Renewed focus

This article appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
Australia’s rail freight industry has been in the spotlight in recent months, with the Inland Rail project on track to bring back the mode’s visibility – and, importantly, its viability. AusRAIL PLUS 2017 looked to champion the mode’s successes, and potential.
All governments recognise the importance and benefits of rail to Australia,” said Danny Broad – CEO of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), as he opened the ARA’s annual event, AusRAIL PLUS 2017, in Brisbane. “Investment in rail made in the national interest will enhance rail’s contribution to the economy through greater efficiency in both public transport and supply chain networks – all Australians will be the beneficiaries.”
With forecast investment in both new rolling stock – or rail vehicles – and rail infrastructure of $100 billion over the next 15 years, and Inland Rail and a national rail industry program securing $20 million in funding in the FY17 Federal Budget, “rail certainly is the place to be,” he noted.
“An important era lies ahead of us – it is a pivotal time, and the implementation of the national rail industry plan is essential.”
Darren Chester, then-Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, echoed Broad’s comments, noting that the federal backing for the Inland Rail project and other key rail infrastructure is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the industry.
“[This is] the most exciting time in the past 100 years to be in involved in rail,” said Chester. “Australia needs Inland Rail – without it, we won’t be able to cope with a projected doubling of our nation’s freight task.
“Currently, about 25 per cent of Melbourne-to-Brisbane freight is carried on rail, and around 75 per cent is carried on road. This project will help to even the ledger.”
Seeing the value
The ARA commissioned consultancy Deloitte to produce a report looking at future strains on passenger and freight rail networks, rail safety, rail’s benefits over road, and environmental considerations for modal choices. Broad released the Value of Rail report at the event, noting that it highlights the significant role the rail industry will play in enabling Australia to cope with future challenges.
“Australia’s population is increasing at a rate of 370,000 people per year,” he said. “By 2060, both Sydney and Melbourne populations will have grown by approximately three million people.
“Freight is likely to grow with gross domestic product (GDP) rather than the population growth – with a potential 88 per cent increase in kilometres travelled by 2050, and an increase in vehicle stocks of about 2.5 million trucks and light commercial vehicles.
“To manage these challenges, Australia will have to develop its multimodal transport systems, with light rail and heavy rail at its spine.”
The report found that Australia’s population will double by 2075, reaching almost 45 million people. It notes that rail currently contributes approximately $26 billion to the Australian economy each year, while offering lower emissions and safety and congestion benefits compared to other transport modes.
“Significant investments are being made into Australia’s rail infrastructure,” the report continues. “In some sense, these investments are making up for a prolonged period of underinvestment.”
Dealing with disruption
Change was a central topic at the conference – in particular, uncertainty about the pace and extent of change to work, technology and population.
As Craig Rispin, Business Futurist and Technology Guru at The Future Trends Group, explained, the ability to obtain and analyse data will be key in the years ahead.
“Data is the new oil, and artificial intelligence (AI) is the new oil,” he said – since the ability to collect data means nothing without the ability to analyse it.
By 2028, he shared, the world will be far removed from the one we live in today. Fifty per cent of jobs will have been replaced by machinery, the majority of cars will be driverless, and six in ten people will be living in cities – with one in three aged over 100. The significance, he said, is businesses cannot expect to continue to keep working the same way while the world changes around them.
He pointed to the rise of the start-up culture as one risk to established companies, with organisations such as Airbnb and Uber enabling individuals to do what entire companies used to do. While competing with new, lean rail start-ups, the industry will also have to remain mindful of advances in emission-reduction technology in trucks, allowing them to travel from Melbourne to Sydney in one charge, recharge and head back again. “Be part of the future,” said Rispin. “Or try to avoid the inevitable.”
Port partnership
For ports to handle the incoming onslaught of freight, they will need to increase their reliance on rail, shared Jonathan Lafforgue, General Manager – Operations and Environment at NSW Ports.
“The 2016–2017 ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) Stevedore Monitoring Report came out [in early November 2017], stating that Port Botany is now Australia’s largest container stevedoring port,” said Lafforgue. “While we welcome that news, we’re more excited about the potential capacity we’ve still got in our port to grow – right now, we’re handling a little under 2.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) per annum. The port itself has the capacity to grow to 7.5–8 million TEU– meaning we have enough key lines, berths, and land behind that to facilitate that volume of freight.”
He noted that the only way NSW Ports will be able to put that much freight across the key lines of ships is by getting 40 per cent of containers on rail. “Right now, we’re proud of the fact that it’s about 20 per cent – but we need to double that to reach that next-level capacity.”
The majority of Port Botany’s freight is regional rail at present, and 80 per cent is delivered within a 40km radius of the Port.
“To get to that next step, we’ll need to start targeting the import freight, rather than the export freight – and to do that, we’ll need the intermodals,” said Lafforgue.
One voice
According to Priscilla Radice – Principal and Australasian Business Leader at professional consultancy Arup, the privatisation of Australia’s ports has had an unexpected effect on the conversation around freight in the country.
“With the privatisation of the ports, I don’t think anyone predicted how strong a voice [ports would] have,” said Radice, adding that their input in creating a strong supply chain is key, since ports are mode agnostic. Now, privatised ports are contributing to the conversation.
Radice noted that oppositional conversation about freight in unhelpful, especially in the government space.
“Having worked alongside governments, looking at light rail, passenger rail, road and inner-city shaping policies, I see that the oppositional speak of freight – road versus rail, freight versus commuter – I don’t think [it] helps,” she said. “Governments are shifting more and more towards city shaping, understanding their current ecosystem – they need the freight industry to provide a coordinated ‘one’ voice that is very clear […] so the supply chain does not happen in isolation.”
Radice advocated a holistic and united approach to infrastructure planning, noting that rail freight will always have to jostle for its slice of the pie after passenger rail.
“NSW Ports, your target of 40 per cent freight on rail is potentially in direct conflict with the densification of population along freight lines,” she said. “Look at what the freight piece is in the wider context for cities – you’ll never beat the commuter push. Governments need to know that the population is going to double, by getting smarter around all the technology freight will be what that looks like in terms of its infrastructure. You can’t continue to be oppositional.”
The rail freight industry has been handed an opportunity to prove itself viable as an alternative to road transport, though the years ahead will not be free of challenges. Key will be industry development focused on remaining competitive, speakers noted, whether that be through the development of intermodal freight terminals, sophisticated route planning and tracking technology, autonomous capabilities or otherwise.
With the nation’s rail experts already strategising for the various unknowns, the rail industry could be on the right track.

