Part 3: How we will respond to the challenges and opportunities
The chapter outlines key challenges and opportunities for the freight and port industry under each of the Plan’s five objectives. Under each objective, we provide:
- the strategic target for measuring progress
- goals and supporting actions for reaching the strategic target.
The five objectives
The Plan’s five objectives were drawn from our analysis of the sector, together with:
- broader NSW Government objectives, including the Premier’s Priorities and the Road Safety Plan 2021
- consultation with key stakeholders.
Objective 1: Economic growth
Providing confidence and certainty that encourages continued investment in the freight industry to support economic growth.
Goal 1: Encourage investment by providing greater certainty regarding government priorities and funding
As investment in the freight industry – particularly for infrastructure – has long pay back periods, industry needs certainty regarding government priorities and future plans so that they can have confidence in their long-term investments.
To address this issue, the NSW Government will provide quality and timely information about planned investments in the freight sector. To complement this state-based information, the NSW Government will work with the Australian Government, together with other state and territory governments, to publish national road expenditure and investment plans for the next four years.
The NSW Government will also ensure there are sustainable funding sources to deliver freight network improvements. Sources of NSW Government funding for the freight sector include the Restart NSW fund and the NSW Regional Growth Fund.
As revenue from fuel excise may continue to decline (through increased fuel efficiency and use of electric vehicles), new funding sources or models are being considered at a national level. For example, the reforms to heavy vehicle road user charges being investigated by the Transport and Infrastructure Council, as part of its Heavy Vehicle Road Reform, might underpin increased investment in improving road access.
Goal 2: Simplify and harmonise regulation
Complex and varying regulation across state and territory boundaries can increase business costs. To address this issue, the NSW Government will continue to simplify and harmonise freight industry policies and regulation by supporting national regulatory reform and improvements to NSW legislation. This will be critical for achieving the State Priorities of making NSW the easiest state to start a business and to be the leading Australian state in business confidence.
Regulatory improvements will be critical for encouraging investment needed in the next generation of newer, safer and more productive vehicles to operate on key freight routes and corridors across NSW.
Goal 3: Improve freight data
Data on the operation, performance and value of supply chains and the freight network is fragmented and not always shared.
Consistent with its Open Data Policy, the NSW Government has released the data used to prepare this Plan. The NSW Government is committed to building on this evidence base and working with industry to improve the data available to guide investment in the network, support innovation and facilitate improvements for freight.
Objective 2: Efficiency, connectivity and access
Improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure and ensuring greater connectivity and access along key freight routes
Goal 1: Support the use of technology to improve efficiency and productivity
New technology will play a significant role in improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure and transport. The NSW Government is already delivering a number of technology projects to improve the efficiency of freight networks including:
- the M4 Smart Motorway project
- the Cohda Wireless trial of connected technology on three key freight routes in Sydney, to determine how prioritising heavy vehicles through traffic lights might improve overall traffic conditions.
TfNSW’s Smart Innovation Centre, Future Transport Digital Accelerator and Sydney Coordination Office can provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in the freight industry to work with others, including incubators, technology partners and industry. Through these partnerships, they can develop products and digital solutions that will improve the efficiency of the freight network.
“As it is not always feasible to build new assets, it is essential for NSW agencies to make the most of existing assets… The management and use of assets must become smarter, more productive and more efficient to avoid infrastructure spending increasing unsustainably.” The State Infrastructure Strategy
Smart Innovation Centre (SIC) and the Future Transport Digital Accelerator
In 2016, TfNSW released the Future Transport Technology Roadmap to put NSW at the forefront in adopting technologies that will make our future transport networks safer and more productive. This roadmap led to the creation of the Smart Innovation Centre (SIC) and the Future Transport Digital Accelerator (FTDA)
The FTDA involves a six to eight week customer-centred design process aimed at developing digital solutions to transport problems. It is located within the NSW Government’s Sydney Startup Hub, which was designed to provide startups with access to networks, skills, funding and leadership in one central startup precinct.
