Freight Transport Challenges

Abstract

The Australian freight transport industry is very critical when it comes to the country’s present and future economic growth. Australia’s freight size is set to increase in the next few years and yet the country is not well prepared in terms of freight infrastructure. The current freight infrastructure can not handle the ever-growing freight task and this is one of the greatest challenges that the freight transportation industry faces. The main objective of this research is to identify one major freight transport challenge in Australia and come up with appropriate recommendations for addressing the challenge. All the major stakeholders in the transport and logistics industry including government officials, private investors, and consumers were interviewed in an attempt to establish the actual freight transport challenges in Australia. The majority of the respondents pointed out the freight infrastructure challenge as one of the major challenges facing the freight transport industry. The Australian government has to invest more resources in the expansion of freight infrastructure in order to deal with the freight infrastructure challenge. The Australian government should involve private investors in addressing the freight infrastructure challenge because they are major stakeholders in the freight transport industry.

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Introduction

The freight infrastructure challenge is a major concern for the Australian freight transportation industry. This will definitely strain the current freight infrastructure due to an increase in demand for consumer goods (Caldwell 2002, p. 57). An increase in population subsequently leads to an increase in freight size due to the high demand for consumer goods. Australia faces a possible strain on its freight infrastructure if appropriate measures are not taken to deal with this infrastructural challenge. The bulk and non-bulk categories of freight contribute to the infrastructural challenge that Australia faces when it comes to freight transportation (Caldwell 2002, p. 67). It is approximated that Australia’s freight task will triple in the next thirty years due to an increase in freight size. This research paper will highlight how the freight infrastructure challenge affects freight transportation and recommend different ways of addressing the freight infrastructure challenge.

Body

Australia’s increasing freight size is responsible for the current freight infrastructure challenge facing the country (Caldwell 2002, p. 99). It is approximated that Australia’s freight has an average annual growth of five percent (Gilbert 2010, p. 123). Australia’s domestic demand for goods is very high and this makes the country rely on international markets. All modes of freight transport in Australia have been experiencing congestion in recent years and the process making the current freight infrastructure capacity to be inadequate (Gilbert 2010, p. 125). An increase in the country’s imports consequently leads to an infrastructural challenge. Australia’s demographic network has expanded due to a population increase in the Western and Northern territories such as Queensland. The recent demographic changes mean that more geographical areas have to be reached (Laird 2001, p. 116). Seaborne containerization has also increased as a result of Australia’s sustained economic growth but the current freight infrastructure can not handle the ever-growing sea freight. Imported manufactured goods form a substantial size of Australia’s freight and this leads to a freight infrastructure challenge (Laird 2001, p. 166).

The current freight infrastructure challenges in Australia have a significant impact on the entire transport and logistics industry (Laird 2001, p. 167). The Australian economy entirely depends on its transport and logistics industry for present and future economic sustainability (Melo 2011, p. 45). The freight size and infrastructural requirements affect the general transfer of goods from one place to another. An increase in freight size requires the country to have a highly-skilled workforce to deal with all logistical demands (Douglass 2003, p. 146). Congestion and capacity constraints are some of the effects of the freight infrastructure challenge on the transport and logistics industry. Australia has over 165,000 enterprises in the transport and logistics industry which find it difficult to operate due to infrastructural challenges brought about by the ever-increasing freight size (Melo 2011, p. 45). There has been a significant refinement in inventory management due to the freight infrastructure challenge. Many logistics companies in Australia have adopted the just-in-time strategy and 24-hour shifts to deal with the freight infrastructure challenge.

It is important to note that the freight infrastructure challenge can only be dealt with by initiating the necessary reforms in the transport and logistics industry (Melo 2011, p. 48). The overall transport and logistics industry has experienced a significant decline due to the freight infrastructure challenge. Freight transport has been diversified with an aim of meeting both domestic and international freight tasks. The Australian freight infrastructure has been undergoing restructuring and expansion in order to meet the current infrastructure capacity requirements (Douglas 2003, p. 184). A limited freight infrastructure leads to high operational costs. The entire transport and logistics industry suffer when the cost of freight transport goes up. The freight infrastructure challenge leads to a rise in storage and transportation costs (Melo 2011, p. 49).

The freight infrastructure challenge has been a major concern for the Australian government in recent years (Douglas 2003, p. 188). The Australian government in coordination with private investors has made significant investments in the transport and logistics industry but the investments are not enough to address the freight infrastructure challenge. Most of the players in the transport and logistics industry depend on road transport and a future increase in freight size means that the industry will not have the adequate infrastructural capacity (Kinnear 2012, p. 55). Many businessmen prefer road freight due to convenience and lower costs but this will no longer be the case due to a limited freight infrastructure. The efficiency of transport and logistics systems will definitely come down because of delays and the fact that freight services and passengers are forced to share the limited transport infrastructure (Melo 2011, p. 69). The Australian logistics industry is in danger of collapsing in the near future if the government fails to come up with measures that will help in addressing the freight infrastructure challenge.

