AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Drought `hides huge freight system weaknesses’

<p>The battle for rail freight being waged between agriculture and mining is a symptom of transport system weaknesses being hidden by the drought, Australian Logistics Council executive director Hal Morris told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> today (Monday, February 12).</p> <p>With coal in New South Wales gaining rolling stock at the expense of agricultural commodities, growers and packers, especially in northwestern and central-western NSW, are mobilising to protect their supply chains &#8211 a &#8220collaboration&#8221 Mr Morris welcomed.</p> <p>&#8220Just about every region in Australia has this problem,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220We need all modes &#8211 road and rail, in this case &#8211 operating flat-strap just to meet the existing task.&#8221</p> <p>Echoing grower fears, he said the drought was &#8220masking capacity constraints in the logistics system&#8221.</p> <p>&#8220And if we had a bumper crop&#8221, questions of total freight capacity had to be raised, he said.</p> <p>But Mr Morris insisted that the likes of Pacific National, as a privatised company, had little choice but to stick with the long-term contracts provided by mineral exports if other options were seasonal and sometimes less reliable.</p> <br />