The SIC has a broad remit to facilitate collaboration between government, industry and the research sector to develop and trial innovative transport technology in NSW.
Goal 2: Improve flow of freight through trade gateways
Recognising Port Botany’s role as the primary container facility in NSW and plans for Port Kembla as the location for the development of a future container terminal, the efficient operation of Port Botany and Port Kembla requires the co-ordination of a wide range of stakeholders, including stevedores, road and rail freight operators and networks.
The Cargo Movement Coordination Centre (CMCC) was established in 2014 to better coordinate the activities of those involved in the supply chain at Port Botany and Port Kembla. The work of the CMCC will be particularly important to meet the increase in trade volumes at Port Botany.
The Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy, which led to the development of the CMCC, has already achieved substantial improvements in truck turn-around times within the Port Botany precinct, from up to five hours to under 30 minutes. This was achieved through enforcement of mandatory standards for the activities of road carriers and stevedores under the Ports and Maritime Administration Regulation 2012.
As the Port Botany precinct is impacted by Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, the NSW Government will also work with the Sydney Airport Corporation to explore ways to improve the efficiency of operations in and around the airport.
Goal 3: Improve road freight access
A number of more modern heavy vehicles that can carry greater loads (known as high productivity vehicles or HPVs) have restricted access to NSW freight routes, in particular level 2 and 3 modern performance-based standard (PBS) vehicles. These restrictions limit the efficiency of road freight and contribute to congestion because they result in a greater number of vehicles being required for the road freight task.
Expenditure is needed to further upgrade road infrastructure to accommodate safer and more productive higher productivity vehicles that may be longer and heavier. TfNSW has developed a Heavy Vehicle Access Policy Framework (HVAPF) that identifies key freight routes and the types of HPVs that should be permitted to operate on them. This will guide investment in road infrastructure, including the identification of network constraints and the prioritisation of network improvements on council and State roads.
As local councils are the owners and managers of most of the NSW road network, they will play a vital role in ensuring that this policy delivers real productivity improvements by granting access to vehicles on identified freight routes where the infrastructure can support them and prioritising maintenance and network improvements to support access.
Local council support for schemes established to facilitate more efficient transport of particular commodities is also crucial. These schemes include the Grain Harvest Management Scheme, NSW Livestock Loading Scheme and Safety, Productivity and Environment Construction Transport Scheme (SPECTS).
In addition, there are restrictions on the ability to efficiently transport dangerous goods on the road network. Prohibitions on the use of tunnels, and additional restrictions imposed on the use of certain roads to transport dangerous goods, is placing added pressure on existing road corridors to move increasing volumes of dangerous goods. For example, restrictions imposed on the transport of dangerous goods in proximity to Port Botany have resulted in two roads (Foreshore Road and Denison Street) remaining to provide access for vehicles transporting dangerous goods.
Goal 4: Manage freight in key urban centres
A major part of the state’s freight and servicing activity is concentrated in key business districts and employment centres such as the Sydney CBD, Macquarie Park and Parramatta. Freight vehicles in these areas face strong competition for limited road and kerbside space between 9am and 12pm on weekdays. As a result, freight vehicle drivers need to walk further to delivery points and therefore dwell longer in kerbside loading zones, further restricting access.
E-commerce sales are also growing rapidly, which is generating more and more deliveries to homes, offices, parcel lockers or other drop-off locations. This is likely to drive an increased emphasis on the remodelling of supply chains.
At the same time, communities are putting a greater emphasis on improving the liveability of urban centres. Such community aspirations are often in conflict with the freight task, as improving liveability often means giving greater priority to pedestrian activity over vehicle movement.
To strike a balance between efficiency of freight and the liveability of our communities, the freight industry needs to consider other approaches to manage the urban freight task. These include:
- improved management of kerbside space
- retiming of freight and non-emergency servicing tasks
- use of alternative modes where practical
- establishment of urban consolidation centres
- better design and use of off-street facilities.
