TOLL Group expects to have two new ships on the Bass Strait run by mid-2019. The new ships will replace the Tasmanian Achiever and the Victorian Reliance.

SeaRoad Shipping announced on Wednesday it was in the process of buying a new gas-powered ship for the Bass Strait run. Toll Group spokesman Christopher Whitefield said yesterday the company was committed to replacing its current Bass Strait vessels with new generation vessels.

"The range of new ships currently being evaluated for construction will help us meet Tasmania 's freight requirements for decades to come and are a demonstration of Toll's commitment to meeting the state's long-term freight transport needs," Mr Whitefield said.

He did not rule out a gas-powered vessel or a hybrid version.
He said the ships under evaluation would offer a range of benefits including: ■ greater operational capacity;

■ more flexibility for switching capacity from domestic container freight to domestic trailer freight; ■ reduced loading and unloading time through the use of multiple decks;
■ a reduced carbon footprint through the use of cleaner or alternative fuel;
■ the ability to cater for domestic trailer and container freight; and
■ The ability to cater for current and additional 20-foot and 40-foot export containers.

The Toll Group would not reveal the cost, size or freight savings the new ships could bring.

Yesterday The Advocate revealed SeaRoad Shipping chairman Chas Kelly's plans to berth a world-first natural-gas fuelled roll-on roll-off freight vessel at Devonport. Both shipping investments were great news for Devonport, Mayor Steve Martin said.Alderman Martin is member of the Tasmanian Logistics Committee.

"It's an injection of confidence into Tasmania and certainly the business and agricultural sectors," he said.
State Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said the Liberal government had been aware of the private sector's plans for Bass Strait and expected the plans to be delivered.

"A robust private sector freight industry is key to our overall freight strategy," Mr Hidding said. "We welcome the recent announcements from both Toll and SeaRoad as a vindication of our policy stance on Bass Strait freight."State Opposition leader Bryan Green welcomed the news Toll was backing exporters by investing in two new freight vessels. "This will give exporters confidence about the long term," he said."In government, Labor was determined to get a better outcome on freight and there are still big challenges in the short-to-medium term."Fresh freight is a serious issue right now, but the Liberals seem too busy patting themselves on the back to address it."

Source : The Advocate