressing its own terminal developments across Melbourne.

“These Commonwealth and private-sector terminals will provide sufficient capacity to handle forecast interstate freight volumes in Melbourne over the medium term.

“While the WIFT remains a priority for the Victorian Government, its delivery will be deferred until when it’s needed.

“The government will now look at protecting land at Truganina for WIFT.

“This process may also help unlock land not required for WIFT for industrial development in the short term.”

Victorian Government Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight, Roma Britnell said she was disappointed the project would be deferred, despite repeated recommendations, years of planning and advocacy from councils.

“Labor’s abandonment of the WIFT is another consequence of a government that simply cannot manage money,” Ms Britnell said.

“Both the BIFT and WIFT are critical to the future of Victoria’s freight system and both these projects should be proceeding.”

Victorian Member for North-Eastern Metropolitan Richard Welch told state parliament last week that the WIFT “would have been an investment of capital that generated wealth”.

“It would have improved the efficiency of our freight system through Victoria.

“It would have connected up our ports to the west.

“It would have taken 40 per cent off the cost of freight, as will the BIFT, along with all the other benefits.”

Industry backed WIFT

Alongside early support from the state, the WIFT had also been the preferred intermodal terminal site for industry members.

It had the backing of advocacy groups Rail Freight Alliance and LeadWest, local governments, and businesses including Linfox, Pacific National and SCT Logistics.

WIFT proponents argued it would be located close to about 50pc of the existing interstate freight rail customers, and would provide easier access to rail-freight connections for the significant existing warehousing and logistics companies.

They also said the Truganina site would lower overall costs for getting regional Australian produce to market.

The project had received Federal Government funding, with the 2022-23 Budget allocating $740M for the WIFT site and $920M for the Outer Metropolitan Ring South Rail connection.

It also pledged $1.62B for the Beveridge terminal and $280M for road connection upgrades.

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