Ross River in Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Rabs003 / Creative Commons

Queensland set to open EoIs for urban design panel

Expressions of interest will soon be called for the newly-created Queensland Urban Design and Places Panel, which will assist state and local governments in the delivery of infrastructure, planning and urban projects.

Infrastructure, local government and planning minister Jackie Trad, who introduced new planning legislation to Parliament last week, said good design could enhance quality of life and provide social and economic benefits.

“The establishment of the Queensland Urban Design and Places Panel is another important step in the journey of Better Planning for Queensland, and recognises that good design is a critical ingredient in a globally competitive society and locally inclusive communities,” Trad explained.

The new panel will have an advisory role, she said, informing the government about the design of major infrastructure and urban development projects across the state, and providing expert advice across such fields as urban design, planning, architecture, sustainability and sub-tropical design.

“By promoting better design outcomes, we will be building on our already strong sense of place and attracting the interest of those who see this as an essential ingredient in their businesses or lifestyles.

“Queensland has more cities above 100,000 people than any other jurisdiction in Australia – and as we move towards a knowledge economy these urban centres will become increasingly central to productivity and economic growth and we need to ensure we can attract the best and brightest to Queensland to create jobs, to innovate and to invest.”

Trad made the announcement at the Internatoinal Urban Design Conference in Brisbane on Monday.

She said the panel will be chaired by the Queensland Government Architect, Malcolm Middleton.

“My department will soon be launching a nation-wide call for expressions of interest for membership of the panel,” Trad added.

“The Queensland Urban Design and Places Panel will build on the work of the former Board for Urban Places, which was ignored by the former government.

“I see the Queensland Urban Design and Places Panel picking up where the board left off some years ago, but I will be asking it to take a more holistic approach and champion best practice place making to ensure we make the most of the opportunity to maximise community and economic benefits through superior design.”


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Sydney Metro Barangaroo Station. Artist's impression: Transport for NSW

Stations announced for Sydney Metro stage two

With construction well underway on stage one of the Sydney Metro project, Premier Mike Baird on Monday announced the desired route for the second stage of the line, which will connect Chatswood to Bankstown via a new rail tunnel under the harbour and CBD.

New stations will be built at Crows Nest and Victoria Cross on the northern side of the harbour. These will be followed by new stations at Barangaroo, Martin Place (to be linked with the existing station), Pitt Street and Central (also to be linked with the existing site).

The government is still tossing up whether to connect the line to a new metro station at Waterloo, or the University of Sydney, on the section of metro between Central and Sydneyham.

Sydney Metro - project map
Click to expand

A State Significant Infrastructure Application will be lodged later this week to confirm the planned route, and the first tunnel boring machine will be in the ground before the end of 2018, Baird said.

“We’re wasting no time delivering Australia’s biggest public transport project,” Baird said.

“Sydney Metro will change Sydney forever – it will help boost capacity of our rail network by 100,000 people every hour, servicing our growing global city for generations to come.”

Baird and transport minister Andrew Constance also on Monday announced investigations will begin into potentially extending the metro rail from Bankstown to Liverpool.

A potential extension of metro rail to Liverpool could cut travel times to the CBD by up to 15 minutes and reduce crowding on the existing T1 Western Line and T2 South Line, the ministers reasoned.

“This new high capacity metro line will be able to move more people across the Harbour in the busiest hour of the peak than the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel combined,” Constance said.

“Sydney Metro will deliver ‘turn up and go’ rail services with more than 65 kilometres of new metro rail on a standalone line.”

Sydney Metro - Martin Place interchange
The planned underground link for Martin Place. Click to expand

Stage one of the Sydney Metro project, already well underway, connects Sydney’s north-west to the existing network at Epping. The existing line between Epping and Chatswood will also be converted to the metro standard, creating a single line from the north west to Chatswood.

