With freight movements in Australia expected to nearly double to 1,000 billion tonne kilometres by 2030, the nation faces an enormous freight task in the coming decades.
In response to this, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese has released Australia’s first National Land Freight Strategy. The strategy comes following consultation with both governments and industry, with no fewer than 70 organisations and individuals providing submissions.
The strategy’s overriding aim is to increase Australia’s competitiveness, lower the costs of doing business, and improve the use of road and rail networks.
It will provide a framework for a coordinated, national freight network of ports and the roads and railways that link them to ensure that the country gets the best out of existing infrastructure and that future needs are identified and prioritised.
Recommendations include the use of more productive freight vehicles; dedicated rail freight infrastructure; and linking proposed ports with transport corridors needed for exports, including the mineral resources sector.
The strategy also seeks to establish mechanisms to develop a long-term pipeline of infrastructure projects to attract investments by both government and private investors and to ensure that the right investments occur at the right time.
“Quite simply our aim is to build and maintain a modern, well-planned, efficient and safe freight and logistics network that supports rather than hinders Australia’s future economic development,” said Albanese.
To date 3,800 kilometres of existing track have been upgraded and 3.4 million old timber sleepers have been replaced with new Australian-made concrete sleepers.
Once the planned investments in rail are finalised by 2016-17, it is expected that the north-south interstate rail market will grow by over 30 per cent.
The current government has already helped bring into being 11 intermodals either operating today or under construction around Australia, with Moorebank Intermodal Terminal in Sydney the latest to come online.
With Port Botany freight expected to grow at seven per cent per annum, Moorebank will generate at least $10 billion in economic benefits, remove 1.2 million trucks each year off Sydney congested roads and create 1,700 long-term jobs.
The size of this unique site means trains up to 1.8 kilometres in length can operate at the terminal.