Rail network needed for freight

LGA president Cr Keith Rhoades calls for more government funding.
LGA president Cr Keith Rhoades calls for more government funding.

LOCAL communities need an efficient and effective freight network, according to Cr Keith Rhoades.

Cr Rhoades, the Coffs Harbour mayor and Local Government Association president, has welcomed the release of the Federal Government’s Draft National Freight Strategy, but says more funding and formal commitments are needed for supporting infrastructure.

“Councils currently manage 85 per cent of the local road network in NSW and face a $6.3 billion infrastructure gap that grows by $500 million each year,” Cr Rhoades said.

“As most freight journeys start or finish on local roads, additional funding will be needed to address the impact of the bigger and heavier trucks envisioned in the strategy on local road and bridge infrastructure.

“Consultation with councils is essential to address any road safety, noise or amenity concerns local communities will have with opening up more local roads to bigger vehicles.

“As part of local government’s election priorities, NSW councils are also calling for an increase in freight rail infrastructure.

“We believe rail is part of the answer to taking pressure off congested roads and rail systems in metropolitan areas.”

The Shires Association president, Bruce Miller, says moving freight from road to rail is the answer to solving many of the issues faced by communities around NSW.

“It’ll get trucks off our local roads, reduce air pollution and impact on local road infrastructure as well as easing traffic in the cities,” Cr Miller said.

Councils support the development of a range of proposed freight rail projects including a north-south inland rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane through Central West NSW.

Cr Miller said the first step needed in the development of the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail Project was the reservation and protection of the rail corridor alignment.

“In areas where freight remains on an expanded road network, councils need access to an improved road funding mechanism,” he said.

“Councils also deserve a share of the productivity enhancements and efficiencies that would accrue to industry and the Australian Government as a result of these improvements.”

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