Why aren’t we using more rail freight in Australia?

The theory goes, that rail freight comes into its own over greater freight distances.  I seem to recall learning back on my Cranfield days that 600 km was the magic number, above which rail freight made economic sense.

OK, so we have vast distances here in Australia.  And yet rail freight popularity seems to be focussed mainly on the long distance East to West Coast routes and to medium haul bulk freight such as coal, rice, wheat, sugar and the like.

Given the increasing congestion on our main roads, the rising cost of fuel and the forecasted doubling of freight volumes over the next 10 years or so, shouldn’t we be starting to use rail freight more?


Rail Freight Australia


So what’s stopping us?  These are the common reasons I hear.

  1. The rail services are not reliable.
  2. The double handling at each end (at the terminals) just increases cost and damages.
  3. Rail services are not available where we need them.

What are your reasons for not using rail more?

If we don’t start diversifying our use of freight modes, we may well grind to a standstill on our roads…….


Rob O'Byrne - Logistics BureauBest Regards

Rob O’Byrne

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