Improving heavy vehicle efficiency central to NSW Ports’ long-term planning

The documents outline a strategic vision for the growth of NSW’s ports and intermodal terminals, and detail expected trade growth over the next 30 years. Importantly, they also outline the actions needed to address this growth.

The Master Plan sets out five clear objectives to drive a sustainable future for NSW’s port supply chains, namely, to provide efficient road and rail connections to the ports and intermodal terminals; to grow rail transport of containers; to use land infrastructure efficiently; to grow port capacity and to protect the ports and intermodal terminals from urban encroachment.

The Plan embodies NSW Ports’ commitment to get more freight on to rail, but also acknowledges that roads will continue to be the primary means of moving freight to and from ports and intermodal terminals. It also outlines how transport companies need to drive improvements in road transport efficiency and to plan for a freight task that is projected to nearly double by 2031.

NSW Ports has highlighted a number of actions to achieve these objectives, including increasing the number of TEU carried by each truck; using more high productivity trucks; increasing two-way truck loading; spreading traffic through the 24/7 period and investing in engines with greater efficiencies and reduced emissions.

A central component to the Plan is the identification of a number of critical infrastructure projects to support the efficient movement of freight to and from Port Botany, most of which centre on the road and intersection upgrades around Port Botany and Sydney’s intermodal terminals.

High on the list is efficient port connections to and from the M5 and M4 Motorways, in conjunction with the WestConnex project, to secure Port Botany’s capability to handle future trade demand efficiently. It also identifies the need to upgrade the capacity of intersections around Port Botany at Foreshore Road/Botany Road/Penrhyn Road and Botany Road/Bumborah Point Road.

Upgrades to Centenary Drive, Hume Highway and Roberts Road to enable efficient access to and from the Enfield Intermodal Logistics Centre are earmarked as critical infrastructure projects. So are road enhancements to support efficient connections to Port Kembla such as the ‘Gateway to the South’ M1 Motorway (formerly F6 Freeway) extension and Mount Ousley road widening.

A key message of the Plan is the need for all levels of government to support and promote the use of high productivity vehicles in and around ports and intermodal terminals and to key off-site locations.

ALC strongly agrees; and it was a point we made in a recent submission to Infrastructure Australia on the Australian Infrastructure Audit. The Audit takes a strategic approach to assessing our nation’s infrastructure needs and examines the drivers of future infrastructure demand, particularly population and economic growth.

In our submission, ALC encourages Infrastructure Australia to champion the use of B-triples and AB-triples.

Recognising that managing the growth in truck numbers will be important to limit congestion around ports, ALC argues in its submission the need for policy reform to enable higher productivity heavy vehicles to be further utilised to meet the freight task ahead.

ALC also notes that ports will not achieve optimum capacity if road connections to port precincts and supporting port-related facilities (e.g. intermodal terminals) are limited. We therefore advocate for major connections to ports, including Port Botany, to be at a minimum all B-double approved, and in some instances in and around port precincts, HML approved for Super B/A doubles.

Infrastructure Australia could play a role in identifying the routes that should have these approvals, so that road owners can prioritise upgrading these roads so as to improve freight chain productivity.

ALC commends NSW Ports on the release of its Master Plan and Sustainability Plan, both of which outline a strategic vision for achieving sustainable and efficient port supply chains in NSW.

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