Freight train removes 40 truck trips each day

Cement is the type of freight that’s perfect for rail.

Geelong cement freight train

Heavy and dense, it can be carried far more economically on rail than road with the right sort of loading and unloading infrastructure in place.

Negotiations between the Department of Transport, Metro Trains Melbourne and V/Line have paved the way for QUBE Logistics to transport Boral cement from the Dynon rail freight terminal in West Melbourne to Dandenong South since August 2019. 

Integrated with the passenger train network, the freight train carries about 40 containers and can operate every weekday, depending on demand, transferring around 1000 tonnes of cement each trip. 

Critically, it removes the equivalent of 40 truck trips every day, or nearly 10,000 trips per year, based on a standard semi-trailer load.

From Dynon, the train primarily uses the metropolitan rail network for the journey to Dandenong South. 

There, the train uses the former Kimberley Clark siding just south of the Dandenong Bypass, where QUBE has invested in fresh ballast, new sleepers and rail, and a hardstand to load and unload containers.

The rail leg of the journey is currently 37 kilometres from Dynon to Dandenong South. However, QUBE intends to rail the containerised cement 100 kilometres to Dandenong South from a rail loading facility to be built at North Shore (near the Port of Geelong) once Boral’s new cement plant at Lascelles Wharf, at the Port of Geelong, is completed later this year.   

When the plant is operational, it will reduce the road transport part of the journey to a one-kilometre trip between Lascelles Wharf and the container loading facility at North Shore.
  
In the meantime, QUBE is railing containerised cement from Boral’s cement plant in Berrima in New South Wales to Victoria Dock for transfer by truck to the Dynon rail terminal for its Dandenong South cement train.  

The train from NSW also unloads containers of cement at Benalla, en route to Victoria Dock, for use in making pre-cast concrete sections for the West Gate Tunnel Project, with the sections trucked to Melbourne.

QUBE Logistics General Manager Commercial, Shaun Harris, said QUBE intended expanding the service to other customers, offering a rail service from Geelong to the Port of Melbourne and the Port of Melbourne to Dandenong and back.

“Combined with the Port Rail Transformation Project, this train will take a significant volume of truck movements from the Princes and M1 freeways,” he said. “We are very excited about its future.”

With freight volumes across the state predicted to increase from around 360 million tonnes in 2014 to nearly 900 million tonnes in 2051, better use of rail freight assets is one of the five key priorities of Victoria’s freight plan, Delivering the Goods.

A growing freight task and urban congestion means increasing the volume of freight carried on rail is more important than ever.

- Andrew Bartram