5. Corridor and area planning

Corridor and area planning aim to identify options and priorities for initiatives consistent with the network strategy and policy choices. The output is a corridor or area strategy that, among other things, can provide guidance for the corridor or area on issues such as the relative priority of investment versus maintenance, the balance between investment/infrastructure and reform/non-infrastructure solutions and the type and mix of initiatives.

A corridor or area strategy is a cooperative long-term plan identifying the transport problems within a corridor or area and the potential initiatives and priorities to address those problems. Figure 1 indicates that corridor and area planning involves three main activities:

  1. Setting corridor or area objectives and performance indicators and targets
  2. Developing multi-modal corridor or area strategies
  3. Defining and protecting the routes and links in the corridor or area.

The objectives and targets for the corridor or area strategy should be consistent with the transport system objectives and targets.

A 15 to 20 year corridor or area strategy should stipulate a multi-modal approach to achieve objectives and performance targets. As with the network strategy, the corridor or area strategy may contain interim performance objectives and targets for equity or operational reasons.

A corridor or area strategy should be tailored to the circumstances of the corridor or area, taking into account the results of studies and stakeholder engagement. The strategy will also be affected by transport demand and capacity within the corridor or area, and should accommodate the network strategy and policy choices made by government. Other corridor and area considerations such as land use patterns, environmental issues and freight logistics should be taken into account.

It is important to check for consistency in strategies across various corridors and areas. It is essential to have a high level of consistency across strategic plans of related corridors and areas. Within that, some variation may sometimes be required to reflect the influence of local and regional circumstances.

Take, as an example, the Melbourne–Sydney and Sydney–Brisbane corridors. If there were a strong pro-rail strategy for one corridor but a strong pro-road strategy for the other corridor, the difference in strategies could have significant implications for inter-modal transfers in Sydney.

The last step in corridor and area planning is to define and protect routes and links to facilitate potential future development. Most routes will already be established and contain transport infrastructure. However, routes that could potentially be developed in future may be incomplete (i.e. missing certain sections) or only at the concept stage. In corridor and area planning, these missing routes or links are usually identified as areas or lines on a map. This approach recognises that detailed route or link planning and necessary land acquisitions are yet to occur.

As a final task, the network strategy should be re-visited to see if it needs to be refined to reflect the outcomes of corridor and area planning. This is one of several iterations that should occur to ensure consistency and integration.