Within key urban centres, building managers, businesses and logistics companies can produce cost saving efficiencies by developing and implementing delivery service plans for buildings, precinct delivery models and agreements for the sharing of loading docks. As with other global cities, the high cost of land and developments will encourage developers to look for efficient logistics operations that can support their buildings and provide a high level of service to their tenants.
Goal 5: Improve rail freight access and flows
Rail freight offers a fast, reliable and safe alternative to roads. However, there are a number of constraints limiting the volumes of freight that can be moved by rail.
One of the key constraints is the increasing number of passenger rail services competing with rail freight services using the shared rail network. To address this issue, the NSW Government’s long-term priority is to provide greater separation of passenger and freight movement on the rail network to increase freight capacity and improve safety.
Improving the efficiency of the existing network through smaller scale interventions is also critical, particularly in the short to medium term. This includes addressing:
- network limits on axle weight capacity
- short distances of track where train speed is reduced
- inadequate siding lengths and passing loops.
New and improved intermodal terminals can also increase the utilisation of the rail freight network. While government does not have a role in operating intermodal terminals, it can play a role in identifying, protecting and zoning land for intermodal terminals and assisting with necessary road and rail link extensions.
The Inland Rail project being funded by the Australian Government is likely to increase interstate movement of goods by rail, when it is completed in around 2024/25. Transport for NSW is undertaking analysis of the benefits of Inland Rail to maximise outcomes for NSW.
NSW Government actions to address this goal
Investigate options for improving infrastructure efficiencies
The NSW Government will review the location of short distance permanent speed restrictions on the rail network and investigate the possibility of small scale interventions to achieve a more consistent speed profile and improved travel times.
Work with freight operators and owners to increase rail freight efficiency
The NSW Government will work with rail freight operators to optimise freight train cycle times, with an initial focus on freight moving to trade gateways, to achieve more efficient allocation and use of freight train paths. The NSW Government will also continue to work with network owners and freight train operators to:
- develop optimal freight paths, including the ongoing development of train schedules and timetables
- improve on time presentation of freight trains and address root causes of incidents
- trial higher productivity trains for bulk freight movements to Port Kembla and Newcastle
- consider introducing targets for increasing rail mode share on other rail corridors (in addition to the Port Botany rail corridor mode share target) where this could increase the productivity of the network and industry shares the required data.
Investigate improvements to rail network booking and operating procedures
The NSW Government will investigate possible ways to improve the ease and speed of booking and operating on the three rail networks in NSW, including improved responsiveness to operator access requests.
Support the delivery of Inland Rail
The NSW Government will support the Australian Government’s delivery of the Inland Rail, and:
- ensure the project optimises the movement of freight in regional NSW, and to ports and gateways
- strengthen governance, reporting and performance requirements across the entire NSW ARTC network.
Objective 3: Capacity
Maximising infrastructure investment and increasing infrastructure and land use capacity to accommodate growth
Strategic target for Objective 3
Progress will be measured through the realisation of travel time reductions, reliability improvements and improved safety and environmental outcomes through the delivery of key freight projects and programs and more effective local planning for freight.
Goal 1: Deliver new infrastructure to increase rail freight capacity
The transport of freight via the shared rail network is constrained by the needs of passenger transport, particularly during morning and afternoon passenger peaks. Urban growth in the Southern Highlands, Western Sydney, Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley will exacerbate this issue.
Transport of freight such as grain and coal to Port Kembla, and steel from Port Kembla will also put increasing pressure on the shared Illawarra Rail Line.
Goal 2: Deliver new infrastructure to increase road freight capacity and improve safety
Sydney’s Motorway network is already set to become more connected with the WestConnex and NorthConnex projects underway. The NSW Government is investigating the Sydney Gateway Project which will provide additional road infrastructure to enhance the connectivity of WestConnex to the busy road freight precincts of Port Botany and Sydney Airport.
