Fremantle Port rail subsidy increased

Western Australia’s McGowan Government has implemented financial incentives to reduce truck congestion and get more freight on rail to Fremantle Port.
As committed prior to the last election, the container rail subsidy increased from $30 to $50 per Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) from 1 January 2018.
The plan aims to reduce truck traffic on roads around Fremantle Port by encouraging more freight on rail.
The Western Australian Government’s integrated plan for freight and trade includes a target to boost rail mode share to 20 per cent – an increase of approximately five per cent.
The subsidy will be paid for all loaded containers that move between North Quay Rail Terminal (NQRT), Forrestfield and Kwinana, as well as for containers filled with hay received by rail at NQRT for export.
“Increasing the rail share for container haulage is one of several initiatives to improve efficiencies at the Inner Harbour to facilitate trade growth until additional port facilities are viable,” the Government said in a statement, adding that others include supporting the development of the Westport: Port and Environs Strategy; development of the broader rail supply chain, including intermodal facilities; and upgrading road infrastructure linkages around the inner harbour.
“The rail service plays a significant role in achieving greater efficiency in the container supply chain as well as improving community amenity and environmental benefits along metropolitan roads that link to Fremantle Port,” said Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
“That is why the McGowan Government has delivered on its election commitment to increase the container rail subsidy to encourage more container movements on the port rail service.”

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.

Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains

Queensland election “vital” for freight logistics industry: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council has written to party leaders in Queensland ahead of the 25 November state election, asking them to outline their policies on key issues such as corridor protection, congestion, the development of critical freight infrastructure and improved road safety through the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
Letters were sent during the first week of the campaign to the Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, Queensland Premier; Tim Nicholls MP, Leader of the Opposition; Steve Dickson MP, One Nation Leader; and Rob Katter, MP of Katter’s Australian Party.
“Queensland plays a vital role in sustaining Australia’s freight logistics network, and with significant growth expected in the state’s freight task over the next decade, it is crucial that Queensland’s political leaders address our industry’s priorities ahead of the state election,” said Ian Murray AM, Chairman, ALC.
He noted that one of the most urgent priorities is preserving a rail corridor that will permit the construction of an alternative dedicated freight rail connection from the Inland Rail route through to the Port of Brisbane.
“This corridor must be preserved now to minimise construction costs for a future rail connection to the port,” he added. “This is essential to guarding against the impact of urban encroachment on this critical piece of freight infrastructure, and deriving the full economic benefits of this significant national project.”
Infrastructure Australia has calculated that up to $66 million could be saved on construction costs of a future freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane if appropriate corridor protection strategies are put in place, Murray noted.
“ALC has also called on the next Queensland Parliament to provide certainty to the heavy vehicle industry by acting swiftly to pass the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 201,” he said.
“This legislation contains a number of significant measures which ALC believes will improve road safety. It should be passed by the Queensland Parliament as a matter of priority following the state election.”
Murray added that Queensland’s political leaders have also been asked to outline their approach on a range of other policy matters, as highlighted by the ALC in its Queensland Freight Priorities document, released in August 2017.
“These include measures to reduce road congestion, and ensuring the regulation of Queensland’s freight transport infrastructure affords our industry the flexibility it needs to operate 24/7,” Murray said. “This will be essential to meeting a freight task that is rapidly growing due to Queensland’s rising population, growing export markets and the expansion of e-commerce.”

