VTA calls for introduction of Victorian Freight Authority

In his opening remarks to the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) annual State Conference, CEO Peter Anderson called for the introduction of a Victorian Freight Authority to advise Government on the requirements of the transport and logistics industries.
Anderson noted that the VTA has been advocating for policy that supports operators to be successful in business, whether it be new road, rail and port infrastructure to streamline the freight task, or new ways of operating to create efficiencies for various participants in the supply chain.
“An example of this is our advocacy for a Victorian Freight Authority to provide government with the perspective of the transport industry when it comes to decisions impacting planning and development, roads and infrastructure, user charges, the environment, and other public policy matters,’ he said.
“The requirements of operators need to be factored early on in decisions being made by regulators and legislators, which is why are pushing for the creation of an authority like this to ensure your unique needs are being looked after.”
He added that business cost increases seen across the supply-chain industry over the past 12 months have been felt especially by road transport operators.
“We’ve had infrastructure surcharge increases from all the stevedores in Melbourne and elsewhere around the country, road charges are increasing exponentially whether it be fuel and excises, registration, insurance and tolls, and the threat of industrial action throughout many sectors of the economy is arguably the greatest it’s been for a long time, as we saw over Christmas at Webb Dock,” Anderson said.
“Indeed, the possibility of future super unions like we’ve seen with the merger of the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) and MUA (Maritime Union of Australia) could have far-reaching negative impacts on employers and supply chains nationally.
“In year’s gone past, operators would typically wear the increases rather than risk losing business to competitors. We need to shift this attitude and educate not only customers, but consumers as well, that increases in costs are going to be passed on through the supply chain, and ultimately to the end-users of the goods transported by operators.”
Without such action, he noted, operators may not have cost recovery increases accepted and will therefore go under, “which is not good for anyone.”
In his speech, Anderson also shared that the VTA’s community outreach efforts have been well received.
“We are getting closer to a really encouraging outcome with resident groups in the inner west of Melbourne near the port who for some time have been concerned about the impacts of heavy-vehicle movements,” he said.
“We’re working on a solution that will create a range of improvements and set new standards for driver training, instruction and vehicle emissions, and ultimately create better harmony between passenger and commercial road users.”

VIC commits to Inland Rail freight corridor

The Victorian Government has signed up to the Inland Rail Project, a direct rail freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane hoped to jump-start the state’s Regional Rail Revival program.
Victoria is the first state to officially commit to the Inland Rail Project, signing a bilateral agreement with the Federal Government. This pledges them to a long-term lease with the Australian Rail Track Corporation and supports the extension of the northeast inland rail corridor, in addition to changes to the North East Rail Line. This development will allow for the moving of double-stacked freight containers between Melbourne and Brisbane and is expected to return $16 billion to the national economy.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said it was a positive step forward on a project that will create both jobs and investment opportunities throughout regional Victoria.
“I’m pleased to reach agreement with Victoria, the first state to get behind Inland Rail which will improve freight travel times for local farmers and producers and support thousands of jobs,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “Once complete, Inland Rail will create thousands of jobs nationwide and return $16 billion to the national economy during the delivery phase and in the first 50 years of operation.”
While Inland Rail is a freight project, it will also extend benefits to passengers, releasing funds for much-needed upgrades via the Victorian Regional Rail Revival program.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Major Projects Jacinta Allan thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for “acting quickly, so we can now get on with the job of upgrading track, stations and signalling throughout regional Victoria, to run modern trains and get people home sooner.”

E-commerce giant JD.com picks VIC for regional HQ

JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, will open its regional headquarters in Melbourne, the Victorian Government has announced.
JD.com has over 266 million customer accounts, and operates China’s largest nationwide fulfilment network, with seven fulfilment centres and more than 400 warehouses in 2,830 counties and districts throughout China.
The company sells a wide range of goods, including vitamins, electronics, clothing and books.
Following a visit by representatives from JD.com to the Food and Beverage Trade Week in Victoria in October, the Andrews Labor Government has been working closely with the company to encourage it to establish a presence in the region.
“This announcement will give more Victorian businesses the opportunity to take their products to the world and is a clear indication that we’re leading the nation on the digital economy,” said Victorian Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis.
“We welcome JD.com with open arms and look forward to all the opportunities that this new regional HQ will bring to Victoria, including strengthening our economy and creating more local jobs.”
Patrick Nestel, Manager of JD.com Australia, added:
“Victoria’s wealth of high-quality suppliers, supportive government, 24/7 airport and largest container port in the southern hemisphere made it the obvious choice for JD.com’s new regional HQ.”

