In this video it doesn’t look like a truck tsunami is coming, this truck looks quite lonely as the first freight vehicle to descend the Toowoomba Range on the newly opened Toowoomba Bypass. In the same week as this good news and low congestion story is doing the rounds, the Port of Brisbane is stirring up the anti-truck lobby with threats about a ‘truck tsunami’.
Roy Cummins, the CEO of the Port of Brisbane has come out quoting a paper published by Deloitte Access Economics on the Port’s behalf, as part of a lobbying effort to ensure the proposed Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane, links directly to the Port in Brisbane.
“If we don’t directly connect Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane, Queenslanders won’t get the jobs, but they will get the trucks,” said Cummins. “That’s because as Queensland’s population grows, so too that the freight task. The way our supply chain is established at present, that means a truck tsunami is heading our way.
“Currently only two per cent of containerised freight comes to the Port of Brisbane via rail. The rest arrives on trucks. In 2018, that equated to four million trucks movements. With the current rail constraints in place, that number would increase to over 13 million by 2050.
“Deloitte’s paper shows that by building a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane and achieving a globally competitive rail modal share, we could remove 2.4 million truck movements from the local road network.”
These comments are part of an ongoing tussle between state and federal governments over funding for freight infrastructure. Although the original intention for Inland Rail was to run into the Port in Brisbane, the Queensland Government is looking for further funding in other areas before it will invest in the rail infrastructure needed to get the rail all of the way to its destination.
At the moment the rail will definitely be built as far as the freight hub to the west of Toowoomba. The route from here, down the Range to the current rail hub at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane, looks likely to go ahead, but the final piece of the jigsaw, from Acacia Ridge to the Port remains a hot political potato.
The truck in the video has already been joined by many others as the massive freight task between Darling Downs and SW Queensland, and SE Queensland continues to increase. Containerised freight including millions of tonnes of grain and other products are coming out of rural Queensland for export.
For example, Queensland has more than 40 per cent of the national herd and produces 54 per cent of the nation’s total beef production in terms of value. Brisbane is Australia’s largest fresh meat export terminal and all of the beef is processed in SE Queensland before heading to the Port in containers.
Cummins’ comments are clearly part of a targeted campaign to get the funding and political will organised to connect the Port to the Inland Rail, but is also having the effect of exacerbating the antagonistic relationship between the trucking industry and other road users unnecessarily.