Improvements in rail means better productivity for Australia
Posted : Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Improvements in rail will assist Australia's productivity,
competitiveness and performance, a CEDA audience has heard in
Australasian Rail Association, CEO, Bryan Nye
said integrated planning for freight, combining rail, ports and
roads, is a major challenge for Australia.
To move forward, he highlighted we need to replace our ageing
rail fleet and infrastructure as the average age of the regional
rail network is 50 to 60 years old.
"Our freight is not competitive and our competitiveness is
waning," he said.
"Road and rail pricing is not the issue. We need to change how
we deliver our goods.
"Every passenger train takes 500 cars off the road. Every
freight train takes 150 trucks off the road - it's (rail) cleaner,
more efficient and cheaper to operate."
He commented that over the next 12 to 15 years freight between
capital cities will double. If rail doesn't improve, more freight
will be transported on roads and highways in large 60 tonne
"Congestion costs our economy $21 billion every year, that's
going to grow to $30 billion," he said.
QR National, Commercial and Marketing, Executive Vice
President, Paul Scurrah emphasised Australia is too tied
up in bureaucracy and this adds to our productivity and capacity
"We have seven safety regulators, 46 pieces of state, territory
and commonwealth rail related legislation, and a population of 22
million. Contrast this to the US, with a population of 312 million
and only one rail safety regulator," he said.
Mr Scurrah emphasised that the objective must be to enhance
productivity across supply chains and to drive better outcomes both
for the economy and for consumers.
"We need to sustain the national
competitiveness of our exports through low cost efficient transport
and logistics from mine to port or from a grain perspective," he
To achieve productivity, he told attendees Australia needs:
- Long-term and strategic infrastructure;
- To cut red tape and regulation; and
- Find the "sweet spot" for customers.
Although there is pressure for continual improvement and
expansion across the entire supply chain, he said the future is
There is an opportunity to integrate the existing network and
leverage capacity, he said.
"Rail corridors in their nature are highly scalable to deliver
expansion efficiently and cost effectively," he said.
He also emphasised there is an opportunity for new players and
investors to drive rail development.
"With a lot of growth, we emphasise the need for multiple
solutions, and multiple parties to fulfil future infrastructure and
haulage requirements moving forward... stronger competitive
outcomes is good for customers and good for the industry," he
Siemens Ltd, Executive Manager, Matt McInnes
noted that for Australia to maintain economic development, high
speed rail (HSR) is necessary to combat congestion, urbanisation
and population growth.
He acknowledged that there were strong examples of HSR already
The Barcelona - Madrid and London - Manchester routes are
similar in length to Melbourne -Sydney and have good punctuality
AECOM, Vice President of Global Transit, Peter
Humphreys said the Melbourne - Sydney corridor is the
fifth busiest in the world and this adds to congestion at Sydney
To ease congestion and ensure HSR is successful, he highlighted
HSR requires a dedicated standard gauge track with one
Due to the distance between Australia's major centres, he
predicted trains would need to operate at 350 kilometres per
Mr Humphreys said an option for Australia is to include
additional passenger services on HSR with trains running slower at
200 kilometres per hour, which can be slotted in between high speed
trains to provide commuter services.
Both Mr McInnes and Mr Humphreys referred to the Federal
Government's proposed HSR network stretching along the east coast
of Australia, from Melbourne to Brisbane in the High Speed Rail
Study - Phase one as a viable option.
Mr Humphreys outlined effects of HSR including:
- Reduction in domestic air travel between cities, providing rail
pricing is competitive with air travel;
- Reduction in carbon emissions;
- Increased reliability of travel with efficiency of more than
99.7 per cent;
- Increased connectivity to rural towns - based upon demand;
- Improved commuter services to major cities by introducing other
high speed trains in between major services; and
- Reduction of regional passenger services with increased freight
capacity on conventional lines, with HSR providing another avenue
for passengers and opening the other lines for freight.
Mr McInnes acknowledged that Australia could lead the world in
new technology for HSR and the case for HSR needs to be made more
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