VETERANS from Chris Corrigan's Patrick Ports and leading property developer Salta have forged an alliance that aims to clear inner city Melbourne of much truck traffic and create a new dynamic in Melbourne's industrial property market.
Qube Logistics - which grew out of Patrick - and Salta Properties have teamed together to move container freight by rail between the Port of Melbourne and three strategic freight hubs in the south-east, west and north of Melbourne.
These hubs - called intermodal terminals or inland ports - are where containers are transferred between trucks and trains.
Salta aims to turn the hubs it owns - at Lyndhurst in the south-east, near Dandenong, and at Altona in the west - into major warehousing precincts.
Qube runs the terminal at the Somerton business park in Melbourne's north, which is owned by GPT Group. The 65-hectare Somerton, which is adjacent to the interstate rail line that connects to the port, is 70 per cent full and has good freeway access.
Salta has 50 hectares of land at Altona that is adjacent to the interstate rail line and close to the Princes Freeway, and 180 hectares at Lyndhurst, which has direct access to the Cranbourne rail line and the Western Port Highway. Altona also has potential to expand.
The alliance aims to combine Salta's property experience with Qube's expertise in logistics. Salta Properties is cashed up, having recently sold its headquarters in Port Melbourne for $61 million after divesting industrial properties two years ago for about $220 million.
Qube, Australia's largest provider of import and export logistics services with a market capitalisation of $1.5 billion, has more than 100 former Patrick employees, including senior executive Maurice James, who is Qube's managing director. Chris Corrigan is chairman.
The company moves about 60 per cent of the containers out of Port Botany in Sydney through its intermodal terminals in the city.
Salta's managing director, Sam Tarascio snr, said the alliance was now able to offer the state government a metropolitan network of existing locations in the north, west and south-east.
''The social benefits of removing truck congestion from the inner city around the port are huge,'' he said. ''The question is the viability of rail to the inland ports. We are looking for support from the state government to facilitate that.''
As part of the alliance, Salta has sold to Qube its Westgate Ports terminal at Victoria Dock that is connected to the rail network. Qube will use Victoria Dock as a logistics hub and gateway to the three inland ports.
Mr Tarascio said the aim was to have big companies warehouse their goods at the inland ports from where they could be delivered by truck to their city destinations on the freeway system.
''We will produce a logistics city at Lyndhurst. We have the capacity to employ thousands in the area and be a big industry property developer,'' he said.
Qube will lease space at Altona next year, and will have a warehouse in the first development at Lyndhurst in 2015-16. Mr James said Qube already had locomotives and wagon sets, and was buying eight new locomotives as part of its latest $34 million capital expenditure.