The NSW Government has already delivered significant improvements to the State’s north-south connections that form an important part of the freight network, particularly the Pacific, Hume and Newell Highways.
The NSW Government’s road project investments will focus on improving east-west connectivity, including access across the Great Dividing Range from the agricultural industries in the west to the urban markets and ports in the east. These investments will be complemented by an investigation into other initiatives to improve this crossing.
The NSW Government also has a vision to deliver a motorway bypassing Greater Sydney, connecting the Central Coast, Western Parkland City and Illawarra.
Goal 3: Deliver new pipelines to increase capacity
The movement of fuel is currently dominated by road as road distribution is very well-suited to deliveries to the dispersed end users. Pipelines have proven to be very effective in transporting fuel from import terminals to inland depots. New pipeline corridors would reduce distances travelled by road tankers, particularly through some of the most congested parts of the Greater Sydney road network.
The NSW Government is planning major pipeline projects that will support projects such as the Western Sydney Airport, and reduce the need for fuel to be transported by road. To maximise the value of this investment and reduce the need for dangerous goods to be moved by road, options for transporting other bulk liquids could also be considered including new or improved bulk distribution facilities.
The NSW Government has also classified a private sector proposal for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and pipeline from Port Kembla as Critical State Significant Infrastructure. The proposal involves the construction of a new berth at Port Kembla to accommodate LNG carriers, an LNG handling facility, wharf infrastructure and a pipeline to connect to the existing NSW east coast gas transport network nearby.
Goal 4: Protect land needed for freight and logistics uses and infrastructure
The State’s growing freight task needs to be supported by effective long-term planning to:
- protect existing freight corridors, and industrial and urban services land for freight uses
- meet future requirements, including the future supply for land for freight uses
- minimise negative impacts on local communities.
Planning for freight is a shared responsibility between the Greater Sydney Commission, the Department of Planning and Environment, and local councils. Transport for NSW also has a key role to play in identifying and protecting key freight corridors and building transport infrastructure.
Reforms to the planning system and development of Region and District Plans by the Department of Planning and Environment and the Greater Sydney Commission provide an opportunity for councils to consistently consider freight in the next major phase of planning at a local level.
In some areas, such as around Port Botany and Sydney Airport, demand for land for residential housing and other commercial uses has seen tracts of freight and logistics land converted into mixed-use residential/commercial zones. This has resulted in:
- a reduction in the amount of freight and logistics land available in these areas
- increased prices for the remaining freight and logistics land
- greater congestion
- the need for goods to be transported longer distances to warehouses relocating to Western Sydney.
For these reasons, it is critical to protect the remaining lands that are zoned for industrial use to ensure the efficiency of increasing freight activities.
The retention of Glebe Island and White Bay as a working port is critical, as it provides opportunities for increased use of coastal shipping to transport freight closer to the demand source, thereby reducing road congestion. The Port Authority of NSW is facilitating the construction and operation of a multi-user facility that will further support coastal shipping opportunities into Glebe Island.
In the Central City District, population is forecast to grow by 56 per cent by 2036, the highest growth of all Greater Sydney Districts. This will drive strong growth in the movement of freight such as consumer goods and construction materials. Significant freight volumes also move through the District on key routes such as the M7, M4 and the Main West Line. It also contains a number of Greater Sydney’s key freight precincts including warehouses and intermodal terminals at Rooty Hill, Huntingwood, Minchinbury and Yennora. Clyde Intermodal Precinct facilitate the movement of waste and cement to support Sydney’s population. Urban services and industrial lands at Silverwater, Clyde, Camellia and Rydalmere require effective freight routes for the transport of construction materials, liquid fuels and waste. The significance of these sites needs to be well understood to enable their efficient operation.
