Power lines go underground to aid machinery transport

Powerlines between Perth and Pilbara will go underground in a move to cut delays and red tape in moving massive mining machinery.

It comes after miners have spent the past decade complaining of long lead times in permit approvals, police escorts and the need to raise powerlines during transportation.

WA transport minister Troy Buswell explained that "each time the lines are lifted the industry must pay Western Power or Horizon Power and, with the increase in movements of oversize loads, this cost – which is passed on to customers – is also increasing".

Buswell yesterday unveiled plans for a single application process for oversize load permits and clearance, slashing the planning times.

"Given the significance of the resources industry to the Western Australian economy, we need to make sure Government does what it can to allow the heavy haulage industry to operate as efficiently as possible," he said.

Buswell’s plan involved burying eight powerlines along the Grent Northern Highway between Perth and Newman.

The eight powerlines consist of two in Bindoon, three in Miling, and one in Pithara, Dalwallinu, and Wubin.

It will focus first on lines with a clearance of 6.5 metres, with higher lines to be considered after.

It will run over two months and cost around a quarter of million dollars, with Buswell adding that it will save companies approximately $15 000 per transportation.

"Given there were 849 oversize permits issued for loads travelling this route in 2011, the undergrounding of these lines will mean up to 90% of these loads will no longer require Western Power supervision," Buswell said.

"Once completed, Main Roads will look to identify other areas where this initiative will provide benefits to the transport industry."

There were approximately 90 applications a day for heavy equipment transportation since the start of this year.

On the back of this change Police have also looked to increase their involvement, adding another six people to the escort process.

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy director David Callachor welcomed Buswell’s initiative, saying it would lift some of the burden from mining and transport companies.

Toll’s green rise with new Isuzu CNG fleet deal

Australian transport and logistics provider, Toll Group, has claimed to successfully enhance its reputation as an industry leader in environmental sustainability following its latest fleet acquisition of Isuzu CNG (Compressed Natural Gas)-powered medium duty trucks.

In a statement released on Wednesday (28 March), the company said Toll IPEC’s recent order of 42 Isuzu FSR 700 CNG models adds to the company’s earlier CNG purchases, bringing the total number of Isuzu CNG trucks in Toll’s fleet to more than 70.

This latest acquisition is reportedly the largest single CNG fleet purchase since the launch of Isuzu’s second generation CNG models in 2009.

CNG-powered vehicles show reductions of around 50% of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), 98% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and emit virtually zero PM (particulate matter) when compared to similarly sized conventional diesel trucks.

Toll IPEC general manager, Rodney Johnston said the CNG additions to the current fleet would assist in helping the company reach its environmental goals, while helping provide operational efficiencies.

“One of Toll Group’s key objectives is to look at ways to manage the environmental impacts within our facilities and operations, and act to reduce our rates of emissions, energy and waste,” Johnston said in the statement.

Toll has been conducting extensive CNG trials since 2009, which have led to the most recent purchases.

The company said that the price of CNG is normally between 30 and 50 %less than the equivalent price of diesel and has the benefit of not being tied to international parity pricing. Additional benefits can be obtained by securing a fixed long term CNG price contract with the supplier which provides better balance sheet control and overall lower running costs, the company said.

While CNG public refuelling infrastructure is still in its infancy in Australia, more sites are steadily opening; most recently, the opening of a facility in Laverton, Victoria, which is capable of refuelling large CNG fleets.

Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) national fleet sales manager, Dean Stuhldreier said the company and Toll have shared a close working relationship in recent years, and was pleased to assist the logistics company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Toll Group is a company that recognised the potential of CNG as a transport fuel earlier than most,” Stuhldreier said.

“It’s always a challenge bringing new technology to market – to have interest from a well-regarded and high profile organisation such as Toll Group is very pleasing.

“Its acceptance and championing of CNG technology will encourage others to get on board and also reap the benefits.”

The Isuzu CNG range comprises four models: NLR 200, NPR 300, FSR 700 and FSR 850 CNG – all factory-backed.

