NSW Government releases freight strategy

NSW Roads and Ports Minister, Duncan Gay, has released the state’s first Freight and Ports Strategy, a plan to help manage the expected near-doubling of freight volumes in New South Wales over the next 20 years.

“With the volume of freight on our transport network forecast to nearly double over the next 20 years to 800 million tonnes each year, the NSW Freight and Ports Strategy is a critical long-term road map which puts NSW on the front foot to meet the task ahead,” Gay said.

The NSW Freight and Ports Strategy aims to improve freight transport network efficiency and plan for the expansion of NSW ports, roads and rail network to cater for growth, while balancing the needs of the community and environment.

The strategy was finalised following extensive consultation with local Government and industry and was bolstered to address key issues raised during consultation, including regional road freight productivity, coastal shipping and infrastructure funding.

Transport for NSW received more 80 submissions in response to the release of the draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy in November 2012.

Subsequent to the release of the Strategy, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called on the NSW Government to prioritise measures that will improve freight logistics efficiency in Sydney.

“When Sydney doesn’t work, Australia doesn’t work,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff. “A multi-modal supply chain approach to dealing with Sydney’s freight challenges is required and ALC commends the Government for setting out a number of practical measures which acknowledge this fundamental priority.

“We also note that the business case for the Hume Highway trial of High Productivity Vehicles will be completed in 2013 and we look forward to its timely publication.

“The Government’s support for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is also welcome, but given its services will be funded by the industry through charges, service level agreements need to be published so industry is fully aware of the services that are to be provided and to what standard,” Kilgariff added.

ATA NSW Manager, Jodie Broadbent, said the Government should commit to allow B-triples on the Hume by 1 July 2014, which should be able to operate without additional charges.

“In addition, ATA NSW does not support the direct pricing for road use scheme as proposed in the strategy. Heavy vehicles provide full cost recovery under the current charging mechanisms. There is no need for this additional layer of charging,” Jodie said.

“However, we do support the NSW Government considering supply side reform for the funds that are received via heavy vehicle registrations. This means directing the funds back to heavy vehicle infrastructure related enhancements.”

A feature of the NSW Freight and Port Strategy is to shift truck movements to off-peak periods and to encourage a shift of more freight to the rail network.

Paul Zalai, Director and founder of Freight Trade Alliance (FTA) stated that these issues were addressed in the advocacy group’s submission to the draft strategy.

“We support the intent of the strategy but are concerned that the NSW Government may be tempted to introduce artificial pricing incentives to achieve this outcome,” Zalai told CRTNews.

Zalai also highlighted that stevedores control the flow of receipt and delivery at the docks across a 24/7 basis via the allocation of vehicle booking system slots negating the need for a peak period pricing arrangement.

“We hope that the government avoids the temptation of going down this path and adding to the myriad of increasing costs being absorbed throughout the supply chain,” he said.

“Similarly, the FTA position supports the increase use of rail but does not support the use of artificial pricing schemes to achieve this outcome. Increased rail utilisation should be driven by efficient and commercially attractive solutions,” he concluded.

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