MACROC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy released in November 2012 by Transport for NSW.
The MACROC Councils, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly, acknowledge the importance of long-term planning for freight movement within the State Government’s overall vision for the future growth of NSW and the regions within it.
MACROC supports the overall objectives of the Draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy to deliver ‘a freight network that efficiently supports the projected growth of the NSW economy’ and balances ‘freight needs with those of the broader community and the environment’, however MACROC would like to offer the following comments.
Investment in road infrastructure is welcomed and the WestConnex project (the M4 and M5 East expansion) will have a positive impact, particularly given the projected increased volume of traffic associated with Port Botany. Together with improved road infrastructure however, there needs to be a significant increase in the amount of freight being shipped by rail rather than road.
The Southern Sydney Freight Line and the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor are essential pieces of infrastructure to develop freight capacity and must be completed in the shortest possible timeframe.
Additionally, the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link is also seen as an essential element in reducing freight pressure on local road networks, as well as the Illawarra Rail Line where there is already congestion created by the competing demands for freight and passenger services. The Rail Link would also support expanding resource sectors by giving them alternative access to Port Kembla. It is essential that the NSW Freight and Port Strategy not only identify all potential strategic rail corridors but also ensures they are quarantined for future development.
The Maldon Dombarton Rail Line should also not be left to the discretion of the private sector as identified in the draft Strategy, but the State Government should take the lead in ensuring the early delivery of the project, given the potential benefit of reducing congestion on the Illawarra Line. Additionally, the current freight focus on this rail line should not preclude future passenger services on the rail line, in view of the potential residential development in Macarthur South.
The Draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy identifies the issue of managing noise from road and rail freight and points out that while there has been quite a lot of work done on ways to reduce the impact of road freight on affected communities, there has been little work done on how to manage rail freight noise. Rail noise is already an issue for people living near rail corridors and the increase of rail freight will only heighten community concern. Transport for NSW needs to establish noise reduction provisions and develop a sound and transparent reporting mechanism by which it can report back to the community on measures that have been put in place and what results have been achieved in terms of noise reduction.
In terms of road freight movements, planning needs to allow for the future growth in the container market and strategically placed intermodal facilities. The development of the Moorebank Intermodal presents a number of challenges for the Macarthur region, particularly in relation to congestion on local roads and impact on the capacity of the M5 Motorway. One particular issue that needs addressing is the provision of a high level bridge connecting Cambridge Avenue, Glenfield and Moorebank Avenue, Moorebank. Apart from this piece of infrastructure there will need to be significant investment in upgrading the supporting road network to meet forecast increased transport demand. Consideration also needs to be given to how the Macarthur Intermodal Shipping Terminal at Minto will be integrated into the new freight network.
Apart from the Moorebank Intermodal, other strategically placed intermodal terminals, for example at Glenlee, as well as at Eastern Creek, would also assist in reducing freight pressure on the network. Appropriate land transport corridors will need to be identified and zoned for future use to safeguard the facility location from incompatible urban development. Camden Council is currently considering the suitability of the Glenlee Precinct for industrial zoning however for the precinct to provide support to the interstate freight market it would require the construction of the Spring Farm Link Road, and an ‘all movements’ connection to be made to the National Road Network (Hume Highway). This is likely to be cost prohibitive at a local level, with State and Federal Government funding being appropriate. A strategic road connection to the Glenlee site will also enable transfer of freight from high productivity vehicles onto smaller truck sizes for distribution within the Sydney Metropolitan area.
Greater use of high productivity vehicles in increasing road freight productivity will be impeded by some existing road infrastructure. For example, pavement and bridge structures on some parts of the existing network are not designed to support the mass limits imposed by high productivity vehicles. This results in an accelerated deterioration of the road network. The upgrading of roads targeted for developing freight movements must be addressed by appropriate funding mechanisms.
At present, approximately 90% of freight movement along the M5 East is equally split between King Georges Road and the M5 West. Despite the doubling of freight transported by rail, the impact on traffic movement on the M5 will still be significant. Transport for NSW is to deliver an Off-Peak Action Plan to look at leveling out network demand by maximising freight use during off-peak periods. Industry, Local Government and other key stakeholders need to be consulted about this Plan and there needs to be a balance between the benefits to the freight industry and the needs of the wider community and the environment.
MACROC supports the preservation of strategic freight corridors, an example of which is the ‘Outer Sydney Orbital Corridor’. However, due to ongoing development pressures in the region, including within the Wollondilly LGA (as part of the Housing Acceleration Plan by the State Government), the M9 proposal needs to ensure that the alignment be confirmed as soon as possible, and not necessarily within the five year timeframe identified by the NSW Transport Master Plan. This also needs to consider planning proposals in the Appin area that identify a direct link between Appin Road and the M9 corridor, which would also significantly benefit freight transport.
However comprehensive investigation of other future corridor connections should be conducted as part of this process, for example an east/west connection to/from the Smeaton Grange freight activity precinct, to ensure the Orbital link delivers in full on its intended purpose.
One of the challenges within the Macarthur region is insufficient road capacity to meet both growing private vehicle usage and freight travel demands. Narellan Road is one example. Despite the M7-Westlink, a considerable amount of freight exits the Hume Highway and combines with other freight traffic traveling west along Narellan Road. Further upgrades are currently underway for Narellan Road (planned over the next five years), however further road based solutions are required to ensure any increased capacity via road upgrades are not immediately absorbed by latent road freight demand.
Heavy vehicle use of the local road network also raises the following issues for the Macarthur region:
• Damage to roads originally designed for lesser loadings;
• Lack of appropriate infrastructure to support truck movements (parking/rest areas);
• Loading impacts on existing bridges and culverts not designed for heavier freight;
• Lack of funding for maintenance;
• Increased noise impact on local communities from local roads.
In terms of freight and logistics, the key transport objectives for Macarthur include:
• Transport access to encourage employment and economic growth combined with focus on employment lands closer to residents;
• Better cross regional connections;
• Increased funding for road maintenance e.g. key haulage routes, waste management transport routes etc.
Greater certainty is required around delivery timeframes for key road network routes that also serve as freight routes, for example improved on/off access to Hume Highway at Narellan Road, the Spring Farm Link Road to the Hume Highway, and the Northern Road upgrade.
Residential areas should be protected from the impacts of freight traffic where possible. Provision of appropriate locations for inter-modal facilities between rail and road networks will assist in this regard.
Within the Macarthur region there remains an opportunity for areas within Camden and Wollondilly to become part of an agricultural and innovation hub. A key element to achieving this level of economic development is the provision of the necessary freight infrastructure required to support such development.
While Wollondilly benefits from the ’Bridges for the Bush’ program, Camden does not. The current focus for Camden is on provision of urban transport infrastructure to accommodate projected population growth within the South West Growth Centre, however it should also be noted that Camden retains rural areas where there are existing bridges that require upgrading to support freight movement.
The Draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy, reflecting the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, does not take a position on either the issue of a second airport in the Sydney Basin or the proposal for a high speed train that could connect the major cities, as well as connecting to an international airport outside the Sydney Basin. Both these are key infrastructure issues which at the very least require the State Government to identify required corridors to preserve linkage options for the future.
MACROC acknowledges that there is a need for improving the capacity of Sydney Airport and to addressing the issue of freight flow from Port Botany. However MACROC does not support the development of a second international airport in the Sydney Basin as the solution.
MACROC thanks you for the opportunity to comment on the Draft NSW Freight and Ports Strategy. It is hoped that the comments made in this submission will be considered by Transport for NSW in conjunction with the individual submissions made by the MACROC Councils.