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From the Age:

Somerton is on track to join the hub club
May 19, 2005


P&O Ports will begin using the 120-hectare rail terminal in July, writes Philip Hopkins.

Victoria's strategy to become Australia's main international trade gateway has reached a milestone with the official go-ahead for a major freight hub in Melbourne.

The hub - the 120-hectare Austrak intermodal rail terminal and business park at Somerton in northern Melbourne - will be linked by rail to the Port of Melbourne, 20 kilometres away.

Stevedoring and shipping giant P&O Ports will operate the 20-hectare rail terminal within the business park and run trains to and from its Swanson Dock operations in the port.

P&O's managing director in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Blood, yesterday announced that P&O would start using the Somerton terminal in July.

Mr Blood said the terminal would cut truck traffic to and from the port and provide a faster and more efficient transport chain for P&O's big export and import clients.

"The key to the growth in rail is to offload freight away from the density of metropolitan traffic," he said.

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Advertisement"The facility will also allow country carriers to drop off freight and return to base with no time lost in trying to access the port."

Mr Blood said Somerton was the first of a network of intermodal terminals that P&O would announce over the next year.

State Minister for Transport Peter Batchelor said government policy was to encourage intermodal terminals because an efficient freight network was crucial to the health of the Victorian economy.

Mr Batchelor said the Government's aim to have 30 per cent of port traffic on rail by 2010 could only be achieved through intermodal terminals.

Rail's share of port trade was already 19 per cent, compared with its 10 per cent share when the Government announced its rail policy in 1999, he said.

Mr Batchelor said the Somerton terminal would also be a catalyst for economic growth in Melbourne's north.

P&O has taken a 30-year lease on the Austrak rail terminal, which gives new meaning to the real estate mantra "location, location". The business park is located between Melbourne's main northerly trade routes - the Sydney-Brisbane rail line and the Hume Highway/Craigieburn Bypass. The highway and the rail line form respectively the eastern and western boundaries of the estate. The proposed site of the new wholesale fruit and vegetable market at Epping is only two kilometres away, and Melbourne Airport, source of air freight, is 12 kilometres away.

As Austrak general manager Bill Green put it - with due respect to Gilbert and Sullivan - "it's a very modern model of a modern, major terminal".

The park is a huge investment in rail and freight infrastructure by a private investor - a joint venture between Austrak, representing a group of private investors, and General Property Trust. The park was the brainchild of Austrak chief executive Mark Assetta and his brother Tony.

Developing the business park so far has cost tens of millions of dollars and, by the time it is completed in about three years, Mark Assetta believes the park's total value will be close to $500 million.

Austrak, formed in 1998, cobbled the park together by buying up several land parcels, some of which had been subdivided residential in 1908.

The company has played a big role in the State Government's freight strategy. Mr Green is a member of the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council and heads the council's intermodal group.

Mr Green said the terminal reflected Austrak's business philosophy, which has three main components.

At its heart is the use of rail as the main transport mode, making the intermodal terminal an integral part of the main supply chain on Australia's eastern sea board. Austrak is building similar terminals in Adelaide and Sydney, and plans one for Brisbane. Perth will also be part of its national network.

Mr Green said the rail component had two parts - shuttle trains taking freight to and from the port, and interstate and intrastate rail operations.

The Somerton rail terminal, which can take both broad and standard gauge trains, is more than 700 metres long. Interstate trains 1.5 kilometres in length will be split in two to be loaded and unloaded.

Second, the P&O intermodal facility will also be a big container park, able to handle 600,000 containers, both full and empty.

Third, the terminal was also designed as a warehouse cluster. "These warehouses will be national and regional distribution centres close to the main freight network," Mr Green said.

Visy and a major food manufacturer have already set up warehouses on the site, and several more large warehouses will soon follow.

Hundreds of people will be employed on the estate, and many will be able to come to work by train using the new station that is being built at Roxburgh Park.

Somerton Road on the southern boundary will also be upgraded, and a bridge built over the rail line.

Mr Green said clustering with big clients established a critical mass. "All transport requires critical mass to justify the investment and the cost of a big facility," he said.

Clients have the option to use road or rail but Austrak's emphasis on rail underlies its philosophy of "environmentally responsible logistics".

As the owner of a private terminal, Austrak has been a strong advocate of competition policy in the rail sector. "We have a philosophy of 'common user and common access'," Mr Green said. "We will handle anyone's transport and freight."

Despite P&O's lease, Austrak/GPT will continue to asset manage the whole estate.

Austrak has been inundated with inquiries from companies wanting to set up in the new estate. This gladdens the heart of Mr Assetta, who pushed ahead with his ambitions despite widespread scepticism and misgivings from many in the commercial property sector.

"We already have plans for another terminal," Mr Assetta said, but he was reluctant to give any more details.
 

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A very wise strategy

This will probably lead to further upgrades to SG access into Melbourne - possibly duplicating the Albion corridor.

AFR
P&O's rail offer to counter giants
Tansy Harcourt
18 May 2005

P&O Ports is taking a bigger step into the rail business to strengthen its position against the growing dominance of transport giants Patrick Corp and Toll Holdings.

P&O Ports will today unveil details of a new business, P&O Intermodal, which plans to offer rail-to-port operations at the nation's major sea hubs. The rail business's first base will be at Somerton, north of Melbourne.

P&O Australia and New Zealand managing director Tim Blood said the rail business had been designed to help ease bottlenecks at ports and provide a "whole of transport" operation.