In other areas, there is an opportunity to reserve appropriate land for the growing freight task to support economic growth and employment. For example, supported by good planning, the Western Sydney Airport and Western Sydney Employment Area can become a nationally significant freight and logistics hub, with connections to national and regional transport networks.
Planning for freight should also ensure that protections are in place for local communities. Such protections are set out in various documents including:
- the National Airports Safeguarding Framework (a national land use planning framework that aims to improve community amenity by minimising aircraft noise-sensitive developments near airports and improve safety outcomes)
- the Department of Planning and Environment’s Development Near Rail Corridors and Busy Roads – Interim Guideline
- the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2017 (SEPP), which assists the NSW Government, councils and the communities they support by simplifying the process for providing infrastructure.
Local planning for freight
Freight and logistics businesses need land that has good connections to key transport routes, ports, pipelines, airports and intermodal terminals - not just land that is zoned as ‘industrial land’. It is also critical that freight and logistics land, and key corridors, are planned to avoid potential conflict with land uses that are incompatible with freight operations, some of which need to operate 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
Effective local planning for freight requires an understanding of a range of factors including:
- the future freight task (including trends in trade, consumer demand and logistics activities), operational and land size requirements
- transport corridors and freight precincts
- the needs of other adjacent land users.
Councils will need to plan for freight and logistics land in their local strategic planning statements and local environment plans by:
- identifying existing freight corridors and networks and significant freight land uses
- considering future freight requirements, including new land uses, expansion or increased intensity of existing corridor and land uses and ensuring efficient connections
- balancing the needs of the freight industry and their customers with local communities by ensuring non-freight land uses are designed and constructed with appropriate mitigation measures to deal with issues such as noise and traffic impacts, including buffer zones.
Local councils are required to give effect to Regional Plans in their area in their local strategic planning statements, which in turn inform their local environment plans. The identification of freight requirements in District and Regional Plans prepared by the Greater Sydney Commission and the Department of Planning and Environment, informed by information provided by Transport for NSW, will provide guidance for local council planning.
Objective 4: Safety
Creating a safe freight supply chain, involving safe networks, safe transport, safe speeds and safe people
Strategic target for Objective 4
Progress against this objective will be measured against the target to reduce fatalities and serious injuries from crashes involving a heavy vehicle or light truck by 30 per cent by 2021 (compared to average annual fatalities over 2008-2010)
Goal 1: Safer networks, transport, speeds and people
The role of heavy vehicles in moving freight across NSW is substantial with the majority of all interstate freight being transported by road. Light vehicles are also important for the transport of goods over shorter distances.
Although the number of fatalities and serious injuries arising from crashes involving all types of vehicles has declined since 2009, there has been:
- an increase in fatalities and serious injuries from crashes involving light trucks since 2013/14
- an increase in fatalities from crashes involving heavy vehicles since 2017.
While crash data does not include any conclusions as to fault, it does record the ‘key vehicle’ whose movement appears to have largely contributed to the crash occurring. Heavy trucks were the ‘key vehicle’ in 39 per cent of fatal crashes in 2015 to 2017 and 59 per cent of serious injury crashes from 2014/15 to 2016/17.
The NSW Government’s Road Safety Plan 2021 aims to reduce road fatalities and serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2021 (compared to average annual fatalities over 2008-2010) and has a vision of achieving zero trauma on the transport system by 2056. The NSW Government is committed to the same targets for fatalities and serious injuries from crashes involving a heavy vehicle or light truck.
The National Transport Commission has recently recommended legislative reform to the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) and use of electronic work diaries. The NSW Government is supportive of this proposal and is also interested in technology solutions that can be rapidly implemented to improve safety.
Chain of responsibility legislation places obligations for managing safety on all parties in supply chains. This has been successful in broadening awareness of safety in the freight industry. Further legislative reforms will be needed to continue to move towards an outcomes-based, safe systems approach rather than prescriptive rules focused on individual parties.
