Sixty-five thousand truck movements through Fremantle have been averted thanks to new rail facilities and a strategy to encourage the use of rail to transport sea freight containers
The strategy and new facilities have achieved a 1,200% increase in the number of containers carried by rail over the past six years, with the number rising from 7,000 teu (container equivalents) carried on rail in 2002 to an estimated 84,000 teu in 2008.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said this volume of freight would have required an estimated 65,000 additional truck movements through the port.
Ms MacTiernan said the dramatic result was a key achievement of the metropolitan freight strategy, a six-point plan to manage freight more sustainably through the metropolitan area launched in 2002.
“One of the key planks of the plan was getting more freight containers on rail and I am pleased to say we have made real progress,” she said.
“This impressive increase brings the rail container freight share for Fremantle to 14.5 per cent and rising, with a further increase to 100,000 containers expected for 2009.
“Community and environmental benefits associated with reducing truck movements through the port and off surrounding roads by 65,000 are estimated at nearly $2 million a year.
“Road transporters also benefit from this move to rail, as the reduced number of trucks through the port results in improved operating efficiency at the port.”
Fremantle Ports CEO Kerry Sanderson said the increased use of rail for transporting containers to and from Fremantle Inner Harbour was a gain for both port efficiency and for the environment.
“The increase from around 2% of containers by rail in 2002 to the current share of about 14.5% is very encouraging,” she said.
“The more containers that are transported by rail, the fewer trucks will be on the road, thereby reducing traffic congestion and truck noise in the community."
She said that currently over a week there were on average three train movements a day, with more on weekdays and fewer on weekends.
Kerry Sanderson said the 2002 Metropolitan Freight Network Review target was to move 30% of containers by rail, instead of by road by 2012–13.
“Calculations have shown that when Fremantle’s Inner Harbour is operating at capacity, 30% of containers could be transported by four trains a day – four movements in and four out – if the containers are double stacked and the trains are 600 metres in length."
Photo: Containers being loaded onto a train at North Quay