24 blocked freight arteries that are killing the industry

The top 24 supply chain blockages – and how to fix them – have been identified by the freight industry, Ivan Backman chairman of the Australian Logistics Council said.

“Fixing these top two dozen blockages is vital.  Without action our freight arteries will clot,” Mr Backman said.

“Industry is looking for real progress on these supply chain blockages as we cater for growing pressures including record mineral prices and, hopefully, a bumper crop.

“When transport ministers meet tomorrow they must act not just talk.

“There has never been a better time for action than with the current political alignment.

“The real willingness for change endorsed by Ministers must now be backed up with real action.  It is critical for the health of our nation we clear on these Top 24 blockages.” 

The ALC has worked with the broad spectrum of industry to identify these priorities, covering every aspect of the supply chain.  They fall within three broad categories of infrastructure upgrades, regulatory reforms or improved planning processes. 

“While a number of these blockages for urgent attention are infrastructure upgrades requiring government investment, many are relatively inexpensive regulatory or planning solutions, such as better planning for access to intermodal terminals and significant ports.” said Mr Backman.

Urgent infrastructure improvements to rail systems throughout Australia is given a high priority, however reform of rail regulation is equally as important. 

“The current system of nine rail regulators and no single communications system is leading to delays and significant additional cost, impacting on rail’s competitiveness in carrying the growing freight task,” Mr Backman said.

Also identified as a top priority, governments must provide significantly more rest areas on major highways, allowing truckers to comply with fatigue regulations and, importantly, arrive safely. 

“Just as important is harmonisation of this fatigue regulation and greater appropriate access for higher productivity vehicles, reducing the growth of trucks on our roads.”

“I call on all governments to urgently act on these jams, clearing the way for industry to cater for the predicted doubling of our freight task over the next 15 years,” Mr Backman said.





1. Resources Rail Network – Develop the rail network that is needed to serve a rapidly growing resources sector


2. North-South Rail Network – Improve the service standards on the main North-South rail corridor to permit rail to a level at which rail will become the predominant mode for Melbourne–Brisbane traffic


3. East–West Rail Network – Expand the capacity of the East–West rail network to ensure that future growth can be accommodated without a deterioration of service standards.


4. Grain Networks – Clearly define the role of rail in the future carriage of grain exports and upgrade grain networks to ensure that this role can be performed efficiently.


5. Shipping Channels – Ensure that shipping channels serving all major ports are capable of serving the vessels of the size needed to carry our international trade efficiently


6. Short Haul Rail – Develop short haul rail routes linking urban IMTs and container ports to allow efficient rail operation, including where possible freight only tracks and provision for double-stacking.


7. Rest Areas – Provide sufficient rest areas on all major highways to allow effective fatigue management while minimising any impact on the productivity of road haulage operations.


8. B-Double & B-Triple Networks – Accelerate the definition and implementation of a national B-Triple network and ensure that the B-Double network is extended to allow access from all significant production facilities to major freight routes.




1. Concessional Limits – Implement a programme of concessional limits for heavy road vehicles serving intermodal terminals to encourage the complementary use of road and rail modes.


2. Open Access Regimes – Ensure that, wherever practical, all significant new transport infrastructure is subject to an open access regime, and develop improved regulatory processes to reduce the delays and costs to both access seekers and access providers.


3. Streamline PPP Approvals – Develop streamlined PPP approval processes to facilitate private investment in transport infrastructure.


4. Uniform Rail Standards – Implement nationally uniform technical and safety standards for rail operations.


5. Road Pricing – Reform road pricing to facilitate the efficient use of road vehicles and appropriate allocation of the freight task between road and rail.


6. High Productivity Vehicles – Reduce the regulatory barriers to the introduction of innovative high productivity vehicles.


7. Over-dimension Vehicles – Adopt nationally consistent and less burdensome regulation to reduce the costs associated with the movement of over-dimension vehicles.


8. Harmonise Fatigue Management – Harmonise legislative processes and regulatory arrangements associated with the implementation of the national fatigue management system.



1. Identify IMT Sites – Identify the sites for strategic IMT development in all major cities and ensure that these sites are protected for future development.


2. Protect Access Corridors – Define and protect the road and rail access corridors to all significant ports and strategic IMTs.


3. Transport Plan – Build on and integrate the AusLink corridor strategies to provide a clear and comprehensive plan for transport infrastructure of national importance, including port access links.


4. Develop Comprehensive Strategies – Develop comprehensive freight and logistics strategies covering both rural and urban freight movements in all states.


5. Fast Track Planning – Effectively implement in each State fast-track planning processes for transport infrastructure of strategic economic significance.


6. Climate Change – Undertake a comprehensive national assessment of the effect of climate change on transport infrastructure and develop strategies for managing this effect to minimise the impact on infrastructure cost and reliability.


7. Coastal Shipping– Develop coastal shipping plans to accommodate growth and efficiency


8. Real-time Information – Capture accurate real time information for infrastructure and planning use


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