The deal is currently non-binding, but the parties expect a binding agreement to be signed in the first quarter of 2016.

"It will support longer trains, improve scheduling and cycle times, and reduce shunting movements," says Aurizon executive vice-president commercial and marketing Mr Mauro Neves. "It will also allow faster transit times on the Melbourne, Brisbane and North Queensland corridors and an opportunity to target increased volumes for both north-south and east-west interstate operations."

The agreement will see Aurizon begin to relocate its intermodal terminal operations away from the Sydney suburb of Yennora in March 2016 and provide a platform for growth into the import-export market with potential for services from Sydney's major port at Port Botany.

The 60 hectare Enfield ILC site has direct access to the interstate mainline corridor with an 18km dedicated freight line to the port.

In recent investor presentations, Aurizon has indicated an increased focus on its intermodal operations in response to a softening in growth of its coal and mineral haulage activities.