NHVR welcomes new SA Transport & Infrastructure Minister

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has welcomed the appointment of Stephan Knoll as South Australian Transport and Infrastructure Minister.
NHVR Chair, Bruce Baird, looked forward to working with Knoll and the incoming South Australian government to deliver ongoing services to the state’s heavy vehicle industry.
“The incoming Marshall government has made announcements in relation to the movement of freight and I look forward to working with them to boost productivity for the local heavy vehicle industry,” said Baird.
“The NHVR has a close working relationship with South Australian transport and police agencies and we will continue to develop those relationships in the years ahead.
“I congratulate Stephan on behalf of the NHVR staff and board, and look forward to working with him to deliver an on-going agenda to reform heavy vehicle safety and productivity.”
Knoll will replace outgoing Minister, Stephen Mullighan, as a Minister responsible for the NHVR in South Australia.

New Transport Minister talks regional, infrastructure priorities

The new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, has spoken to Logistics & Materials Handling about his new role, Australia’s upcoming big-ticket projects and the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“Small regional communities hold a special place in Australia,” he said. “Our vital supply-chain sector, road and rail, accounts for approximately 10 per cent of GDP and plays a pivotal role in supporting enhanced productivity and economic growth.”
He noted that investment in national roads, railways, improved port access, intermodal links, and the upgrade of hundreds of ageing bridges would have long-term benefits for all those using Australia’s transport networks, including public transport and heavy vehicles.
“I look forward to working with the freight and logistics sector to build on the progress that has been made through partnerships with all levels of government and industry to deliver a sustainable, safer and reliable freight network,” McCormack added.
He also shared his excitement for receiving the final report of the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities from the Expert Panel, which is likely to be unveiled at the ALC Forum, which is taking place this week.
“It is pleasing to hear of the strong interest and support the Inquiry process has received from industry, and I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts to address priorities raised through the development of a national freight strategy,” he said.
“Acting on these priorities will not only help drive the productivity improvements necessary to sustain and raise Australia’s standard of living and economic growth, but will also help to improve safety and environmental outcomes of the national freight sector.”

New Linfox CEO reveals safety agenda

Mark Mazurek, the recently appointed CEO of Linfox Logistics, has told Logistics & Materials Handling how the supply chain company intends to set an example for safe practice in Australia.
“In 2017, there were 168 fatal crashes in Australia involving heavy vehicles,” he said. “This is unacceptable and it tells us that safety requires relentless commitment.
“You can’t put an unsafe driver in a safe truck and expect it to be safe.”
He noted that Linfox implemented its own in-house strategy – Vision Zero – after realising that it would need a culture of safety in order to keep its people and the public safe. “We invest in technology to enhance that, but it starts with culture first,” he added. “We’ve reduced our LTIFR (Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate) by 90 per cent since 2006 so we’re getting something right, but we can never be complacent.
“Industry, government and road users have a role to play in creating a culture of safety on our roads.”
Mazurek added that it is crucial the Federal Government uses its influence in the best way. “The Government role is about creating consistency for the industry,” he said. “On a policy level, it is critical to align national heavy vehicle legislation across Australia to make operations simpler, more efficient and safer. This includes heavy vehicle maintenance standards, driver medical standards and heavy vehicle licencing.
“We’d also like to see greater restrictions on older vehicles and trailing equipment. We commend the work of the Australian Logistics Council and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in building momentum on this issue.”
Linfox would also like to see the Government advancing policy in mandatory telematics to assist with the management of speed, fatigue, mass and maintenance, and the development of an environment conducive to innovation, enabling technology to be trialled and implemented quickly, Mazurek shared.

