Toll Group is anticipating a sizeable increase in the volume of freight it handles at Fremantle, after commencing operations at a $26 million container handling facility it is developing at Rous Head.
Toll is targeting July 1 for completion of the 4.3-hectare Rous Head facility, which will also include a 6,000 square metre warehouse.
Its new facility is one of four at Rous Head, using land that was reclaimed with dredge spoil from the deepening of the harbour.
Qube Holdings is developing an empty container park, while Tyne ACFS, which will be a new player in the Western Australian freight logistics market, is developing its own container handling and warehousing facility on a 5.6ha site.
Toll’s business development manager WA, Jason Holmes, said the Rous Head facility would be able to handle 17,000 containers per annum from July, and expected that to rise to 40,000 within 18 months.
The opening of the Rous Head facility allowed Toll to vacate its previous site on Stirling Highway, which was adjacent to residential properties.
The new location meant Toll – like its neighbouring competitors – would be able to operate 24-7, with plans to transfer freight from the wharves at night so the operation could focus on customers during the day.
Proximity to the wharves and the recently expanded North Quay rail terminal are expected to lift efficiency.
Mr Holmes said Toll was taking a long-term view on the central role Fremantle would play in WA freight movements.
“We’ve invested at Fremantle for the next 20 to 25 years,” he said.
“Some of it is a bit of catch-up but mostly it’s around our expectations for growth over the next five years,” he said.
Another major investment was a $19 million upgrade of the Toll Express facility at Perth Airport.
Mr Holmes said Toll had looked closely at other sites, from Muchea to Kewdale to south of Perth on the Tonkin Highway, before deciding Perth Airport was best, in part because of the Gateway roads project.
“When that’s finished it means we can be anywhere in the metro area in 20 minutes,” he said.
In regional WA, Toll has upgraded its Express facility at Port Hedland, adding to investments at Broome, Karratha and Kununurra.
“They are all driven by customer demand,” Mr Holmes told Business News.
He said the new facilities, particularly at Rous Head, were designed so that Toll could deliver all of its divisional services through each site.
“Customers want a one-stop solution from Toll.”
Mr Holmes said Toll was working with customers on new growth opportunities, including the agricultural sector in the Kimberley, which would help to offset the slowdown in work related to the mining and construction sectors.
The two companies plan to bring together their national operations, encompassing metropolitan transport, warehousing, container depots and empty container parks.
The proposed joint venture will be reviewed by the ACCC.
The two companies said their current geographic footprint was complementary.
ACFS is a market leader in the Port of Sydney while Asciano subsidiary Patrick has significant strength in Melbourne.
ACFS said the “soon to be developed” empty container park at Rous Head would complement Patrick’s network of empty container parks on the east coast.
The Rous Head facility will be 50 per cent owned by Tyne Container Services, with the balance held by the joint venture.