Criticism clouds NSW transport vision


Leading Australian logistics figures have criticised an ‘ambitious’ NSW Transport Master Plan as vague and unrealistic

Criticism clouds NSW transport vision
Criticism clouds NSW transport vision
By Sean Muir |
September 5, 2012

Ambitious and ambiguous are a couple of the words being used by the logistics industry to describe the eagerly awaited NSW Draft Transport Master Plan, released yesterday.

The plan contains close to 30 pages detailing the state’s current network challenges, which include road and rail bottlenecks, inadequate regulation, and a growing freight task.

Without committing to definite timelines or funding, the document goes on to offer 39 ‘actions’ to improve NSW freight movement within next 20 years.

Key actions highlighted in the plan include:

- Releasing the NSW Port Strategy

- Protecting strategic freight corridors

- Identifying future demand for network capacity

- Developing growth plans for NSW Ports

- Preparing an action plan for Port Botany

- Developing a project pipeline to support network capacity, and piloting higher productivity vehicles (HPVs)on the Hume Highway

- Implementing rail infrastructure improvements to increase freight carried on rail

- Implementing a new measurement framework to assess network performance, and the development of measures to grow off peak traffic movements.

But the plan has not been received without scepticism.

Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Managing Director Michael Kilgariff says while the plan demonstrates a willingness to improve freight efficiency, the government needs to turn its intentions and rhetoric into action.

Specifically, Kilgariff calls for the timely release of the NSW Port and Freight Strategy, which he expects will focus on more tangible outcomes.

"What we are saying is that we would hope that when the freight and port strategy is released that it goes into a little more detail on a range of issues, such as the need for strategic freight routes to be identified, for funding mechanisms to be identified, and to basically be a plan based on action rather than just laying out the problems," Kilgariff says.

In a speech, obtained by SupplyChain Review, to be read at the Logistics and Materials Handling Mercury Awards tomorrow night, Kilgariff says across all government jurisdictions there are plans being made, but little action on the ground.

"For example, we have a national freight strategy underway at the Federal level, as well as freight strategies in NSW, Victoria and WA currently under development," Kilgariff’s speech says.

"We also have a national port strategy, which has just been finalised.

"ALC is keen for the Government to move past the publication of option papers, strategies and reviews and to take the decisions necessary to create a seamless national economy."

One of the key outcomes Kilgariff hopes will be committed to in the final NSW Transport Master Plan, due for release late this year, is freight corridor preservation.

"When it comes to the issue of corridor preservation, I’m reminded of the quote ‘Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement’," Kilgariff says.

Kilgariff’s sentiments are mirrored by those of University of Sydney’s Head of the Transport and Logistic Studies Institute, Professor David Hensher, who says the standout argument in the draft plan was the state’s need to define freight routes.

"The major contribution, if people picked it up, was the desire to get some well delineated corridors in the metropolitan areas which we make sure are preserved and not lost over time," he says.

But Hensher disagrees with the ALC that the overall plan needs more defined targets, although he concedes the plan is ambitious and ‘20 years is not long enough to achieve it’.

"What I think we need to do here is not get cluttered up with the issues of how do we prioritise immediately and where are we going to fund the stuff," he says.

"The trouble is, if you list too many projects without putting them into the broader framework you are going to be criticised for having no coherence."

"I really do believe this government will attempt to preserve the intention beyond the period which they are in government.

"Having said that, this is a consultation document with feedback and amendments due in November."

The NSW Draft Transport Master Plan can be viewed at http://haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/transportmasterplan.

Comments on the plan close on October 26.

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