ALC welcomes “common sense” report from Productivity Commission

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has said the release of the Productivity Commission report Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review provides a welcome injection of common sense into the national conversation about transport and urban planning policies.
The report noted that urban congestion is already costing Australia’s economy $19 billion each year, forecast to rise to over $31 billion by 2031 if remedial action is not taken.
The Association described the Commission’s observation that “infrastructure decisions could be enhanced by taking out the ‘Utopia’ factor in their preparation” as “sound advice for policy-makers at the federal, state and local government levels.”
“The message in this report is very clear,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff. “Unless we take definitive and practical action to address issues such as urban congestion and the efficiency of our transport networks, the nation’s economy and the wellbeing of its citizens will suffer.
“Freight Doesn’t Vote, ALC’s submission to the Discussion Paper on National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities – contains a comprehensive range of practical ideas drawn from the freight logistics industry that can help to address the challenges which the Productivity Commission has identified.”
“It is particularly pleasing to see the Commission making recommendations that align with many of ALC’s long-established policy positions,” Kilgariff added. “Including better alignment between freight movement and planning, that infrastructure proposals be subjected to a public cost-benefit analysis, that road funds be established from hypothecated road-related revenues, and that state and territory governments consider adopting a road user charging pilot program.
“As ALC has consistently said, policies which restrict or ban the movement of freight vehicles in particular areas, and especially in CBDs, are neither realistic nor desirable. It is heartening to see the Productivity Commission has drawn a similar conclusion, and calls upon governments to address the ad-hoc and anticompetitive planning policies that have given rise to the congestion problems that now bedevil our cities and their surrounds.”
 

Self-driving cars could make traffic congestion worse

Australians are looking forward to self-driving cars but are unlikely to share their vehicles with other travellers, contrary to predictions made by transport experts and the motor industry, according to the University of Sydney Business School’s latest Transport Opinion Survey.
The findings of the quarterly survey, conducted by the Institute of Transport and Logistic Studies, indicate that road congestion in our major cities is unlikely to ease with the arrival of self-driving cars and could be worse than it is today.
The results of the survey, known as TOPS, have prompted the director of the ITLS Professor David Hensher to suggest that the government may have to impose a levy on the use of private cars in order to combat increasing congestion.
One in four survey participants said they would buy a self-driving car for family use if they were available but only one-third of these adopters would lease their vehicles to other travellers when it was not in use.
Forty per cent of participants also said that they would probably use their cars more as travelling became easier, while more than thirty per cent said they would use their car rather than use some public transport.
No survey participants expected their daily travel to remain the same in the driverless era.
The results, according to Professor Hensher, indicated that there could be more traffic congestion on Australia’s roads rather than less as predicted by some transport analysts, and a deterioration in public transport services.
“The survey suggests a strong uptake, which is encouraging at this stage in the debate on the future of driver-less vehicles; however, the real challenge is getting society to become more sharing either by allowing others to use their cars or through a third party mobility plan,” said  Professor Hensher.
“Pundits promoting the virtues of driverless cars were suggesting that they would contribute to a significant reduction in traffic congestion. Our findings appear contrary to that view.
“We now need to contemplate how society more broadly and government might respond through new laws ensuring that disruptive transport technologies serve the public while managing their negative impacts through various measures including a private car use levy,” he said.
The TOPS index also indicated that Australians have steadily regained confidence in their local transport services, but this is still a long way from the high recorded in September 2013.
 

Boost for Adelaide–Melbourne rail freight productivity

Longer freight trains will soon be able to run between Adelaide and Melbourne thanks to a multimillion-dollar Australian Government rail network upgrade set to increase capacity by up to 20 per cent.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Melbourne–Adelaide Loops project would allow the accommodation of 1,800-metre trains, improving productivity on the busy line and supporting associated jobs.
“The upgrade will create a 20 per cent increase in productivity for rail operators and remove the need to send additional train services back to Melbourne with empty wagons,” Chester said.
“By investing $15 million in the project, we have created a situation where the maximum length of trains operating from Adelaide to Melbourne can be increased by up to 300 metres The longer, more efficient trains means less congestion for motorists and improved road safety, as well as cutting transport costs.
Chester said Victorian crossing loops at Pyrenees, Murtoa, Pimpinio, Diapur and Dimboola, and South Australia’s Mile End loop, had all been extended to 1,800 metres.
“A 1,800-metre train carries the equivalent of more than 85 B-doubles’ worth of freight that would typically travel by road through South Australia,” he said.
“Moving more freight by rail is crucial to meet the expected doubling of freight demand over the 20 years to 2030 while reducing urban congestion.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) delivered the Melbourne–Adelaide Loops project.
Additional track upgrades currently underway in Adelaide as part of the Torrens Junction Rail Project will provide a clear path for 1,800-metre trains all the way from Perth to Melbourne by late 2017.

