Funding floodgates open

Funding floodgates open

Queensland Transport and Logistics Council welcomes the federal government move to bring forward infrastructure funding commitments to stimulate the economy. For Queensland this includes a $1.9 billion road and rail package with $650 million funding brought forward and a new commitment of $680 million.

The Queensland Government has committed a further $606 million and estimates more than 7,200 jobs will be created. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called the historic deal a “huge win”.

“I have always said we work best when we work together and this proves it,” she said.

Queensland can expect a steady flow of road and rail upgrades over the next four years with 20 projects brought forward including M1, Bruce highway, Warrego highway, Cunningham highway and $90 million for the North Coast Rail Line Beerburrum and Nambour upgrade. Further detail on the breakdown of project spending can be found in the media release here.

The ABC reported that Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the arrangement was particularly successful because it involved a shift in a stalemate regarding the Inland Rail project.

“Inland Rail presents an opportunity to move more freight onto trains and take trucks off the roads”, he said.

“That becomes more important as South East Queensland continues to grow.

 “This deal also prioritises planning for the passenger rail services that will be needed to serve growing parts of South East Queensland, like the Salisbury to Beaudesert rail link.”

The Queensland section of this nation building rail project is significant with an estimated $7 billion greenfield investment including tunnelling through the Toowoomba Range.

There are many issues with Inland rail yet to be carefully navigated including the alignment of the Condamine flood plain section. Meaningful progress on these concerns can now be achieved with an agreement in place.

The CEO of ARTCs Inland Rail group, Richard Wankmuller said at the Inland Rail conference earlier in the year that ARTC had learned many lessons about consultation working with effected communities along the line.

Richard said he was not surprised by the anger expressed by Condamine producers about the rail alignment considering all other infrastructure projects have washed away during severe flooding events. The answer it seems is technology and advanced engineering see earlier article on the conference here.

The Port of Brisbane won’t miss out either with $20 million funding set aside for a detailed study into the rail connection to the port.

Port of Brisbane CEO Roy Cummins said the announcement is a step in the right direction.

Funding a business case will allow all parties to assess demand, financing, design and timing for this project. It should also lead to corridor preservation as an immediate priority.

Details are yet to be ironed out and no doubt a steady stream of project announcements will follow in coming weeks.

QTLC Welcomes new Board Member Andrew Higgins

Queensland Transport and Logistics Council is very pleased to announce Dr Andrew Higgins appointment to the Board of Directors. Andrew will bring a national research perspective and a wealth of experience and knowledge of freight networks to the Board of QTLC.  

Andrew is a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO, based in Brisbane with core skills in operations research and transport optimisation. He has a long history of involvement in the freight industry, modelling and optimising complex industry and infrastructure systems, particularly with rail transport planning and logistics, agriculture supply chains, and intermodal transport. Developing TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT) for the CSIRO, which is a spatial model for simulating transport cost benefits from infrastructure investments (road upgrades, use of rail versus road, processing and storage facilities) and policy interventions in agriculture logistics.

We are all looking forward the valuable insights Andrew will bring to the organisation and the no doubt lively debate.

QTLC is primed and ready to take on new challenges and reach our goal of being the ‘go to’ independent freight and logistics advisory body for Queensland.  

Chair Neil findlay

Andrew will join the team which currently includes, Chair Neil Findlay, Neil Scales, Peter Garske, Andrew Rankin, and Michelle Reynolds, for further details on Board members and QTLC.

Inland Rail Nation Building

Inland Rail Nation Building

To build a nation you need conviction, charisma, and a good marketing team.

The scale of Inland Rail demands this from its proponents to engage government to commit $9.3 billion to the project, opening the door for private sector to invest and build the future corridor of commerce. Flat, straight and fast, travelling Melbourne to Brisbane approximately half a day faster than current transit time.

 ‘Let private investment out of the box and see what can be achieved’ was a sentiment expressed by many presenters at last week’s Inland Rail Conference.

Held in the regal and beautiful Empire Theatre Toowoomba the Inland Rail Conference was a fantastic demonstration of the vision and determination necessary to build a national intergenerational project of significance.