In addition to actions outlined in this Plan, the NSW Government will take further actions arising from the ‘Staysafe Inquiry’ – a Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety requested by the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. This inquiry was initiated by the Minister in response to the increasing road toll involving heavy vehicles and emerging opportunities for technology to improve safety.
Road infrastructure improvements will also be an important aspect of improving safety. Safety barriers can reduce key crash types on country roads by up to 85 per cent, and are especially important on our main transport corridors.
The NSW Government will also continue to work with the Australian Government and industry to ensure the safety of sea, air and rail freight. Particular areas of focus of the NSW Government over the next 5 years will be:
- the safety of level crossings through the Level Crossing Safety Improvement Program
- the port safety responsibilities of the Ports Authority of NSW under the Port Safety Operating Licence granted by the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight.
Objective 5: Sustainability
Developing a sustainable supply chain that delivers benefits to our environment and continued operations into the future
Strategic target for Objective 5
Progress against this target will be measured against net reductions in freight emissions and noise.
Goal 1: Support initiatives to reduce freight emissions
The transport sector in Australia accounts for around 17 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2012/13 road transport accounted for around 85 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions arising from transport within NSW. Domestic air and sea transport contributed less than 10 per cent. Around 60 per cent of road transport greenhouse gas emissions came from passenger vehicles, while the remaining 40 per cent came equally from light commercial vehicles and articulated and rigid trucks.
The split between domestic transport within NSW and international transport to and from NSW was just under 40 per cent domestic transport and the remainder from international shipping and aviation in roughly equal amounts.
Freight also has impacts on air quality. When compared to passenger vehicles, heavy duty and light duty diesel vehicles contribute disproportionally to particle and nitrogen oxide emissions. This is due partly to the large amount of fuel they consume and also the age of many freight vehicles - older diesel light commercial vehicles and rigid trucks are high emitters of fine particles.
While road vehicles are subject to national emission standards, locomotives are not. Such standards apply in many countries around the world and clean technologies are available.
While the adoption of lower emissions vehicles and fuels will largely be led by industry, the NSW Government will encourage improved environmental performance of vehicles through a number of policies and programs. This includes initiatives aimed at reducing congestion and encouraging re-timing of deliveries (See Objective 2, Goal 4: Manage freight in key urban centres).
Industry leadership in sustainability
Sections of the freight industry are demonstrating strong leadership in relation to sustainability. They recognise that demonstrating a commitment to sustainability has significance beyond its environmental benefits – it also shows their commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Ports have traditionally been leaders in this area, particularly in parts of Europe. Recognising the long-standing role that established ports often have in towns and cities, and the ‘social licence’ they operate under, many have implemented sustainability frameworks to actively manage the impacts they have on the environment and the community.
Within NSW, a number of freight-related companies are taking a proactive approach to reducing emissions. Notable examples include:
- Dubbo-based bulk haulage operator Transforce committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its road transport operations and was the first certified carbon neutral road transport company in Australia.
- NSW Ports recently announced the introduction of an environmental incentive scheme to reward higher standards of environmental performance for ships visiting Port Kembla and Port Botany that perform better than the levels required by current emissions standards, for commencement 1 January 2019.
The NSW Government will support industry-led sustainability initiatives including trials and the development and application of industry standards.
Goal 2: Manage the noise impacts of freight
Industry and government have a responsibility to minimise noise impacts on communities from road, rail, port and air freight. This can be achieved through the following hierarchy of actions:
- land-use planning policies to avoid new residential developments being built too close to freight activity
- planning controls to ensure developments are designed to minimise noise impacts
- applying noise policies and guidelines to assess and mitigate noise impacts from new and redeveloped freight infrastructure
- managing noise from activities undertaken on freight and ports infrastructure, through initiatives such as adoption of new technologies (including electric vehicles) or performance requirements
- programs to manage residual noise impacts such as the Freight Noise Attenuation Program
- providing homebuyers with sufficient information about freight operations when they are considering purchasing a property.