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Multi-modal approach the answer to congestion: Elphick

VFLC CEO says the rail network must improve to address landside port efficiency and traffic congestion

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | February 10, 2012

The carbon tax and the fuel excise are two major factors driving multi-modalism in Australia, Victorian Freight and Logistics Council CEO Rose Elphick says.

Speaking at the fifth Intermodal Asia 2012 conference in Melbourne yesterday, Elphick says the only way forward is to go multi-modal when dealing with congestion.

“Go multi-modal, move from a gateway to a network port modal which gives you the capacity to have a number of sites that replicate the functionality of the port that are not blue water sites,” Elphick says.

“There is no point in investigating in road infrastructure and the rail infrastructure sitting right next door to it in our inter capital corridors.

“We don’t have the money; we need to make the rail network work.”

Rail needs to be more customer-oriented with freight dispersed through modes, she adds.

“We find that many of our rail operators like to play trains, they don’t have very strong customer focus, and those only assets are focussed around rail operations as opposed to serving customers.

“We need to give our ports a fair chance of not choking on the landside congestion,” she adds.

“You can have as much capacity as you like in a terminal, you can be as efficient as you like but if the trucks are queued up down the road and the neighbours are screaming, you’ve got a problem.”

Urbanisation is affecting container movement, with Sydney critical due to the distance between the port and the industrial hub.

“Overnight shuttle rail distribution is an alternative that’s been looked at in most of our cities – the issue of course is the additional costs and lifts,” Elphick says.

“It is time for shippers to start to think about if you’re going to have a regular delivery, does that dog food and toilet paper need to go on a 24-hour cycle?

“If it’s going to come in twice a week dead on time, are you better to think about segmenting your products and looking at different opportunities rather than just ticking the 24-hour box?”

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