Information published on 11 February 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 385.

Australia: Rail up to 60% cheaper than road in reducing congestion

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An economic study has found that investing in rail is the most cost effective transport solution to reduce road congestion in Australia’s two fastest growing cities – Brisbane and Perth.

Commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), the ‘Value of Action versus the Cost of Inaction’ study found that investing in rail instead of roads would cost 57% less in Brisbane and 38% less in Perth and would achieve the same reduction in traffic congestion.

ARA Chief Executive, Bryan Nye said the study confirms that investment in rail provides greater value for money than roads and is a more cost effective option to reducing congestion in our cities.

“To halve Brisbane’s congestion levels, 2300 km of roads would be required, costing an estimated $46 billion, whereas rail could achieve the same reduction in congestion for 57% less or a $20 billion investment,” said Mr Nye.

“Similarly, to reduce congestion in Perth by 50%, $40 billion for 2000 km of roads would be required while a $25 billion or 38% lower rail investment would achieve the same congestion reduction.

“Congestion is costly. It causes slower road speeds, longer travel times, heightened pollution, and increased vehicle running costs, all of which affect the productivity of a city and the nation.

“Brisbane commuters currently lose 11 million hours and Perth commuters lose 14 million hours annually stuck in traffic.

“If we continue as we are, between now and 2031, without investment or action to reduce congestion, it will cost the city of Brisbane $48 billion and Perth $33 billion in economic and social costs,” said Mr Nye.

The study quantifies the road versus rail investments required to halve congestion levels in the two cities.

“Halving congestion would remove 127,000 cars from Brisbane roads and 163,000 cars in Perth each peak hour, giving the average Brisbane and Perth commuter an extra 73 hours per year, the equivalent of almost two weeks annual leave,” Mr Nye continued.

“Australia needs public transport investment for our cities to remain important engines of our national economy. Investment in modern, efficient, high capacity heavy and light rail is a vital element of the solution to congestion,” he said.

The ARA commissioned Synergies Economic Consulting to complete the study.

The full report is available online here:

and a two-page summary of the report is available here:

(Source: ARA)