Stage 2 of Sydney Metro will involve twin tunnels stretching the entire 15 kilometres from Chatswood to Sydenham, and the proposed new stations. Existing line from Sydneyham to Bankstown will also be converted to the metro standard to create a single line from the north west to Bankstown, through Chatswood, North Sydney and the CBD.

The planned Crows Nest station would be located on the western fringe of Crows Nest village, the ministers explained, with access to the station via the corner of Clarke Street and Hume Street, and the corner of the Pacific Highway and Oxley Street.

The Victoria Cross station would be in the northern section of North Sydney’s CBD. Access would be via the eastern side of Miller Street, between Berry Street and Mount Street.

Barangaroo station would be part of the new development on the north-western corner of the CBD.

The metro development at Martin Place would be integrated with the existing suburban station underground between Castlereagh and Elizabeth streets, the ministers said. “It will include a world-class subterranean rail interchange which means customers won’t need to go to the surface to change trains.”

Pitt Street metro station is proposed below Pitt and Castlereagh streets and north of Park Street, servicing the southern CBD and the George Street and Pitt Street retail precincts.

And an underground station at Central would link to existing intercity and suburban rail services.

“The NSW Government is conducting ongoing investigations into a proposed metro station at either Waterloo or Sydney University,” Transport for NSW explained.

“Transport for NSW has begun contacting affected property owners, the majority of which are commercial tenants in the CBD, North Sydney, Chatswood, Sydenham and Crows Nest.

“The community will have the opportunity to give further feedback as part of the environmental planning assessment process towards the middle of 2016.”

A second industry briefing will be held next month to update the new project scope and proposed delivery method.


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Airport. Photo: Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Truss to re-think Western Sydney Airport link

Hope may not yet be lost for an opening-day rail line for Sydney’s second airport, after federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss announced plans to examine transport options in Western Sydney.

With a site officially declared, and community consultation underway on a detailed draft plan and environmental impact statement, the process of developing a major passenger airport in Western Sydney is well underway.

While the airport is currently designed to be ‘rail ready’ – with space for a station and tunnels excavated – community groups and the rail industry have raised concerns over the lack of a direct rail link between the new airport and the CBD from day one.

But the announcement by Truss on Friday could fix that issue.

A new study will aim to define “the right route, when to build it and how best to fund it,” the minister explained.

“We know Western Sydney’s population is set to increase from two million to three million over the next 20 years so this options plan will look at rail transport needs for the airport, as well as surrounding communities and employment lands,” he said.

“This options plan will consider rail as part of the broader transport network needed to support an airport and Western Sydney’s growth.”

Truss said there is “no doubt” a rail line will link to the airport “one day,” but said the options plan would help the state and federal governments determine “the type of rail, when it will be required and how much it will cost”.

The scoping study will also consider whether value capture techniques could assist meeting the funding requirement, Truss added.

The news was welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

“The rail industry cannot stress enough the importance of including a rail line from the start of the construction of the Airport,” ARA boss Danny Broad said on Friday.

“A rail plan presenting options is a common sense approach – rail is the vital link, enabling people to move in and out of the Airport safely and efficiently.

“It’s pleasing to see the Federal Government now considering rail options for Badgerys Creek Airport, while establishing a new partnership with the NSW Government.

“Government must collaborate with industry to ensure the long term viability of the Airport, namely through a robust and efficient transport system.”

Broad said the ARA would continue to support the construction of a second Sydney airport, but said the plan “must include rail options to support not only the Airport, but the surrounding growth areas.”


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Revitalising Newcastle. Photo: Revitalising Newcastle

Constance looks global to integrate Newcastle transport

International players are being invited to propose an integrated transport model for Newcastle, after New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance said work was needed if light rail was to be a success in the growing city.

“Today we are asking global leaders to create Transport for Newcastle,” the minister said on Thursday, “connecting the city with one major operator to plan and run Newcastle Light Rail, buses, ferries and interchanges.”

Constance hopes an integrated approach to public transport can help turn around a negatively-trending public transport sector in the region.

