Draft National Freight Strategy released for public comment

INFRASTRUCTURE and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese this week released the draft National Land Freight Strategy, calling it a "blueprint for a truly national, integrated and multimodal transport system."

The draft discussion paper states that "productivity and competitiveness… are inhibited by constraints to freight," such as a lack of planning for freight activities, a lack of clarity about the capacity for growth, and poor interoperability across infrastructure networks.

Truck traffic is predicted to increase by 50 per cent from 2010 levels to 2030 and rail freight expected to rise by 90 per cent, while freight volumes nationwide are set to double between 2007 and 2030, according to the government.

Mr Albanese said that "there's a clear and urgent need for national leadership and long term planning to make sure our transport infrastructure can cope with this much greater demand."

Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission (NTC) were commissioned by the government to develop the strategy and set out a long term program of reform and investment.

Ideas canvassed in the Strategy include the establishment of dedicated freight routes, separation of passenger trains from freight trains and the use of smart technology to better utilise existing infrastructure.

The draft Strategy proposes five priority actions:

  • 1. identifying a national land freight network
  • 2. planning for relevant corridors and places
  • 3. ensuring plans can be executed
  • 4. freight infrastructure improvement and access
  • 5. governance changes to align with principles.

The freight strategy follows last month's release of the nation's first ever National Ports Strategy by the Australian Government, which aims to achieve higher productivity and faster economic growth by improving the design, planning and performance of ports in Australia.

Public submissions for the draft National Land Freight Strategy close at the end of April 2011. The draft Strategy is available from the Infrastructure Australia website at <http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/>.

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