Partnerships, collaboration and community were a key theme of the two-day conference 21-22 August 2019. Mayors and local government councillors from the length of the project came and shared their vision for their communities and the growth opportunities the project offered. Participants in the panel discussions offered frank and open responses to the many questions asked and nations building taglines peppered keynote speeches.

The conference attracted 450 delegates to engage with the project proponents, network and consider opportunities the project offers. The focus was on future-proofing the workforce, addressing the estimated 70,000 skills gap which will peak in 2024 and how to sustain this workforce after completion 2027.

Adrian Hart, Associate Director, BIS Oxford Economics outlined the skills gap and extent of projects competing for similar skilled individuals. The following graph sums up the scale of the issue.

Major rail project outlook AustraliaSource BIS Oxford Economics – ARA Skills capability study 2018

A rail renaissance is underway in Queensland, with Inland Rail, Cross River Rail, Gold Coast Light Rail and upgrades to other sections of the freight and passenger rail network started or near completion. The scale of the greenfield Inland Rail project is enormous for Queensland. For example, the 7km tunnel through the Toowoomba Range will be one of the longest and largest tunnels in the southern hemisphere and the Condamine Flood Plain crossing an engineering marvel. These projects highlight the skills gap in Australia particularly in tunnelling, when you consider how many tunnels are currently being dug Australia wide.

The project proponents aim to provide a skills legacy for local communities and Australia as a whole. To achieve this, savvy local government economic development groups are priming their local industries and preparing them to tender for projects. Parks in NSW has been very successful in capturing the local value and building a portfolio of projects including advanced manufacturing, mining, solar and the Pacific National intermodal terminal. Toowoomba is also looking to capture and retain the $4 billion investment that will be flowing through the region.

Double stacked domestic container freight currently moving up and down the East Coast on a mix of truck (~7,000 B-doubles a day) and train, is the initial driver for the project. Bulk agricultural freight so important to regional areas, will also benefit from Inland Rail as CSIRO Andrew Higgins outline in the Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping – Parkes to Narromine Pilot. CSIRO estimates an average $76 per tonne cost saving and 63,000 fewer heavy vehicle trips per year along sections of the Newell Highway.

Shift to Inland Rail

Condamine Flood Plain, an engineering triumph

Queensland will cover the largest and most complex section of greenfield development and landholders in the region have been extremely vocal in their rejection of the project. Graham Clapham Chair Southern Darling Downs Consultative Committee provided a landholder account of the impact the rail line will have on his community. He spoke eloquently about the miss communication and lack of understanding on both sides which led to a long period of anger, and how this is starting to be resolved.

It is very difficult for people who have owned a property for generations to accept a project that will use their land and irreversibly change the way they farm. Often, they support the project in principle but believe the engineers have it wrong and the alignment will not work on their land.

Condamine river

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: The Chronicle

Richard Wankmuller, ARTC CEO, said he accepted the initial engagement was ill-informed and he understood why landholders were sceptical in the Condamine flood plain. For many generations any structures built were inevitably washed away so why would this be any different? The answer, it seems, is an ability to draw on examples of international engineering success and use these to build a bespoke solution.

Richard’s presentation is more than just words as the Inland Rail and ARTC team have committed to locating staff in the regions to build community support for the project and listen to concerns raised. They need landholders on side to progress the project and have taken time to re assess access arrangements and keep line of communication open.

Only $700 million has been spent so far leaving plenty more value to be captured by the freight and construction industry, landholders, skilled workers and regions in Queensland. The next step will be interesting to watch as Queensland takes on the Inland Rail challenge.

Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, the wait is over

Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, the wait is over

The Toowoomba Second Range Crossing has long been one of the highest infrastructure priorities for Queensland and with $1.6 billion investment from the Commonwealth and State Government, it is now a reality. 

Nexus Infrastructure began construction of the 41km heavy vehicle route in 2015 and in September 2018 the bypass will finally open just in time for the Toowoomba flower festival. 

“Connecting the Warrego Highway at Helidon Spa in the east to the Gore Highway at Athol in the west, the new Toowoomba Second Range Crossing will form a vital strategic link within Australia’s National Freight Network and Toowoomba’s emerging intermodal network,” Mr McCormack said

The TRSC will create a safer, faster and more efficient route for connecting freight to major ports and markets. Toowoomba is a significant regional hub and the surrounding regions rich agricultural, gas and mining outputs contribute 20 per cent of the Port of Brisbane commodity exports.

