ALC outlines top 24 freight bottlenecks in time for ATC meeting

By: Jason Whittaker

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has identified the top 24 freight bottlenecks in need of urgent attention, with a distinct

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has identified the top 24 freight bottlenecks in need of urgent attention, with a distinct focus on rail.

The mode featured in five of eight infrastructure priorities outlined by the ALC, which consulted with the supply chain industry when drawing up the list. Rail makes up the top four priorities in the ALC’s infrastructure wish list.

This includes investing more in the north-south rail network so rail can eventually become the predominant mode for freight going from Melbourne to Brisbane, as well as an expansion of the east-west rail network so it can accommodate growth.

The ALC also wants grain networks upgraded and short haul rail routes developed to link intermodal terminals and container ports to increase efficiency.

The identified infrastructure blockages are one part of three categories outlined by the ALC. It has broken down the remaining bottlenecks into regulation and planning areas.

The remaining infrastructure priorities include ensuring efficient shipping channels, investing more in rest areas so truck drivers can comply with impending fatigue management regulations and accelerating the implementation of B-double and B-triple networks.

In order to streamline regulation, the ALC wants uniform technical and safety rail standards, a simplified Public Private Partnerships (PPP) approval process as well a road pricing reforms.

Governments are also being called to break down the regulatory barriers currently restricting the introduction of innovative high productivity vehicles such as Super B-doubles.

The planning category calls for a clear and comprehensive transport plan, the identification of future intermodal hubs, clarity surrounding access corridors, a freight and logistics strategy covering rural and urban freight movements in all states, and a national assessment of the effect climate change will have on transport infrastructure in terms of cost and reliability.

"I call on all governments to urgently act on these jams, clearing the way for industry to cater for the predicted doubling of our freight task over the next 15 years," ALC Chairman Ivan Backman says.

According to Backman, most of the 24 bottlenecks identified can be addressed immediately without much cost to governments.

"While a number of these blockages for urgent attention are infrastructure upgrades requiring government investment, many are relatively inexpensive regulatory or planning solutions, such as better planning for access to intermodal terminals and significant ports."

The ALC’s wish list coincides with today’s Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting in which state and territory ministers will meet with their federal counterpart to work out how to implement a national transport plan.

There is concern within the industry the meeting will, like previous ones before, will be dominated by parochial interests with ministers implementing their own agendas rather than pushing for uniformity.

But Backman warns the ATC it must work together if it is to fix supply chain bottlenecks threatening to overwhelm the industry, saying ministers "must act not just talk".
"Fixing these top two dozen blockages is vital. Without action our freight arteries will clot," he says.

Backman also took a swipe at states picking apart fatigue laws due to come into force in September, while reiterating industry calls for higher productivity vehicles.

Queensland has ignored the national rule that stipulates those operating within 100km of the company’s depot will not need to fill out a logbook. The State will grant 200km. Furthermore, Victoria will not allow split rest breaks.

"The real willingness for change endorsed by ministers must now be backed up with real action. It is critical for the health of our nation we clear these top 24 blockages," Backman says.

Click here to see the top 24 bottlenecks.

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