• Trevor Wetmore

NSW releases its grand plan for freight

THE NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 was released today, outlining plans for the state government to invest more than $5bn in an effort to support the growing freight task and address growth and congestion on the state’s road and rail networks.

The plan builds on the NSW government’s Freight and Ports Strategy, released in 2013, and lays out the state government’s long-term vision for freight transport. It includes 73 initiatives the state says it would deliver by 2023, focused on five key objectives:

  • economic growth;

  • efficiency, connectivity and access;

  • capacity

  • safety; and

  • sustainability.

Minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey said more than 2m households and businesses across the state tap into the freight network every day, relying on the timely and efficient movement of goods to markets nationally and globally.

“The amount of freight moved through NSW is set to grow by 28% to more than 618m tonnes by 2036. To support this, the NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 provides more than 70 initiatives for increasing capacity on the existing network, including building new infrastructure,” she said.

“From big businesses to farmers, retailers to consumers, we all rely on our goods getting to us in a safe and efficient manner. For this reason the NSW government has set firm targets to achieve faster, more efficient and higher capacity networks to remain competitive, support jobs and deliver economic growth across NSW.”

Ms Pavey said freight and logistics contributes more than $180m to the NSW economy every day, and with increasing population and changing consumer preferences, the freight network will face increased demand.

“This, compounded by a desire to have same-day delivery for online goods, requires government and industry to have the freight network capable of working at full throttle,” she said.

“The NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 highlights the government and industry plans for road, rail, air, shipping and pipelines and builds on investment from the 2013 NSW Freight and Ports Strategy.”

The report clearly points to coastal shipping as an opportunity to improve freight efficiency.

“Coastal shipping can be a viable alternative to road or rail for certain types of freight. The Glebe Island and White Bay precinct is uniquely placed to enable shipping of sand and aggregate to Sydney to service the needs of Greater Sydney’s construction boom,” the report states.

“This removes the need for trucks to travel into central Sydney with sand and aggregate from outside the area. Coastal shipping is also increasingly being looked at as an attractive alternative to rail for moving less time sensitive freight from NSW to other states.”

One goal of the report is to “simplify and harmonise regulation”, and, as part of this goal, the NSW government said it would advocate “for Australian legislative amendments to facilitate the greater use of coastal shipping”.

The report also aims to increase the share of rail freight at Port Botany to 28% by 2021

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said the NSW Freight & Ports Plan would help to improve the safety and efficiency of freight movement in NSW, and represented progress on policy reforms that the freight and logistics industry has long called for.

ALC interim CEO Lachlan Benson said the council was pleased that the plan touched on many of the issues ALC and industry had long advocated as priority actions. "The plan also recognises the need to give freight more prominent consideration in planning policy, and in particular, to protect remaining industrial lands in order to meet a growing freight task,” he said.

“As part of this, ALC encourages the NSW government to specifically zone areas as logistics lands, so that they can be afforded the 24/7 operational flexibility the industry requires.”

Mr Benson also said the plan’s commitment to develop a heavy vehicle safety strategy in partnership with industry that would encourage uptake of safety technology was positive.

“The Plan clearly accounts for the increasingly important role data will play in enhanced supply chain efficiency and the need to encourage data sharing in the industry,” he said.

“ALC hopes NSW will support efforts to establish a consistent national data standard, so that different systems in the supply chain are able to communicate with each other efficiently.”

Mr Benson also said ALC welcomed the plans focus on enhanced connectivity between Port Botany and the surrounding motorway network.

“We urge the NSW Government prioritise the completion of a business case that ensures the Sydney Gateway planning incorporates direct heavy vehicle access for the adjacent Cooks River Intermodal Terminal while not impeding its current and future critical port rail operations,” he said.

A draft plan was open for industry comment in the first part of this year. The NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 can be found on Transport for NSW’s website.

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