The Australian Government has welcomed measures implemented by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to provide immediate financial relief to rail freight operators maintaining the supply of essential goods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support provided by ARTC includes extending payment terms for existing access charges and deferring the Consumer Price Index increase scheduled to take effect in July for three months.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the initiatives would allow operators to manage cash flow and the economic impacts of COVID-19 on businesses across Australia.

“Our efficient freight network is critical to ensuring our supermarket shelves are stocked and our valuable export commodities can reach overseas markets – both of which have been vital during this pandemic,” Mr McCormack said.

“Rail freight companies have worked tirelessly to service the initial growth in consumer demand during the pandemic to keep Australia open for business by supplying the essential goods that have supported our nation through this global health crisis.

“As the COVID-19 curve flattened, we also saw a levelling in consumer demand and reduced production that is now being felt across supply chains.

“These measures will provide welcome relief for Australia’s freight rail operators and will support businesses across the country as they take steps to recover in a very different economy.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said freight rail operators make a significant contribution to Australia’s economy and welcomed ARTC’s actions to support the industry.

“Each year, Australia’s freight and supply chain networks deliver billions of tonnes of goods across the country,” Minister Cormann said.

“ARTC plays a significant role in making this possible through its management of national rail infrastructure. We welcome its response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has ensured freight rail operators are able to continue providing an important service Australians and the Australian economy rely on.

“The Government is very pleased to see ARTC working with its customers, government and industry to build resilience in our freight and supply chain network during what is a difficult period.”

Media release issued by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack

Date: 14 May 2020