“Patronage on public transport in Newcastle has dropped and customers tell us service levels are not up to scratch,” the minister said.

“It’s clear the current approach to transport in Newcastle isn’t working so it’s time to think outside the box.”

Constance said the planned light rail line gave the government an opportunity to re-think the transport network to support jobs, growth and urban renewal.

“If we want Newcastle to reach its potential, we need to create a modern and connected system that links light rail with frequent and reliable buses, ferries and trains,” he said.

“In an Australian first, we’ve put out a call to the best transport operators around the world to tell us how they could partner with the city to deliver a modern network for the city.

“Today’s announcement means that rather than having multiple operators running ad hoc services with mis-matched timetables, services would be streamlined to a sole provider, Transport for Newcastle, focused on customer service. This would be public transport run in Newcastle, for Novocastrians, not run from Sydney.”

Transport for NSW said a market sounding process has begun and will run until the end of the year, when the NSW Government will evaluate interest in the integrated transport model.

The announcement was welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association.

“This is exactly the transport approach that is needed for Newcastle in order for public transport to reach its full potential,” chief executive Danny Broad said.

“With one major operator integrating Newcastle’s bus, ferry, train and light rail routes into a single network, the city can expect to see greater efficiencies, improved customer service and increased patronage.

“This will lead to a more sophisticated transport service for the people of Newcastle which delivers directly to their needs.”

Broad said the Australian Government, like its international peers, was realising the far-reaching benefits of an integrated transport model.

“The Australasian Railway Association’s research on light rail shows that whether delivered by the public sector, the private sector, or a mix of both, successfully combining a multimodal network with light rail can drive growth in public transport use,” he said.

“Locally, the integration of the Gold Coast Light Rail line with the bus and rail systems was the catalyst for a 25% increase in public transport usage in the first year of light rail.

“Abroad, in the French city of Lyon, reorganising the buses, trains, trams and trolley buses into a multimodal approach provided an immediate 6 percent patronage increase and steady long-term growth. It’s pleasing to see Newcastle follow best practice by looking to deliver a modern, streamlined transport network for the city.

“With the Newcastle light rail project getting underway, now is the time to overhaul the transport network in Newcastle in order to get the local economy moving again, as well as revitalise the jobs market and refashion Newcastle’s CBD and urban areas,” he concluded.

Warren Truss. Photo: Cameron Boggs

Technical services tender open for Inland Rail

The release of a major technical advisory tender is a major momentum gathering moment for the Inland Rail project, deputy prime minister Warren Truss has said.

Truss, leader of the Nationals and minister for infrastructure and regional development, announced the Technical and Engineering Advisory Services tender on October 31.

A release from Truss’ office said the tender was “a vital link in delivering the project and shows the Government is well and truly on track”.

“Inland Rail is now very much in the planning and environmental approvals phase,” the minister said.

“The company that is chosen to deliver Technical Advisory and Engineering Services for Inland Rail will provide a team of experts to guide the engineering requirements for the project.

“This will allow the Australian Rail Track Corporation to get on with the job that I’ve charged them with – getting Inland Rail shovel ready.”

A tender briefing session will be held in Brisbane on Friday, November 13.

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Broad said the advertisement of a new tender was a signal the “iconic” Inland Rail project was gaining traction.

“The rail industry has long been calling for this vital project to gain momentum,” Broad said.

“To see progress in tendering for the company which is to deliver the technical specs and engineering services for the project is certainly encouraging.”

Truss believes the Inland Rail line – between Brisbane and Melbourne via country Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria – can take 200,000 trucks off the roads each year.

The minister says the project will create up to 16,000 jobs during a 10-year construction period, and will add 600 jobs to the economy once operational.

“Inland Rail is a game-changer for Australia,” Truss said, “with regional Australia’s growth, productivity and prosperity at its core.

