Freo's View


Posted in fremantle, fremantle ports, road2rail by freoview on April 12, 2015


The Fremantle ROAD2RAIL forum attracted a large number of people and the City’s meeting room was overflowing with standing room only for those who came in late.

Senator Scott Ludlum, opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers, Lynn MacLaren MP, and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk were present as were Councillors Rachel Pemberton, Andrew Sullivan and Jon Strachan.

It appears to me that it basically comes down to how one stops madness, as the combined forces of the Federal and State Liberal governments do not want to invest in rail but instead want to build a truck toll road to get goods to Fremantle Port. What the proponents don’t want to talk about is that a bottleneck would be created at North Fremantle that would greatly affect local residents there and all who use Tydeman Road and Stirling Highway, Queen Victoria and Beach streets in that area.

Rail appears to be the better solution, but those who propose that also say port capacity will be reached in the late 2020s, so one has to wonder if any of those billion dollars worth of investment proposals make sense for what would only be a short-term solution.

Serious increase of container transport by rail can only happen if double stacking can be implemented but the present old line through Fremanle’s west end can’t support that and neither can the old rickety rail bridge. And the Public Transport Authority does not like to mix passenger and commercial train traffic on the same line.

The toll road and huge six metre-high noise walls would split communities, and history in other cities and states and countries show that adding new roads does not stop traffic congestion.

A second overflow container port near Kwinana has been talked about and planned but I hear there are concerns that Cockburn Sound is not deep enough for large vessels and would require constant and very expensive dredging.

The forum called for grassroots action with strong local governments support, but I think the only hope to stop the Roe 8 extension toll road is that the WA State Government won’t have the money for it, so maybe praying that the iron ore price will stay down might be the best call of action. Time will tell.

Roel Loopers

14 Responses

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  1. freoishome said, on April 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Rob, This is still ignoring the inevitable need for a new freight harbour for the metro. It is a lot smarter to get that designed and start building it, before that whole area also becomes built up, and we then find ourselves having identical issues as we have now of moving large volumes of containers through inappropriate areas. These stop gap solutions to retain growth in the current harbour are bad strategies, and poor decisions. As long as we hang on to retaining and expanding the current harbour for freight, every time the Conservatives gain State Gov’t they will do what they have repeatedly done, ie, reduce rail and switch back to road.
    Only last night you were telling ratepayers how snarled up and divided North Freo has become and getting worse due to this HGV road haulage of containers into and out of the current port!
    The existing rail network already runs quite close to the potential new harbour location, it wouldn’t require extensive tunnelling, or expansion of the tracks, just more trains scheduled to move the cargo to Hubs for Customs clearance, Brake Bulk, Road Train, etc.


  2. freoview said, on April 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Too right, Lionel and I think that is the crux. Is the State Government agency Fremantle Ports willing and able to invest millions in a ne port down Kwinana way or will the State call for private developers and so on.
    Of course Fremantle Ports so called inner harbour is not sustainable in the long run, so a solution needs to be found sooner rather than later. I believe that needs to be an integrated one that involves the stupid toll road, decision on going rail and increasing it dramatically, costs, etc.etc. To smack a toll road to nowhere if the ports moves South is short sighted and the same would apply for billions of dollars of infrastructure for rail to the existing port.



  3. Diana Ryan said, on April 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

    There’s a lot about Freo Ports increasing activity, new super sized crane to cope with wider berth container ships, North Port Quay ops shortlisting proponents for new 25 year leases in today’s West. Clearly things are increasing in scope and tenure, almost by the six months, but is the City of Freo conducting investigations in to how other ports have moved to reduce emissions across operations and the urban areas around them, given the problem of air pollution is clear and present already?


  4. Lionel said, on April 14, 2015 at 8:37 am

    It is a no brainer to eventually move the port to cockburn sound. It is a natural harbour and far more suitable but I guess it requires a big financial and political commitment to get it done.


  5. Rob Fittock said, on April 14, 2015 at 6:28 am

    there is good info on the deepening of the harbour carried out a few years ago on the Freo Ports website when approx $230mil was spent to accommodate larger deep draft cargo vessels fully loaded to extend the life of the working port

    a tolled rail freight tunnel would effectively reverse the trend that currently sees 85% + containers on road with the authorities referring to reports that the port’s capacity, currently at approx 700 containers per year, could be at least doubled over the coming years

    putting 85% + of containers through a Fed/State/Private funded tolled rail freight tunnel potentially further extends the life of the working port, frees the west end rail up for light rail, the truckies are happy to pick up their loads from inland ports saving on maintenance on their trucks caused by stop/start through general traffic, rollovers, traffic congestion, burning rubber, pollution etcetera and would eliminate the roads being used as the only means of transport


  6. freoview said, on April 13, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I have never expressed that I am against the scaling back the container aspect of the current port, Paul. I am asking valid questions about all aspects of proposals and suggestions on how to cope with an increase of container transport to and from the port, be that by rail or road, above ground or in a tunnel.
    I am not against an overflow container port in Cockburn Sound but I want to see all the practical, and less emotional, arguments for and against it, as I want to see all the costs comparing road to rail above ground or underground.