Nationals appoint new Transport, Deputy Prime Minister

Barnaby Joyce has been replaced as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport by the new Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.
The new minister was sworn in on the morning of Monday 26 February after Joyce announced he would be stepping down from his position in the Cabinet.
McCormack declared his intention to run for the leadership of the National Party on Friday, 23 February, and was formally elected. National MP George Christensen contested the challenge, but said in a media statement later that he “looks forward to working with the new leader while representing the people of central and north Queensland.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement that he was delighted to welcome the appointment of McCormack as the new leader of the National Party.
Darren Chester, who until recently was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, welcomed McCormack and thanked Joyce for his efforts.
“I welcome the election of Michael McCormack as leader of the Nationals,” said Chester. “His determination, professionalism and work ethic make him an ideal leader of our team.
“I want to acknowledge former leader Barnaby Joyce and recognise his many achievements as Deputy Prime Minister. Under his leadership, the Nationals delivered policies and projects that made a different in the lives of regional Australians.”
The road transport industry welcomed the appointment, including the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Geoff Crouch.
“Michael McCormack will bring great drive and determination to the infrastructure and transport portfolio,” said Crouch.
“I have known Michael for more than 20 years. He is a proven advocate for small business, and regional and remote Australia. I’m confident he’ll bring this drive and determination to supporting the road transport industry.”
Crouch said that Minister McCormack had demonstrated an understanding of the importance of the road transport industry, having said in Parliament [on 14 March, 2012]: “If it needs to be carried, carted, dumped, hauled, moved, shifted or transported, there is every likelihood a truck or trailer will be the most economical, fastest and most reliable way of getting it from point A to point B.”
Crouch said the appointment of Minister McCormack was an opportunity to focus the transport agenda on improving safety and boosting productivity.
“Trucking is critical to connecting Australians with goods and exports, as Michael McCormack knows well,” said Crouch.
“But road transport must be safe, and must keep Australian businesses competitive in global markets.
“The ATA looks forward to engaging with the Deputy Prime Minister on the need for independent and expert safety investigations of heavy vehicle accidents by the [Australian Transport Safety Bureau – ATSB – ed.] on implementing the new laws on Chain of Responsibility, and ensuring our fatigue laws and rest areas are focused on saving lives.
“We also need to enable economic opportunity by boosting productivity, improving road access, building better and safer roads and eliminating over-regulation,” he said.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said it is pleased that McCormack will also assume the role of Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“It is pleasing that the second most senior figure in the Government will retain portfolio responsibility for this crucial area, given the importance of developing transport infrastructure to support national supply chain efficiency and build Australia’s export capacity,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.
“As an industry leader on freight and supply chain policy, ALC always seeks to have a cooperative and productive relationship with the key ministers in portfolio areas that impact our industry,” he said.
Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson also welcomed the appointment. “The Victorian Transport Association wishes to congratulate Michael McCormack on his election as Leader of the Nationals, and his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport,” said Anderson. “We have worked closely with his predecessors in these vital portfolio areas, and we look forward to working with the Minister and his team to develop policies and solutions that improve conditions for freight and logistics operators throughout Australia.”

VTA, RFNSW advise operators on infrastructure surcharge hike

Stevedore Patrick recently advised road and rail freight operators of plans to increase infrastructure surcharges at its terminals from 12 March.
The new rates are as follow:
Melbourne: $47.50 per box
Sydney: $41.10 per box
Brisbane: $38.25 per box
Fremantle: $7.50 per box
The increases will apply to both road and rail transport operators for full import and export container movements at the terminals, and will be “subject to an annual review,” with any price change to apply from 1 July 2018.
Road operators will continue to be invoiced electronically via 1-Stop.
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has written to members to urge them to pass on infrastructure surcharge increases, saying ultimately consumers must bear the brunt of supply-chain cost increases.
“Operators continue to face unprecedented increases to infrastructure and road-user charges in and around the Port of Melbourne,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson.
“It is vital these and other cost-of-business increases are absorbed through the supply chain for freight businesses to remain sustainable and viable in a competitive trading environment,” he said.
“The VTA has long argued that consumers need to understand that price increases brought about by higher business and transactional costs will ultimately have to be passed on to them because businesses already operating to tight margins will go out of business if they try and absorb the costs,” said Anderson. “Consumers are the ultimate benefactors from receiving goods delivered by the transport industry, and therefore they need to be subjected to the same price increases operators and other participants in the supply chain are required to take on.”
Road Freight New South Wales CEO Simon O’Hara has responded to the fee hikes, calling for oversight, accountability and transparency to guide the actions of stevedores.
“Patrick’s infrastructure surcharge has gone from zero to $25.45 to $41.10 in less than a year,” he said. “That’s a massive increase with little justification.”

