Welcome rail spend to complement INSW plan


Sign-off on $1.1 billion in Northern Sydney Freight Corridor State and Federal spending has been widely welcomed and should dovetail nicely with Infrastructure NSW’s investment strategy for the city. <br /><br /> Both the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and Australasian Railway Association (ARA) backed the investment strongly and for similar reasons, including congestion the inexorable projected growth of the nation’s freight task and environmental matters. “The Northern Sydney Freight Corridor will complement the Southern Sydney Freight Line – both of which are important projects to improve the efficiency of freight movements into and out of the city ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff says.

By Rob McKay | December 8, 2011

Sign-off on $1.1 billion in Northern Sydney Freight Corridor State and Federal spending has been widely welcomed and should dovetail nicely with Infrastructure NSW’s investment strategy for the city.

Both the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and Australasian Railway Association (ARA) backed the investment strongly and for similar reasons, including congestion the inexorable projected growth of the nation’s freight task and environmental matters.

"The Northern Sydney Freight Corridor will complement the Southern Sydney Freight Line – both of which are important projects to improve the efficiency of freight movements into and out of the city ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff says.

"ALC has long argued for more targeted road and rail investment in the critical Sydney to Newcastle freight route to increase capacity in the region and to tackle growing congestion.

"This congestion not only causes delays which restrict economic activity, it also has a range of environmental and social spin offs, particularly for people living in metropolitan Sydney.

"The decision to construct additional sections of track, as well as new passing lanes and underpasses is a welcome step that will help the freight and logistics industry to meet rising demand in this fast growing region.

"This growth was highlighted in a recent Access Economics Report, which found that by 2020 the NSW economy will have grown by 30 percent, and its population will have reached 8 million people.

"When you combine these projections with the Government’s own forecasts that show the freight task is going to double by 2030 and almost triple by 2050, it is clear that action is needed now."

The spending decision "showed a welcome reversal in the trend where freight is treated as the ‘poor cousin’ when it comes to infrastructure planning.

"Neglecting the needs of freight in the planning process can lead to it being locked out in some sectors which adds to the cost of moving goods – a cost that ultimately flows on to consumers."

ARA CEO Bryan Nye used his response to take the Federal Government to task over the discriminatory carbon tax impact on rail compared with road.

"As well as being good for our environment, more freight travelling by rail will also reduce the amount of traffic on our roads, reducing congestion and making our roads safer," Nye says.

"Rail is the obvious solution to congestion; one freight train takes 150 trucks off the road, providing safer roads for our commuters and reducing wear and tear on our roads."

The spending should complement Infrastructure NSW’s (INSW) plans to ease congestion around Port Botany.

INSW’s submission last month to Infrastructure Australia - on behalf of its Port Botany and Sydney Airport Transport Improvement Program, for which it wants $28 million in Federal and $7 million in State funds to research and develop – outlines the importance of rail and multimodal developments in the strategy.

This was crucial given port rail freight strategy failure in the past 10 years, with rail’s share falling from 22 percent to 14 percent.

Key aspects of the land transport challenges the submission identifies are:

  • Strong demand for travel in extended peak periods and lack of supply of road space (capacity and links) between Port Botany, Sydney Airport and Sydney’s west
  • Lack of a high quality road connection east of Strathfield in the M4 corridor
  • Constrained rail network capacity for freight services and a curfew applying to the movement of freight trains on the City rail network during peak passenger periods
  • Lack of high capacity rail terminal space and rail-based logistics capability
  • Absence of an effective pricing mechanism to constrain discretionary demand for transport capacity and rationalise space in favour of high value users
  • Absence of a public revenue stream to fund additional capacity in line with growing travel demands for people, business and goods.

However, the submission acknowledges the importance of road infrastructure will not diminish.

"Notwithstanding the potential for improved demand management and the targeted modal shift to rail for port traffic, it is expected that significant road investment will be required to support future growth in freight and general travel in the precinct," the submission states.

"Roads are expected to manage approximately 72 percent of the container freight task in 2020 and 80 percent of people movements in and out of the precinct in 2029."

Amongst other things, INSW expects the plan to Make better use of the existing road network and improve its operations by utilising managed motorway systems Integrate rail-based distribution networks serving the precinct and facilitate an improved competitive value proposition for rail freight; Manage demand for travel on the transport network by reviewing transport pricing policies to influence travel decisions around time of travel, mode choice and alternatives to travel; and cConsider the use of tolling as a mechanism to partially fund future initiatives

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