Infrastructure minister commends rail progress

Speaking at the recent Rail Futures Conference held in Melbourne in mid-September by the Rail Freight Alliance, Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, commended the efforts being made to bolster Australia’s rail capability.
“If we look back at the past 50 years of rail freight here in Victoria, it has been a story of decline – at least, up until recently,” Chester said, adding that as a result of the closure of regional lines and the abolishment of freight gates, goods were increasingly being transported by road rather than rail.
“There is now record investment going into rail freight,” he added, citing government support secured for the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project, $8.4 billion earmarked for the Inland Rail project, the $58 million Victorian Port Rail Shuttle and the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“Since becoming Minister, I have been pleased to oversee a $20 billion investment in rail,” he said. “These projects will ease urban congestion, grow the regions and create thousands of new jobs.
“The freight and logistics industry identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent…Our government has secured three Free Trade Agreements, and we are building the infrastructure to capitalise on that.”
Chester added that work is continuing on the Inquiry into National freight and Supply Chain Priorities, designed to inform the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“The inquiry will set our understanding of what challenges and opportunities lie ahead, and how we can take advantage of them,” he said.
“It is these investments that are going to set up our nation for the next 100 years. I am proud to be playing a part in delivering these game-changing projects, in partnership with the community.
“These are the projects our kids and our grandkids will thank us for – in the cities and in the regions.”

Freight focus group supports road-pricing change

On a panel of logistics industry experts at the Future of Freight event held by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) in Melbourne on 17 July, John Fullerton, CEO of Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) voiced his support for an increase in use-based charging for Australia’s road networks.
“At the end of the day, infrastructure has to be priced on usage,” he said. “We see it on rail today, we see it in telecommunications, and in the energy sector – you use it, you pay based on volume consumption.”
“Road pricing is inevitable, it has to happen because that way you can get some proper decision making around how best to invest your funds.”
He added that in the future, that decision making may well be taken out of the hands of those currently responsible for it, due to a move towards green transport.
“A lot of road expenditure is recovered from fuel excise on vehicles that are now far more productive than they have ever been,” Fullerton said. “Plus we can all see the move to electric vehicles and electric trucks happening, inevitably governments won’t be able to cover revenues from fuel excises because there will be less and less fuel consumed.”
“It is common sense to introduce a road-charging mechanism where, particularly on heavy vehicles, for every tonne of freight carried over a kilometre, and on particular corridors that may attract higher rates than other sorts of corridors.”
The recovered revenue could then flow back into government, he explained, to be reinvested, whether in rail or road, to get the best investment and most productive return for the economy.
“I think we’re heading in that direction,” he said. “It’s been slow, and it should happen quicker, but I’m certainly seeing at a federal level there’s a great appetite to move in this direction.
Maurice James, Managing Director of Qube, agreed that a different pricing regime is inevitable, suggesting a price scheme based on higher fees to access in-demand routes, and added that he hopes measures to ease urban congestion in Melbourne will also be implemented in the coming years.
“I feel that the biggest issue here in Victoria is we’ve almost got a disconnect between urban planning and urban policy frameworks, and freight planning and the policy that goes into freight,” he said.
He encouraged event attendees from the Victorian Government to think about how the region’s freight supply chain can be addressed in order to deliver efficiencies.
“I think Melbourne’s geography has been its strength,” he said, noting that 10 or 15 years ago, Melbourne was held up as a beacon in comparison with Sydney’s congestion. “[It] has a great road network, in terms of City Link, West Gate and the Monash [Freeway], but now […] that’s a congested network.”
He called for a freight system whereby goods brought into the Port of Melbourne would be more efficiently transported to their destination, where at present they are moved to the city’s western suburbs from the Port, then often back over to the east to their final destination.

