A local subsidiary of a large Norwegian logistics outfit is set to develop new facilities on the site of Australia’s biggest car terminal in Port Melbourne.

In a statement released on Friday, Victorian Minister for Ports David Hodgett announced that Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) local subsidiary Melbourne International RoRo and Auto Terminal Pty Ltd (MIRRAT) had been awarded the rights to develop and operate a new 185,000 square metre automobile handling facility north of the current Webb Dock West car terminal at Port Melbourne.

Set to be built in two phases – construction of the new facility including three new berths (completion: early 2016) and incorporation of the current terminal at the south end of the new one (January 2018) – the expanded facility will be able to handle up to 180 million units per annum and will have a total berth length of 920 metres.

Also included will be an 8,000 square metre enclosed cargo storage area, a maintenance area, truck parking facilities and a vehicle appointment system to direct traffic into and out of the facility.

Hodgett welcomed the contract’s award, saying the bid represented good value for taxpayer dollars and that development of the new terminal will create employment opportunities and help cater for forecast demand of 600,000 vehicles by 2025 (up from 370,000 last year) and one million vehicles by 2040.

“The Port of Melbourne is the nation’s largest automotive terminal, handling more vehicles than the ports of Fremantle, Adelaide and Brisbane combined,” he said. “The bid lodged by MIRRAT for the rights to build and operate the new automotive terminal offered a competitive, value-for-money solution that ensures the port will continue to evolve and retain its crown as the nation’s leader.”

car terminal

Hodgett said the new terminal will use innovative solutions to manage trucks and integrate the flow of vehicles through the port’s new pre-delivery inspection hub.

The expanded terminal, meanwhile, will consolidate vehicle handling at a single location and reduce the number of car carrying trucks travelling through the Westgate corridor as well as the number of double shuttles across the Westgate where cars destined for dealerships in the east are sent to depots in the west before heading back to the eastern suburbs.

WWL vice president and head of land-based operations in the Asia-Pacific Kim E. Buoy said MIRRAT would use the opportunity to leverage off WWL’s experience in terminal handling internationally and wanted to create a ‘smart gateway’ for logistics at the facility.

An earlier acquisition on the part of MRRAT of a long term lease to operate the facility had been subject to concerns the firm could use its position as the sole operator of what is the only automobile terminal at Port Melbourne to discriminate against shipping companies who compete with the ocean shipping operations of its parent company. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, however, eventually granted authorisation for the lease upon the condition the ACCC be able to publicly review the lease after two years and every five years thereon after.

With revenue of $US2.3 billion and 5,800 employees globally, WWL operates 12 terminals and 62 processing centres worldwide which handle around six million automotive and rolling equipment units worldwide.

The design of the terminal has been developed in partnership with Hyder Consulting and PLUS Architecture whilst Leighton Contractors will build the facility.

Construction of the first phase will start later this year.