The Melbourne to Brisbane Rail Alliance (MBIRA) has welcomed the release of a CSIRO pilot study that details the potential transport savings that are set to eventuate from the Inland Rail.
The Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack today launched the pilot study, jointly funded by the CSIRO and the Australian Government, which determined that shifting horticulture and processed agriculture from road to rail could reduce transport costs for the agricultural industry by an estimated $70 million per year.
Chair of the MBIRA, Cr Sue Price said, "MBIRA has lobbied since 2007 for the Inland Rail to capitalise on the economic development opportunities that efficient rail access can generate.
"So it is encouraging that the CSIRO's findings validate the Australian Government's strategic investment into this piece of nationally significant piece of infrastructure.
"Inland Rail is the catalyst for a multitude of benefits for the nation, including reduced freight transit times, lower transport costs, better supply chain access, improved road safety, increased competitiveness of agriculture, and opening up our export markets to compete in the world market." Said Cr Price.
CSIRO conducted the pilot study in 2018 using TraNSIT (Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool), along with extensive industry engagement, to focus on Parkes to Narromine in Central West NSW.
TraNSIT works by analysing every possible combination of transport routes and modes (road and rail) and determining those that optimise vehicle movements between enterprises in the agriculture supply chain.
The pilot study analysis showed if existing agricultural road trips were shifted to Inland Rail, the agricultural industry could save between $64 to $94 per tonne (depending on back-loading).
Additional analysis revealed that if existing coastal rail trips shifted to inland rail, this would result in an estimated saving of $28 to $35 per tonne.
CSIRO TraNSIT leader Dr Andrew Higgins said, " A big cost in food production is transport, particularly given the large distribution of where and when it is grown across Australia, and the long distances to major domestic markets, often over 1000 kilometres.
"These type of savings with Inland Rail would mean food companies would have lower cost access to markets further away than they supplied to in the past," Dr Higgins said.
The Australian Government has committed $9.3 billion to complete the 1700 kilometre spine of Australia's freight rail network that will connect Melbourne to Brisbane in under 24 hours.
Construction of the one-in-a-generation Inland Rail commenced on the Parkes to Narromine section in December 2018. Inland Rail will include approximately 1100kms of major upgrades and enhancements to existing track and construction of approximately 600kms of new track.
For more information about the Inland Rail project, visit www.inlandrail.com.au