Victoria gets serious with $1.1b for freight

Upgrades to Victoria’s freight network totalling $1.1 billion were announced yesterday as part of a $38b integrated transport plan by the Minister for Public Transport, Lynne Kosky, and the Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, while NSW premier Nathan Rees announced 75 new parking spaces.
Ms Kosky said a $180 million investment in the rail freight network, which would complete restoration of and maintain key Gold and Silver freight lines and rehabilitate selected bronze lines, would provide a significant economic boost to rural and regional industries.
“The government is taking action on transport, so that Victorians can have the best transport network in Australia,” Ms Kosky said.
 “Our $38 billion action plan will generate up to 10,000 jobs a year during construction, resulting in more than 100,000 jobs over the life of the plan.”
Ms Kosky said that since receiving the Rail Freight Network Review last December, the Brumby Government has committed funding to upgrade the Gold and Silver lines.
“This $180 million investment will allow us to go a step further and completely restore these lines to a standard that allows freight trains to run at speeds of at least 65 kilometres an hour,” Ms Kosky said.
“This investment also delivers funding for ongoing maintenance of these lines. This funding will also allow us to establish a network of intermodal freight terminals in key export locations around Victoria.”
Ms Kosky said the investment was further evidence of the Brumby Government’s commitment to supporting the long term future of the rail freight network.
“As Victoria’s population continues to grow, so too will our freight volumes and rail will need to take up an increasing share of the freight task,” she said.
“Ensuring our rail infrastructure is able to meet this challenge is a top priority for our Government. Our rail freight network helps take Victorian-made goods and produce to local, national and international markets.”
Ms Kosky said the investments were in addition to the almost $1 billion rail freight investment being made by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments.
The Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, also outlined a range of freight initiatives contained in Freight Futures, the Brumby Government’s freight strategy also released today.
Mr Pallas said the Brumby Government would build a new interstate rail terminal at Donnybrook, costing $340 million.
He said the Donnybrook Freight Terminal would help shift unnecessary truck trips away from the Dynon area and inner suburbs. The decentralisation of freight movement will drive freight efficiency and amenity by reducing non port-related freight movements in Melbourne’s inner-west.
Mr Pallas said a $260 million Port of Melbourne International Freight Terminal would be part of a network of metropolitan freight terminals, which will encourage more efficient freight movements within Melbourne by rail and road.
The new terminal, adjacent to the Port of Melbourne will enhance the Port’s landslide capacity and encourage rail freight.
Mr Pallas also announced the Victorian and South Australian governments would seek $340 million in Commonwealth Government funding to cement the Green Triangle region’s position as one of Australia’s premier export locations.
Among the top priorities is the re-opening and standardising of key rail freight lines in Victoria and South Australia, in particular the Heywood to Penola line and upgrading roads and creating access for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFV) on key routes, including to the Port of Portland.
Mr Pallas said the Brumby Government would start a $20 million program of preliminary planning for the future of the Port of Hastings, for it to be Victoria’s supplementary general cargo and container port when Melbourne reaches capacity.
“Expansion at the Port of Hastings is still a longer-term prospect, but it is important for detailed planning and environmental studies to begin,” he said.
The freight investment plan was part of a $38b integrated transport program announced by the Victorian Government, partly in response to the Eddington Report.
In contrast, NSW Premier Nathan Rees has announced 75 new parking spaces at Helensvale Railway Station, according to NRMA president Alan Evans.

Communication breakdown led to crash

The ATSB has found that a collision between a GrainCorp freight train and overturned truck occurred because train control could not contact the approaching train in the ten minutes or so before the collision.

The ATSB has found that a collision between a GrainCorp freight train and overturned truck occurred because train control could not contact the approaching train in the ten minutes or so before the collision.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its final report into the investigation of a collision that occurred at the Olympic Highway level crossing at Illabo in New South Wales on 2 November 2006.

At the time of the collision it was dark and raining. The semi-trailer overturned while negotiating the curve prior to the level crossing. The truck driver called ‘000’ and the message was relayed through to the Junee train control centre.

Unfortunately, the emergency message from train control was routed through to the wrong locomotive on the train. Had the message been received by the train crew the collision would probably not have occurred.