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In order to solve the freight infrastructure challenge, the Australian government should come up with strategic initiatives and programs (Kinnear 2012, p. 58). To begin with, the government should come up with viable infrastructural alternatives for handling international freight. All modes of freight infrastructure should be put into use as a way of addressing the freight infrastructure challenge (Kinnear 2012, p. 59). The Australian government should improve air transport because it is very critical in the delivery of high-quality freight to remote areas. The other way of dealing with the freight infrastructure challenge is by introducing larger freight vehicles that can handle long-haul freight tasks (Kinnear 2012, p. 59). The Australian government should diversify its investment in freight infrastructure as a strategy for good transport management. The government should consider investing in rail, air, and coastal infrastructure apart from roads. The freight infrastructure challenge can be dealt with if the government will allocate enough funds towards the improvement of freight infrastructure (Kinnear 2012, p. 59). All types of transport infrastructure that form the entire freight infrastructure should be improved in equal measure to ease congestion on roads. The Australian government has done very little to improve the entire freight infrastructure.

The Australian freight infrastructure needs serious reconstruction and expansion in order to meet the infrastructural requirements of the ever-active transport and logistics industry (Caldwell 2002, p. 183). The Australian government has continually failed to invest in non-road transport infrastructure and this has been a major reason for the current freight infrastructure challenge (Laird 2001, p. 102). The transport infrastructure fund should be used in building intermodal terminals that facilitate the modal sharing of different freight infrastructure. Investment in freight projects will help a great deal in reducing freight infrastructure challenges. Pipeline projects are very useful in solving the infrastructure capacity challenge (Douglas 2003, p. 149). The freight infrastructure challenge can be reduced to a great extent through the use of pipelines in transporting both liquid and gas products.

The freight infrastructure challenge cannot be addressed comprehensively without the use of efficient and innovative strategies (Douglas 2003, p. 156). National tracking operations should be improved through the adoption of modern tracking devices (Douglas 2003, p. 149). There is a need to invest in efficiency-boosting projects that are necessary for reducing congestion on the current freight infrastructure. The Australian government should come up with operational regulatory reforms that will introduce efficiency in freight transport which will subsequently address the freight infrastructure challenge (Gilbert 2002, p. 85). Cross-jurisdictional coordination helps a great deal in bringing operational efficiency. The Australian government should remove all the barriers that discourage people from investing in freight infrastructure (Gilbert 2002, p. 84). The government should come up with a price mechanism that enhances parity in the use of all types of freight infrastructure.

The Australian government should come with progressive delivery and financing methods as a way of solving freight infrastructure challenges (Melo 2011, p. 75). The Australian government should adopt flexible infrastructure funding initiatives as a way of attracting private investors. Private investors can only have an interest in improving freight infrastructure if they are seen as major stakeholders in the transport industry. An integrated approach to investment leads to better planning and utilization of the available facilities (Melo 2011, p. 115). The Australian government should pursue infrastructure projects with greater cost benefits. It is not possible for the Australian government to deal with the challenge of freight infrastructure without involving other stakeholders. The government should also encourage inter-capital city transport that favors long-distance transport modes that minimize the infrastructural challenges facing freight transportation (Kinnear 2012, p. 198).

Conclusion

The inter-state corridors are very critical in addressing the freight infrastructure challenge (Kinnear 2012, p. 198). Australia should allow double stacking of containers to deal with the freight infrastructural challenge. Adelaide is the only city that allows double stacking but this should be extended to Melbourne and Sydney as a way of dealing with the freight infrastructure challenge. The freight infrastructure challenge can also be addressed by increasing the number of intermodal trains along the major corridors. High-productivity road vehicles should be adopted as a way of reducing freight journeys (Kinnear 2012, p. 198). The high number of freight journeys leads to congestion and a considerable strain on the current freight infrastructure. High productivity vehicles lead to an increase in capacity and efficient utilization of the available freight infrastructure.

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References

Caldwell, H 2002, Freight transportation: The European market, DIANE Publishing, Sydney.

Douglas, J 2003, Strategies for managing increasing truck traffic, Transportation Research Board, New York, NY.

Gilbert, R 2010, Transport revolution: Moving people and freight without oil, New Society Publishers, London.

Kinnear, S 2012, Regional advantage and innovation: Achieving Australia’s national outcomes, Springer, New York, NY.

Laird, P 2001, Back on track: Rethinking transport policy in Australia and New Zealand, UNSW Press, Melbourne.

Melo, S 2011, City distribution and urban freight transport: Multiple perspectives, Edward Elgar Publishing, London.

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