Freight as crucial as passengers says cities report


Federal committee calls for proper planning, corridor protection and fleet age action

Freight as crucial as passengers says cities report
Action is sought on the ageing national truck fleet

 

The argument for the importance of freight to the functioning of society and for protecting freight paths has been won – in Canberra at least.

The federal parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities has released its Building Up & Moving Out report on the federal government’s role in the development of cities.

The report’s freight chapter begins with a ringing endorsement: "Freight connectivity is no less important than passenger connectivity."

The committee makes four major recommendations for federal action:

  • that planning at all levels include freight access as a matter of priority
  • the development of a national freight network, creating a strong system of multimodal integration based on dedicated freight nodes, prioritising the movement of freight by rail, separating freight and passenger movements where possible, and developing dedicated fast-rail and high-speed-rail passenger rail lines to relive the congestion of existing networks
  • road fleet modernisation
  • the development of the National Freight Performance Framework (NFPF).

Three of the four points should encounter little opposition in the governing Coalition now and should it be re-elected but then-transport minister Barnaby Joyce gave short shrift to any thought of positive action to tackle growing fleet age, a policy close to the Truck Industry Council’s (TIC’s) and Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia’s (HVIA) hearts.


Read how then-minister Barnaby Joyce viewed action on the ageing fleet, here


The committee wants Canberra to "develop incentives, including tax incentives, promoting fleet modernisation to make trucks safer, quieter and cleaner".

But it is the pivotal importance of proper planning and strategy that exercised committee minds the most.

"The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, as part of the system of master planning under the national plan of settlement:

Require all levels of government provide for the accommodation of and access to dedicated freight facilities, that planning at all levels include freight access as a matter of priority, and that in the planning of areas consideration be given to prioritising the needs of existing and approved freight terminals. This should include provision of Urban Consolidation Centres and shared parcel lockers at a regional and local level.

Give priority to the development of a national freight network, with a view to creating a strong system of multimodal integration based on dedicated freight nodes, prioritising the movement of freight by rail, separating freight and passenger movements where possible, and developing dedicated fast-rail and high-speed-rail passenger rail lines to relieve the congestion of existing networks."

And while it backs intermodalism, it wants more attention given to freight hub location, saying "simply shifting intermodal hubs to the outskirts of cities increases carriage time and distance at the expense of efficiency and increased traffic".

Though rail is backed for its ability to shift freight off roads, thereby easing road congestion, this needs to be part of a system focused on efficiency down to the individual level.

"The transfer of freight to rail would also be assisted by a deliberate focus on multi-modal integration," the committee finds.

"As with passenger transport, there needs to be a focus on freight movement through an integrated multi-modal network rather than just a series of point-to-point movements.

"Consideration should be given to the development of freight nodes at a regional and local level through the use of Urban Consolidation Centres and shared parcel lockers."

The full report can be found here.

 

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