New Infrastructure and Transport Minister issues first statements

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce has hailed progress on the Inland Rail project and safety upgrade works on the Western Highway in his first official communications as the Federal Government’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
Joyce announced that the first delivery of steel for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project has arrived on site.
“This project is a game-changer for our regions,” said Joyce. “[On 15 January], we have seen the first 14,000 tonnes of steel to be delivered just for Parkes to Narromine section. We’re still on track for works to begin in May this year.”
He also issued a statement on the beginning of the $20 million safety upgrade of the Western Highway between Stawell in west Victoria and the South Australian border, jointly funded by the Victorian and Federal Governments.
“The Western Highway serves as a key transport corridor through Victoria’s western district and upgrading this section of the highway will significantly improve safety for all users including farming, tourism and manufacturing interests.”

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Image courtesy: Parkes Shire Council

SCT Group expands VIC Heinz DC

The Victoria-based national distribution centre of food manufacturer Heinz is to be expanded by owner SCT Group.
The Heinz Altona Distribution Centre will be expanded to 45,700m2 of warehouse space, and receive upgrades to energy-efficient LED lighting, new rapid doors, additional recessed loading docks and bird-netting to the 3,400m2 of existing canopies.
“Our national DC has been at SCT’s Altona intermodal facility now for over 15 years,” said David Moyle, Heinz’ logistics boss. “We’re looking forward to benefiting from the new rail services to Brisbane and direct rail port shuttles in the future.”
The expansion is set to be completed in October 2018, reportedly making the facility one of the largest warehouses in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

TMHA equips new NewCold Melbourne facilities

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has supplied equipment to new cold storage market entrant, NewCold.
NewCold Melbourne opened its two warehouses in August and September, with 45 leased Toyota and BT forklifts.
Netherlands-based NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics reportedly decided to approach TMHA for its first Australian operations due to its relations with Toyota in Europe.
The 34-metre-high warehouses have a combined 40,800m2 of floor area, storage for over 200,000 pallets, 39 loading docks and operate around the clock.
One is a cold store at minus 23oC, the other a chilled store with two, eight and 11oC environments.
“This makes Toyota our material handling partner of choice, while the comprehensive service offering is unique and cost effective as well,” said Ray Perry, Director – Oceania, NewCold.
“We appreciate that Toyota does not only supply the forklift [equipment] but will also service the equipment as and when we need it.
“Being a logistics and warehouse service provider, Toyota shares common customer values with NewCold. We trust that we will benefit from TMHA’s wealth of knowledge in the industry in Australia to increase our productivity, while staying ahead of our competition.”
Jason Fennell, Corporate Account Manager at TMHA, said local discussions with NewCold began in October 2016 and a decision was made in May 2017.
“We received a request to assist NewCold from our corporate division and worked from there,” he said.
“NewCold uses a variety of suppliers and products in Europe. However, the core business is to be able to pick orders, replenish stock, load and unload required deliveries, and store required long-life stocks on a 24/7 basis.
“This is the company’s first development in Australia, so we are committed to working with them to develop the relationship and ensure we cover all the material handling requirements, as well as making this process easy for the customer.”
The initial equipment roster for NewCold’s Melbourne facilities includes 21 BT electric pallet jacks, 10 Toyota 8-Series FBE18 three-wheel electric forklifts, seven BT RRE140H reach trucks, four Toyota 32-8FG30 internal combustion forklifts, a pair of 32-8FG18 Toyota forklifts, a BT RRE250H reach truck and four battery chargers.

Port of Melbourne industrial action "sovereign risk": VTA

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an “international laughing stock” if industrial action that has disrupted stevedore Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) is permitted to continue, according to the Victorian Transport Association (VTA).
The VTA’s warning is in response to VICT’s revelation that the person the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is pressuring the stevedore to employ is ineligible to work on docks under Australian law because he failed to obtain a Maritime Security Identification Card.
“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson.
“The effects of this ongoing action at our busiest time of the year are being felt right throughout the economy when you consider that the more than 1000 containers and their contents sitting idle at Webb Dock cannot be brought to market and sold to consumers during our peak retail trading period.
“Not only are VICT and the hundreds of freight operators that cannot move containers in and out of the terminal being impacted by this recalcitrant industrial action, so too are hundreds of small business operators and their families that are being denied access to goods demanded by Victorian consumers.”
Anderson said it was a potential sovereign risk to the broader Victorian economy and the Port of Melbourne’s position as the nation’s largest port if the action is allowed to continue.
“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” said Anderson.
“So, while this action may be confined to VICT for now, the real risk as we see it is the long-term reputational and economic damage the action will create for Victoria as a place to do business.”
Anderson implored all stakeholders involved in the action to put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action that is undermining the state’s hard-fought reputation as a reliable place to do business.
“This is not the time for our leaders to run and hide but rather confront the real issue of adverse union action that is brutal and selfish, and has a negative effect on the livelihoods all Victorians,” he said.

