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Opportunities and challenges

Population growth and managing transport demand

Queensland’s population is estimated to be around 5 million1  and is predicted to increase to around 6.68 million by 2036 and around 7.16 million by 20412 . Most of this increase is likely to continue to be in South East Queensland, coastal communities and regional centres with industry growth. An acceleration of growth in regional centres has recently occurred as a result of the COVID19 pandemic3, with more Australian households moving away from capital cities to regional areas.

Queensland has seen substantial investment in infrastructure and public transport services over the past decade to cater for this growth. However, Transport and Main Roads continues to face significant challenges to manage the ongoing impact of this growth, harness opportunities and mitigate associated risks, such as increased congestion.

Embracing technology

New technology provides significant opportunities for managing a growing and increasingly diverse population, helping to address the challenges of congestion, accessibility, sustainability and reduced emissions, service reliability, safety and network resilience. Transport and Main Roads will continue to anticipate and assess emerging technologies and business models and understand how they can be used to support economic growth and benefit all transport users.

Transport and Main Roads will also build upon the recommendations of Transport and Public Works Parliamentary Committee report into Transport Technologies, released in 2020.

Transport and Main Roads can use new technologies to position the transport system to meet future needs – creating a single integrated transport system that anticipates, rather than just responds to, customers’ needs. Smart and connected technologies, and access to real time information, enable customers to make more informed transport choices and help to optimise transport network operations, leading to improved transport reliability. These technologies also enable improved management of transport infrastructure by providing the department with greater awareness of asset use, performance and condition. Technologies will be used to optimise freight journey times and keep costs low, particularly by improving first and last mile access.

The transport system will provide improved and affordable transport access options, including for people with disabilities, older people and people who do not have a driver’s license. These improvements will be made possible by emerging automated vehicle technologies and service models such as Mobility as a Service, incorporating demand responsive and shared transport services.

Road safety

Significant progress has been made over many decades to reduce road trauma and serious injury on Queensland’s roads through the introduction of a variety of road safety initiatives. However, last year (2020), 278 people lost their lives as a result of crashes on Queensland roads. This is 59 more people than in 2019, and illustrates the magnitude of road fatalities in Queensland, along with the socio-economic impacts of road trauma upon our community.

TMR is steadfast in its commitment to address road trauma through continuous improvement to the safety of the state-controlled road network. The department continues to roll out a program of targeted road safety infrastructure improvement programs that aim to deliver high-benefit treatments to address known and potential crash sites.

Additional funding of up to $783 million has been committed by the Australian Government for road safety improvements over the three year period of 2020-21 to 2022-23. This will deliver extra key safety improvements including shoulder sealing, audio tactile line marking, intersection improvements and barriers to prevent run-offroad crashes.

In addition, the department has implemented a Road Safety Policy and the Transport and Main Roads Strategic Plan 2019-23 (revised for 2020-21) to ensure road safety standards are actively applied in the planning, design and construction of all road projects undertaken.

Importantly, TMR’s policy and four-year strategic plan embeds the Safe System approach to road safety, which is set out in the Queensland Government’s Safer Roads, Safer Queensland – Queensland’s Road Safety Strategy 2015–2021.

This means that the department has applied the principles, processes and practices of the four pillars of the Safe System approach: Safer Roads and Roadsides, Safer Speeds, Safer Road Users and Safer Vehicles. This Safe System approach to road safety is represented in Figure 3.


Figure 3: The safe system approach to road safety (description on page)
Figure 3: The Safe System approach

Rather than simply ‘blame’ crashes on individual behaviour and choices, the Safe System approach places human frailty at the centre and observes that there is a limit to the physical forces the human body can withstand before debilitating injury or death results. On the road, people will make mistakes, but should not be penalised with injury or death for doing so. This means all elements of the ‘system’ need to be forgiving. The cornerstones of this approach are safe roads and roadsides, safe speeds, safe vehicles and safe road users. These four factors determine the forces exerted during the crash, and therefore the seriousness of the outcome. Realising the benefits of the Safe System approach requires everyone involved in each of the elements of the system to understand the importance of their role in saving a life.

Other critical inputs to the Safe System are:

  • enforcement strategies to encourage compliance and manage non-compliance with the road rules
  • understanding crashes and risks through data analysis, research and evaluation
  • managing access to the road through licensing drivers and riders and registering vehicles
  • providing education and information
  • innovation
  • good management, monitoring, communication and coordination.

Freight needs

Current projections indicate the Queensland freight task will grow by approximately 20 per cent over the next decade4. This growth will continue to place increasing pressure on the road, rail and seaport networks. In particular, land-based networks that provide key inter-regional and urban links to support agricultural, mining and major industrial areas, sea and airports, commercial business parks and major retail centres will be affected.

The Queensland Freight Strategy – Advancing Freight in Queensland (QFS) sets a renewed 10-year vision for the freight system through five shared commitments to: Build Effective Partnerships, Unlock Economic Opportunity, Smarter Connectivity and Access, Resilient Freight System and Safer Freight Movements. The QFS vision aims to create an integrated, resilient and safe freight system integral to supporting Queensland’s economic prosperity.

The QFS will be implemented through a rolling two-year Queensland Freight Action Plan. The inaugural Action Plan, released in 2020, outlines a range of activities that industry, the community and all levels of government will undertake. This will ensure logistics movements throughout the agricultural, mining, industrial and retail sectors provide the best outcomes for Queensland. 

