THE Wimmera Intermodal Freight Capacity is bursting at the seams after reaching its freight capacity four years ahead of schedule.
Wimmera Container Line manager Tim Guidera said the terminal was designed to reach capacity by 2021 and it had already reached it, which was making it difficult for the organisation to operate.
“We had a big season with the grain harvest last year and we are looking at a very strong season again,” he said.
“The terminal is now attracting bigger containers with year-round acitivty.
“The terminal is now proving extremely difficult to serve its purpose given the congestion, especially in peak season.”
Mr Guidera said the terminal received trains up to 1100-metres long, seven days a week, in peak season, but staff could only unload and load 200 metres at a time because of space.
“We need to increase the infrastructure capability at the site,” he said.
“This will get trucks off the highway to Melbourne, remove congestion, reduce carbon emissions and risks associated with road trauma.
“We would love to have the capability to do twice the volume we already do.
“That way we could also support other industries that don’t use rail but could, such as mineral sands projects or logging companies.”
Council technical services director John Martin said a business case was prepared for the freight terminal in 2006.
“The number of containers are measured in twenty-foot equivalent unit, or TEU, and it was projected by 2021, the throughput at the terminal would be 22,890 TEU,” he said.
“In the past two months, we’ve had 23,500 TEU and then 24,200 TEU, so we are just into 2017-18 and we’re already ahead of the projections for 2021.”
Mr Martin said while agricultural production could be variable depending on seasonal conditions, there was a range of products going through the terminal that were less subject to fluctuation, such as hay.
“This isn’t just a short term boom, there is a stable demand base at the site,” he said.
“What this means is that there are 22,000-odd trucks that are not on the road anymore.”
Mr Martin said the site was now getting congested.
“There are plans in motion to increase the area and the train track so we can continue to increase throughput,” he said.
Mr Martin said it was good to see the site achieving what it was set out for.
“Things are happening that are likely to enhance the level of container traffic at the terminal, with businesses such as Johnson Asahi moving out there.”
The state government announced $1.25 million for the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal precinct last month.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the state government matched funding from the Horsham Rural City Council to deliver the $2.5-million development.
The development includes 20 new industrial lots to be established at the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal site.
Mr Guidera said the addition of new lots would ease congestion.
He said it would also allow for more flexibility during peak season