A national report on the current state of rail in Australia was launched on 11 November 2014 at the Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) annual conference AusRAIL in Perth by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, The Hon. Warren Truss MP.
The TrainLine 2 report provides a high-level overview of Australia’s rail industry: the services freight and passenger operators provide, its manufacturing sector, and rail’s safety and environmental performance.
Chief Executive Officer of the ARA, Bryan Nye OAM, said that the report showed that movement of goods and people by rail in Australia continues to grow with the industry’s performance living up to the increased demand from both the freight and passenger markets.
“In 2013 Australian railways carried over 1 billion tonnes of freight and moved more than 850 million passengers,” said Mr Nye.
“The national freight task is predicted to almost triple by 2050 and by that same year the Australian population will have doubled, with populations of Sydney and Melbourne approaching eight million people each.
“If Australia is expected to meet this challenge, rail will have an increasingly important role to play in this space,” he said.
Speaking on the specifics of the report, Mr Nye highlighted the immense surge in the movement of freight on rail, with an increase of 57 per cent over the past five years.
“It is appropriate that the launch of this report is in Western Australia, as the growth in freight tonnage has been driven substantially by the resources boom and the export task of moving iron ore and coal to ports,” continued Mr Nye.
“These two commodities account for more than 80 per cent of the rail freight tonne-kilometres, with the biggest task being the movement of iron ore in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
“Australia’s intermodal freight task is also growing, with tonnages having increased by 65 per cent since 2009-10, to 27 million tonnes.
“Along Australia’s east coast however, more container freight can and must go by rail with the large majority of freight currently moved by road between Melbourne and Brisbane and an estimated 30 per cent by rail.
“Important infrastructure projects like the Inland Rail, due to commence construction next year, will address the existing imbalance by opening up the Melbourne to Brisbane network, taking seven hours off transit between the two cities; removing thousands of trucks from major highways, easing the Sydney bottleneck; and boosting regional development along the entire 1,700km route.
“The outcomes of this report paint a clear picture – rail is a strong, exciting and diverse industry with a prosperous future in Australia,” Mr Nye concluded.
The TrainLine 2 publication was developed in collaboration between the ARA and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).