VISA Global Logistics joins MEGATRANS2018

Award-winning Australian international logistics company and freight forwarder, VISA Global Logistics, is joining inaugural supply chain event, MEGATRANS2018, to showcase its service offerings.
VISA Global Logistics CEO, Simon Hardwidge, said that MEGATRANS2018 is not just about equipment suppliers, it embraces the entire freight and logistics chain.
“As a global enterprise with dealings with importers, exporters, retailers and manufacturers, VISA Global Logistics is seizing an important opportunity to represent at MEGATRANS2018 to demonstrate how we add value to our clients,” said Hardwidge.
“As one of Australia’s largest privately-owned international freight forwarding companies, we have an extensive global network that continues to grow.
“Last year alone, the company acquired offices in India, Spain and the Netherlands while opening new facilities in Italy. In order to remain competitive, and to look to the future, it is vital for businesses in the freight and logistics space to push innovation and share ideas.”
VISA Global Logistics was awarded the Freight Forwarder of the Year Award at the 2017 Australian Shipping & Maritime Industry Awards.
MEGATRANS2018 aims to bring together leaders and stakeholders in the wider Australian and international supply chain, including those in the transport, logistics, warehousing solutions, materials handling and infrastructure sectors.

Storage, telematics and communications specialists sign on for MEGATRANS2018

Headland Machinery, specialist in quality, reliable automated vertical storage and retrieval systems, will showcase its wares and market offerings at MEGATRANS2018 this May.
With a strong history of supplying and servicing machinery to a range of industries across Australia and New Zealand, the Australian-owned and operated business is a welcome fit to the inaugural supply chain and logistics trade event in Melbourne.
Also joining the line-up is vehicle and logistics technology specialist Caltex Telematics.
Caltex Telematics’ fully integrated technology to provide insights on the performance of both vehicles and drivers. The company’s systems are configurable and can identify potential issues early to help keep fleets running safely and efficiently on the road.
Simoco Wireless Solutions will bring wireless solutions and communications technologies expertise to MEGATRANS2018.
The business specialises in building communications networks for industry sectors where reliability, integrity and clarity are of utmost importance, including utilities, transport, government infrastructure and public safety.
Find out more about exhibiting at and visiting MEGATRANS2018 here.

Australian Border Force in for MEGATRANS2018

The Australian Border Force, which plays a vital role in protecting Australia’s borders, has signed on to exhibit at inaugural supply chain expo MEGATRANS2018.
Responsible for the protection of Australia’s border in partnership with a range of intelligence, law enforcement and other agencies, Australian Border Force also has a major role in managing the movement of goods across the nation’s borders. This includes Australia’s airports and seaports, making it a significant addition to the MEGATRANS2018 lineup.
The trade show is set to bring together leaders and stakeholders in the wider Australian and international supply chain, including those in the transport, logistics, warehousing solutions, material handling and infrastructure sectors.

Victorian Roads Minister to address 2018 VTA State Conference

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has announced that Luke Donnellan, Victorian Minister for Roads, Ports and Road Safety, will address its State Conference.
The VTA has invited around 40 high-profile speakers from the Victorian and national freight and logistics industry, including Sal Petroccitto, CEO, NHVR; Duncan Elliott, CEO, North East Link Authority; Chris Koniditsiotis, CEO, Transport Certification Australia; and David Hodgett, Shadow Roads and Ports Minister, to share insight on critical industry issues.
“Our members are in business to facilitate the efficient movement of goods through the supply chain, but to do this it is essential for them to be profitable and successful,” Peter Anderson, CEO, VTA.
“As an association we make no apology for helping members to succeed, which is why the conference is being developed with sustained profitability and success – and how to achieve it – as a core theme.”
The event, themed Profit or Perish: Achieving Sustained Success in Transport, will take place in Lorne, 18–20 March.
Anderson said the association was thrilled that Minister Donnellan had accepted the invitation to address the gathering of members and other industry participants.
“Minister Donnellan is a great friend and supporter of the VTA and his attendance at our conference reflects the immense contribution of Victorian transport operators to the state and national economy,” he said.
“With more than $40 billion earmarked for Victorian infrastructure spending over the next five years, roads, transport and related issues will loom large in this current election year.”

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