Rail better than road door-to-door: ARTC

By: Jason Whittaker

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) claims new research shows rail is cheaper than road when it comes to moving

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) claims new research shows rail is cheaper than road when it comes to moving freight on all but one of the interstate corridors.

According to the ARTC’s figures, rail can transport freight on the Perth to Melbourne corridor at 3.65 cents per net tonne km as opposed to trucks, which costs 6.75 cents.

While less pronounced, customers will also save more by using rail on the Sydney to Brisbane corridor, with the ARTC saying road freight costs 8.2 cents per net tonne km compared with 7.9 cents for rail.

The Sydney to Perth corridor is 44 percent cheaper by rail and 26 percent cheaper on the Melbourne to Brisbane line.

The ARTC has collated its findings and has found on average rail transport is about 20 percent cheaper than road for door-to-door consignments. The only area where road is cheaper is on the Melbourne to Adelaide corridor, maintaining a 4.5 percent advantage.

According to ARTC chief Executive David Marchant, the reason for the strong growth in rail efficiency is due to key the multi-billion dollar upgrades to critical infrastructure.

"One of the biggest boosts to rail freight’s competitiveness at the moment is the $2.1 billion plus upgrade of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail line, which includes new passing lanes and loops and signal upgrades," he says.

Marchant says the new signals and lanes will cut transit times between Sydney and Melbourne, while the ARTC’s $400 million investment in rail sleepers on the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail line will reduce transit times between eastern states.

Once the passing lanes and sleepers are completed, the "ARTC will be able to offer the freight industry transit times as low as 10 hours and 40 minutes between Sydney and Melbourne and 15 hours 35 minutes between Sydney and Brisbane," according to Marchant.

But while rail’s competitiveness has improved, the ARTC bemoans the fact no change has been made to even the playing field in regards to access charges.

Marchant says the trucking industry pays less for infrastructure, which he expects the cost of using will increase in the coming years. Under the access charges system, the ARTC must pay an estimated $5.79 per thousand net tonnes per km between Sydney and Melbourne. A B-double truck, however, pays $5.10 on the same route.

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