VTA to highlight major gaps in Eddington transport plan

By: Jason Whittaker

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has commissioned a comprehensive review into Sir Rod Eddington’s Investing in Transport study in order

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has commissioned a comprehensive review into Sir Rod Eddington’s Investing in Transport study in order to highlight major gaps in the report.

The VTA’s sub group, the Logistics Managers Group (LMG), will go through the report because VTA Chief Executive Phil Lovel says the study’s recommendations do not go far enough towards creating a more reliable and efficient freight transport network.

While encompassing the whole study, the review will focus particularly on Eddington’s views on rail freight, key road links and calls to implement truck bans in local areas.

Lovel says the Government needs to focus on the whole of Melbourne, not just an "East West snapshot", if it is serious about ensuring the city can cope with the burgeoning freight task.

"There are major gaps in the report," Lovel says.

"Of most concern is the omission of the North-Eastern connector to form a link to the south east from the Western Ring Road, and the high level of co-dependency built into all the important freight-benefit projects.

Lovel agrees with Eddington for an alternative to the Westgate Bridge, but says new routes should be constructed as soon as possible even if other projects are not carried out simultaneously.

"The alternative to the Westgate Bridge is vital to the economic functioning of the city and should not be made dependent on other projects," he says.

The VTA is also expected to be highly critical of Eddington’s proposed Truck Action Plan, which calls for new routes around Melbourne to take trucks from local areas such as Francis Street. In order to enforce local traffic bans, Eddington wants penalties imposed once the new bypasses are in place.

"The VTA does not support the half a billion dollars proposed for a diversion of truck traffic from Francis Street, and will not support any truck bans," Lovel says.

Nor does it support Eddington’s push for the Government to force more freight onto the rail network as soon as possible, with Lovel saying the current situation does not permit such a move.

"Rail is restrictive and inflexible for freight as it is running on the passenger network," he says.

He does, however, echo Eddington’s calls for higher productivity vehicles, such as super B-doubles, to be given greater access to Melbourne’s road network in order to slash running costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase freight capacity and reduce the number of trucks operating.

During the review, the LMG will consult with VTA members in order to provide a clear response to Eddington’s study.

The Victorian Government has given until July 15 for companies and individuals to submit responses.

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