A PROJECT that will improve transport efficiency and cut logistics costs across the region is progressing full steam ahead.
The Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) hub is on track for construction to start late next year.
It's expected the development of RiFL will allow greater capacity and efficiency in freight services so products reach their destination on time and under budget.
The open access, bi-modal and logistics hub will have the capacity to receive, store, process and distribute the region's agribusiness products to both domestic and international markets.
Its location on the Sydney to Melbourne interstate rail line and national highway network will allow for road and rail transport integration to provide a seamless transport solution.
The hub will be the only intermodal terminal on the north-south corridor that has the capacity of loading and unloading 1.8km trains, with an eventual estimation of supporting up to 40,000 20-foot containers per year.
Wagga City Council's director commercial and economic development Dr Peter Adams praised support state and federal government support, working closely alongside member for Wagga Daryl Maguire and Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay to deliver the project that's expected to see a 30 per cent cut to logistics.
Council has completed 17 land acquisitions as part of the project that will develop a 95 hectare precinct for bulk, intermodal, agricultural and industrial sites.
Long-term, the project will include inland port facilities, regional container park, grain and oil seed terminals with downstream processing, 220 hectares of industrial land, rail-accessible industrial blocks, on-site road and rail provisioning and maintenance facilities, minimum B-double access and direct access to Olympic Highway, Byrnes Road (via an underpass), Bomen Industrial Estate and Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre.
"The outcome for our region is economic growth," Dr Adams said.
"It will open up the industrial area and also help diversify our economy.
"It sets the industrial precinct up for the next 30 to 50 years."
The company that will negotiate the hub's development, Traxion, completed its initial stage scoping study that included a detailed demand assessment, allowing it to move on to the pre-feasibility stage early next year.
The process will include the development of customer agreements, contractual negotiation with the Wagga City Council, detailed commercial and financial modelling, progression of the hub design, detailed engineering works and further development of funding arrangements.
"We're very pleased with how it's progressing and extremely proud of the feedback given from what will be our foundation customers," Traxion executive director Sean Wilson said.
"It will mean development, job growth and significant opportunity for larger industrial, valued agribusiness and distribution centres to be located in Wagga."
Early 2000s: Original hub concept developed
2013: Wagga City Council secures $14.5 million in federal funding for the RiFL hub
March 2014: Request for Expression of Interest released to market
July 2014: Traxion appointed as preferred proponent for RiFL hub development
July to January 2015: Economic feasibility investigation
January to April 2015: Pre-feasibility (engineering design, council and Traxion negotiations and agreements, land options)
May to November 2015: Definitive feasibility (commercial models developed and finalised, binding customer agreements, construction plans and release of tenders, financials and project funding finalised)
December 2015 to June 2016: Construction of stage 1 (master siding 1, grain and seed terminal, intermodal terminal 1, grain and bottom dump road)
First quarter 2017: RiFL hub stage 1 opens for business
2017 onwards: Ongoing development and construction of stages 2 to 5 as demand requires