Industry focuses on ambitious SA Liberals' freight plan

SARTA raises cost impact query as SAFC critiques approach and missing consultation

Industry focuses on ambitious SA Liberals' freight plan
Steve Marshall’s plan fails to excite the SAFC



South Australian transport and logistics industry bodies have taken critical if relatively divergent positions on the SA Liberals’ $3 billion GlobeLink infrastructure plan.

SA Liberal leader Steve Marshall released the blueprint that includes a dedicated freight airport at Monarto, based on the export-focused Wellcamp facility near Toowoomba, and a toll-road and rail freight bypass ending north of Adelaide.

Containing a significant road safety and city congestion-busting element, GlobeLink is a multimodal concept for a non-stop 150km freight corridor bypassing Adelaide, with the airport and Intermodal Export Park at the Murray Bridge end and a non-stop road and rail corridor leading to a link with existing national corridors.

The SA Road Transport Association (SARTA) is supportive of the ideas and will look to be involved in concept preparation but support would hinge on cost-effectiveness and savings for its members.

However, The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) has described the concept as unviable and against the state’s interest.

SARTA has pledged to participate in in the Liberals’ $20 million planning and business case study, if it goes ahead.

"If a viable alternative route is able to be developed SARTA will always consider it.

"To be viable for the road transport industry, any new route would need to provide a more cost-effective route than the current SE Freeway," executive director Steve Shearer says. 

"If all an alternative route does is to redirect the 60% of trucks  coming down the SE Freeway descent that are not local trucks, whilst pushing our costs up, then it is unlikely that we would support the route.

"So we will see what comes of this concept which, for the first time as we understand it, is for an alternative dual road and rail corridor and we welcome the study proposal. 

"The SE Freeway and the Portrush Road upgrades that delivered the roads as they are today, were funded as a road freight route.

"Diverting trucks off them just to improve community amenity will not be acceptable to the industry but if a new alternative route can be delivered with cost-savings to the industry, which is what the study will have to determine, then obviously we would be interested. This could even include payment of a Toll provided that any Toll on the new route is less than the savings for the operators' use of it.

"We will not agree to pay more, as we are already overcharged by all the state, territory and federal governments. 

"The other factor that needs consideration is the safety and fatigue management impacts that may flow from a longer alternative route. " 

Expressing disappointment at a failure to consult with it on the concept, SAFC says some of the ideas have been reviewed before and found wanting.

"Airports are not sustainable purely on freight," SAFC executive officer Evan Knapp says.

"The majority of air exports go in the belly of passenger aircraft – it is the combination of the two that makes such services viable.

 "The rail bypass touted by the Opposition has been studied numerous times and proved non-viable.

"It could actually hurt our state by ensuring that Melbourne-Perth services bypass Adelaide completely and do not stop to pick up our freight.

"We support further investigation of the road route, but we have doubts as to its viability as a toll route due to volumes, and heavy freight access will still be required on the South Eastern Freeway and Portrush Road to service the south and eastern suburbs."

The SAFC recommended the "billions of dollars" that would need to be invested on GlobeLink would be better spent on:

  • completing the North South Corridor along South Road by 2025
  • committing to tackling SA’s significant road maintenance backlog, and/or
  • addressing the condition of SA’s regional rail lines on the Eyre Peninsula and Murray Mallee.

"We are disappointed the freight industry was not consulted on this plan prior to its public announcement," Knapp says.

"We have serious concerns about GlobeLink and we would have flagged them if they had consulted us and other freight industry bodies.

"That said, we stand ready to assist in the community consultation promised by the Liberals."

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook