Now is the time for Team Australia

Not since World War II has Australia’s social and economic way of life been put under such pressure. Businesses are struggling or closing, thousands have already lost their jobs, governments are shutting down all non-essential activities, and millions are working from home.

Australia’s Reserve Bank has slashed interest rates to record lows and governments are spending tens of billions to help stabilise the economy.

Anxiety is gripping the nation, with panic buying of food and household items by nervous consumers.

Now is the time for Team Australia to kick in.

What many Australians may not realise is the army of essential freight and logistic workers toiling day and night to help keep our economy ticking over. They are making sure necessities and raw materials find their way to supermarkets, retail stores, petrol stations, warehouses, steel and flour mills, and manufacturing plants.

As Australia’s largest rail freight company, Pacific National is proud to be doing our part, hauling the nation’s goods and commodities 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year along railways linking key supply chains across our vast continent.

Without goods trains, domestic and imported products like food, clothing, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, cleaning products, fuel, household products, chemicals, electronics, steel, and machinery and parts cannot be efficiently transported to depots and warehouses between cities and regional towns.

A double-stacked 1,800-metre interstate goods train can haul more than 330 shipping containers, thereby helping to free-up hundreds of truck drivers each week to focus on delivering goods and products the remaining ‘last mile’ from warehouses to stores where consumers need shelves restocked.

To put this in perspective, a single shipping container can hold approximately 25,000 toilet paper rolls, 55,000 food cans or 1,500 cases of beer.

Without freight trains, bulk exports like grain, meat, fresh and dry produce, cotton and coal cannot be efficiently hauled to ports, the gateways to global markets.

Paddock to port, pit to port, or manufacturing plant to port – essential rail freight services stretch across state borders, servicing finely-tuned supply chains.

Our company has been providing essential rail freight services since 1855. Back then we were called New South Wales Government Railways.

Today, our 600 locomotives are crewed and serviced by 2,500 men and women right across the nation. Each day and night they clock onto their shifts after practicing strict hygiene and social distancing procedures. Rail freight has the added benefit of operating within railway corridors and depots prohibited to the public.

The health and safety of our train crews are paramount, and I’m immensely proud of their efforts and dedication.

Unless ill or otherwise required by law, these crews continue to run essential freight train services around the clock. Without them, critical supply chains across state borders will break. Largely out of sight, each day they help underpin the productivity and wealth of our nation.

We thank federal and state governments for working closely with our sector during this challenging time. They moved quickly to protect the nation’s supply chains.

So next time you see a big blue and yellow Pacific National locomotive, take comfort knowing there is an army of freight and logistic workers doing their bit for Team Australia.

Dean Dalla Valle
Pacific National CEO

European states asked to reduce border checks for freight

The European Commission (EC) has requested that all European member states implement ‘green lanes’ on border crossings for freight transport.

The measures follow the disruption of European supply chain networks following border closures implemented to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19). The EC hopes that the green lanes will allow for freight to continue moving through the EU.

Guidelines for the implementation of the green lanes stipulate that no checks and health screenings should take more than 15 minutes, and procedures should be minimised to what is strictly necessary. This involves checks and screening being carried out while drivers remain in their vehicles.

“Our guidance document is intended to protect the EU’s supply chains in these difficult circumstances, and to make sure both goods and transport workers are able to travel to wherever they are needed – without delay. A collective and coordinated approach to cross-border transport is more important today than ever before,” said commissioner for transport, Adina Vălean.

The ‘green lanes’ are encouraged to be implemented across all the border crossing points on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the continental network of rail, road, and waterways connecting European countries.

While the measures are designed to speed up the movement of goods, the EC also hopes that reducing unnecessary stops help improve the health of transport workers.

“The green lanes are also specifically designed to protect transport workers at the frontline of this crisis. This set of recommendations will ease their already stressful mission and it will bring more safety and predictability to their work,” said Vălean.

The EC has also encouraged that enhanced hygiene measures should be undertaken at railway stations and transport hubs.

ARA

Rail industry continuing during COVID-19

While the rail industry is still coming to terms with what impact COVID-19 will have on the sector, the industry’s peak body, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has been ensuring that it continues to act as a collaborative voice for the industry.

At a federal government level, ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie has been part of the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure transport industry teleconference, and is providing a voice for the rail industry at senior governmental levels.

For the industry itself, the ARA has held passenger transport and freight industry teleconferences to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on these sectors. The discussions enabled members to share learnings from direct operator experience.