“Inland Rail will boost regional economic growth and drive national productivity, connecting key production areas in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria with export ports across the country in the most efficient way possible.”

Melbourne Metro train. Photo: Creative Commons / Marcus Wong

Liveable cities: who decides what that means and how we achieve it?

A liveable city has become the highest form of praise we can give to a city space. But experts say there is a need to discuss what that means and who gets to participate in the process of governing and shaping a city.


Academic think-tank The Conversation has appointed a cities and policy editor to lead its coverage of the myriad issues affecting the urban centres where nine out of ten Australians live. This article sets the scene for exploring the many challenges facing cities today, as well as presenting solutions to the problems and highlighting the opportunities of life in a modern city.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has created a new ministry for cities and the built environment. Announcing his decision last month, he said:

Liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity. (They are) where the bulk of our economic growth can be found … (and they are) economic assets. (M)aking sure that Australia is a wonderful place to live in, that our cities and indeed our regional centres are wonderful places to live, is an absolutely key priority of every level of government. Because the most valuable capital in the world today is not financial capital … (it’s) human capital.

While the question of what is a “liveable city” inspires endless debate, less thought has been given to making urban planning a more democratic process.

 

Natural evolution and the birth of urban planning

In the 18th century, one of London’s pioneer police magistrates, Henry Fielding, strove to keep the streets of the city clear of crime and vice. But in the course of his work Fielding also went out of his way to help prostitutes and petty criminals. He understood that the city was made up of all sorts of people with different values and cultures.

Fielding was living in a period when London was experiencing a population boom, going from just over 500,000 in 1700 to 900,000 in the 1801 census.

Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in cities, which have historically drawn people from myriad economic, social and cultural backgrounds. Cities have always been places of integration, intense population pressures, migration flows, cultural interactions and variations in socioeconomic positioning and values.

Fielding was interested in making London a liveable city, although the term would have been anachronistic to him. Yet it appears almost ubiquitous in contemporary policymaking, urban planning and in the public imagination. A liveable city has become the highest form of praise we can give to a city space.

But liveable for whom? The implication is that ordinary people should be able to inhabit cities. Yet how governments generate affordable housing, and even who is allowed to have a say in the planning and development of a city, is often badly developed.

 

Where does democracy fit in?

Is a liveable city a democratic city? Who gets to participate in the process of governing and shaping a city?

In the early 20th century, modern cities were thought to evolve according to “natural” processes, combining migration, growth and the urban form. Urban sociologists from the Chicago School outlined how cities evolved like living social organisms balancing conflict and co-operation, density, heterogeneity and tolerance. Ernest Burgess even suggested that the very form of the modern city developed in predictable fashion as a set of “concentric rings”, with production and workers’ cottages in a singular inner centre and more affluent suburbs at the extremities.

Such ideas have given way to a more complex depiction of post-modern cities, incorporating multiple (or no) centres, historical communities, development interests and urban planning. Urban planning is seen as an essential technical science. A failure to plan is associated with dystopian images of suburban sprawl, of the “exopolis” without facilities or a civic centre, or of “edge cities” growing like lichen along the intersections of major highways.

Appropriate planning is aimed at building the best cities to enhance quality of life and attract the elite of the global workforce. We strive to find a formula for the most liveable city and potentially top the EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking (which Melbourne achieved in 2015).

Urban planners explore how cities can be sustainable and how a continuous food and water supply can be ensured, but they also deal with concerns about over-population, migration and what happens when poverty is concentrated in certain areas, which can increase the potential for crime.

Cities as economic sites or liveable places

Soon after his appointment, the new cities minister, Jamie Briggs, conveyed his vision of cities as economic sites:

Cities are one of the great drivers of our economy. Most Australians live in our cities and the majority of businesses are based in or around them. They are the engine room of commerce, infrastructure, innovation, the arts, science and development.

While it’s true that historically people have been drawn to cities because of the economic opportunities they offered, such claims disguise both the difficulties for urban migrants and environments that economic opportunities have created, as well as the negative implications for those remaining in rural areas.

