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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2012
46 FORUM 2012 Session 3 Panel discussion Port Botany handled more than two million TEUs last year. Planning laws limit volumes to 3.2 million TEUs per year. To cope, the port will need to rely more on rail, Mr Benson says. Hutchison will open Port Botany's third terminal during the first quarter of 2013. 'That's where rail will play a big role,' Mr Benson says. Under the Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy, the port is aiming to double rail's share of container traffic to about 28 per cent by 2021. It's counting on intermodal terminals, such as Moorebank, to help it accommodate the extra volume. Port Botany is already wrapping up work on its Enfield intermodal, which will handle 300,000 TEUs per year when complete. Forward planning is key to diverting more container traffic to rail. Port Botany has a three-month rolling plan that outlines how much traffic to expect, with the most detailed forecasts saved for the immediate week ahead. As well as the impact of bigger ships, preserving freight corridors linking ports also featured in the discussion, as well as the introduction of bigger ships and consolidation in the shipping industry. Nicolaj Noes argued for stevedores to consolidate cranes to handle the bigger ships. Bigger ships need about six cranes to efficiently offload containers rather than the four that are put to work now. Stevedores also need to operate them 20 per cent to 30 per cent faster, Mr Noes said. Sharing cranes and picking up the pace can reduce by as much as 60 per cent the time it takes to exchange containers for a given ship, Mr Noes says. 'A higher concentration of cranes operating on a vessel will get the needed economies of scale,' he said. Still, the market is stacked against rail, Mr Benson says. Most containers won't travel far from the ports -- about 85 per cent will be delivered within a 40-kilometre radius and roads access is relatively cheap. Mr Benson argues for financial incentives to wean customers away from trucks. 'We may need to look at incentives to really ramp up rail.' The port trimmed truck turnaround times to an average of 27 minutes during the first quarter of 2012 from 55 minutes, Benson says. Stevedores and trucking companies pay penalties if they are slow or hold up work. 'We've done a great job on road,' Mr Benson says. The panel discussed the government's shipping reforms, with the draft legislation aiming to encourage investment in Australia's shrinking shipping industry by offering incentives, including accelerated depreciation and tax exemptions, as well as offsets for employing Australian seafarers. Mr Noes said that amounted to protectionism and may be short- sighted. Few containers work their way from west to east, eroding economies of scale and making a given domestic container slot 300 per cent more expensive for a shipping company unless it can subsidise it with overseas traffic, he said. 'You shouldn't exclude foreign competition,' Mr Noes says. Companies such as Maersk shouldn't be called on by governments to collect port fees. The state government of Victoria will bill shipping lines starting 1 July this year for fees that will be calculated per TEU. The company isn't set up to be 'a tax collection agency,' Noes says. 'If they want to raise taxes, then raise taxes,' Noes said. 'That's more efficient.'