May 17, 2020

Sydney traffic worsens as freight forwarding climbs

Supply Chain Digital
Sydney Traffic
Australia Traffic
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Port Botany in Sydney is seeing an increasing shift toward freight forwarding over freight rail, causing more Australian traffic
It looks like Los Angeles motorists arent the only drivers with a legitimate traffic gripe, as congested roads in Sydney are likely to get worse in the...

It looks like Los Angeles motorists aren’t the only drivers with a legitimate traffic gripe, as congested roads in Sydney are likely to get worse in the near future thanks to an increase in freight forwarding.

Sydney (and Australia’s eastern seaboard as a whole) has a traffic problem thanks to some of the usual factors, including an inadequate public transportation network and road works projects. That situation will only get worse once freight starts moving through Port Botany, Sydney’s third container terminal.

According to Sydney Ports, freight forwarding (or trucking) traffic is expected to increase by 70 percent over the next 10 years.

 What’s interesting about the rise in freight forwarding numbers is the current drop in intermodal rail. The number of containers that left Port Botany by rail dipped 20 percent in the 18 months leading up to June earlier this year.

According to Sydney Ports, that ratio between rail freight and freight forwarding has shifted 14 percent thanks to the rise in trucking and the fall in intermodal rail.

Sources at the Australian Rail Track Corporation disputed those numbers in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If you said it was a bit less than 10 percent, you wouldn’t be wrong,” one source told the paper.


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It doesn’t matter who’s right in this situation. The bigger problem has been the failure of the Australian government for setting unrealistic freight rail goals for Port Botany.

After setting a goal of shipping 40 percent of all Port Botany cargo by rail, the Australian government has dropped its target to 28 percent

“'Forty per cent was unrealistic and unachievable and typified Labor's propensity to pluck figures out of the air,” the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The increased number of trucks on the road is already causing considerable delays for motorists. Last Friday, one semi-trailer jack-knifed across one highway, according to the Herald, causing a traffic jam roughly 5 miles long.

This is a problem that goes beyond Australia, however. Motorists all over the world should take heed of an increase in freight forwarding, and push for government to make it easier for companies to ship via freight rail. It’s cleaner, safer and often times, cheaper.

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Jun 21, 2021

Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight

2 min
Elon Musk’s tunnelling firm plans underground freight tunnels with shipping containers moved on “battery-powered freight carriers”, according to reports

Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports. 

A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers. 

Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US. 

The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two. 


Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels

The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.

The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete. 

Tesla’s supply chain woes 

Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue. 

Elon Musk Tweet

Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely

Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany

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