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St Marys Hub Approval Puts ACFS and PN in Gear

Tzaneros dubs western Sydney intermodal project his firm’s most important yet.

Construction approval for the St Marys Freight Hub is big news for rail operator Pacific National but it is in a different order of magnitude for managing and operating partner ACFS Port Logistics.

The rail company has hailed the development as a jewel in its New South Wales logistics crown but the ACFS CEO Arthur Tzaneros it is a crown itself, beneath which so much of its state strategy lies.

“The joint venture with Pacific National at St Marys is the single largest and most important development to date in ACFS’s history,” Tzaneros tells ATN after the recent government go-ahead.

“I say that because 60 to 70 per cent of our clientele in NSW is within the zone, within 15 to 20 kilometres of St Marys.

“That’s a fair amount of the volume in our largest state.”

The ACFS zone strategy focuses on being closer to customers.

ACFS likes to say it is ‘on the port in every port’.

Related to that is its off-port ‘go west’ strategy already evident in Melbourne with its Altona development and Sydney at Enfield.

In NSW this means Port Botany working at 0-15km, Enfield at 30km working 15km in and out to 45km and St Marys, at 60km from the port, is at the centre of its own zone.

While ACFS has been a very solid Volvo Group customer recently, taking on new Macks at regular intervals during past years for port work, the St Marys initiative approaching fruition means changing needs, with Mercedes-Benz the beneficiary.

“It just means the composition of our fleet will change,” Tzaneros says.

“There is no doubt that we will be relocating a large proportion of our fleet from Port Botany to the new St Marys intermodal.

“The composition of fleet will move more towards a higher productivity vehicle [running] from the St Marys freight hub to our customers’ warehouses.

“When I say higher productivity, I’m talking about vehicles that can carry four TEU per vehicle.”

For trailers, the company backs Vawdrey.

None of this is to say Pacific National is any less enamoured of a project that has been somewhat in the shadow of Qube’s Moorebank hub but with which it has similarities but its own strategic narrative.

It notes that its hub sits in a large catchment area for national warehouses and distribution centres operated by many of Australia’s major retailers, wholesalers and logistic companies, including Coles, Bunnings, Ikea, Nestle, Big W, Goodyear, DB Schenker and DHL.

First stage of development will cover approximately 10-hectares of the 43-hectare Pacific National site, including seven hectares for an intermodal terminal and three hectares for an empty shipping container park.

The next stage of development will potentially include warehousing.

“St Marys Freight Hub will shift up to 301,000 shipping containers onto rail each year, removing 70,000 to 80,000 truck trips off Sydney’s congested motorways annually, helping to improve road safety and the daily commute of thousands of motorists,” CEO Dean Dalla Valle says.

He also sees social positives of the sort that would seem obviously attractive to a state government seeking to make good on tardy modal shift and struggling with Sydney’s notorious traffic

He believes will allow more people to live and work locally, rather than commuting around 130km each day between Western Sydney and Port Botany.

Read the full report in Junes edition of ATN magazine.

– Published by ATN on 21 May 2020