An Inland Rail line between Brisbane and Melbourne could give farmers the options they want and need to get their products to overseas customers, an industry representative has said.
“As a producer it’s all about getting product from farmgate to customer as efficiently as you can,” Victorian Farmers Federation vice president David Jochinke said at Wednesday’s forum on Inland Rail at AusRAIL in Melbourne.
“That’s where you’ve seen, previously, roads fill the void in many ways.
“We produce more than we consume, we have expanding markets, we have free trade agreements, which is all fantastic, but it doesn’t mean a pinch if we can’t get our product – efficiently – to the customers.”
Jochinke said a well-planned Inland Rail could provide a cost-efficient option for farmers to send their products to export markets.
“If the Inland Rail can give me more options, that’s the benefit of it,” he said.
The presence of an active Inland Rail line would also fit well with Australian farmers, Jochinke reasoned, because of the seasonal nature of their production.
“We’re probably the hardest customers you’ll ever have, because one year we’ll want to triple your service to us, and the next year we basically don’t want to know you, because we don’t have the product,” he said.
With well-selected intermodal hubs, and consistently-available capacity, however, he said Inland Rail could cater well to farmers’ needs.
Inland Rail could have the added benefit of providing farmers with a more traceable and direct freight path to customers, he added.
“My markets are getting very savvy about what they want,” Jochinke said. “I want to be able to look at traceability through my [transport] system, and I want to be able to deliver it on time.”
Jochinke was one of five members of the Inland Rail forum, which also included Genesee & Wyoming Australia managing director Greg Pauline, and deputy secretary of the Department of Agriculture Lyn O’Connell.