Freight Off Roads

Our Vision

A new state-of-the-art land transportation system to underpin Victorian industry that meets modern global transportation requirements. This will allow Victoria to compete globally and for Victorian customers to enjoy best practice goods deliveries while minimising impacts on people, communities and environments.

The Port of Melbourne is essential for Victoria’s economy. Residents, road users, pedestrians and all members of the community are increasingly impacted negatively by heavy freight being carried more on larger road vehicles and less on freight trains. We want to ensure that residential communities don’t continue to suffer health problems, loss of amenity and property values from exposure to truck traffic and congestion. We envision improved efficiency of goods delivery by taking more advantage of the safety and cost savings offered by rail and new technologies.  To achieve these aspirations we need a restructuring of Victoria’s road-rail systems, laws and enforcement, and a re-focussing of minimising negative impacts on people and places.


What do we want?

freight2.jpgOver successive Victorian Governments large parts of the railway system have been sold, and priority diverted to funding major roads. Our remaining rail system is now fragmented with multiple owners, regulators, train operators, rail gauges, obsolete signalling, uncertain train paths with unreliable arrival times, etc. It is under-funded, run down and has underutilised capacity, due to freight shifting to roads. This has resulted in:

  • On-road truck driving problems – truck speeding, driver fatigue, drug taking, dangerous driving, road trauma, pollution, noise, illegal loading, curfew violation, level crossing accidents
  • Urban issues – truck depot relocation to western suburbs, toll-dodging rat runs, truck accident black spots, road damage by trucks, and dangerous freight carried near residences, schools, hospitals, shops and public open space.
  • Community health impacts of trucks – ill health, especially asthma and respiratory disease, stress, sleeplessness, increased public health costs, degraded roads and suburbs, lost amenity and property devaluation, contributing to climate change, lack of GHG or EPA standards to cut pollution sufficiently.
  • Lack of truck industry accountability – powerful large operators with monopoly controls over their terminals, driver under-payment, ‘cowboy’ drivers shirking regulations, forged log book records
  • Ineffective truck regulation and law enforcement – outdated and inadequate laws, minimal enforcement by police and other authorities, lack of adoption of camera and other automatic detection technology, too much focus on self-regulation that is ineffective, obsolete truck fleet, un-roadworthiness of vehicles, toxic exhaust emissions (87% of trucks were not Euro V compliant in 2014)
  • No level playing field between road and rail, heavy road trains under-charged, trains over-regulated, unfair competition by road trucks, tax advantages for trucking companies, leading to lack of rail viability
  • Poor customer service from a lack of supply chain logistics and intercommunications technology, resulting in poor backloading of trucks, low fleet utilisation, and unnecessary empty running and truck congestion. This leads to high labour-intensive road transport costs and unnecessary road & tollway construction. Charges to customers are inflated as a result. Expected time of goods delivery is often not communicated to customers.

Strategies

Within 5 years make rail networks and port terminals faster and more efficient, and otherwise incentivise freight train operators to reinstate port container shuttle train services by

  • Developing and declaring several suburban open access freight intermodal terminals from where road distribution occurs (away from the populous suburbs).
  • Completing standard gauge conversion, increase track running speeds, modernise rail signalling, so as to enable reduced train headways and a better utilised rail network.
  • Planning and reserving  surface rail corridors to/from Melbourne for the next 50 years to avert rail tunnelling costs for future lines.
  • Investing in freight tracking smart technology to  increase customer service and reliability
  • Providing ‘open access’ intermodal terminals by law, so all train and truck operators can use them i.e. eliminate vertically integrated private terminals.

Rationalise regulation and enforcement responsibilities of all agencies to better address and minimise trucking problems by:

  • Licensing truck companies at ports and intermodal terminals, and crossing State borders, with significant penalties and licence confiscation for repeat offences or accidents.
  • Enforcing  point speed limits, average speed limits, excess truck noise, use of engine brakes, excess exhaust emissions, tail-gating, convoys and lane transgressions by the application of automatic (camera) detection devices and smart technologies to all major truck routes.
  • Conducting more random roadside inspections of truck driver log books, drug taking, alcohol consumption, trucks for roadworthiness, illegal freight including firearms, contraband, drugs, tobacco, un-manifested and undocumented goods, and stolen goods.
  • Monitoring and publishing roadside traffic noise measurements for increased public transparency. Fill gaps in existing noise barriers and lower traffic speeds to ensure noise policy compliance.

Develop a State Environmental Protection Policy (SEPP) for best practice daytime and night time protection (as VicRoads has failed to upgrade its Noise Policy) including:

  • Regularly monitoring  air quality at identified pollution hot spots throughout Melbourne. Where air quality is sub-standard, implement roadside afforestation treatments that meet US EPA best practice.
  • Phasing out trucks over 20 years of age and register only new trucks with the latest emission (Euro VI) controls.
  • Banning use of truck engine brakes throughout Victoria and upgrade noise walls as necessary to minimise excessive truck traffic noise in populous or sensitive areas.
  •  Enforcing time based curfews on trucks in sensitive areas, with regular enforcement.
  •  Increase x-ray and other detection from 5% to 50% of shipping containers to eliminate drug and other contraband imports.
  • Relocating the toxic diesel locomotive maintenance/ service centre from Newport out of the metropolitan area.
  •  Phasing out polluting/obsolete fleet that is over 20 years old by incentivising all owners of trucks and locomotives to modernise with the latest Euro 6 compliant diesel (or gas) engines.

Support Federal mass-distance charging for trucks and a level playing field with trains by:

  • Instigating a 40-year rail catch-up investment program to modernise rail infrastructure and incentivise private train operators to invest ‘above-rail’.
  • Ensuring that 80% of grain traffic is transported to the ports by grain freight trains to stop highway and rural road damage being caused by heavy road combination vehicles.

Outcomes

These reforms will deliver a new state-of-the-art land transportation system to underpin Victorian industry that meets modern global transportation requirements and allows Victoria to compete globally and Victorian customers are to receive best practice goods deliveries.

  1. Improved logistics options and efficiencies by reinstating  and invigorating rail freight component of logistics supply chain
  2. Improved road safety outcomes for all road users. Removal of freight from roads is safer for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, car users and other road users from heavy freight vehicles to reach government zero road toll target (including with trucks).
  3. Improved community health and residential amenity reducing  asthma and respiratory deaths due to diesel emissions, minimising noise and other negative truck traffic impacts.
  4. Reduced social and environmental cost of freight transport by road and rail by modernising railways and improving their competitiveness. Make trucks pay their full costs including road damage costs, and level the playing field with train operators.

THE ASK:

Level the playing field between road and rail by re-organising the existing road and rail Departments into a representative system-wide overseer for freight (all aspect not just roads) supported by smart technology and demand management. Spread budgets equitably across the other vital components to achieve the catch up investment necessary for freight modernisation estimating a budget of $1 to $2 billion a year for each of the first 5 years.  Use fines and penalties from increased enforcement to recover any cost increases above the current levels


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