The investigation established that the train drivers and train controllers had failed to ensure that the primary radio communication system in the leading locomotive was switched on and registered on the CountryNet train communications system. The investigation also found that the train company’s policies and procedures, train control procedures and network rules failed to ensure that the train’s communication system was operative at the time.

In the interest of enhancing future road/rail safety, the ATSB has issued a number of recommendations that address various safety issues including the need to ensure that the primary radio communication system, CountryNet, is operational at all times in the leading locomotive of all trains in New South Wales.

Download the full report.

Australian container numbers down

The latest edition of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government publication, Waterline, has reported that the five port total of containers moved decreased from 733,677 in the March quarter 2007 to 707,166 in the June quarter 2007, a decrease of 3.6%.

Waterline also reported that the five port average container turnaround time was 22.7 minutes in the March quarter 2007 and 21.9 minutes in the June quarter 2007. The five port total of trucks processed decreased from 445,368 to 428,738, a decrease of 3.7%.

The five port average truck turnaround time was 39.1 minutes compared to 38 minutes while the five port average crane rate increased from 27 containers per hour in the March quarter 2007 to 27.2 in the June quarter 2007. The five port average vessel working rate has increased over the period from 36.7 containers per hour to 37.4.

News item courtes of the International Cargo Handling and Coordination Association (ICHCA) – contact  ichcaaus@bigpond.com for more information.

Eddington warns:

In his long-awaited report to the Victorian Government on Melbourne’s “East West Link Needs Assessment”, Sir Rod Eddington has issued a clear and urgent warning. “One message came through loudly, clearly and constantly during the EWLNA consultations: do something,” the report says.

More costly, less efficient freight movements will result, the report continues. “Unless action is taken to manage Melbourne’s rapidly growing freight task more efficiently, significantly higher costs will be incurred by business in moving goods around the city, as well as nationally and internationally.

“A less efficient freight network will have a highly negative impact on Melbourne’s and Victoria’s competitiveness. It will also result in more trucks using local streets, leading to declining community amenity.”

Sir Eddington made 20 recommendations in his report, of which the following concern freight specifically. These are summarised below.

Recommendation 5:

Community amenity in the inner west should be restored by implementing a Truck Action Plan to remove truck traffic from local streets in the inner west. The plan should include a series of targeted road improvements that form an effective bypass around residential areas, reinforced by local truck bans.

Recommendation 10:

The Victorian Government should re-evaluate its 30/2010 rail target (which aims to move 30 per cent of freight from and to all Victorian ports by rail by 2010), given the clear finding by the EWLNA that it cannot be met. The Government should create a new strategy and work with industry to develop and implement a detailed action plan for moving more freight by rail.

Recommendation 11:

The Government should take action to increase rail’s share of freight by:

• Ensuring the development of a single, common user, interstate, intermodal freight terminal north of the city on the Melbourne to Sydney rail corridor.

• Developing the standard gauge rail freight network to connect the interstate intermodal terminal with the key metropolitan freight hubs.

• Making and announcing concrete planning decisions about the future sites for metropolitan freight hubs.

• Ensuring that all future transport plans build in the connection of the Port of Hastings to the interstate standard gauge rail network.

Recommendation 12:

The Port of Melbourne Corporation should be given overall responsibility for implementing an intermodal hub network in Melbourne, including responsibility for achieving the Government’s revised rail freight target.

Recommendation 13:

Given the projected increase in the metropolitan freight task, the Government should take further action to improve the efficient movement of road freight by permitting the introduction of high productivity freight vehicles on designated routes.

Recommendation 17:

The Victorian Government should seek early discussions with the Commonwealth Government regarding a funding contribution from AusLink towards some or all of the EWLNA recommended projects. The Government should also work with the Commonwealth to extend AusLink to transport projects designed to relieve urban congestion.

The 96-page summary report can be downloaded here.

One in five died in the transport industry

The Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) chairman, Mr Bill Scales AO, has released the report "Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia, 2004 – 05", which shows that more than one in five (22%) workers to be killed on the job worked in the transport industry.

In October 2003 the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, which was replaced by the ASCC, acknowledged that the National Data Set for Compensation Based Statistics (NDS) did not adequately enumerate deaths in all industries as it is based on workers’ compensation data which relates only to employees.

