Wednesday 23rd Sep, 2020

Logistics Council praises Port Rail Shuttle project

DP World West Swanson Dock, Port of Melbourne. Photo: David Sexton
Photo: David Sexton

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed the announcement by the federal and Victorian governments that expressions of interest will soon be sought for companies to connect the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs and businesses via the city’s existing rail network.

Michael Kilgariff, ALC managing director, said that the Council had been a consistent supporter of the Port Rail Shuttle project, as it would significantly enhance efficiency for freight in Victoria and across national supply chains.

“Moving more freight to rail, where it makes sense commercially, has the potential to significantly improve freight efficiency, while at the same time improving urban amenity, reducing road congestion and decreasing queuing times at ports,” Kilgariff said.

“Increasing the use of short-haul rail was a significant focus of Freight Doesn’t Vote, ALC’s recent submission to the federal government’s Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.”

Freight Doesn’t Vote is the ALC’s final submission to the inquiry, and makes 41 recommendations covering all modes of transport in the freight logistics sector, and was released earlier in the month.

It builds on the Logistics Council’s two previous working papers and was heavily informed by both industry engagement and dialogue with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Echoing concerns raised by Infrastructure Australia, the ALC’s submission called on the federal government to have “greater role” in protected freight transport corridors from urban encroachment, and recommends a review of regulatory practices which, it says, inhibit efficient movement freight. It also outlines opportunities where the government could “incentivise good planning practices” and encourage implementation of up-to-date technologies for increased efficiency outcomes.

Furthermore, the ALC’s submission asks the Inquiry that it considers the findings report recently published by BITRE, which found that establishing “value adding hinterland terminals” could secure the necessary traffic volumes for competitive line haul costs with short-haul rail.

“The Inquiry”, the ALC submission states, “should recommend greater government focus and investment in the use of port shuttle/short- haul rail infrastructure as a means to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce congestion.”

Kilgariff said that the Port Rail Shuttle project was a “welcome step” in achieving greater usage of short-haul rail services for freight in Victoria, and would help bring the state up to speed with NSW, where the state government has committed to doubling the amount of freight leaving Port Botany by rail.

“Constructing the Port Rail Shuttle to provide a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and inland ports in Victoria is a crucially important aspect of improving the state’s freight network and driving greater supply chain efficiency and safety.”

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