Before 1871, migrants from across France settled in Paris as a consequence of its economic opportunities and political importance. The social disconnection implicit in such movement became evident in Emile Durkheim’s 1897 study of French suicide rates and the breakdown in traditional forms of social solidarity.

Migration also played out broader social inequalities across the nation in urban space. People grouped in neighbourhoods based on shared languages and dialects that related to their home regions. Within those districts, rich and poor shared the same buildings, their wealth demarcated by their positioning in the building.

Perhaps this was better for social integration than many modern environments, but a focus on the city as an economic space can lose sight of how cities are made liveable. Social relationships are key to central ideas of safety, belonging and ownership.

In 1903, Georg Simmel described the metropolis as a blasé, rationalised space that alienates people from people and feelings, in that:

… punctuality, calculability, exactness are forced upon life by the complexity and extension of metropolitan existence.

Sixty years later, however, Jane Jacobs defended the city as a myriad of communities in that:

… the trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts.

 

What makes the ideal Australian city?

Is it Canberra, which divides public opinion with its low density, its roundabouts and planned streets? Is it Sydney or Melbourne with their high-density cultural vibrancy? Or is it the small country towns, which often appear communal in ways larger cities do not?

We often think of the attachment we have towards cities in emotional terms; we love or hate a place, we feel comfortable or settled in some spaces but not in others. We instinctively speak about cities in terms of their emotional impact on our lives.

Even Wordsworth, renowned for his love of nature and solitude, spoke of his emotional attachment to the city. Reflecting on his first sight of London, he wrote:

A weight of ages did at once descend

Upon my heart – no thought embodied, no

Distinct remembrances, but weight and power,

Power growing with the weight…

For Wordsworth, as for others then and now, the city inspired a complex set of emotions.

 

What the new ministry needs to do

First, it needs to recognise the cultural, aesthetic and emotional elements of cities. It needs to acknowledge the importance of cultural activity ahead of the pursuit of commerce and the idea of cities as “economic assets”.

The aesthetic qualities of space are crucial to the notion of a liveable city. These became important in the 18th century with a growing appreciation of the ways that environment shaped the self and emotional behaviours.

To produce “civilised” behaviours in their populace, urban planners laid out wide streets, introduced sewage and flowing water, added street lamps and began to police both the behaviour and cleanliness of the urban environment. This was not just about practical benefits to the population, but reflected a strong belief that surrounding yourself with beauty enabled people to be better versions of themselves.

Such ideas remain important to the present. Historians of emotions spend a lot of time thinking about how cities and spaces create emotions, historically but with implications for modern spaces. Urban planning (or its lack) can produce emotions in inhabitants, whether that is the disgust at poor sewage and disease that inspired reform in 18th-century Copenhagen or 20th-century Sydney, the anger and tensions caused by ghettoisation of minority groups, or the political unrest caused by poor housing and overcrowding.

Perhaps most famously, cities have provided “outcast” individuals, such as gay men and lesbians, with a space to create a community, to find affirmation of their feelings and to build pride and political identity. A narrow focus on the city as a driver of the economic, without an appreciation of how the urban shapes those who live within it can act as a challenge to social stability and personal wellbeing.

Historically, the use of space in cities has been a matter of pride, displaying important cultural and architectural landmarks, but also an issue of public health and safety, preventing the spread of diseases, fires and crime. Our historical knowledge of cities can be enormously helpful in informing current ideas about city planning by showing how people have reacted emotionally to city spaces in the past.

The answer to the question of what makes a city liveable is complex and constantly evolving. Because of this we should be insisting on answers about what will be happening to Australia’s cities in the next few decades.