Route confirmed for North East Link

The Victorian Government has confirmed the route for Melbourne’s North East Link, which it anticipates will be the biggest transport project in the state’s history.
The North East Link will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road, where the capacity of the Eastern will be doubled with six extra dedicated lanes to eliminate some of eastern Melbourne’s worst bottlenecks.
A statement from the office of Premier Daniel Andrews said the expanded Eastern Freeway section will remain toll-free under the Andrews Labor Government.
Heading west, the freeway will connect to a new six-lane tunnel at Bulleen, with local underground connections at Banksia St and Manningham Road.
The five kilometre-long tunnel will then travel deep beneath the Yarra River, protecting environmentally sensitive parkland and residential areas.
There will be a local connection at Lower Plenty Road, with the North East Link then running north alongside the existing Greensborough Highway, which will stay open for local traffic.
A new interchange will see the North East Link travel beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia, before seamlessly connecting to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, which is also being widened.
“People have been talking about connecting the Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway for decades but it’s always been put in the too-hard basket – not anymore,” said Andrews in the statement.
“This is the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history – our state needs it and only Labor will get it done.”
The statement said the travel times between Melbourne’s north and south will be cut by up to 30 minutes in each direction, with travel time savings for people travelling to Melbourne Airport from the south and east.
It also anticipated that congestion on local roads in the north eastern suburbs will also be slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off hotspots like Rosanna Road.
The business case is yet to be finalised, but the statement said early cost estimates on the project range up to $16.5 billion – the single biggest transport infrastructure investment in the state’s history.
Detailed design will now get under way and the business case, including finalising cost estimates, will be released ahead of the 2018/19 Victorian Budget.

MNX Global Logistics acquires Logical Freight Solutions

Melbourne-based logistics provider to the life sciences industry Logical Freight Solutions (LFS) has accepted an offer to be acquired by global logistics services provider MNX Global Logistics.
“The pace of growth in patient-centric medicine, with its strict requirements for temperature-controlled transportation and time-definite delivery, underscores the role that specialty time-critical logistics providers will continue to play in the life sciences and healthcare industries,” said Paul J. Martins, CEO, MNX. “LFS shares our customer-centric culture and geographic footprint. This combination allows our new and existing customers to experience an expanded suite of logistics services tailored specifically for the healthcare, life sciences, and medical device industries around the world.”
Steve Cheetham, CEO, LFS, is enthusiastic about the potential for the combined business.
“Since its inception, Logical Freight Solutions has steadily built an infrastructure and specialised expertise that provides our customers with true door-to-door service, from internal supplier to end-user,” said Cheetham. “Joining MNX further propels the growth of our business and service offerings across new geographies, and gives our customers access to a diversified range of logistics services and new technologies.”
The acquisition is part of a series of strategic moves to drive global growth and provide exceptional service to healthcare and life sciences customers, LFS said in a statement.

VTA calls for safety rethink on Port of Melbourne access

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has labelled plans to develop an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in a future Fishermans Bend precinct “irresponsible recipe for disaster.”
A draft of the Fishermans Bend Framework released late last month by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Member for Albert Park Martin Foley contains recommendations for cycling and other infrastructure to support the 80,000 people and jobs the Victorian Government hopes to attract to the new precinct.
The draft contains a map of existing and proposed cycling infrastructure, including a north-south strategic cycling corridor connecting to a new Lorimer Street on-road cycling path between the Bolte and West Gate Bridge.
“Lorimer Street is a gazetted freight route for heavy vehicles and is intensively used by trucks of up to 70 tonnes travelling between Webb Dock and road and rail freight infrastructure closer to town,” said Peter Anderson, CEO, Victorian Transport Association.
“It is also home to numerous concrete suppliers that are visited by hundreds of trucks every day that deliver to building sites throughout Melbourne.”
He added that while the VTA fully supports infrastructure that encourages commuters onto bikes and away from cars, the only gazetted freight route servicing the south side of the Port of Melbourne is “the last place we should be putting a shared path.”
“It’s an irresponsible recipe for disaster to encourage cycling on a road so intensively used by heavy vehicles, and is the precise opposite of what we recommended in early consultations,” he added. “For planners to have included an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in the draft framework defies logic.”
The VTA has previously advised the government in its precinct planning to encourage cycling and pedestrian traffic to Williamstown Road, and to actively separate heavy vehicles from cyclists where possible, as is happening in Melbourne’s west.
“Regardless of who is at fault, the cyclist will always be worse off in a collision with a truck, so why on earth would you encourage their close interaction on a shared roadway?” Anderson said. “Elsewhere in Melbourne, we are actively separating bicycles from trucks on freight routes so it stands to reason we should be doing this in Fishermans Bend precinct planning.”
Anderson welcomed objectives in the draft to safeguard port access by preserving a direct road and rail corridor between Webb, Swanson and Appleton Docks and the Dynon Road freight terminal.

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