Census data from 2012 indicates 23,000 vehicles crossed the range daily including 3,500 heavy vehicles. Primary production and general freight made up over 90 per cent of truck movements with an additional 2.7 per cent OSOM, 3.2 per cent FMCs, and 3 per cent fuel transport. 

The Queensland Transport and Logistics Council has long advocated for the construction of the TSRC providing a number of critical reports includingA Focus on Freight – Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and Future Freight in Queensland from a Global Supply Chain promoting the productivity benefits of enabling higher performance vehicle access to the route. 

Extended B-Triple (or similar HPV) access is one of the most significant potential benefits of the TSRC, with a direct benefit for the Dinmore abattoir, which is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, processing 3350 head per day. Queensland has almost half of Australia’s cattle herd and the majority of the states feedlots and processing capacity is in the south east corner. 

QTLC advocated for larger livestock truck combinations to have access direct to JBS at Dinmore as the optimal outcome for safety, efficiency and productivity. In choosing the alternative option of Gatton as a break down point QTLC believes an effluent facility at the site will provide considerable benefit. 

Professional livestock carriers are using effluent tanks to reduce public hazard and biosecurity risks. The issue remains once collected what can the driver do with the waste when the tank fills up? 

The Australian Livestock Transport Association identified the TSRC as an opportunity to invest in an effluent facility and President Ian Wild is calling on “Queensland Government and Local Councils to commence planning for the construction and funding of managed roadside disposal sites for livestock effluent in South East Queensland”. Read the full article here

The issue of tolls has been hotly debated since the TRSC construction was announced. Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon has been unwavering in his pursuit of the government to commit to a toll industry can work with. 

‘I am pleased to be able to tell you that Minister Bailey and the Palaszczuk Government have clearly listened and today have announced the toll arrangements which are a good result particularly the dropping of the super heavy (multi-combinations) toll proposal.’ Gary Mahon said

The freight industry has responded favourably to the $22.85 toll for all heavy trucks/combinations over 4.5 tonne as it is very comparable to the Gateway Motorway rate.

The Hon. Minister Mark Bailey MP has indicated the toll is unlikely to cover the annual maintenance cost leaving the government with an ongoing commitment. For the first three months, the TRSC will be free for all to use. For detailed information the Minister’s press release can be accessed  here and Transport and Main Roads website here.

QTLC welcomes new CEO

QTLC welcomes new CEO

Queensland Transport and Logistics Council Chairman Neil Findlay welcomed in new Chief Executive Officer Renata Berglas (pictured) this week. Renata is taking over the role following Charles Burkes’ move back to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to head up the team transitioning the Queensland Agriculture Colleges.   

Renata brings with her a wealth of skills in industry engagement, issue identification and navigating government to achieve results. Her previous roles in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and AgForce Queensland Farmers provide a strong base in policy development and application. She has found pathways to progress industry issues, amend legislation to facilitate competitive markets and collaborated with Government on biosecurity strategy development and action planning from industries perspective. 

Queensland is a net commodity exporter with 85 per cent of this being coal and the next largest commodity exported is beef. Where coal has a direct freight task to port, reliable supply and dedicated rail slots, beef is complex often intermodal and unique. The movement of live cargo hauled by small one truck businesses through to large scale operations, from breeding property, to fattening and on to processing facilities primarily in the South East of the state. Followed by truck transportation of finished product through to the port. 

    “Facilitating agricultural freight networks is my comfortable place and I am looking forward to expanding my horizons with general freight in this role.” Renata said.

    “The QTLC is in a good space with a new strategic plan, and engagement strategy. We are focused on growing our stakeholder base and delivering value to industry participants. QTLC is primed and ready to take on new challenges build partnerships and grow.” Neil said 

Added to this the Government has now released the much anticipated Queensland Freight Strategy – Advancing Freight in Queensland and plans to develop a two year rolling action plan. There are clear opportunities in the strategy to leverage industry investment and facilitate improved freight outcomes, and QTLC is in a unique position to facilitate engagement and articulate the issues. 

    “I am looking forward to seizing all opportunities to work with industry, identifying constraints in the system and collaborating with government to find public private answers to Queensland freight task.” Renata said