CONSTRUCTION plans are in place for a $400-million intermodal freight terminal linked to the Port of Melbourne.

The Somerton Intermodal Terminal is positioned at an overlap between two rail projects in Victoria.

The newly established Intermodal Terminal Company (ITC) is to build the new intermodal terminal at the Austrak Business Park in Melbourne’s north.

Australian super fund Aware Super launched ITC in December last year as an investment platform for intermodal terminals, targeting what it called the “national supply chain stalemate”.

ITC founder and CEO Mishkel Maharaj said Somerton Intermodal Terminal is the first independently built, maintained and operated terminal in the company’s portfolio.

“We’re especially pleased that once operational, the terminal will deliver additional benefits to the people of Melbourne every single day of its operation – through reduced carbon emissions and air pollution, reduced road congestion and improved road safety,” he said.

The Somerton Intermodal Terminal is to become a key node in the Victorian government’s $58-million Port Rail Shuttle Network.

The Port Rail Shuttle project involves developing and upgrading rail connections and intermodal terminals, specifically in Somerton, Altona and Dandenong South.

The federal and state governments expect that, by 2050, the Port Rail Shuttle Network will move 30% of Melbourne’s containers by rail from Somerton, Altona and Dandenong South to the Port of Melbourne.

And Port of Melbourne expects the Somerton Intermodal Terminal to also complement the port’s $125-million Port Rail Transformation Project.

The port rail project focuses on the on-dock rail infrastructure that will accommodate the shuttle trains travelling between the port and the intermodal hubs.

“Mode shift from road to rail transport will be key, for sustainability reasons as well as productivity benefits,” a Port of Melbourne spokeswoman said.

“More freight moved by rail is better for the climate, it is better in terms of safety, taking trucks off local roads and reducing congestion,” she said.

Port of Melbourne anticipates the rail projects will increase the volume of containerised cargo that can be transported in a single trip – more so than if it were transported by trucks.

The federal and state governments believe the new terminal will increase efficiency and safety for producers, farmers, freight operators and exporters.

They also expect the new terminal, once at capacity, to significantly reduce the amount of truck movements on Melbourne roads, reduce carbon emissions and save millions of litres in fuel.

Federal minister for transport and infrastructure Catherine King said the Port Rail Shuttle Network will “enhance the strategic importance” of local freight and logistics operators.

“The shuttle network will also deliver a huge safety boost for motorists by moving freight off the roads and onto rail,” Ms King said.

“I’m thrilled to see this private sector backing for the landmark project.”

Victorian minister for ports and freight Melissa Horne described the Somerton Intermodal Terminal as a city-shaping project.

“This private investment will supercharge job creation and support our commitment to move more freight by rail to port,” she said

“These direct rail connections will get trucks off roads, increase safety, reduce emissions and cut the cost of doing business for producers, farmers, exporters and operators.”

The new intermodal terminal is expected to be operational in 2025.