NSW ministers beat path for automated transport

Future Transport 2056 to have autonomous trucks and platooning in the mix

NSW ministers beat path for automated transport
Parliamentary secretary for northern NSW Ben Franklin, Andrew Constance, Melinda Pavey and Member for Lismore and deputy speaker Thomas George launch the regional 40-year vision


Amid the headlines on the ‘three Sydneys’ concept, little was heard officially on the freight vision of the draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy for New South Wales.

Now, state roads, maritime and freight minister Melinda Pavey and transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance have spoken of planning for semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, including trucks and platooning on regional roads and highways.

Part of the draft strategy is the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan.

Launching the draft regional plan in Ballina, Constance nailed down the government’s acceptance that trucks as well as cars will have an autonomous component, while Pavey emphasised her desire to have autonomous vehicle trials on NSW roads.

"What we will see I believe over the next 15 to 20 years is a move from semi-autonomous vehicle functions in cars and trucks today, to one which will become fully autonomous," the ABC quotes Constance as saying.

"And we are working to make sure that with the advent of autonomous vehicles, particularly in the bush, we do actually look at what's required in an infrastructure sense."

Underpinning the direction is the expectation of a reduction in crash and fatality rates the technology aims to bring and an acceptance that technological change in transport and logistics is inevitable and must be catered for in infrastructure.

Pavey also expressed the wish to bring regional communities along with the trend rather than have them fall prey to a fear of the future.

The regional plan’s theme is "better regional inter-connectivity, enhanced east-west links and easier access to ports and other facilities will be an important focus, along with improving safety, reliability, efficiency and integrating services".

Freight is seen as a crucial aspect, with predictions it will double across metropolitan areas and increase 25 per cent regionally by 2056

"That’s a big number and an even bigger task to manage these increases safely, especially with the regional population expected to top 3.6 million over the same period," Pavey says.

"Some of this will be managed through technology driven improvements, but a lot of it will be through offering customers safe and reliable choices.

"We want to grow the industry as a whole and give people new and different travel options, not even dreamt of a decade ago."

The government also released a list of transport service and infrastructure initiatives for investigation to support the regional economies.

Those with a freight aspect include:

  • New England and North West: Upgrade of the Newell, Oxley, Gwydir, Kamilaroi, New England Highways; Within centre bus services; Inland Rail; Bridge upgrades on Inland Rail; Intermodal terminal
  • Far West: Highway Road sealing; Barrier Highway upgrade
  • Central West and Orana: Newell, Mitchell, Golden, Castlereagh highways upgrades; Rail; upgrade of Main West Line
  • South East and Tablelands: Upgrade of the Hume, Monaro, Barton, Snowy Mountains, Kings and Princes highways
  • Riverina – Murray upgrade of the Sturt, Newell and Hume Highways; Kidman Way; Inland Rail; Murray River bridges at Swan Hill, Yarrawonga and Mulwala.

Transport for NSW notes that NSW freight movements are predicted to increase from 426 million tonnes per year (mtpa) now to 628mtpa in 2056.

The overall freight movements in NSW can be categorised as:

  • a third of freight remains within region
  • a third involves major north-south movements
  • a third involves major east-west movements.

The north-south freight task in 2056 will be 246 mtpa and generally provides direct, efficient and with management will provide for future freight needs.

The east-west freight task will be 208 mtpa and generally limited by physical constraints and network restrictions.

"The growing freight task will see more heavy vehicles mixing with other vehicles and transport users on the road, which can increase risk for our customers.

"Measures that can improve both safety and efficiency of freight movement will produce better outcomes for our customers."

More to come


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