Victoria’s third stevedore is calling on the Port of Melbourne to alter its $300 million rail access plan because it unfairly advantages operators at Swanson and Appleton docks.
Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) says the Port of Melbourne’s plans to develop free rail terminals for Swanson and Appleton docks will impact them at Webb Dock who will be forced to pay higher last mile costs from existing railheads and to subsidise the development.
Under the Port of Melbourne’s rail plan, the $300 million bill for the development will be paid for by a new $15 per TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) tariff on all shipping containers imported through Melbourne’s three container terminals. While Swanson Dock operators will benefit most from the new rail connection, the operator of Webb Dock will pay the same tariff and subsidise the connection to their competitors.
VICT Chief Executive Officer Anders Dømmestrup said the Port of Melbourne rail infrastructure is crucial to cater for Melbourne’s huge growth in coming decades. But he called on the Port of Melbourne to deliver it in a fair manner which benefits the entire supply chain.
“We believe the rail solution should be one that all port operators can access in a competitively neutral manner; or at the very least, the additional surcharge should not be applied to operators who cannot access the rail,” Mr Dømmestrup said. “Under the current plan, shippers disadvantaged by being excluded from rail access are still obliged to fund the rail development for the other terminals. This will benefit regional rail exporters already using rail, leaving importers and consumers to fund free rail for Patrick, Qube and DP World terminals.”
Mr Dømmestrup said calls for a cost-equalisation program for users at Webb Dock have been ignored.
“There has been a lack of engagement by the Port of Melbourne during this process and VICT has been left without a clear understanding of the plan, funding details or how this project will impact on our customers,” he said. “Port of Melbourne needs to deliver a complete supply chain solution that incorporates industry reform, increased competition and a rail connection for all terminal operators that will deliver widespread benefits across the entire supply chain industry.”