Rail freight puts hand up to carry virus impact load

FORG sees its members as critical to helping keep economy on track

Rail freight puts hand up to carry virus impact load
A train’s freight capacity can be huge


The rail industry is shouldering its load of coronavirus Covid-19 economic impact response, freeing resources for other parts of the transport sector, according Freight on Rail Group (FORG) of Australia

Australia’s largest rail freight operators and infrastructure managers have thanked federal and state governments for moving quickly during the coronavirus pandemic to protect ongoing critical freight services across state borders, it adds.

FORG chair Dean Dalla Valle points out that, without goods trains, domestic and imported products such as food, clothing, household items, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, cleaning products, fuel, chemicals, electronics, steel, and machinery and parts, cannot be efficiently transported to depots and warehouses between cities and regional towns.

"A single-stacked 1,800-metre interstate goods train can haul 260 shipping containers, thereby helping to free-up hundreds of truck drivers each week to focus on delivering goods and products the remaining ‘last mile’ from warehouses to stores where consumers need shelves restocked," Dalla Valle says.

"To put this in perspective, a single shipping container can hold approximately 25,000 toilet paper rolls, 55,000 food cans or 1,500 cases of beer.

"Without freight trains, bulk exports like grain, meat, fresh and dry produce, cotton and coal cannot be efficiently hauled to ports, the gateways to global markets.

"Paddock to port, pit to port, or manufacturing plant to port – essential rail freight services stretch across state borders, servicing finely-tuned supply chains across our continent."

Read about FORG’s advice on rail freight  to the nation’s transport ministers, here

FORG notes an "extensive logistical and economic ecosystem" surrounds the continued running of rail freight services – freight trains need to be fuelled, maintained and cleaned, while regular safety checks carried out by qualified staff are imperative.

"In recent weeks, rail freight operators have implemented strict hygiene protocols at depots, terminals and maintenance facilities, including social distancing, to protect the health of essential staff," Dalla Valle says.

"Rail freight has the added benefit of operating within secure railway corridors and facilities prohibited to members of the general public."


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