    Business News magazine today writes that the toll road could extend the life of Fremantle’s inner harbour but I am not sure if I can take that serious as the same issue writes about Fremantle having its own lightrail and that is as realistic as me becoming a virgin all over again.



  7. Diana Ryan said, on April 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Any time you want to address the giant truck emissions source in the room, Andrew…. because that’s exactly what other port cities around the world are doing, ergo, they are not waiting for a day that will never come.


  8. Lionel said, on April 13, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    They need to sort out tydeman road/queen victoria street/stirling highway before building any new roads


  9. freoishome said, on April 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I know Roel is anti scaling back the container aspects of the current port, as it is very photogenic, and some emotions about retaining the historical links to idea of the harbour. But the facts are that the current harbour will not meet the shipping needs of the future, a new harbour for the metro is essential, anyway. The argument that it will need dredging is pointless as every harbour in the world needs periodic dredging. The current harbour has been dredged 3 times in the 25 years I have been here, and even then it can only cater for smallish container boats, due to both depth and length restrictions. Dredging is required for the grain terminal. The European, USA and Asian cargo has to go to Singapore and unloaded and put on smaller boats to come here! With a new harbour at Cockburn docks can be located where much larger container boats could berth. New rail can be purpose built to support transporting containers to 2-3 Hubs to serve the whole metro and rural needs, instead of the constant stream of trucks using Hampton road to get to Navy Base for breakbulk.

    The consequence might then be that the current harbour may not be needed for the majority of freight, but liners will still come, in fact it would be more suitable for them than neighbouring the current sheep and cattle boats. It would also free up land for other commercial, recreational and residential purposes, instead of mass storage of thousands of empty containers, that literally ‘litter’ the docks.

    The historical connections of Fremantle to the docks are long gone. Fremantle people get next to no employment from the port ops, unlike bygone era of wharfies and lumpers.

    Expanding the current railway usage, is essential for the transitional period to handle ongoing growth, while the next harbour and its hinterland infrastructure are being designed and built. A rail tunnel would be overkill for that purpose, maybe necessary for the new harbour, but obviously in a different location.


  10. Andrew Sullivan said, on April 13, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Such an unfounded and slanderous argument from Diana. When you start shooting down the people who are at the very forefront of championing the case against this freight sewer, you actually risk dividing the community at a time when unity on this issue is essential.

    Each of the three councillors has persistently raised the issue of diesel particulates over and over again for many years now. It has been and remains one of the key issues, but not to the exclusion of the environmental and community issues as well. Each of them has been actively involved in putting together the groups that are at the forefront of this fight. None of them have wasted a single breath in pandering to the corporations that might want to see such a terrible piece of infrastructure.

    I simply can’t comprehend where such defamatory accusations come from and the purpose for making them. What drives such vitriol towards people who have given a huge amount of their time towards this issue? I find Diana’s comments distressing and shameful.


  11. freoview said, on April 13, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I could not agree more, Robert. A rail tunnel would be a much better solution than a toll road that will create chaos in North Fremantle and that will also severely damage and split communities along the way. I would also like to hear a firm commitment from the Labor Party that they would do that should they win the next State Election.

    To the Road2Rail people I say make it a bipartisan and non political campaign. This should not be a Liberal Party bashing exercise but, like the Fremantle Forever amalgamation campaign, a positive one with alternative and better solutions for the problem container transport to the port has become.



  12. Rob Fittock said, on April 13, 2015 at 7:30 am

    A tolled rail freight tunnel as an option is gathering momentum which is something I have been supporting for a number of years

    I have not heard or seen anything substantial from anyone on how to get containers to and from the north wharf to the south side of the river where this whole problem starts and finishes

    The technology has been around for hundreds of years as are the experts and the equipment

    The London underground commenced in 1843 with the Thames Tunnel and the more recent 1988 Seikan Tunnel in Japan with 23.3km of tunnel 100m below the seabed and the 57km Gotthard Base Tunnel due to be opened in 2016 are just a few examples where people in power have thought outside the box to solve the problem

    A serious debate now needs to be had


  13. freoview said, on April 12, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Good points, Diana, That white elephant needs to be acknowledged and addressed.



  14. Diana Ryan said, on April 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Maybe its time City of Fremantle stopped snuggling up to Committee for Perth for yet more vision documents and started getting tough with just this sort of big business group about what they are going to do in terms of reducing the effect it’s memberships’ huge freight needs have on the community.

    The councillors first responsibility is to their residents and ratepayers, after all.

    Certainly it should be a part of the current partnership arrangement that exists between CoF and CfP to produce a document that looks at the positives and negatives to Fremantle’s growth. If its not going to be included in the document, then the Council should be asked why not?

    In fact why are Councillors Pemberton, Strachan and Wainwright keeping up appearances at these events when they clearly are also in bed with big business group’s whose membership lists reflect many of the sorts of corporations who are freighting in through Fremantle?

    Is anyone going to address the giant truck emissions SOURCE in the room?

    Have a look at NSW Cleaner Ports and Shipping Program on how to put the onus back on truck operators and their customers by extension:

    (Is that a good enough suggestion for you, Mayor Pettitt – emissions controls put back on the freighting companies and their customers to tackle this serious issue for the people of Fremantle, or is it inconvenient truth right about now?)


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