Build it but will they come: Is Hastings the best port alternative?

The Victoria University Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics (ISCL) has released a comprehensive paper that assesses issues and options for the location of Melbourne's next container port.

The Build it - but will they come? report, authored by the ISCL's Dr Hermione Parsons and Mr Peter Van Duyn, has been independently funded by Victoria University.

Dr Parsons said, "Victorian Governments – past and present – have held a preference for Hastings over alternative port locations and this preference needs to be reviewed in relation to the commercial realities of maritime and landside logistics and supply chains."

The report says, "Governments have stated the crucial reason for the development of the Port of Hastings is that a deep water port is needed to cater for much larger ships with a draft of 16 metres. In 2014 however, many industry experts suggest these mega ships may not come to Australia and Victoria.

"The 2009 Port of Melbourne Container Chain Logistics Study showed that approximately half of all import and export containers passing through the Port of Melbourne originated in or were destined for the crescent of industrial land located on both sides of the Western Ring Road between Altona and Laverton in the West and Hume in the North, with 65% of total containers transported less than 22 kilometres in the first and last transport legs via the Port of Melbourne.

"Based on 2011/2012 container volumes, mathematical modelling by ISCL shows a shift to the Port of Hastings would cause a doubling of truck operating costs, increased travel time and emission as well as air quality degradation.

"If a significant proportion of the businesses currently established to the west of Melbourne's central business district remain in their current locations, the potential freight transportation impact could be significant. When the Port of Hastings reaches its capacity of nine million containers (TEU) as planned in 2050, the land-side task could potentially involve the movement of 4.5 million containers annually to and from Melbourne's main western industrial district.

"Nevertheless, when the Port of Hastings reaches its capacity of nine million container (TEU) this would require 1.5 million B-double trucks, or 50,000 freight trains carrying 90 containers per train, annually; and over 4,000 trucks or 140 trains moving across Melbourne's road and rail network between Melbourne's industrial West and North, and Hastings, daily.

"The freight logistics industry and the Victorian Government recognise that the current freight rail network cannot cope with this substantial increase in traffic.

"Given the current road and rail infrastructure and distribution of import/export containers, over 70% of all containers would have to work their way through the Melbourne Metropolitan area to reach Hastings. The current road network will require substantial improvement and development to cope with the increased traffic and truck trip distances."

Dr Parsons says, "ISCL is able to provide a considered voice based on independent research into supply chain issues." She believes a discussion which is free of political bias is required in order to achieve the best supply chain and logistics outcomes for Victoria and South Eastern Australia.

Download a copy of the paper.

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