The Conversation
This article was written by Merridee L. Bailey, Senior Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions; Amy Milka, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions; Craig Lyons, MSc Candidate in Human Geography, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney; David Lemmings, Professor of History; Gordon Raeburn, Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Emotions, University of Melbourne; Katie Barclay, Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions; Roger Patulny, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Wollongong, and Thomas Bristow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Industry calls for released East-West money to go to Metro tunnel

The $1.5 billion fund originally intended for the East-West Link toll road project, which has been released for Victorian infrastructure spending by the Commonwealth, should prioritise the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, according to the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

New federal treasurer Scott Morrison this week released the $1.5 billion the Federal Government gave Victoria for the East-West Link.

When Victorian premier Daniel Andrews cancelled East-West, Tony Abbott – the prime minister at the time – said Victoria would have to give the money back unless it was spent on East-West.

But Andrews wanted to keep the money for his new project, the Metro tunnel.

While Morrison has allowed Victoria to keep the funding, he’s yet to confirm whether it will all be allowed to be spent on the rail project, however.

“It wasn’t a gift voucher,” the minister said.

“We want to see that $1.5 billion go to infrastructure projects, things like the Monash Freeway upgrade. We’ll work through the projects.”

New ARA chief Danny Broad has more specific ideas.

“The Metro Rail Project will not only increase the capacity, reliability and efficiency of Melbourne’s busiest train lines, but will also provide much needed growth for the state’s economy,” Broad said.

“With the population expected to almost double by 2050, the Government must invest in Melbourne’s public transport system to maintain the
liveability and prosperity of our growing city.

“It’s enlightening to see recent collaborative efforts between the federal and state governments in the area of infrastructure; it’s unfeasible for state governments to be expected to foot the bill for increasing rail passenger infrastructure to service our cities.”

Shipping containers. Photo: Shutterstock

Queensland’s draft infrastructure plan prioritises freight

Queensland has released its draft State Infrastructure Plan outlining freight market access as a priority for future investment, and the sustainable development of key ports as a long term opportunity.

Upgrades to several key highways, including the Bruce Highway, and Warrego Highway, have been identified as projects within the 1-4 year program.

Assisting in the Inland Rail project is proposed as a 5-15 year opportunity in the report.

The plan also notes an opportunity to respond to growth in freight movement by identifying and protecting future transport corridors, and enhancing regulatory frameworks that optimise the efficiency of supply chains.

Deputy premier and minister for transport, infrastructure, local government, planning and trade Jackie Trad, said the draft plan is fiscally responsible, long-term and encourages private sector innovation.

She said that rather than being prescriptive, the plan presents the challenges and identifies opportunities without dictating specific solutions.

Meanwhile, the Australian Logistics Council has welcomed the release of the draft plan, saying it is the first step in providing a solid blueprint to guide the state’s investments to improve supply chain efficiency.

The ALC also applauded the state’s inclusion of the Inland Rail project on its Infrastructure Priority List, with the ALC’s managing director Michael Kilgariff saying the project will “help meet Queensland’s freight task in the future”.

Queensland has also proposed that the National Land Transport Network renewal reform be added to the Infrastructure Priority List.

This reform aims to deliver asset-renewal preservation and an operations program for the state’s National Land Transport Network, enabling more efficient and reliable freight access.

Public consultation is open until December 2, 2015, and feedback will assist in Queensland developing the final plan, which is due for release early next year.

This story originally appeared in Rail Express affiliate, Lloyd’s List Australia.

Toowoomba. Photo: Queensland Government

Qld’s DILGP appoints new Director General

Queensland’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning has welcomed Frankie Carroll as its new director-general.

Carroll is currently the chief executive of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and also has been the deputy chief executive and chief financial officer of this body as well as chief executive officer of Queensland Water Infrastructure.

He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and a member of the Association of Institute of Taxation in Ireland.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed Carroll, saying he had experience in several relevant sectors.

“Mr Carroll brings to the role a strong skill set in strategy formulation, risk management, project delivery, all financial aspects of business, contract negotiation, resource utilisation, and establishing integrated governance and risk frameworks,” Palaszczuk said.

