VTA celebrates project progress and industry resilience

[L-R] Shadow Victorian Ports Minister David Hodgett, VTA CEO Peter Anderson and Federal Transport & Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester.

[L-R] Shadow Victorian Ports Minister David Hodgett, VTA CEO Peter Anderson and Federal Transport & Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson has highlighted the major productivity challenges facing Australian freight and logistics operator in opening remarks to the VTA’s annual State Conference at Lorne.

Anderson said in a big-picture sense, it is a challenging time for all freight operators.

“Freight movements are generally down thanks to a stagnant economy, and operator margins that are already stretched thin are being further squeezed by higher input and variable costs. We are also operating in an increasing regulatory environment and having to adapt our businesses to satisfy and comply with additional regulatory oversight.”

Anderson explained operators are also facing higher road and infrastructure user charges, which eat into profits and erode margins.

“These factors highlight the need for operators to extract greater productivity from their systems, their equipment, their people, their customers and their suppliers to remain viable and successful.”

Anderon noted that there are a lot of exciting things happening in the industry across technology and innovation, safety and training and human resources, and infrastructure.

“We now have a North East Link Authority established and are actively putting together the business case and corridor study for the connection, which will finally link the M80 to EastLink or the Eastern Freeway,” he said.

“This has long been the VTA’s priority road infrastructure project and we are playing an active role in the consultation and planning for the connection, which the current Victorian Government has committed to take to the next election.

Anderson also reflected on the considerable progress made on the West Gate Tunnel project. The Victorian Government last week released additional plans and environmental modelling for the project, which will provide better access to the Port of Melbourne for heavy vehicles.

“While we support the project, we are unimpressed with plans to permanently curfew trucks from existing roads and force them to use a toll road. We’re working closely with the treasurer and the roads minister on incentives for trucks to use the new freeway, such as toll rebates and reduced tolls at nights, as well as exempting modern and efficient vehicles from the proposed curfews.”

Anderson explained that the Association is encouraging infrastructure planning and investments in the Port of Melbourne to ensure it remains Australia’s biggest.

“There are many issues working against freight volumes increasing within the Port of Melbourne, so it’s important we plan now for short- and long-term infrastructure needs at the Port to keep it competitive,” he said.

“This includes improving rail access via Port Rail Shuttles, proper road and rail infrastructure planning for freight movements in and out of the new Webb Dock Terminal, and upgrading infrastructure to accommodate high productivity freight vehicles.”