Freight and logistics groups have called out the NSW government’s undermining of its own mode share target for containers carried by rail into Port Botany.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Freight on Rail Group of Australia (FORG), Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA), and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) along with individual port rail freight operators are questioning the wisdom of allowing more high productivity vehicles on Sydney’s roads.
“By incentivising HPVs, government is perversely derailing their own policy to grow rail’s mode share target – at a time when Sydneysiders want safer roads and less traffic congestion and vehicle emissions,” said ALC board member and Qube managing director Maurice James.
The NSW government has been issuing permits for high productivity vehicles to access the Sydney road network and major motorways such as WestConnex. By allowing trucks which can carry two containers to travel within Sydney, this reduces the competitiveness of rail for the metro import container market.
The NSW government has set itself the goal of having 28 per cent of the container trade through Port Botany being handled by rail by 2021, however just 17.6 per cent is currently hauled by rail.
Instead of having each mode compliment each other, with rail for longer distances and trucks for the first and last mile, road transport was monopolising container traffic, with impacts on the local community, said FORG chair and Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle
“Today, many HPVs are doing ‘every mile’ of the freight task in Sydney, placing heightened pressure on traffic congestion, road safety and vehicle emissions,” he said.
Dalla Valle advocated for a measure such as the Western Australian government’s Port of Fremantle container incentive scheme was needed in NSW.
“Prior to introduction of the incentive scheme at the Port of Fremantle in 2006-07, rail mode share was a meagre two per cent. The scheme underpinned growth of rail’s mode share which is now above 20 per cent – the highest in the country,” said Dalla Valle.
Director of the FTA and secretariat to the Australian Peak Shippers Association Paul Zalai said that governments should encourage importers to use rail services.
“Governments must maximise port assets and manage our trade gateways through incentivisation of rail usage for imports to metropolitan sites and importantly, streamlined connectivity to regional areas to cost effectively reach export markets.”
ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said communities would be feeling the brunt of the lack of rail transport.
“The balance has tipped so far we run the risk of Sydney’s roads being over-run with trucks unless there is urgent action to use more rail.”