Transport industry ranked among world’s best players

WA maintains one of the most competitive transport freight industries in the country, if not the world.

Seafreight Council of WA executive officer Michael O’Callaghan believes WA’s trucking industry is highly competitive because of the large number involved in moving freight from Fremantle Port to warehouses around the metropolitan region.

While there are more than 130 individual operators in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne freight carrying is controlled by only about 30 to 40 large-scale operators contesting for around three times the volume of work Fremantle Port handles.

“Road haulage for Sydney and Melbourne is far more controlled by a small number of very large operators. Everyone is trying to cut each others throats here in WA in order to make a buck,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Fremantle Port handles around 360,000 containers a year, while both Melbourne and Sydney handle up to one million.

Mr O’Callaghan said another factor in Perth’s favour was the lack of congestion on WA’s roads compared with in the Eastern States which have an impact on transport costs.

“You need to consider that a two hour trip done in Sydney could be done in one hour in Perth,” he said.

Having container parks close to port, as occurs in Fremantle, also reduces the costs of operations for a transport company. Shifting an empty container in Perth costs $25 per movement, while transporting a similar sized container from Kewdale to Fremantle fully loaded normally costs between $150 to $160 a movement. Using a side-lifter self-loading truck can cost up to $250 a movement for the same distance.

In Sydney where container parks are situated a distance from the port, costs are considerably higher, making rail a far cheaper and more efficient alternative.

Sadleirs Transport managing director Ian Cook said rail became more efficient than road only over long journeys.

He said that costs on long distance trips such as across the Nullarbor could be around 15 per cent to 20 per cent cheaper if done by rail as opposed to road.

And the cost difference was continually improving with the use of long trains, new locomotives and better tracks.

Despite some need to increase efficiency in port handling and transport facilities in Fremantle as well as in the eastern states, Mr O’Callaghan believes the road transport industry in Australia was at world’s best practice.

“We have a highly efficient transport system and so should it be. We’ve had 200 years to get it right,” he said.

Transport Forum of WA chief executive Howard Croxon said WA’s transport industry was as competitive as could be found anywhere.

“Freight costs really have a significant impact on our costs of living and the competitiveness our goods that are exported overseas or to the eastern states,” Mr Croxon said.

“Just about everything spends at least some time on the back of a truck.”

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