Queensland delivers freight strategy

Queensland unveils new freight strategy integrating statewide issues across modes and sectors

By Anna Game-Lopata | Deember 9, 2010

Queensland is the second cab off the rank after Victoria to deliver a freight strategy integrating statewide issues across modes and sectors.

Developed by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads with the support of the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council (QTLC), the draft strategy is the culmination of just over a year of intensive research and stakeholder consultation.

QTLC Chairman Neil Findlay, who has played a significant role in driving the strategy, says it pulls together a deal of good but disparate work carried out over many years.

"The strategy isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ of freight strategy in Queensland," Findlay says.

"It’s not an end but a beginning."

"The strategy is a long term document looking ahead 20 years. It aims to put smarter systems and processes in place now to head off some of the problems we’re currently facing, notably congestion."

Findlay points to the recent rapid growth of the freight sector in Queensland, against the backdrop of a population spurt and the rise of the resources sector as the prime motivation for the industry to shift and adapt.

"A few years back the Surat Basin was just an idea, yet now it’s poised to be a very substantial resource on a national scale," he says by way of example.

"Such changes along with population growth significantly change the dynamic for the movement of freight."

While Findlay stresses the strategy addresses freight industry issues across the state, he admits many of the critical issues arise in Brisbane and Queensland’s south east, especially in terms of access to and from the port.

"Congestion and access to the port applies to both road and rail," he says.

"We currently suffer severe constraints getting freight to and from the Port of Brisbane and the freight strategy will offer a long term solutions to those issues.

"In addition the ramping up of freight movements associated with resources and energy developments such as gas and coal, is putting pressure on the freight network."

Findlay says a number of working groups are currently being established to look over the strategy and speak to industry and government to tease out improvements.

"The working groups will focus on issues such as infrastructure, intermodal freight, access and regulation," he says.

"Membership for these groups is currently being sought."

"We’ll be looking at performance based standards for road transport, the synergies between rail and ports and the wisdom of inland ports.

"We’ll be working closely with other agencies, state and local government, especially Brisbane City Council, which has an enormous footprint across the south east.

"We’ll also consider the best proposals for upgraded rail transport into NSW.

"The groups will have all the issues and opportunities on the drawing board to deliver the best possible way forward for Queensland and the rest of the nation."

Findlay says QTLC is also working closely with councils in other states to ensure the Queensland strategy is aligned with the national freight agenda.

The draft strategy has been delivered to the Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace with some upfront deliverables, but Findlay says the hardest work about to commence through the working groups will be ongoing.

"The working groups might have a project to project life of about a year but realistically some of the tasks are ongoing," he says.

"We see the interim strategy as a live, evolving document, an assessment of where we stand at the current time and a pathway forwards."

Deliverables include continuation of the upgrade of the road network from Toowoomba to Port of Brisbane and other infrastructure projects through the State Government and Brisbane City Council.

Findlay says the recent upgrade of the network to PBS status is one of the most significant developments in Queensland for decades.

"Allowing 30 metre vehicles on that route has enabled dramatic productivity and safety gains for industry, in some cases up to 100 percent increases in productivity," he says.

"That’s a deliverable occurring right now and we’ll be able to expand that."

While passenger transport isn’t directly in the QTLC charter Findlay says it cannot be divorced from the freight strategy.

"We all have to share the roads and rail tracks, so we also have an interest in new passenger rail developments with significant impacts on freight movements," he says.

Findlay stops short of giving specifics, but says the working groups will liaise with local and state infrastructure bodies to fund bridge upgrades
"We’ll be lending our expertise in the infrastructure space to assist with funding and add value to what existing agencies are currently achieving," he says.

Queensland’s freight strategy will have national applications especially in relation to freight network strategy, funding and security.

"There’s been a lot of work good work done in these areas but until now, no-one’s put it all together," Findlay says.

"It has been hard for anyone at a federal level to get a handle on what’s going on in Queensland."

"This document allows just that to happen: it’s a quick referencing point, and we expect it will be a focus for freight strategy development in the years ahead."

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