Rail remains in doldrums despite boom


ATSB statistics show little improvement over past 10 years

By Rob McKay | May 13, 2011

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) statistics for rail over the past decade shows the transport mode in a static state generally.

Only a negligible rise in freight train kilometres travelled every six months between 2001 and 2010 can be discerned, despite the growth of the economy.

And only a slight change in bi-annual distance travelled is revealed, occurring mid-decade and rising from an average of about 33 million kilometres a half-year to around 37 million kilometres a half-year.

The meagre showing comes despite coinciding with the mining and resources boom.

Not surprisingly, Western Australia boasted the biggest change, more than doubling its performance from 4.5 million to 10.1 million freight kilometres travelled.

All other states were fairly static or falling.

Figures for road vehicle collisions at level crossings - also reflected in bi-annual totals - showed a pleasing decline, falling my more than half during the decade, from 0.64 per million train kilometres travelled to 0.27.

Again, the change seemed to really start to take hold in mid-decade.

However, while running line derailments started declining swiftly at the start of the decade, these improvements have levelled out or, in the case of Tasmania, which has the country’s most neglected rail infrastructure, actually rising..

That trend also started to occur in mid-decade.

The statistics can be viewed at:

http://www.atsb.gov.au/media/2481907/rr2011004.pdf

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