Further meetings are planned for the Rail Industry Group and Rail Contractors Group.

All ARA working group and committee meetings will continue, however via video-conferencing, with details sent to members.

While face-to-face meetings are temporarily on hiatus, the ARA is coordinating a webinar program, and asking for contribution from members for topics and speakers. The webinars will cover new redevelopments and host debates on pressing topics.

The ARA has communicated that passenger rail operators are experiencing significant reductions in patronage as well as social distancing between customers on networks in Australia and New Zealand. Services have not been reduced, however.

For freight, contractor, and supply chain operators, challenging conditions are being reported, and some stimulus measures may be available.

For freight operators, the Australian Logistics Council has been working with the federal and state governments to ease conditions for logistics operators. NSW, Queensland, and South Australia have announced lifted restrictions for freight movements to allow for supermarkets to restock. These allowances may ease some pressure on logistics companies working further up the supply chain.

“The most pressing challenge for logistics companies at present is getting stock into stores quickly enough to satisfy extraordinarily heightened levels of consumer demand. The existence of curfews that prohibit deliveries during certain hours are a barrier to addressing that challenge,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.

“Australia’s freight and logistics sector is working around-the-clock to deal with the enormous challenges presented by COVID-19 and it is important our governments provide practical support to help the industry’s efforts to support local communities.”

Modal shift a key Forum focus

Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Kirk Coningham talks about the goals of the ALC’s upcoming Forum.

A key challenge for Australia’s freight rail sector in 2020 is to demonstrate how boosting rail’s share of the freight task will enhance the efficiency, safety and sustainability of freight movement through supply chains.

Western Sydney is fast becoming a showcase for what can be achieved in this respect, through the establishment of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal – a facility that will help drive modal shift and alleviate road congestion in Australia’s largest city.

To bring national attention to these developments, the Australian Logistics Council has decided to stage its signature annual event – ALC Forum 2020 in Western Sydney on March 18-19.

The event will connect business leaders, government representatives, investors, infrastructure owners, educational institutions and leading logistics companies with the business opportunities that now abound

in Western Sydney through Australia’s supply chains.

ALC Forum 2020 will present attendees with the chance to connect with those who are designing the future – and make sure their businesses understand what that future means for them.

ALC Forum 2020 will explore how some of the best-practice approaches to planning, building and optimising freight infrastructure in Western Sydney can be deployed across other parts of Australia, enhancing the efficiency, safety and resilience of the national supply chain.

Other elements of the ALC Forum 2020 program will discuss the challenges and opportunities for the freight sector nation- wide in productivity, safety and building a sustainable workforce.

There will also be insights from leading political figures, researchers and major industry figures as they share their perspectives on emerging trends in freight movement, and discuss the policy and regulatory reforms needed to accommodate a freight task that will increase by 35 per cent by 2040.

This is the one industry event that connects the whole supply chain – service providers, infrastructure owners, investors and customers – in the heart of Australia’s fastest- growing economic region.

To be part of it, visit www.austlogistics.com.au/ALCForum2020

ALC Forum 2020: Your future in focus

Success in any business starts and ends with the extent to which an organisation meets the expectations and needs of its customers.

As headwinds increase across the freight and logistics industry it has never been more important to grasp rapidly evolving client needs and position our businesses to deliver. From the “where is it now?” demands of individual e-commerce customers to the increasingly sophisticated expectations of large-scale clients, we must find ways to meet the demands of customers that are increasingly attuned to rapid delivery, and unforgiving of those who prove unable to provide it.

80 per cent of Australians now engage in some degree of online shopping, and that figure is expected to continue growing exponentially.

For the logistics industry, a singular challenge associated with this growth is that household consumers increasingly expect delivery to be part of the advertised price.

Already, around 65 per cent of purchases come with ‘free’ shipping, and research suggests that close to 60 per cent of Australians will abandon an online shopping cart if presented with higher-than-anticipated delivery costs when checking out.

At the same time, the personal ethics of consumers – particularly among younger cohorts – are influencing purchase decisions. Today, customers actively seek out information regarding the freshness and provenance of the food on their tables. This is especially true of increasingly sophisticated markets in South East Asia; a region that Australian producers are geographically well-placed to service.