Highlighting the industry’s view

With the Federal Government having announced the composition of the expert panel that will advise on the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the real work of shaping its content is now well and truly under way.
It’s not indulging in hyperbole to say that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Australia’s rapidly growing population coupled with changing patterns of consumer behaviour – especially with the growth of e-Commerce – will impose significant additional demands on the freight and logistics sector.
Indeed, the National Transport Commission (NTC) estimates that Australia’s freight task will grow by some 26 per cent in the next decade alone. When you think of the capacity constraints that are already evident in some of our major cities, particularly growing traffic congestion, such forecasts can appear daunting.
Although it will require a significant degree of hard work on the part of the freight and logistics industry, I am nonetheless confident that we can come up with solutions that will allow us to meet this burgeoning demand.
We know that industry is willing to play an active role, and we know that the Federal Government’s agreement to develop a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy shows decision-makers are willing to listen to industry’s advice.
Thus, our immediate challenge is to make certain the advice we provide is the right advice, which will help ensure the Strategy that emerges is the right one for our industry and the right one for the Australian economy.
I think there has been an encouraging start on this front.
At the beginning of March, the ALC held its annual Forum in Melbourne, and the entire focus of the event was discussing the content of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
Of course, we are not starting with a blank piece of paper. Many of the attendees at the Forum are leading figures within Australia’s freight and logistics industry, and throughout their many years of collective experience they have garnered insights and evidence that will prove invaluable in terms of getting policy settings right.
Although ALC Forum 2017 was the first industry-wide gathering since the Prime Minister’s announcement last November that the Government would develop the Strategy, the discussions revealed there is already a remarkable degree of consensus across the industry about what is required to make it effective. This is a strong basis from which to work.
To help synthesise the industry’s conversations to date, the ALC has produced a Working Paper that summarises the views of industry to date about the contents of the Strategy.
Some of the major themes addressed in that publication are as follows:
Urban encroachment issues
In the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election, the ALC prepared a document called Getting The Supply Chain Right, which highlighted the freight and logistics industry’s most pressing priorities for an incoming government.
One of those was urban encroachment, and the lack of buffer zones, land separation setbacks and design mitigation measures around sensitive use developments, which can significantly hamper the efficient operation of freight-related infrastructure.
At the time, the ALC noted that the national freight supply chain will be unable to support Australia’s growing demand if facilities and infrastructure continue to be prevented from realising their optimal capacity, due to restrictions imposed on their use or operating conditions.
This includes things like night curfews for airfreight and port facilities, restrictive speed limits and the banning of heavy vehicles from key routes that provide access to freight facilities.
These things are often pursued by governments in search of an electoral boost. However, their long-term impact is to simply build inefficiencies into the supply chain, which ultimately results in higher consumer prices.
As industry ‘insiders’, we understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between good outcomes for freight efficiency and good outcomes for the community.
The problem lies in the fact that this is vastly underappreciated by the public at large, and even at times by decision-makers within government.
This is how we end up with poor planning outcomes, such as the failure to preserve freight corridors, and insufficient consideration of freight operations when pursuing ‘urban infill’ objectives surrounding new residential developments.
The freight and logistics industry needs to better ‘sell’ the fact that corridor preservation equates to improved safety, liveability and efficiency outcomes.
Technology issues
There was a broad consensus among participants at the Forum that not enough is being done to make use of data, both in terms of improving safety and efficiency across the supply chain, and also when it comes to effectively planning the nation’s freight infrastructure.
Of course, the top priority must be safety in the supply chain. Regrettably, Australia’s approach to safety in the trucking industry is lagging significantly behind that of other comparable nations. In particular, several participants at the Forum noted that Australia’s trucking industry is making insufficient use of telematics when it comes to making business decisions.
