Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) and TraNSIT Web

Project summary

The Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) has revolutionised the way Australia’s transport-related infrastructure investments are prioritised. Developed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, TraNSIT is used by governments and industry to support decisions on road and rail investments. It does this by mapping millions of vehicle trips across thousands of supply chains between production and domestic and export markets.

For each supply chain path, it outputs information on freight paths, detailed transport costs and critical link analysis, allowing users to highlight key areas where infrastructure investment would be most beneficial. These investments help reduce travel distance and time, save fuel costs and cut down on wear and tear to vehicles.

TraNSIT has informed our country’s largest transport infrastructure projects and initiatives, reducing costs and increasing the resilience of our freight supply chains. More recently, the TraNSIT team have introduced their computer-based modelling program to the web, making it accessible from a home or office computer. TraNSIT Web provides the critical baseline data needed to analyse road rail freight tasks and identify bottlenecks to help inform road/rail infrastructure funding programs, their impact, and future direction.

 

transit web user interface
Details at a glance
Action Area/s Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment, Enable improved supply chain efficiency & Better planning, coordination and regulation
Delivery model CSIRO constructed TraNSIT Web through joint funding from the Australian Government, two states/territories and CSIRO co-investment.
Location TraNSIT Web covers road and rail across all of Australia, and is currently being used by the Australian Government, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and two states.
Financial The total cost was $640,000, with $500,000 from the Australian Government and $140,000 from the states and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
Timeframe The project commenced in mid 2018 and was completed in late 2019. Ongoing improvements to TraNSIT Web are continuing in 2020.

Closer look

Impact on freight and supply chains

TraNSIT was designed to inform investments of transport related infrastructures, increasing the transport co savings compared to conventional methods of evaluating investments. By providing a supply chain map of all freight movements between enterprises, along with related transport costs, it can be used to test the sensitivity of changes. These changes may include road upgrades, higher productivity vehicles, intermodal facilities, rail links and regulatory changes.

Since TraNSIT captures over 650,000 supply chain paths between about 400,000 enterprises using historical data, it provides better information of freight moving along each road and rail segment as well as their supply chain paths. For each of the 135+ commodities currently contained in TraNSIT, it provides information that can be used to improve supply chain efficiency for specific commodities, across modes, and from paddock to plate.

Benefit Extent realised Description
Intended Strategy Objective
Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment Most benefits realised TraNSIT has been used to inform Inland Rail, Roads of Strategic Importance and the Beef Roads program. For the Beef Roads program, the road projects selected by TraNSIT and funded by the Australian Government achieved about a 70 per cent greater cost reduction compared to if TraNSIT was not used.
Enable improved supply chain efficiency Reasonable benefits realised TraNSIT informed the Queensland Biosecurity Act for livestock transport through tick free zones, several regional freight strategies, and the use of road vs rail. These have been targeted towards specific commodities (e.g. livestock, grains, forestry etc.) and have helped reduce the end-to-end supply chain costs and improve reliability.
Better planning, regulation and coordination Minor benefits realised TraNSIT has been used to inform revised tick lines in Queensland for livestock travel saving over $2 million per year in transport costs. It has also helped prioritise the opening up of access routes for high productivity vehicles.

Project Delivery

Input Forecast Actual Description
Delivery time TraNSIT Web was due to be completed in October 2019. A working prototype was available in October 2019 with several major revisions continuing to March 2020. There were a few technical challenges with TraNSIT Web: methods to implement the complex functionality and ensuring fast response time. TraNSIT Web has close to a billion records. Some functionalities were initially very slow and required additional research to improve efficiency. Another challenge is that the number of commodities in TraNSIT increased from 85 to 136 during the life of the project and TraNSIT Web performance needed to be future proof, particularly as the number of users increased.
Project cost $640,000 $640,000 The original proposed budget was about $240,000 higher (total $880,000), but was reduced due to delays in co-investment into TraNSIT Web.
Delivery model TraNSIT Web was co-funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment with additional contributions from CSIRO. Queensland and NT governments also co-invested, which allowed additional functionality to be incorporated. The tool was delivered as a Web portal on a CSIRO server. This allowed the management of version control, as well as licensed and sensitive information. Staff from the participating departments were able to obtain accounts to use the tool. TraNSIT Web is not limited to the initial departments that co-funded its development, and other Australian Government departments are welcome to participate.
Stakeholder engagement For TraNSIT Web, the key stakeholders were the participating departments. The project had a steering group with key staff from each department. The role of the steering group was to define the functionality and validate the tool at each stage of development. For the other major TraNSIT projects (e.g. Inland Rail), the project team liaised with more than 200 different stakeholders in the study region as part of data gathering, communicating the purpose of the project and validation. This helped gain their confidence in the credibility of outputs produced from TraNSIT.

Lessons Learned

A challenge in these types of projects is the data collection. Projects like TraNSIT require a considerable amount of data from industry and validation by stakeholders. While most organisations are willing to supply data, it often required more time than expected and there were restrictions (sensitivities) on how the data can be used.

It is often difficult to budget the time required for data collection and validation, due to the time required to contact the stakeholder and for them to provide information. When meetings or workshops are held with stakeholders, key people are often unavailable and require additional follow up. Initial meetings and workshops also often identify additional key stakeholders. While this was detrimental to TraNSIT, it is something to be mindful of when planning such projects.

Another challenge is data sensitivity. Freight movement and production data is commercially sensitive for most industry stakeholders. It is important to not request data beyond what is required for the project, and to be aware of what information would be too sensitive to request. For example, if the TraNSIT project only required monthly tonnages of freight between enterprises, there is no need to ask for daily information. Stakeholders are different and it is important to understand what they are comfortable to provide and how any sensitivities are going to be managed.