Logistics News

Rail freight task growth higher than road: report

Trainline 4 indicates rail still carries majority of long-haul and bulk freight


Rail now accounts for almost one-half of Australian freight transport activity, up from approximately 36 per cent at the turn of the century, Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE’s) statistical report on Australia’s rail network states.

The report, Trainline 4, indicates during 2014-15 both intermodal and bulk rail task grew by 11 per cent respectively compared to the previous financial year.

It states that out of the total 1.2 billion tonnes of freight carried by the Australian rail network, approximately 98 per cent was bulk freight.

The report was released by infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester at the ongoing AusRAIL 2016 conference and exhibition in Adelaide today.

It indicates freight volume carried by rail saw significant growth during the 2007-08 financial year, and once again during 2010-11, compared to road or sea.

Rail is still the preferred choice for grain haulage over long distances, road transport becomes more competitive over shorter distances, the report states.

Although non-bulk and short-haul rail freight movements are mostly containerised and often considered uncompetitive with road freight, however, the report highlights a few ways to improve short-haul rail traffic including:

  • minimised road drayage costs between the hinterland and intermodal terminal;
  • low line haul and high road haul costs; and
  • a convergence of parties who encourage short haul and viable hinterland terminals.

“Rail and road compete strongly for long-distance non-bulk freight, but as distances increase rail transport’s competitiveness increases.

The report also notes that the emissions intensity of freight rail is low relative to road freight vehicles.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Danny Broad says it is important to keep infrastructure investment growing to ensure future growth.

“Rail provides the backbone of our nation, moving freight and passengers 365 days a year in increasing quantities,” Broad says.

“Rail freight now moves almost half of Australia’s national freight task, a huge jump from approximately 36 per cent in 2000.

Clearly this confirms rail role in moving goods around Australia and highlights the importance of continuing to invest in our freight networks.

“Constructing the Inland Rail freight line from Melbourne to Brisbane is the highest priority for rail freight operators. It will provide a dedicated North – South rail freight route and allow rail to compete with road.”

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