The ALC will continue to pursue a national telematics law, permitting the use of data about vehicle performance, equipment and driver behaviour that can be used to enhance road safety, improve efficiency within the logistics industry and identify problems with driver behaviour.
Technology also offers a potential way to overcome the impact of ever-more restrictive planning and vehicular access policies when it comes to CBD freight delivery. One detailed presentation discussed using urban consolidation/distribution stations. These can provide for multi-modal routing systems using bicycles, walkers and electronic vans to facilitate freight delivery.
It is far more efficient than using large vehicles to deliver small loads – especially given that an increasing number of large-scale residential developments do not incorporate delivery zones or provide access facilities for freight vehicles.
Rail issues
There is very strong support within the industry for construction of the Inland Rail, at last providing a port-to-port rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane. This project has had a long gestation, but with the increasing demand for freight resulting from free trade agreements and the growth of e-Commerce, encouraging more freight onto rail is vital.
Constructing the Inland Rail will help to cut freight transport times, reduce road congestion and promote cheaper consumer prices. There are also considerable economic benefits for regional communities along the route.
However, there are also opportunities elsewhere in the sector to make greater use of short-haul rail. This includes pursing projects like the duplication of the rail line at Port Botany, which will help achieve NSW Ports’ target of moving three million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) by rail by the year 2045.
Pursuing a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and three of Victoria’s inland ports will also be important in promoting supply greater supply chain efficiency and addressing road congestion.
This issue is especially important in the context of Asia’s rapidly expanding middle class, whose appetite for the type of high-quality agricultural goods Australia produces will be a source of growing demand on our freight and export infrastructure. We must be mindful not to cede our competitive edge in this area by failing to have a supply chain that operates safely and efficiently from paddock to port.
The next steps
The ALC believes that a dynamic Strategy requires a dynamic consultation process to guide its development, and accordingly the ALC will be continuing to engage closely with industry over the coming weeks and months to make sure we get the right outcomes.
However, from the conversation thus far, it’s already apparent that there are some clear expectations from industry.
Existing freight infrastructure needs to be made to operate efficiently, through making sure planning instruments not only identify and preserve the industrial lands to provide the jobs and logistics facilities of the future, but also ensure new residential developments do not encroach on infrastructure and prevent its effective utilisation.
It will also be necessary to establish some form of mandatory system of data collection that will allow better decision making and improved outcomes in safety, planning and investment decisions, all of which will help boost productivity.
We will need to move towards hypothecation of levies, fees, taxes and charges raised for the purpose of developing an identified piece of infrastructure – so that money raised is invested properly and not put back into consolidated revenue.
The construction of Inland Rail must continue to be treated as a priority, ensuring rail as a modality has a clear place in moving freight in the Australian supply chain.
Great Commonwealth leadership needs to promote supply chain safety and efficiency – this includes helping the public at large understand the importance of supply chain efficiency, as well as incentivising state jurisdictions to consider freight needs in their planning instruments by making Commonwealth funding support subject to conditions such as having corridor preservation strategies in place.
Finally, the establishment of a specific Federal Department of Planning and Infrastructure will allow the Commonwealth’s expertise in these areas (including the development of funding mechanisms) to be concentrated and properly able to be used as resource, by industry and by other jurisdictions.

London employers urged to ban online shopping workplace deliveries

In a recent speech to MPs in London, Val Shawcross, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, suggested companies help tackle urban congestion by banning employees from receiving goods ordered online at the workplace.
“We ought to be encouraging employers to ban private deliveries to premises in central London,” she said.
In her speech, Councillor Shawcross revealed that light vans now account for a fifth of traffic in the city centre.
According to The Standard, she added click-and-collect facilities at transport hubs should be promoted so that workers can collect their deliveries on their way home.
She also suggested that the £11.50 ($18.50) congestion charge be modified to charge extra for multiple trips, and extended into the evenings and weekends.

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