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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2011
51 FUTURE FREIGHT NETWORKS 2011 Tony Sheldon Federal Secretary, Transport Workers Union Sheldon presented the union viewpoint, explored several scenarios, and called for answers on a number of fronts. He started the ball rolling with the observation that ‘one person’s red tape is another person’s protection’ before moving into the area of safe work practices and chains of responsibility. Sheldon was unapologetically critical of greed that resulted in drivers being forced to work under too much pressure for extended periods. Concentrations of power in the supermarket and transport and logistics sectors have given considerable power to few. Such power places heavy vehicle drivers under huge pressure, which leads to unsafe practices. Research was quoted that showed that better pay and conditions led to greater safety. Sheldon also recounted interviews with drivers who had been working for extended periods in unsafe situations. In conclusion, Sheldon posed the question to all present: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Session 6 A NATIONAL INTEGRATED TRANSpORT AND LOGISTICS INDUSTRy Bryan Nye CEO, Australasian Railway Association This was a wake-up call to demonstrate that while we have perhaps become a little blasé about the scale of much that is being done in China, the seeming overnight leap from bicycles to 350 kilometre per hour high-speed rail (HSR) is doing more than just saving travel time. And while the bar has also been raised in many other countries around the world, China leads the world. Even the freight lines are being electrified as a precaution against future fuel shortages. Diesel locomotives must be phased out at 12 years of age, whereas the Australian locomotive fleet is some 35.5 years old on average. Nye opened with a few dramatic statistics. By 2020 every Chinese town of more than 200,000 residents will be connected by HSR (greater than 350 kilometres per hour). China already has some 7,000 kilometres of HSR running. By 2020, it will be in the order of 20,000 kilometres. The Chinese have already said that when they complete this project, they are going to take it to the world. Train sets were bought for $240 million and totally re- engineered. China will be able to sell re-designed train sets around the world at just $40 million per set. With the speeds that are being achieved in China every day, we could travel from Newcastle to Melbourne in three hours, Sydney to Canberra in 60 minutes, and Brisbane to Albury in four hours. HSR has changed business and leisure practices across China, as regional cities become much more important. ‘Living circles’ of one hour from the CBD and three hours (900 kilometres) from the CBD now dictate work and leisure behaviour. While work can be an hour away, yum-cha can now be a comfortable 900 kilometres away. Nye pointed out that the great advantage of HSR is the ability to get to the centre of cities. However, he cautioned that this is a real problem in an access constrained city like Sydney. Developing a new rail freight corridor north of Sydney (that has to be built) may cost in the order of $10 billion. The cost of a second airport for Sydney is estimated at some $22 billion. There are some challenging political arguments to be had, and decisions to be made. It is of fundamental importance to identify the required land corridors across the country now. In China, HSR projects have sourced funding from property development – wide tracts were reserved, and access to these was sold off to developers, as with the provision of the transport, the land became much more valuable. Nye advised the attendees that he considered that there is a lot of political goodwill towards HSR on all sides of politics, and that ‘the time is right and it will happen’. But urgent action has to happen on securing adequate land corridors for the future. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is still in motion. The world record for HSR speeds is now some 575 kilometres per hour, and HSR is on the move in Japan, Europe, Taiwan, South Korea, Argentina, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India and more.