The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is a member based peak body association for the rail industry throughout the Australian, New Zealand and Indonesian regions. The ARA represents passenger and freight operators, track owners and managers, manufacturers of rolling stock, construction companies and all other firms supplying and contributing to the Australasian rail sector.
Australia’s rail network is the sixth largest in the world, with 44,000km of track. In freight and passenger markets, rail play’s an integral role in the operation and growth of our nation moving almost 1 billion tonnes of freight and facilitating 784 million customer journeys per year and 84 million in the past four years.
Whilst these large figures reflect the fact that a lot of Australians are using public transport, they also highlight the fact that to meet this demand more investment in infrastructure and rolling stock will be required. If there is no investment, then it will lead to one sure thing – more congestion.
Congestion is crippling our cities. By 2020 it will cost Australia $20.4 billion each year, create additional travel times, increased vehicle operating costs, poorer air quality and ultimately decreased productivity.
With our cities growing and congestion on roads reaching critical limits, now more than ever we need governments to look to public transport, particularly in rail, as a viable solution for this ongoing problem.
In 2014 the ARA is intensifying its efforts to promote the benefits of investing in public transport infrastructure to trigger community influence and place pressure on policy decision makers.
The ARA will also be continuing its fight for a high speed rail network in Australia, an issue that has been discussed and debated for nearly thirty years, but still has not come to any form of fruition.
The ARA is calling for a 350km/hr high speed rail network is planned for Australia’s East Coast. The 1,784km route will connect our cities with our regional centres, changing the way Australians work, live and travel, building and developing regional centres and opening up our vast country.
High speed rail is a proven and reliable form of transport. It is currently being built and actively planned throughout the world. Japan is celebrating this year fifty years of high speed rail in the country.
Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the only continent without high speed rail. Clearly, when it comes to high speed rail, Australia is behind the rest of the world. This needs to change. This is an exciting future and Australia must be part of that future!
In freight, the ARA has been lobbying hard for an Inland Rail route connecting two of Australia’s major capital cities, Melbourne and Brisbane, across a 1,700km stretch of land. The current federal government has committed $300 million towards the implementation of the route, with construction to commence in 2016 and be completed by 2026.
This national building project will not only reduce current travel times by seven hours, decrease the number of trucks on roads and boost regional development and job growth – but it will help position rail over road as a primary mover of freight in the country.
The Australasian rail industry has a lot to learn from its international counterparts and them from us, which is why the ARA felt it important that we join the UIC, the international professional association representing the railway sector.
Through the sharing of knowledge, experiences and information, under the united banner of the UIC, rail will continue to grow and prosper. The ARA looks forward to joining the UIC and working with its members in ensuring this vital and vibrant industry fulfils its absolute potential.
Chief Executive Officer
Australasian Railway Association