To address this, a project was established to combine information from the Notified Fatalities Collection (NFC), the National Coronial Information Service (NCIS) and the NDS to better enumerate work-related deaths due to injury. This report is the second in the series as a result of this project.

Key findings of the report include:

•       249 persons died from work-related injuries while working for income. (2.5 deaths per 100 000 employed persons). 20 of these deaths (8 per cent) involved women. The Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry accounted for 27% (67 deaths) of the deaths, followed by the Transport and storage industry with 22% (55 deaths).

•       150 of the 249 fatalities were caused by mobile plant and transport with 58 due to trucks, semi-trailers and lorries and 43 due to cars, station wagons, vans or utilities.

•       The report identified an additional 98 employed persons who died from an injury incurred while travelling to or from work (1.0 death per 100 000), this number is known to be understated. In 65 per cent of cases, the deceased was a driver or passenger in a car or was hit by a car.

•       In addition, the report identified 58 persons who were killed as a bystander to work activity, though this number is also thought to be understated. 11 of these bystanders were children under the age of 18.

It is important to note that the number of work-related deaths identified in this report cannot be compared to those published in the 2003–04 report due to the introduction of a number of improvements to the way work-related injury fatalities are identified. The ASCC is continuing to investigate ways of further enhancing the collection especially in the areas of commuting and bystander deaths which are known to be underreported.

The ASCC has also released the Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 and Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report.

The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 summarises notifications of fatalities that have occurred during the first part of the financial year from 1 July to 31 December 2007. The next in the series is an annual report which will provide a detailed analysis of notified fatalities that have occurred in the whole financial year.

The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 shows that 72 notified work-related fatalities were reported to the ASCC by jurisdictional OHS authorities, of these 10 were bystander fatalities.

“It is pleasing to see that this is a slight improvement on the six-month figure reported for the previous financial year (1 July to 31 December 2006), which identified 78 work-related notified fatalities including 4 bystander fatalities,” Mr Scales said.

The Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report provides information about the movement in the incidence of occupational disease. This report is the second in a series of biennial reports, the first of which was published in April 2006.

“The release of these reports serves as a reminder to all of us that workplace safety is a priority and that Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions should continue to work together in an effort to implement OHS best practice and obtain the most relevant data on work-related injury fatalities.

“One death in the workplace is one too many," Mr Scales said.

The Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia, 2004 – 05, Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 and Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report are available for download from the ASCC website at www.ascc.gov.au.



Toll pipped in the growth stakes

The SmartCompany Dun & Bradstreet Industry Growth List for the transport and logistics sector reveals a fast-growing sector that is expanding through specialisation and acquisition, with small to medium-sized firms leading the charge.

A tidal wave of consolidation has changed the face of the industry as fast growing, mid-sized businesses gobble up the mum and dad operations that were once its bedrock.

That shift is reflected in the SmartCompany Dun & Bradstreet Industry Growth List for the transport and logistics sector, with the majority of businesses in the $10 million to $100 million revenue range.

The top of the list is peppered with small-to-medium-sized players: Basslink Logistics, Express Logistics Australia, Mermaid Marine Australia and Boyle’s Livestock Transport are just a few examples.

It is not just emerging companies that are doing well, however – some of the big fish have also prospered, chief among them industry giant Toll Holdings.

But while acquisitions are part of the growth story for most of the businesses at the top of the list, they are not the only factor. Especially for the smaller businesses, dominance of a relatively narrow industry niche has also been a key strategy.

Several businesses at the top end of the transport and logistics SmartCompany Dun & Bradstreet Industry Growth list fit the specialisation model.

Both Basslink Logistics (now called Totalcare Logistics) and Express Logistics have achieved some growth through acquisition, but both also have a distinct geographical niche.

The Express Logistics business has been built around servicing the trans-Tasman route, according to the company’s group commercial manager Dave Lovegrove.

The business’s focus on that niche has enabled it to combine significant organic growth and acquisitions to achieve impressive 80.4% revenue growth to more than $36 million in 2006-07.

Other high performers on the transport and logistics Industry Growth List have chosen the opposite strategy; working to make a virtue of sheer size and comprehensiveness.

