Queensland finally 'gets it' on freight


State government doubles funding to Queensland’s Transport and Logistics Council (QTLC) as it launches 'thin' freight transport vision

Queensland finally 'gets it' on freight
Queensland finally ‘gets it’ on freight

By Anna Game-Lopata | November 3, 2011

In a major step forward for the industry, the Queensland Government this week doubled funding allocated to the state’s peak transport and logistics body, the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council (QTLC).

Council
Chairman Neil Findlay confirms his belief that the funding reflects a significant change in strategy brought about by a close working relationship developed in the last few years between the Departments of Transport and Main Roads and QTLC.

"I’m certain the funding boost is a clear recognition of the importance of the role of freight transport, particularly in relation to the increasing problem of congestion in the South East of the state," Findlay tells SCR.

His comments are timed with the
launch today
of
the Bligh government's
"Connecting SEQ 2031" document
which presents the state’s vision for transport and infrastructure strategy.

With a heavy focus on public transport and "active" transport, an attempt to increase commuters’ desire to walk or ride a bike to work, Findlay says the document is decidedly "thin on detail" in relation to deliverables for the freight network.

"It’s clear the people driving the document still weren’t fully aware of the stature of freight issues in the market.

"Of course, there’s nothing wrong with vision and policy around public transport, but if we don’t put some flesh on the bones of freight network policy and priorities, we’re going to be in quite a bit of trouble, with the networks choked."

As an example, Findlay says the slightest disruption on the port motorway causes gridlock and rail access to the port is limited.

"With its new ownership, the Port of Brisbane is looking for growth, as are the many coal and other producers going forward. They all have capacity, but are consistently frustrated by poor inbound networks unable to get product to port," he says.

Connecting SEQ 2031, which acknowledges the need for greater rail access to the port, promises the "planning and facilitation of the Cross River Rail Project", one of many on the table to increase the capacity port network.

"The jury is still out about whether the Cross River Rail Project will deliver more pathways for freight to and from the port," Findlay says.

But over the last six to twelve months Findlay says he's
seen a perceptible shift in thinking not only in terms of the importance of planning better overall, but also the need to integrate the research and data from different silos of thinking so as to have a strategy that avoids clashes of economic interest and waste.

Findlay, who oversaw the delivery of Queensland’s Integrated Freight Strategy in close consultation with the government says Connecting SEQ 2031 was already underway before the Freight Strategy saw the light oif day.

"Connecting SEQ 2031 shows an awareness of the issues from the need to develop new intermodal terminals to the upgrade of the Port of Brisbane motorway, the improvement of rail freight networks and the need for an inland port,' he says.

"But all these issues have been on the agenda for some time."

Findlay says the extra funding will allow QTLC to step up its activities in 2012.

"Working closely with the government, we can use the Integrated Freight Strategy to pull together disparate information to enable significant decisions to be made
regarding projects, many of them mentioned in Connecting SEQ 2013,
which have been on the back burner until now."

"We’ve been in negotiations with the government for some time about the need for someone working for the Council on a full time basis, and I’m pleased to say the extra funding will mean we can appoint an executive officer to work on implementation of the Strategy next year."

Since the delivery of the draft strategy in December last year, Findlay says working groups have been set up to start delivering on the how the freight network issues can be melded into the state and local governments’ transport agenda.

The Access and Regulation group, primarily focusing on the road network was first cab off the rank. Rail issues will follow along with the Infrastructure and Planning group and Intermodal still in the pipeline for next year.

DELIVERY OF CONNECTING SEQ 2013

According to Connecting SEQ 2031 the government’s freight strategy includes:


Enhancing Acacia Ridge, including catering for 1500 m trains to provide an ultimate capacity to handle 750 000 containers per year, and more efficient road access

Maintaining options to expand the role of facilities at Fisherman Islands, including the Brisbane multi-modal terminal

A major new intermodal terminal in Bromelton to supplement capacity at Acacia Ridge

A potential new intermodal terminal at Ebenezer in conjunction with the proposed Southern Freight Rail Corridor

Smaller rail terminal facilities to meet the needs of individual significant freight users (at Bromelton, Australia TradeCoast and Swanbank)

A potential new intermodal terminal north of the Brisbane River with access to the North Coast Line to service the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast councils and freight from North Queensland.

Strategic motorway and highway projects are also identified, with particular focus on three long term projects to service proposed new freight terminals and connect major industrial areas around the region.

"Planning and strategic protection of these corridors should be completed as a priority," the document says.


Gateway southern extension to Jimboomba

Southern infrastructure road corridor from Jimboomba to Ormeau

Mt Lindesay Highway deviation west of Beaudesert to Bromelton.

"The strategic road freight network comprises priority 1 routes and local service corridors," the document adds.

"Priority 1 routes facilitate high volume, business-to-business freight movements. Local service corridors allow
freight to be distributed from factories or distribution centres to retail outlets or warehouses."

Freight network hot spots currently in still under investigations include:

• Mt Lindesay–Beaudesert strategic transport network investigation
• Gateway Motorway (extension south of Logan Motorway) investigation and preservation
• proposed inland rail between Melbourne and Brisbane (Australian Government project)
• preservation of the Southern Freight Rail Corridor from west of Rosewood to Kagaru.

Motorways

• Gateway Motorway (M1) upgrade from Eight Mile Plains to Nudgee
• Ipswich Motorway (M2) upgrade
• Cunningham Highway (15) upgrade (Ripley Road to Ebenezer)
• Airport Link (M7)
• East–West Arterial road upgrade (Airport Link to Gateway Motorway) (M1)
• Pacific Motorway (M1) additional lanes and interchange upgrades (Nerang to Smith Street)
• Toowoomba bypass second range crossing
• Legacy Way from Toowong to Kelvin Grove.

Rail freight

• dual gauging of existing track for freight from Acacia Ridge to Bromelton (completed)
• 4th track Corinda to Darra and resignalling Corinda Junction
• upgraded crossing loop at Murarrie
• upgrade Yeerongpilly to Dutton Park rail line.


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