Record Month in Rail Freight Volumes

Rail as a preferred freight option East Coast to West Coast has continued with Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) marking a record month in the volume of goods transported across the east–west corridor (Melbourne-Perth; Sydney-Perth).

In May this year, 3.60 billion Gross Tonnes per Kilometre (GTK) were transported on the east–west corridor breaking the previous record of 3.53 billion GTK reached in November 2007.

In addition, ARTC research shows that the volume of goods transported on the east–west corridor in the first five months of the 2008 calendar year were 3.5% higher than the first five months of 2007.

ARTC CEO David Marchant said this record breaking boost in freight volume was a clear indication that investment in rail infrastructure is paying off.

“For ARTC the record amount of freight being moved on the east–west corridor marks rail as a realistic freight option; however there is more to be done.

“ARTC is continuing to drive rail forward by investing in projects to deliver an interstate rail network that meets the needs of the Australian market and has the capacity to meet future demand.”

“ARTC is partnering with Telstra on a $74 million project using the 3G Network to upgrade locomotive communication systems across all our rail corridors.  We have also invested in new Centralised Traffic Control signal technology to replace the archaic ‘staff and token’ system developed in the 1890s which was a major cause of bottlenecks on rail corridors.”

“One of the biggest boosts to rail freight’s competitiveness at the moment is the $2.1 billion plus upgrade of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail line, which includes new passing lanes and loops and signal upgrades,” Mr Marchant said.

“The new passing lanes and signal upgrades will significantly cut transit times between Sydney and Melbourne.”

“As Rail becomes more competitive we could also see fewer trucks on our roads as each 1500 metre long train can replace 100 semi trailers,” Mr Marchant said.

Mr Marchant said the record freight volumes on the east–west line are complemented by recent research which indicates that rail is now cheaper than road door-to-door by an average of almost 40% per tonne.

“On the Melbourne-Perth corridor alone, freight transported by road costs an average 6.75 cents per net tonne kilometre (¢/ntk) and only an average 3.65 ¢/ntk by rail.”

“With growing demand for reliable freight transport and with rising fuel prices impacting on the trucking industry, the resurgence of rail is good news for the Australian market,” Mr Marchant said.

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