The third company on the Industry Growth List, Toll, exemplifies this strategy. For the last 15 years Toll has pursued an aggressive strategy of acquisitions that has seen it become Australia’s largest transport and logistics company.

Despite its massive size – Toll’s revenue topped $7 billion in 2006-07 – the company achieved an impressive 68.7% growth over that period.

The scale of Toll’s acquisition program is illustrated by the fact that it now controls number four on the list, former Virgin Blue freight business Express Blue Air Freight, while the eighth business on the list, Patrick Autocare, is now controlled by Toll spin-off Asciano.

Challenges ahead

Businesses that achieve high growth in the transport and logistics sector over the years ahead will have to figure out how to overcome two key obstacles – soaring petrol prices and the skills shortage.

Rising petrol prices are putting the squeeze on margins, with those companies that are unable to pass the increased costs on to customers – mostly smaller firms – finding conditions particularly difficult.

The experience of one of the list’s top 10, Boyle’s Livestock Transport, reflects that of many other smaller businesses in the sector.

“Fuel costs are a huge concern. Fuel has gone up 20 cents in the last six weeks – five years ago fuel was 25% of turnover, now its 40%. Redoing your costings to make that work is pretty tough,” Anthony Boyle says.

As for the skills shortage, the industry will continue to struggle with the fact that it is not seen as a glamorous or lucrative career option by many school leavers.

You can read the full report and see the rankings here.


Adelaide Hills rail network study promised

The Mayor of Mitcham, Ivan Brooks, says he believes a study into the Adelaide Hills rail network would find that a bypass route is needed for freight trains, reports the ABC.

The study is being promised by the Coalition as part of its transport package for South Australia.

Mr Brooks says there should not be 12 to 18 freight trains travelling through the Adelaide Hills each day, sharing the line with passenger trains.

"The line was opened in 1883 to carry a little bit of freight and passengers," he said.

"It is very steep [and] very windy.

"It was never meant for what it is being used [for] today."

Mr Brooks says a ring route needs to be developed so the freight rail network goes around the city instead of through it.

He says there should be an accompanying road so semi-trailers do not have to use the South Eastern Freeway.

"We have been lucky recently with two or three accidents and fortunately no one has been seriously hurt,"

he said.

"It is only a matter of time.

"If we can take some of those trucks with the trains that do not need to come into Adelaide, that would be fantastic."

Transport & logistics industry goes techno to find new recruits

The nation’s fastest growing industry, transport and logistics, is tackling its ‘blue singlet’ image head-on to attract young Queenslanders into its workforce.Low unemployment, an ageing workforce, and a poor image are among the factors that are making it tougher and tougher for transport and logistics employers to recruit new workers.

Queensland Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations Minister John Mickel said the Queensland Government was working closely with the industry on innovative recruitment techniques and improved career paths, as well as making a massive investment in training under the Queensland Skills Plan.

The latest recruitment tool is a five-minute DVD, "Get your career moving in T&L" that visually captures career opportunities in road, rail, sea, and air transport.

"Many people aren’t aware of the magnitude of the transport and logistics industry and the exciting opportunities it offers for people of all ages and at all stages of their career," Mr Mickel said.

“Unfortunately, there’s still the stereotype of the truck driver in the blue singlet, but a career in transport and logistics covers air, rail, road and sea and includes air traffic controllers, marine engineers and logistics planners.

“The amount of freight moved around the country is expected to double by 2020 and we need to replace and boost the current 112,000 Queenslanders who are working in the industry now.”

Funded by the state government and produced in partnership with the Transport Industry Workforce Advisory Group, the new DVD will be screened in wide range of forums to jobseekers of all ages and backgrounds.

The state government is also working with schools, local communities, training providers and industry on school-to-work training programs for transport and logistics that give young people the pathways they need to progress within the industry.

Mr Mickel said the transport and logistics industry contributed $37.9 billion to the Queensland economy and needed to replace and renew its multifaceted workforce to maintain its performance.

“I’d urge young Queenslanders to check out the opportunities that a career in transport and logistics can offer,” he said.

For more information about the DVD, and career opportunities in transport and logistics, contact Queensland Transport’s Industry Capability Unit on

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