Aware Super is planning to invest in an independent network of intermodal terminals through a new investment platform.

The Australian superannuation fund will invest in the Intermodal Terminal Company (ITC) to gain exposure to what it calls a “newly-emerging infrastructure sub-sector”.

The platform will acquire, construct and operate an independent network of intermodal terminals.

Krish Gandy, associate portfolio manager for infrastructure and real assets at Aware Super, told IPE Real Assets that the creation of the network would create more efficient movement of goods.

Intermodal terminals tend to be owned by large rail haulage companies, and Gandy said there was a captive market, providing limited competition.

“The idea is that with inland rail coming online and more efficient use of rail lines, these inland intermodal terminals will play a more essential and critical role in supporting the rail freight supply chain,” he said.

Australia is building a 1,700km rail network to connect Melbourne and Brisbane, via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to complete the nation’s national freight network.

“We are going to build a network by acquiring existing terminals or looking for the right opportunities to expand the platform with independent ownerships.”

Gandy added: “Where we see value to the end-customer through open access to an independently-owned intermodal network. This means open access for everyone needing to use the network.

“The rail haulage companies can then just focus on delivering their boxes on time to end-customers rather than having to figure out how they are going to operate the terminals as well.”

Mishkel Maharaj, founder of ITC, said: “Our strategy will transform the nation’s A$140bn [€89bn] supply chain and logistics sector by enabling the government to save taxpayers money while also achieving a more competitive market for rail freight.”

Aware Super senior portfolio manager for infrastructure and real assets Mark Hector said intermodal terminals were essential infrastructure. The ITC platform will sit within the institutional investor’s infrastructure portfolio

Aware Super deputy chief investment officer Damien Webb said the creation of the platform mirrored the fund’s move to establish Aware Real Estate earlier this year, which aims to build a A$7bn property platform.

“Pursuing opportunities in asset classes, especially long-lived sectors like infrastructure, fulfils a vital role in stabilising our members’ investment portfolio during periods of market turbulence, such as we’ve experienced in the past few years,” he said.