The creation of intermodal terminals at various locations in Victoria will play a critical role in the expansion of rail freight transportation and containerisation of codes across eastern Australia.

The $10 billion Inland Rail project envisages connecting freight lines between Melbourne and Brisbane via central NSW in order to dramatically enhance domestic transportation of agricultural commodities. The creation of a raft of new intermodal terminals at designated sites in the western Melbourne suburbs of Wodonga and Gippsland will be vital part of the process, serving to foster the containerisation of agricultural commodities destined for export.

According to Reid Mather, executive officer of the Rail Freight Alliance, intermodal terminals will be of particular importance to the successful implementation of the Murray Basin Rail Plan(MBRP)  – a $416 million project for the upgrade of rail freight services in western Victoria, to which the state government has committed $220 million in its 2015-16 budget.

“Intermodal terminals will also be crucial to the success of the Murray Basin Rail Plan, for which the Rail Freight Alliance has been an early and key advocate,” said Mather.

The Rail Freight Alliances hopes the further integration of the logistics network in Victoria will help overcome the ongoing challenges created by the state severe “break-of-gauge” problems.

The logistics improvements will produce a slew of benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less noise pollution and fuel consumption, as well as heightened safety for drivers on both urban and country roads.

Simon Orsmby, executive general manager of strategy and corporate development at Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – the body responsible for overseeing the Inland Rail project – said at the 2015 Rail Freight Conference that the ability of intermodal terminals to improve cross-regional freight will depend on the satisfaction a number of design parameters.

These include siting the terminals at locations in between 200 to 300 kilometres from ports and ensuing that they possess a minimum capacity of 10,000 20-foot containers per annum.