ALC calls on Government to support Inland Rail in Budget

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called on the Federal Government to commit funding for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project in their 2017–2018 budget submission.
“The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project has been positively assessed by Infrastructure Australia, Australia’s impartial infrastructure umpire, and has been listed on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC. “ALC firmly believes that major projects need to have an independent detailed cost-benefit analysis. Inland Rail has a positive cost-benefit analysis, and the government now needs to demonstrate its commitment to the project by funding construction.
“Currently, all rail freight from Melbourne to Brisbane has to travel through the congested Sydney rail network, where passenger trains get priority. Inland Rail will reduce freight travel times from Melbourne to Brisbane to less than 24 hours.
“Last year, the Federal Government provided further funding for planning and pre-construction works. Now is the time to commit money to building the project,” he said.
Kilgariff noted renewed calls for High Speed Rail (HSR) as federal parliament resumes this week. “It is important to remember that HSR has never been thoroughly examined and prioritised by Infrastructure Australia, a body designed to take the politics out of infrastructure,” he said.
Kilgariff also provided caution about plans to ‘value capture’ increases in land prices to fund infrastructure – as shown in ALC’s submission to the Federal Government discussion paper Using Value Capture to Help Deliver Major Land Transport Infrastructure last year.
“Proponents often couch big infrastructure proposals as ‘no cost to government’. However taxpayers are inevitably asked to contribute and they are entitled to value for money,” he added.
“Inland Rail has been proven to be the right rail investment for Australia. It’s time to begin building it,” Kilgariff said.

IA adds Murray Basin Rail Project to Infrastructure Priority List

Infrastructure Australia has added three major projects to its Infrastructure Priority List. Along with the Murray Basin Rail Project, the independent infrastructure advisor also gave its backing to the Bringelly Road Stage 2 Project, and the Melbourne Metro Project.
“The Australian Government has committed $220 million to the Murray Basin Rail Project which will give farmers from the region access to Victoria’s ports in a more efficient and cost-competitive way,” said Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will help address capacity constraints on the existing freight rail network, which includes standardising rail gauges along the route, as well as increasing axle loadings to 21 tonnes to allow trains to run at full capacity.
“In addition, we are also delivering major upgrades through the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan including the $509 million Bringelly Road upgrade. The Australian Government has committed $407 million to this upgrade, which is being delivered in two stages.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomed IA’s support of the rail development. “ALC supports Infrastructure Australia as the impartial umpire when it comes to recommending infrastructure investment to the Commonwealth Government,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC.
“The announcement…shows that the Murray Basin Rail Project has strong economic benefits and will improve the efficiency of the Victorian and national freight network,” he added.
Kilgariff highlighted the benefits to Victorian freight and the Victorian economy. “The Murray Basin Rail Project will allow up to 500,000 more tonnes of grain, and 450,000 tonnes of general freight, to be moved by rail each year,” he said.
“Ports will also potentially benefit from the increased freight load, with an incentive to invest and add new jobs to manage the increasing rail freight.
Kilgariff noted that the Murray Basin Rail Project would reinforce the need for clarity around the regional freight network. In particular, he said, the project should cause the Victorian Government to look at how connections between the regional freight network and ports can be further improved.”
Tenders for the project close next month.

ALC urges thorough analysis of Very Fast Train proposal

Any proposal to build a Very Fast Train (VFT) from Sydney to Melbourne should be passed straight to Infrastructure Australia (IA) for a thorough cost-benefit analysis, according to Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).
Kilgariff was commenting on a reported proposal by Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), an Australian-based consortium that says it has secured almost 20,000ha for new development sites along the rail corridor. CLARA says it will present an unsolicited bid to the Prime Minister within the first half of this year, funded by ‘value capture’.
Kilgariff said infrastructure funds were too scarce to commit to any significant project unless it had the full scrutiny of Infrastructure Australia. “There is a real risk that funds which ought to be devoted to worthwhile projects, such as Inland Rail, will be squandered on the VFT project,” he said. “ALC firmly believes that major projects need to have an independent detailed cost-benefit analysis.
“To date, all VFT proposals have failed any rigorous cost-benefit analysis. If anything the VFT case will become weaker in the light of the approval of Sydney’s second airport.”
“IA’s Infrastructure Priority List has identified Inland Rail as a Priority Project, noting the long-term benefits to potential users of the project, users of alternative infrastructure, and the broader economy,” Kilgariff added. “The trouble with committing to a VFT is that it would divert funds from more worthwhile projects, such as Inland Rail, at a time when the Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne passenger corridor is reasonably well-served.”
Kilgariff said there were also grounds for caution and scepticism about plans to ‘value capture’ increases in land prices to fund infrastructure – as shown in the ALC submission to the Federal Government discussion paper Using Value Capture to Help Deliver Major Land Transport Infrastructure last year.
“Proponents often couch big infrastructure proposals as ‘no cost to government’, but inevitably taxpayers are asked to contribute and they are entitled to demand value for money and wise allocation of resources,” he said.
CLARA has reportedly secured 50 per cent of the land needed to build eight new cities along the train line, with the company’s chairman and co-founder Nick Cleary said the project was driven by the prospect of turning cow paddocks into prime property, according to The Australian. “This is a real estate plan as opposed to a railway plan,” he reportedly said.

$348m to redevelop terminal at Port Botany announced Asciano

Asciano has announced plans to invest $348 million to redevelop and expand its container terminal at Port Botany for transforming the terminal into a world class and internationally competitive facility by 2014.

This comes across as welcome news to every Australian business which relies on improved port efficiency and productivity to keep their costs down.

Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff says, “the keys to unlocking greater productivity on our waterfront come in the form of capital investment and progressive labour reform.”

There will be an increase in capacity from 1.15 million to 1.6 million TEU per annum to meet current trade growth forecasts.

Kilgariff went on to say that ALC commends Asciano for its commitment to improve supply chain efficiency and taking positive steps to prepare for future trade growth at the port.

McKinsley Global Institute’s recent report stated that introducing new operating models within individual companies, such as automating supply chains, could boost productivity

The Maritime Union of Australia is threatening Asciano with an international campaign to disrupt the company’s Port Botany operations.

Asciano, like all Australian companies, must be allowed to manage its affairs in a way that it deems appropriate to generate greater efficiencies and improved safety outcomes.

The introduction of automation at Asciano’s Brisbane terminal has improved productivity and led to a 90 percent reduction in safety incidents.

Actively encouraging Asciano’s international customers to avoid its facilities is another example of a union trying to exert greater control over the way a business runs its operations.

“This sends out a very worrying message to any business trying to improve productivity and harm our international reputation as a place to do business,” Kilgariff said.

None of this is in Asciano’s, their employees or Australia’s long term economic interests.

ALC said in a statement that it is looking forward to Asciano being able to roll out its redevelopment fully in due course.

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