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The NSW Transport Infrastructure summit was held on the 7th & 8th August and speakers surprised the audience by describing the ‘sexiness’ of rail. Here’s a closer look at what was discussed.
FREIGHT AND LOGISTICS
There were many recurring themes at the NSW Transport Infrastructure summit but rail freight was the definite winner with majority of the summits experts giving it a big thumbs-up. ARTC’s Executive Manager of Strategy and Growth, Simon Ormsby, Director of the Freight and Trade Alliance, Paul Zalai, and Deputy Director of General Freight and Regional Development, Rachel Johnson were all singing the same tune; freight is “sexier” when moving on trains.
We’ve all heard the reasons behind this, but Rachel Johnson explained it succinctly: “we need to cater for the growth in the freight task; and we know that the freight task is going to double before 2031”
One of the stand-out moments of the freight section of the conference was a video shown by Mr Zalai who demonstrated the waiting times for truck drivers to get into the Patrick terminal at Port Botany.
“Years of ongoing delays and lines to get into the Patrick terminal are so bad they had to provide truck drivers with bottles of water and porter-loos”
However, this notion was put to ease by Michal Hanna, CEO of Australia’s Industry Funds Management who explained that the NSW Port Consortium is committed to investing more into port infrastructure:
“IFM pumps the proceeds of its assets back into investment for new infrastructure; getting money back to investors rather than charging excessive fees”
Some of the key speakers in this section include:
NSW TRANSPORT NETWORKS
On the other side of the track in the transport sector, a lot of the discussion around NSW’s transport needs centered on creating a balanced system. We all know that trains have a higher capacity than bus and road networks, but Professor Graham Currie, Chair of Public Transport for the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University discussed that Sydney really needs to work a little hard on its bus networks:
“Bus routes are more complicated and hard to follow; trains raise quality, expectations and reliability because trains don’t stop at the traffic lights.”
But with an array of motorway projects on the horizon including the WestConnex, support for creating a balanced transport network was advocated by the Hon Patricia Forsythe, CEO of the Sydney Business Chamber, and Chris Johnson CEO of the Urban Taskforce who said that these projects are important to stimulate ‘eco-density’.
One of the most hotly discussed sessions was the panel on comparing the benefits of light rail transit to bus rapid transit for Sydney. Experts concluded that the Sydney CBD needed a solution to it’s heavily bus clogged roads. And in the final words of Professor Currie, “People prefer railways!”