Australia-based logistics service provider Toll Group is planning to invest $170m to build two new ships to assist trade between Victoria and Tasmania, and to meet the growing demand for logistics support.

To be available from 2018, the new vessels will replace Toll’s current fleet of ships and will continue to operate overnight services six days of the week.

Following a global competitive tender process, Toll Group has already awarded the construction contract for the new ships to Jinling Shipyard in China.

"This significant investment underscores Toll’s commitment to the Australian market."

Toll Group managing director Brian Kruger said: “This significant investment underscores Toll’s commitment to the Australian market and the integral role that we play in connecting Tasmania to our vast global network.

“With this investment, we lay the foundation to expand our leading role in Australian logistics, and continue servicing our customers with the best possible infrastructure and solutions.”

Once completed, the new, purpose-built ships will provide 40% more freight capacity for Toll Group’s Australian network between Burnie, Tasmania; and Melbourne, Victoria.

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The ships will also create more opportunities to transport refrigerated freight for Tasmania’s increasing chilled export market.

Toll Group said that it had been in talks with Australia’s Port of Melbourne for an additional seven hectares of land in order to build infrastructure to support the increased freight capacity of the new ships.

Over the last 18 months, the company has announced a slew of investments, which comprises a S$228m ($168m) high-tech logistics hub in Singapore.

The investments also include a $150m freight sorting facility to be located next to Melbourne Airport, and a 32,000m² retail distribution centre at Prestons in Sydney.

Additionally, a sum of $40m will be invested to build new facilities in Western Australia.

Image: representatives of Toll Group and Jinling Shipyard at deal signing ceremony for the new ships. Photo: courtesy of Toll Holdings Limited.