Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal open for business

THE Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal at Dooen is officially open.

The $17.5-million project will provide a central location for grain handling and export processes and improved access to grain ports.

Victoria's Deputy Premier Peter Ryan officially opened the terminal on Wednesday morning.

The State Government provided $9.3 million for the project while the Federal Government contributed $6.5 million, with council and private enterprise providing the balance of money.

The capacity of the freight hub will be close to double that of the Horsham terminal.

Operator Wimmera Container Line expects about 22,000 containers will pass through the terminal next year.

The company's general manager Doug Golden said the company would transfer its operations to the terminal in coming months.

"We have been constrained with the old terminal and limited to the size of trains we can get in," he said. "This will allow us to store more carriages and bigger trains.

"In 1994 we transported 174 containers to Melbourne ports.

"We did 13,500 containers last year. We predict in the next calendar year this will increase to 22,000.

"The old terminal would not have been able to manage that."

Mr Golden said the company was looking at adding staff in the container handling area.

He said the facility also provided opportunities for grain packers.

Mr Ryan said the project was vital for Victoria and Australia.

"It will mean the ability to handle grain and get it to port in a way we have not been able to before," he said.

"Horsham Rural City Council has been outstanding in this. The project control group are all to be commended."

The project's working group, chaired by Horsham councillor Bernard Gross, this week clocked up 106 meetings.

Cr Gross said the terminal was a huge job for council on top of its other works.

"The budget was $11 million. There was a bit of a shock when the first estimates came in at $32 million," he said.

"At that stage people were prepared to walk away from the project."

Cr Gross said there would be a public open day at the terminal later this year.

Horsham Mayor Mandi Stewart chaired the opening of the terminal and congratulated everyone involved with the project.

"It will provide for future jobs and economic growth. It is a critical element in the supply chain," she said.

Cr Stewart said council was developing a precinct plan to look at developments around the terminal.

"Now that the freight hub has moved from Horsham it is an exciting opportunity to look at moving our rail as well," she said.

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