Rail will take a bigger slice of the pie: Fullerton

Rail will capture more of the long-distance logistics work on the north south coridoor ARTC chief tells VTA

Rail will take a bigger slice of the pie: Fullerton
Rail will take a bigger slice of the pie: Fullerton

March 5, 2013

Rail will capture more of the long-distance logistics work in Australia according to Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)Chief Executive John Fullerton.

Fullerton last week told the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), rail freight’s
transformation into a modern, commercially-orientated industry over the past two decades will see it more determined to win market share from other modes, particularly road.

"What we have today is a rail freight industry that has never been stronger," Fullerton says.

"Industry participants such as Asciano, Aurizon, SCT Logistics and Qube are strong, they have commercial resilience and they have investment capacity."

Fullerton says such companies are all successful, high performing enterprises with longevity and a depth of experience making the
industry much more commercially and operationally mature.

He says he has no doubt that rail will be the dominant mode in the 21st century,
even on the north south corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane, which is currently dominated by road transport to the tune of an estimated 80 percent.

"There are too many things in
[rail's] favour," Fullerton says.

"Rail is safer, it is greener, it is more fuel efficient and it can help eliminate road congestion and hopefully lead to a reduction in road accidents.

"The north south
corridor should be more rail orientated - it is suited to rail - it is nearly 2000 kilometres long - it has the ability to run long 1500 metre trains to Brisbane and 1800 metres trains to Sydney - but its market share is well below what it should be," he says.

Fullerton took the opportunity to tout the $3 billion investment made by ARTC to upgrade the north south track over the last five years, allowing improvements to reliability, safety and transit times.

He adds the $1.1 billion Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Program will provide a 50 percent increase in freight track capacity when complete in 2016.

But Fullerton concedes
growing confidence in rail freight is not solely a matter of 'build the infrastructure and they will come'.

"We know that rail must work hard at selling the benefits, providing the incentive and delivering a service that works for a greater range and volume of products," he says.

For the North-South to take the greatest advantage of infrastructure improvements coming online, ARTC must look to bringing all parts of the supply chain together including the interface between road and rail.

"We are not discrete ends in ourselves; we are part of a co-ordinated supply chain, including the rail terminal which is a critical interface between road and rail," he says.

"The future location and design of intermodal terminals is vitally important to make rail work more efficiently and effectively."

Fullerton adds ARTC is also being more innovative with technology.

"The National Train Communications System lays a digital system across our network which we will be able to leverage well into the future," he says.

"Advanced Train Management System is ground-breaking research and conceptual thinking with the potential to change the face of rail in this country technologically.

"We believe with the investment we've made, that rail can now deliver - and by working closely with industry toward meeting customer needs rail will play a much bigger role."

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