Wednesday 13th Dec, 2017

The future of freight in New South Wales is up for industry comment

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

THE NSW Draft Freight and Ports Plan has been released by the state government, which is seeking feedback from industry to help shape the future of freight in the state.

The plan says it will create a future transport system for the state by:

  • “Continuing to invest in road and rail infrastructure to provide greater access on the networks;
  • “Facilitating the introduction of new technologies to drive efficiencies on the network;
  • “Utilising dynamic network management that prioritises vehicles depending on productivity, type of use and time of day;
  • “Reforming road, rail and maritime regulations to harmonise cross border regulatory regimes that will drive economic efficiencies; and
  • “Investing and managing infrastructure that separates freight from passenger movements in congested corridors – especially near trade gateways.”

Minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey said the freight industry plays a vital role in the movement of $200bn per year in goods across the state.

“The economic boom in NSW and the increasing demand for our exports internationally means that freight volumes are forecast to double in the greater Sydney area in the next 40 years and grow by a quarter in regional NSW,” she said.

“Our major commercial ports at Port Botany, Port Kembla and Newcastle are managing increasing volumes of imported and exported goods, requiring faster, more efficient road and rail access with our Sydney and regional NSW markets.”

Ms Pavey said a strong plan was needed to ensure that the state’s farmers, miners and industries can respond to opportunities, benefiting the NSW economy and local communities.

The plan, when finalised, is intended to guide future developments for the freight sector, taking into consideration issues raised by technological advancements and increased urbanisation.

“Technological changes has the opportunity to provide huge opportunities for improving the movement of freight,” Ms Pavey said.

“We want to play a strong role in supporting industry as it continues to innovate and take advantage of these opportunities.”

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) found the plan to be an encouraging sign that freight efficiency is being embraced in NSW’s long-term infrastructure plans.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said many of the priorities outlined in the draft plan would complement those that have been included in other significant NSW government transport plans released over the past two months.

“In particular, the suggestion contained in the draft Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan that a last mile freight policy be developed and implemented is one that will have the whole-hearted backing of ALC,” Mr Kilgariff said.

He went on to say ALC had been working closely with industry throughout this year to help inform the federal government’s development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

“Throughout that process, the challenge of delivering freight in increasingly congested CBD areas has been a constant refrain, particularly in relation to the Sydney CBD,” he said.

“Similarly, it is pleasing to see the draft plan also supports increasing road and rail capacity around Port Botany, including duplication of the freight rail line at the port; this is a vital national economic imperative, and its positive impacts would be felt beyond the borders of NSW.”

Mr Kilgariff also noted that the plan acknowledged the need to protect key freight corridors and role technology will play in enhancing the efficiency and safety of supply chains in the state.

The draft plan mentions the issue of coastal shipping, saying: “further investigation is warranted to assess the feasibility and viability to expand NSW inter and intra state coastal shipping, with particular regard to alleviating potential road and rail freight network constraints”. This falls in its 10-20 year initiatives.

Also, on the subject of Inland Rail, the plan says a key focus for NSW is to ensure that Inland Rail optimises the movement of freight in regional NSW through linkages to the three major ports in the state.

Additionally, the plan looks at the future of the state’s air freight task. With planning for the Western Sydney Airport, the importance of freight planning around the site “cannot be understated”, the draft plan says.

Key priorities for the site include preserving land for transport corridors, enabling development of a fuel pipeline, shifting as much passenger and freight traffic to rail as possible, and ensuring connections between Sydney’s current and future airports for the efficient transhipment of goods.

Feedback and formal submissions are to close in late March 2018.

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