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Planning an Inland Port

By Tom Richman - posted Wednesday, 13 June 2007

An Inland Port will relieve facilities at the Port of Brisbane, but it requires much thought and planning.

State Government must get ready to provide South East Queensland's logistics users with a state of the art “Inland Port” within the next 10-15 years if they’re to survive constantly escalating time and availability demands in and around the Port of Brisbane, as well as along the supply chain that radiates from it.

Furthermore, not to commit to this project will eventually have a devastating impact on the Port of Brisbane’s ability to maintain cost competitiveness with counterparts in other states, many of which are well along the way to building their own Inland Ports ... even, ironically, one being developed in New South Wales by Queensland Rail.


Factors exacerbating this potential crisis include the possibility that the Acacia Ridge rail marshalling yard will reach its use by date in 7-10 years and the long mooted Inland Rail Link from Melbourne may happen sooner than anticipated. Meanwhile, truck traffic to and from the Port will rise exponentially without such a facility and curtail not only profitability, but force road transporters to suffer the consequences of residential encroachment on their speed and safety.

What is an Inland Port and what are its requirements?

Conceptually, an Inland (or dry) Port is a parcel large enough to incorporate a so-called Intermodal Transport Hub with the infrastructure to provide efficient connectivity between trains, trucks and the containers they carry. This facility would complement a main seaport but be far enough away from built up areas to be free of issues that might inhibit operations or create bottlenecks.

It must include adequate crane lift capability, have good access to major arterials, be conveniently situated near the markets it services, and, so it can move goods over a 24-hour, 7-day cycle, leave an adequate buffer between any of its operations and residential neighbourhoods.

Needless to say, it is required to be on a standard or dual gauge rail line going in both directions, have central rail sidings of at least 2km, to allow for the more profitable 1,800m trains, preferably double stacked, and provide for Super B Doubles, which can carry two 40-foot containers (and are increasingly the size of choice at, for example, Fishermans Island). The same for on-site B Triples, which require hardened streets and floors to carry their extra weight as well as space for the wide turning areas they need.

The Inland Port should also feature integrated import-export facilities with Customs and AQIS services, an empty container pool, and covered warehousing and open access to allow its use by anyone, not just the big operators. A rail or truck repair and maintenance facility would be another advantage.

Meanwhile, and in consideration of environmental realities, the location must be as close as possible to its customer base to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, fuel usage and turn around times.


While sites at Purga and Bromelton have been, or are, under consideration by the State Government as an Inland Port, their travel distance from the main population corridor along the eastern seaboard makes them environmentally problematic vis à vis truck borne CO2 emissions. As well they are further, and more expensively, away from customers or warehouses ... shortfalls that makes closer alternatives worthy of inspection.

Greenbank as the best choice for an Inland Port

With this in mind, we propose that Greenbank’s 4,500ha military training area in Brisbane’s southside could easily situate an Inland Port (comprising an Intermodal Transport Hub) on 600ha to 800ha of its comparatively flat land along and above Oxley Creek and parallel to the Brisbane-Sydney standard rail line.

The Department of Defence-owned site is 1/2 to 1/3 closer to the Port of Brisbane than its two competitors, meaning trucks using this facility would use less fuel and therefore emit fewer pollutants on their way to various distribution centres, while, at the same time, reduce the need to clog up streets accessing the Port of Brisbane.

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About the Author

Tom Richman, writes and edits the King's Counsel, a biannual newsletter of King & Co Property Consultants. He holds a BA, MA and M. Phil (Oxon) and is a member of the Property Council of Australia (QLD), the Infrastructure Association of Queensland as well as the Brisbane Development Association.

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