Calls for improved road/rail networks

Australia TradeCoast is calling for smarter use of road and rail freight networks to accommodate the forecast 90 percent increase in freight growth for the region by 2026.

Australia TradeCoast is calling for smarter use of road and rail freight networks to accommodate the forecast 90 percent increase in freight growth for the region by 2026.

A Freight Study commissioned by Australia TradeCoast (ATC) has identified that, even with projects outlined in the South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program (SEQIPP) coming to fruition, there is the need for more efficient and innovative use of infrastructure to support the region’s expected growth in freight volume.

The Study shows that there will be a 90 percent increase in freight demand (by volume) to the Australia TradeCoast region by 2026 comprising of:

97 percent increase in road freight movements to the Port of Brisbane

more than three-fold increase in international airfreight through Brisbane Airport

more than two and a half times the current rates of domestic airfreight through Brisbane Airport.

ATC General Manager, Brett Fraser said more intelligent transport systems were a priority in meeting the freight growth for the ATC region, as well as additional and more flexible rail services.

“By 2026 Queensland will need smarter transport initiatives to cope with the expected freight volume increases to and from this important region — Australia’s largest trade and logistics area,” Mr Fraser said.

“With road transport share continuing to dominate, the data reinforces the value of the current investment in road infrastructure. However, even with SEQIPP projects coming online, we cannot continue to build our way out of trouble.”

“It is imperative that authorities look beyond purely new infrastructure solutions and take a more sustainable and long-term view to managing road freight movements.”

Such initiatives could include: Intelligent Transport Systems that incorporate Incident Management processes; optimised vehicle configurations; a greater focus on agency interaction to minimise disruption and maximise outcomes; replacing open-level crossings with overpasses on high-freight usage routes; and a plan to address network redundancy.

Rail usage findings indicate that the existing freight network will be sufficient to meet growing demand, based on current share, if planned SEQIPP projects are realised.

However, in many cases the rail freight offer will continue to be underutilised because of the lack of versatility at destinations.

“Access to and from ATC by rail involves movements of freight trains through the suburban passenger rail network. This transurban movement is a significant issue for rail freight in ATC,” Mr Fraser said.

“Considering 85 percent of all containers that leave the Port of Brisbane have a destination within a 50 kilometre radius of the Port, it highlights the need for distribution centres within close proximity of ATC, supported by short-haul rail services.

More flexible pricing and scheduling of services would also assist in making rail freight more attractive to industry.”

Australia TradeCoast will now work with its government and industry partners to encourage a coordinated and appropriate response to the Study’s recommendations.

“The findings of the Freight Study are invaluable in informing ongoing investments in rail and road infrastructure, and have already received strong support from private infrastructure providers such as Queensland Motorways Limited,” Mr Fraser said.

“We will continue to promote the importance of the freight task and lobby for higher priority for freight-related upgrades – a key focus of which will be the importance of funding being committed to priority projects, to ensure ongoing sustainable growth for the ATC region and Queensland’s wider industry sector.”

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