“He has led high performing teams, takes a collaborative leadership approach, and has demonstrated a strong track-record of successful outcomes.”

The recruitment process was chaired by the Public Service Commission acting chief executive, Robert Setter, and included Lynelle Briggs, chair of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission, and Jim Hallion, coordinator-general, South Australia.

 

Meanwhile, Mark Stockwell, chair of the Queensland Trade and Investment Board, has announced he will step down from his role for family reasons and to devote more time to his own business activities.

Stockwell was appointed chair of the inaugural board in October 2013.

Deputy Premier and minister for trade Jackie Trad said that as an eminent businessman, property developer and Olympian, Stockwell’s expertise was critical to organising TIQ as a new standalone authority.

A new candidate to permanently fill the position of chair will be announced shortly. Stockwell is to remain chair until a replacement is appointed.

This story originally appeared in Rail Express affiliate, Lloyd’s List Australia.

Container rail into Port Botany. Photo: Sydney Ports

Cross-metro shuttles ‘biggest challenge’ for Sydney freight

Boosting the competitiveness of short-haul shuttles in the metropolitan region is the biggest challenge in the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s ‘roadmap’ for Sydney’s rail freight.

The ARTC last week released its 2015-2024 Sydney Metropolitan Freight Strategy.

According to the paper, available on the ARTC’s website, “cross-metro container shuttles represent the single biggest challenge” facing the corporation, which owns Sydney’s Metropolitan Freight Network, along with the NSW Interstate and Hunter Valley rail networks, in New South Wales.

ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said recent announcements regarding new rail freight and intermodal operations in Sydney made a strategy for boosting rail freight in the region even more relevant.

“The key to a more liveable Sydney and enabling more freight volumes to flow more efficiently,” Fullerton said, “is having a clear roadmap for the city’s wider rail freight network.”

Fullerton, ARTC chief since February 2011, said the corporation was well placed in the supply chain to lead the discussion around the current and future needs of rail freight.

He said the strategy, released on October 22, was the first step to achieving that discussion.

“No other transport mode has the existing capacity available for the rapidly increasing freight task and the ability to have an immediate impact on traffic congestion that currently gridlocks the city.

“ARTC is in a unique position of being the one organisation that has significant operational involvement in import/export container logistics, while not having conflicting commercial interests.”

It is from that position the ARTC has identified cross-metro shuttles – between intermodal terminals and port facilities – as the primary concern going forward.

According to the ARTC the Port Botany Landside Improvement Scheme (PBLIS) – launched by the state government in 2010 to combat truck congestion – did such a good job of improving the efficiency of road freight, it actually hurt the growth of rail.

“PBLIS has had the impact of making road transportation more efficient and significantly reduced congestion around Port Botany,” the report states.

“Anecdotally this had the effect of making rail less competitive.

“Concerns have been expressed by various groups over a long period of time that there is not a compelling commercial proposition in all cases for cross-metropolitan container services.”

While the report seeks to deliver some compelling commercial advantages to rail over road, it also identifies some existing and potential future incentive programs to promote rail.

“Rail market share of Botany container movements has stagnated despite the aspirations of many stakeholders,” the ARTC observes.

“Ultimately, to achieve the desired growth in rail market share there is a need for there to be an alignment of commercial interests and the right incentives to make rail a worthwhile option.”

Eliminating additional handling for railed containers at stevedore terminals is one measure suggested by the report.

“At present, all rail containers incur an extra lift in the port relative to road operations,” the paper finds.

“Typically, terminals are designed to take a container from a road vehicle and place it in a stack, or vice versa. For a rail movement, a truck or intra-terminal vehicle is used to take the container to and from the rail siding with this vehicle then processed essentially as a truck movement would be.

“This, of course, then requires another lift to or from the train.”

A full analysis of the ARTC’s paper will feature in the AusRAIL print edition of Rail Express.