I had a think about this and while I agree that it could be done, it doesn't actually solve the problem - it simply moves the problem from one area to another.
build marshaling yards around the outer suburbs of Melbourne, I would argue three would be better than two - one West, one North, one South East.
West can be between Caroline Springs and Ravenhall, or even out as far as Rockbank. It has close proximity to both the freeway system and a rail line.
North would be between Craigieburn and Donnybrook, again - already close to freeway and rail line.
South East is a bit trickier, Dandenong is the major industrial centre down there - sure there's land available down there that's not been built up but it wouldn't be cheap, also no doubt the NIMBYs would be doing their thing again.
So, now the good folk of Yarraville are happy that their air quality has improved, but if that was the problem in the first place (and the focus of the article), then electric prime movers would have done the same thing without the need for the additional infrastructure.
I'm sure you'll argue that taking trucks off the road, especially the inner suburbs, is a good thing - but again - it's not really taking them off the road, they're simply being dispersed and moved elsewhere.
Electric trucks are in the development stage at the moment and one of the things holding them back is battery technology in terms of range to compete with ICE powered vehicles, but here's the thing, container haulers don't need to go long distances if they're only moving cans around town. I can think of many days back in the noughties moving cans from Truganina to Port where my total distance traveled was less than 200km.
Now, changing to an electric prime mover fleet sounds good in theory
, as many things do, but there will be side effects.
Container hauling around Melbourne was (at least at the time I was doing it) the abode of the private operator, for various reasons:
1. You didn't need a fancy truck, any clapped out old smeg could do it, because if you broke down you didn't have to get towed very far or wait very long for a service vehicle.
2. Low costs due to low mileage, less fuel, less wear on vehicles (although city miles are worse than highway miles).
3. Consistent work, cans always need moving.
4. Easy work, wait in line, receive can, turn twistlocks, you're done. (although I found it boring as batsh*t)
So with this in mind, consider that said private operators will in all likelyhood not be able to afford a new electric prime mover if mandated that those are what must be used for work in the city, the cans still need to be moved, so a large operator will move in - like Qube, Toll, or everyones favourite, Linfox.
I'm not sure of the effect this would have apart from increasing the cost of container movements, and thereby - slightly - the goods themselves.