A NEW chapter in Wodonga’s railway history has unfolded with the first freight train departing the city’s Logic industrial estate.
The 225-metre long train, carrying groceries and Mars pet food, left SCT Logistics’ rail-truck terminal at 11.45am on Thursday bound for Melbourne.
Its eventual destination is Perth with its more than half a dozen wagons attached to others in Melbourne to form a 1.8-kilometre line.
A six-kilometre dual track siding was created off the main Melbourne-Sydney rail line to run through the $18 million freight terminal.
One track runs through a 7000 square metre shed where loading occurs, while the parallel line runs outside.
Rails on the line were part of the tracks which ran through central Wodonga before being removed and bought by the city’s council.
A 200 square metre outdoor concrete base is used for unloading.
The launch of the first train follows the initial sod on the site being turned last summer.
SCT Logistics chief executive Glenn Smith, who cut a ribbon with Wodonga Council chief executive Patience Harrington to mark the occasion, said it was a low-key start.
“It’s a bit of an entree with servicing of the Adelaide and Perth markets, in January next year we will have Melbourne and Brisbane trains starting,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s part of a bigger picture.
“We’ve got an outlay in excess of $130 million on Melbourne-to-Brisbane trains, that is in this facility and a new terminal in Brisbane and rolling stock.
“This is the first part of the puzzle that has been put in place today and it’s extremely exciting for our business.”
Mr Smith downplayed concern about the site simply replicating business already done at the Ettamogah Rail Hub north of Albury.
“I think we’re more targeting freight that is on the road, we’re not necessarily import-export,” he said.
“I think we can be complementary to one another.”
Twelve staff are employed at the Logic hub, but Mr Smith said that figure would rise to 60 to 70 next year to coincide with the Brisbane service beginning in late January.
An official opening is expected to occur on the same day the first train leaves for Brisbane.
SCT now has seven rail terminals with Wodonga the first new one in five years.