Green shoots for rail promise positive year ahead



  • Company expects further growth on corridor servicing east coast metro markets
  • ‘Now or Never’ to capitalise on $3bn capital investment over last five years
  • Next shift for consumer purchase decision making to be supply chain:
    “Consumers are going to care not only where it came from, but how it got there.”
  • Rail needs to partner with road and be used to diversify and strengthen existing freight owner supply chains

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton today said rail has its best ever opportunity to succeed on the corridor between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and following new business wins in 2013 is expecting further growth in 2014.

Fullerton said the Company would be targeting the competitive grocery, FMCG, bulk and retail sectors as the main areas for attracting containerised freight on the back of a 30 per cent reliability improvement along this North South corridor in 2013.

“Over the last five years more than $3 billion in new infrastructure investment has been pumped into freight rail lines between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane,” Mr Fullerton said.

“It really is time for ARTC to capitalise on that investment and capture greater market share of the intermodal market.”

In addition to the new rail infrastructure, Fullerton said freight owners will also be benefitting from an advanced rail fleet with above rail operators investing in and operating new locomotives and high productivity wagon designs along the North South corridor.

“We’re asking freight owners that might have contemplated or used rail previously to reconsider rail again because it’s a vastly different proposition to ten, and even five, years ago,” Fullerton said.

“It’s about demonstrating rail is a better freight alternative for businesses,” Fullerton said.

“Today’s rail industry is much more focused on the freight owner’s needs. As a Company, ARTC is determined to drive home the value of rail and boost market share.

“The time is right for ARTC to actively engage with customers to promote the business and community benefits of rail in Australia,” Fullerton said.

“We also believe that as consumers seek more information to guide their purchase making decisions, it’s inevitable questions are going to be asked about the supply chain and the way products arrived to the shelf.

“Just like consumer power has driven demand for free-range eggs, ‘Australian-made’ and carbon-neutral services, consumers will soon start asking how their goods got to market as much as from where,” Fullerton said.

“The business story for freight owners using rail is vastly better than alternative modes and if there’s a supply chain solution that is up to nine times less likely to be involved in an accident, emits three times less carbon and uses three times less fuel than alternatives – that’s a pretty compelling proposition for consumers.”

Fullerton said despite his positive outlook he did acknowledge there were significant challenges ahead and prospects for some sectors of industry could be patchy at best.

“It is in tight market conditions we can really test how far we’ve come and how much better we are in delivering reliable services to our customers,” Fullerton said.

Fullerton said ARTC was also under no illusions of the competitive nature of transport and that the road industry is well-renowned for its service delivery standards.

“We are all parts of the same multi-modal mix and we need to partner, not necessarily compete, with road to deliver the best outcomes for customers – but we think there’s a lot of opportunity for east coast freight owners to diversify and strengthen their existing supply chains with a rail solution.”

He expected the new business to come from both regional and metropolitan centres, citing growing freight volumes from Riverina and Murray regions contributing new business in 2013 as much as the key cities, ports and distribution centres along the eastern seaboard.

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