INTRODUCTION AND DESIGN OF THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION A container terminal is a facility where cargo containers are transshipped between different transport vehicles, for onward transportation. The transshipment may be between ships and land vehicles, for example trains or trucks, in which case the terminal is described as a maritime container terminal. Alternatively the transshipment may be between land vehicles, typically between train and truck, in which case the terminal is described as an inland container terminal. Maritime container terminals tend to be part of a larger port, and the biggest maritime container terminals can be found situated around major harbours. Inland container terminals tend to be located in or near major cities, with good rail connections to maritime container terminals. Both maritime and inland container terminals usually provide storage facilities for both loaded and empty containers. Loaded containers are stored for relatively short periods, for onward transportation, whilst unloaded containers may be stored for longer periods awaiting their next use. Containers are normally stacked for storage, and the resulting stores are known as container stacks. In recent years methodological advances regarding container terminal operations have considerably improved. For a detailed description and a comprehensive list of references see, e.g., the operations research literature.
In the 1970s the Madras Port Trust started handling containers in the inner harbour and, as container traffic kept increasing, a container terminal of 380 meters length was constructed at the Bharathi Dock in 1983, as the country's first full-fledged container hub, with a storage yard of 51,000 sq m and a container freight station of 6,000 sq m. The terminal was provided with two shore cranes and other facilities required for a container terminal. Subsequently, the terminal was extended by 220 meters in 1991 with