These consumers also want to feel reassured that the products they use in their day-to-day lives have been transported to them in a way that minimises environmental impacts, from packaging to pollution, from waste reduction to carbon emissions. Responding to and reconciling these competing demands – better and faster services at lower environmental and dollar cost – are an enormous challenge for the logistics industry.

Successfully and efficiently meeting the challenge begins with focussing on the future and ensuring that Australia is equipped with high quality freight transport infrastructure that embraces technology and facilitates the faster, safer and greener movement of freight through supply chains, whether it is destined for domestic consumers or for export markets.

It is rare for a genuine greenfield opportunity for a globally-significant freight and logistics hub to emerge in a major Australian city. Yet, that is precisely what is now emerging in Western Sydney – and the Australian Logistics Council is preparing to showcase it as part of ALC Forum 2020.

For the first time, we will present the nation’s premier logistics industry event in this flourishing economic region that is already home to one in ten Australians – and is set to attract another half a million residents by 2031.

On March 18-19, ALC Forum 2020 will connect business leaders, government representatives, investors, infrastructure owners, educational institutions and leading logistics companies with the business opportunities that now abound in Western Sydney through Australia’s supply chains.

With freight infrastructure including the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and Western Sydney Airport set to transform supply chains, ALC Forum 2020 is your chance to connect with those who are designing the future – and make sure your business understands what that future means for you.

With an estimated two thirds of the world’s population within half a day’s flight from Western Sydney, the new airport is set to become a key gateway for Australian producers taking their goods to emerging international markets.

ALC Forum 2020 will explore how some of the best-practice approaches to planning, building and optimising freight infrastructure in Western Sydney can be deployed across other parts of Australia, enhancing the efficiency, safety, sustainability and resilience of the national supply chain.

Other elements of the ALC Forum 2020 program are set to examine the challenges and opportunities for the freight sector nation-wide in productivity, safety and building a sustainable workforce.

By attending, you’ll hear insights from leading political figures, researchers and key industry leaders as they share their perspectives on emerging trends in freight movement and discuss the policy and regulatory reforms needed to accommodate a freight task that will increase by 35 per cent by 2040.

The program will also drill down to examine specific issues relevant to freight movement across all modes – road, rail, maritime/ports, and air – as well as diving into policy matters that cut across all forms of freight transport, including competition policy, land use planning and the impact technology is having on day-to-day operations.

ALC Forum 2020 is the one industry event that connects the whole supply chain at the most senior levels – service providers, infrastructure owners, investors and customers.

If you only make one investment in the future of your business or career in 2020, this should be it.

Be part of the conversation that sets the future of your industry.

Visit www.austlogistics.com.au/ALCForum2020 today to secure your place.

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

ALC calls out lack of cohesive freight policy among election candidates

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has stated that both major parties involved in the upcoming federal election have displayed a “lack of focus” regarding Australia’s supply chain.

The ALC stated that while the Liberal and Labor parties had made campaign announcements tangentially related to freight movement, there hadn’t been much regarding “freight-specific commitments”.

The comments came two weeks after the ALC’s delivery of the Freight: Delivering Opportunity for Australia report, which listed 39 freight-related priorities for the next Australian Government.

This list included a wide range of topics such as electric vehicles, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funding, rail corridors, heavy vehicle reform, airport curfews, and many more.

“If we are going to meet the challenges that arise from a growing population and remain internationally competitive, it is essential that our next Federal Government is ready to take decisive action,” said Coningham.

Coningham added that the freight logistics industry and related communities needed to hear more from both sides in the campaign’s final week to improve efficiency and safety of supply chains and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness.

He referred to Labor’s plans to establish an EV manufacturing and innovation strategy (Labor’s Plan for Electric Vehicle Innovation and Manufacturing) as a “positive step”, but added that moves such as a contestable fund for low emission vehicles and tax concessions for electric delivery vehicles would help to take this further.

“With our industry having secured a bipartisan commitment to finalise the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, this campaign is an ideal opportunity for both sides to set out clear plans to address the issues ALC members have identified as industry priorities,” he said.

The Australian Government released a report in April entitled Delivering on Freight.

The report details the Coalition’s commitment to a National Action Plan with the aim of achieving a nationally integrated freight system capable of benefiting from “a consistent and integrated regulatory environment”.

According to the report, freight volume in Australia is on track to double over the 20 years to 2030, with urban freight in particular set for significant growth of 80 per cent over the 20-year period from 2016–2036, a forecast that requires considerable supply chain efficiency improvements.