Freo's View



The opinion piece by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt in today’s West Australian about the pros and cons of an outer harbour, and the continuation of Fremantle as a working port is pragmatic and realistic, and without the political spin we are often getting about this important topic.

Brad Pettitt rightly argues that there is no immediate need for an outer harbour in Kwinana and that the environmental damage to Cockburn Sound might well be unacceptable. The Mayor also points out that shifting the port away from Fremantle would “erode Fremantle’s history and identity and lead to a big loss of economic activity…”

I agree with the Freo Mayor that the Perth Freight Link was a flawed plan that did not resolve how to get freight to the port, and that increased container freight by rail, with a new rail bridge across the Swan River, could see Fremantle continue as our much-liked working port.

It is a good idea to move the offloading of imported vehicles to Kwinana, or even Bunbury, and maybe also the scrap metal and live sheep transport.

A new rail bridge and rail line and better use of freight on roads, where we no longer see empty trucks running in and out of the port, and more freight by road during the evenings, are all part of the solution.

Fremantle Ports and the State Government should also become serious about part development of Victoria Quay and prioritise this by changing the buffer zones around the port, so that tourist and residential accommodation will be possible.

Moving the car imports away from Fremantle can be done very fast and does not need large infrastructure investment and the same applies to sheep trade.

I love the working port of Fremantle and would hate to see it become only a port for cruise ships. The container ships are part of Freo’s history and should continue to be so for many more years.

Roel Loopers

5 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on January 3, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Fremantle has got the highest freight on rail of any port in Australia, and that can still be improved. But freight on road is going to continue to distribute imports around the state and to mining sites, etc.
    People living near rail lines o major roads, or near ports for that matter, will always be inconvenienced in some ways, as will those living in entertainment precincts, near airports, pubs, etc.



  2. Paul said, on January 3, 2019 at 9:18 am

    From a discussion forum:

    Ive been a believer of Freight on Rail out of Fremantle port for a while.

    But i’ve always seen the statistics that show we have some of the lowest rail movements for freight vs road in Australia and the rest of the world.

    Ive always thought the issue was the bottleneck of the single track through Fremantle town centre and then joining onto the electrified track on Fremantle Rail Bridge.

    But being Sleepless in Seattle downtown at 3am as I hear all the freight trains blowing their horns for over 10secs ever couple of mins as if each of the train drivers are vindictive to all the neighbours, I realised Perths big issues is the population distribution.

    Here in USA there are some large inland cities (like Las Vegas) which would have goods come in to the sea ports of coastal cities (like Los Angeles) and then carried by trains 100’s of kms inland. Creating large percentages of freight carried out of the ports of those coastal cities by rail.

    Obviously it is similar in Europe, and to a smaller extent the east coast of Aus.

    However Perth doesn’t have any neighbouring large cities. Our small towns either dont have much freight going to them (as in shipping containers) or have so few its not worth sending a train to the town, and instead it is cost effective to send road trains.

    Instead most of the freight coming into Fremantle is being sent to consumers in the suburbs of Perth which is much faster and cheaper to be moved by truck over such short distances.

    The only real freight being moved by trains are the bulk goods like wheat etc.

    Would anyone be able to suggest if this would be a good summary for why Perth will never be able to get a higher percentage of freight moved by rail no matter how much the government provides subsidies?

    I’ve heard a figure before that freight on rail, unless subsidised, is not cost effective for distances of less than 100km or thereabouts. I can’t remember what document it was in, but it was in one of the justification for Roe 8 documents.

    I mean think of it this way. If you have a sea container of goods that needs to go to Malaga, why put it on a train to Kewdale intermodal, and then truck it from Kewdale to Malaga? Much faster to just truck it straight to Malaga rather than double handling.

    This is what people don’t seem to understand. All they see are container trucks but they have no concept of what is in them and where they are going.

    Even in europe / usa, I would assume that the coastal city where the port is is being served by trucks and the freight on rail is exclusively for towns/cities away from the port.


  3. Steve said, on January 3, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Shipping containers were only invented in the 1950s and probably took some time to make their way to freo. Not old enough to classify as a heritage house and certainly not reason enough to continue clogging up such valuable land and roads with.
    Keeping the containers keeps the roads clogged and keeps the freight line from being converted to passenger rail.
    I agree some aspects of the port should stay, but we need to acknowledge the fact that the port is the root cause of many of freo’s problems and the city has outgrown it. Long term and big picture thinking instead of “they took our jobs and I like big ships” is required here. Unfortunately WA seems determidley unable to think in such a way.


  4. rob fittock said, on January 2, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    build a tunnel to the north wharf and the working port will live for another 100 years


  5. Glenn said, on January 2, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Roel with respect, what a load of typical Pettitt nonsense
    So in the mayor’s vision, fremantle is a romantic environmentally pristine port serviced by rail, but all the nasty stuff like lead and cars and containers on trucks gets shunted off to Bunbury
    Here’s a bit of truth for Brad, ports are messy, dirty and export things like sheep and mined metals. You either reap the economic benefits of a working port exporting these things, or you don’t. You can’t have all the benefits and none of the downsides.
    Dear God our mayor is one of a kind, why people actually fall for this garbage is beyond me.


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