Enhancing freight movement is critical to Queensland’s global competitiveness and economic performance. Queensland’s wide variety of industries presents diverse transport movement demands, including containerised freight, bulk freight and over-sized loads. The challenge is to continue to deliver an integrated transport network that supports government, industry and community freight needs and is safe, efficient, reliable, and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

A significant portion of the road and rail networks in Queensland form part of the nationally accredited Key Freight Route network that connects Australia’s freight system, including sea and airports, and intermodal terminals.

Funding arrangements

Works on the Queensland transport network are primarily funded by the Queensland government and Australian Government. The Australian Government has primary responsibility for funding and maintaining the National Land Transport Network and also contribute funding to projects off the National Land Transport Network projects through programs like the Roads of Strategic Importance and the Urban Congestion Fund. The state funded component includes revenue from motor vehicle registration and proceeds from infringements (such as camera detected offences). Some projects are partly funded by local government and developer contributions.

Transport agencies worldwide are all facing significant challenges in providing financially sustainable transport solutions. New transport technologies like electric vehicles will impact on traditional revenue sources, such as fuel taxes, as they make up an increasing share of the vehicle fleet. Moreover, the growth of shared mobility services may reduce car ownership in the future, impacting on vehicle registration revenue. At the same time, population growth is increasing the demand for transport services.

Consequently, there remains a high expectation from the community that government will continue to address transport costs and accessibility through the integration of land-use planning and transport infrastructure. Transport and Main Roads will continue to work on this integration, ensuring that the department delivers the right projects at the right time for the right cost.

The Queensland Government recognises that the best way to achieve strong jobs growth and sustainable economic development is to support and encourage private sector investment. Investment facilitation and partnerships are available for major investment ideas and business propositions that demonstrate a strong potential for being delivered and that align with the Queensland Government’s priorities.

Rural, remote and Indigenous communities

Queensland’s regional prosperity, and associated transport network, is heavily influenced by the vast distances between regions and cities, the concentration of the population in South East Queensland, isolated resource production areas and export driven markets. To address these challenges, the Queensland Government continues to explore funding options for transport infrastructure improvements within rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Transport and Main Roads works closely with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, the state’s stand-alone disaster resilience and recovery agency, to restore road and rail networks following events and to improve the resilience of the state’s road network to natural disasters.

A number of initiatives build upon previous years’ work to further improve the surface of roads, improve flood immunity to reduce disruptions in the wet season, and maintain or upgrade maritime infrastructure. QTRIP serves local communities through a project delivery approach that, where possible, engages Indigenous and local businesses, and creates employment and training opportunities for residents.

Consistent with these objectives, Transport and Main Roads will comply with the Indigenous Participation Policy and agree to Indigenous employment and supplier use targets for road projects committed by the Australian Government and Queensland Government, where applicable.

Environment, climate change and heritage management

Queensland’s environment is under increasing pressure as a result of the state’s growing population, climate change, land use changes, habitat fragmentation and invasive species.

The state transport network exists to provide community benefits and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner for current and future generations to continue to experience Queensland, while supporting tourism and regional development.

Queensland is the most at-risk state in Australia from the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. The climate is already warming and Queensland’s transport system can be severely disrupted from these events, cutting off access to people and goods. Improving the network’s resilience and ensuring the transport system adapts to the impacts of climate change will need to be considered in all planning, design and delivery decisions.

The transport system also has a significant role in achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. This includes encouraging the adoption of zero emission vehicles, facilitating the use of more efficient modes through transport infrastructure and using low emission materials and energy to build and maintain the transport system.

A sustainable transport system that integrates environmental considerations will not only improve the environment but lead to cleaner, healthier and more liveable communities.

Transport and Main Roads is committed to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and historic heritage management and environmental sustainability. This commitment is realised through delivery of an integrated transport network that contributes to a cleaner, healthier, more livable environment.

Working with local governments

Transport and Main Roads works with local governments through the Roads and Transport Alliance – a 19-year partnership with the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), for the stewardship of Queensland’s regional road and transport network.

Under the Roads and Transport Alliance, local governments voluntarily collaborate with Transport and Main Roads’ districts to form 17 Regional Roads and Transport Groups (RRTGs) that make local transport infrastructure investment decisions based on regional priorities.

RRTGs receive an annual allocation determined by the Roads and Transport Alliance Board from the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS), to fund projects in accordance with regional priorities regardless of transport network ownership.

Projects must be prioritised using a robust program development process to determine future investments for nominated transport infrastructure assets. 

The Roads and Transport Alliance has led to increased collaboration, capability building and engagement in Transport and Main Roads’ districts. Collaboration based on transport priorities for community outcomes, rather than asset ownership, will continue as the key driver of the Roads and Transport Alliance.

Reflects QTRIP 2021-22 to 2024-25 (as at 15 June 2021).

1 Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, Queensland Treasury, Population growth, Queensland, June quarter 2020, viewed 12 March 2021,

2 Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, Queensland Treasury, Projected population, by series, Queensland, 2016 to 2066, viewed 12 March 2021,

3 Infrastructure beyond COVID-19: A national study on the impacts of the pandemic on Australia, Australian Government, December 2020

4 Queensland Freight Strategy — Advancing Freight in Queensland (2019)