"It has the potential to become a reasonably significant proposition," Mr Blood told The Australian Financial Review. "This is the commencement of us stepping into the land-side business in earnest."

Patrick and Toll have become market leaders in their own areas of transport expertise by providing fully integrated transport solutions, including trucking, rail, shipping and warehousing.

The two companies are joint owners of the nation's major east-coast rail operator, Pacific National, giving them a competitive advantage.

But P&O Ports hopes that by building up its rail business it will be able to match the kind of total logistics solutions some of its rivals offer.

Under its new system, companies from outside Melbourne wishing to ship goods can freight them to Somerton, where congestion is not a problem, and P&O will load them onto its own rail operator and send them directly to port.

It is hoped the move will mean fewer trucks banked up in the already highly congested docks area and more efficient port loading.

The Somerton base is near where the Victorian government plans to move the fruit and vegetable markets and is also home to operations of companies such as Visy, Nestle, Masterfoods and Ford.

The move is part of a broader plan by P&O to significantly bolster its Melbourne operations.

The port operator is planning to spend about $100 million in the next few years to upgrade its container facilities and move to an automated straddle system, pending Port of Melbourne approval.

Rival stevedore Patrick plans to double its capacity at Sydney's Port Botany and Melbourne's East Swanson Dock within the next four years.

Expansion work already under way at Patrick's port business is likely to have contributed to a slowing in profit growth during the first half, according to ABN Amro analyst Anthony Srom.

Patrick will release its half-year results tomorrow. ABN Amro expects it to announce a $95.9 million profit after $6 million in abnormal losses associated with Virgin Blue.

That compares with last year's figure of $96.2 million.

"Port expansion works in the first half of 2005 have detracted from profit growth," Mr Srom said.

"We forecast only 10 per cent terminal EBIT growth in the half compared with 8 per cent container growth, clearly understating the traditional profit leverage of the business. The port works have led to operational inefficiencies and market share loss."
 

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They just built a freeway almost directly above Swanston Dock perhaps 5 years ago, with an off-ramp basically right there, and then they decide to use the Auslink terminal instead?

So much for inner urban freeways being for the benefit of freight.
 

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From the Age:

Somerton is on track to join the hub club
May 19, 2005


P&O Ports will begin using the 120-hectare rail terminal in July, writes Philip Hopkins.

Victoria's strategy to become Australia's main international trade gateway has reached a milestone with the official go-ahead for a major freight hub in Melbourne.

The hub - the 120-hectare Austrak intermodal rail terminal and business park at Somerton in northern Melbourne - will be linked by rail to the Port of Melbourne, 20 kilometres away.

Stevedoring and shipping giant P&O Ports will operate the 20-hectare rail terminal within the business park and run trains to and from its Swanson Dock operations in the port.

P&O's managing director in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Blood, yesterday announced that P&O would start using the Somerton terminal in July.

Mr Blood said the terminal would cut truck traffic to and from the port and provide a faster and more efficient transport chain for P&O's big export and import clients.

"The key to the growth in rail is to offload freight away from the density of metropolitan traffic," he said.

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A very wise strategy

This will probably lead to further upgrades to SG access into Melbourne - possibly duplicating the Albion corridor.
One of the earliest posts in this forum: so far as I understand, it works.
 

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I couldn't find a dedicated Port thread so I posted here - it is related.

Food producers, Victorian Transport Association fear port tax will hurt families
Matt Johnston

Herald Sun September 18, 2009

FAMILIES face higher food and clothing costs when a new $100 million-a-year tax is introduced on trucks entering ports.


Food producers and the Victorian Transport Association said transport operators and importers would pass on the new tax, which would simply push up the prices of goods in supermarkets or retail stores.

The State Government's new "freight-access charge" would slap fees on trucks entering the Port of Melbourne, from as early as next year.

The State Government is investigating how to implement the tax, which would generate at least $960 million over 10 years.

The Government says the new tax would help to pay for promises included in the

$38 billion Victorian Transport Plan, and the new charges would have an "insignificant impact on consumer prices".

Deputy chief executive of the Victoria Transport Association Neil Chambers said prices on imports would go up, and jobs would be at risk in the export industry.

"Transport operators won't be able to absorb the costs therefore those costs will be passed on to the market place," Mr Chambers said.

"Will people pay more? Yes, your clothes and televisions and those things you will end up paying more for."

He said the 10-year, billion-dollar tax grab for the transport plan was effectively taking with one hand and giving with the other.

Tabro Meats assistant-general manager Brian Victorsen said the industry was expecting the tax to be about $180 for each container entering the port, and some producers would have to pass on the burden of new taxes.

"It's just another grab for cash," Mr Victorsen said.

Opposition spokesman for ports Denis Napthine said the Government was already rolling in record taxes, and

families would be the losers.

"It certainly will add costs to the budgets of Victorian families as they buy goods off the shelves at supermarkets," Dr Napthine said.

"What they are saying is if you want better roads and transport you have to pay a massive amount of extra taxes and charges when they already have a record $40 million budget."

Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas has defended the charge, saying it would make the freight network more competitive.

Mr Pallas's spokesman said this would reduce costs and it would have an insignificant impact on consumer prices.

He said Victoria's freight task was expected to double in the next 20 years, keeping household goods affordable and creating jobs. There were $18 billion worth of roads projects on the drawing board so it was "only fair" major beneficiaries contributed.
 
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