AusRAIL, Market Sectors

National focus needed to improve rail productivity: Baines

<p>The Australian rail industry must adopt a national transport &#8220vision&#8221 if it was to push forward with the next round of productivity improvements, QR general manager of national policy Stephen Baines said yesterday (Tuesday, June 26).</p> <p>At the <em>Road and Rail Freight Infrastructure and Pricing Reform</em> conference in Brisbane, Mr Baines likened the rail industry’s productivity challenge to the introduction of the B-double to the road industry.</p> <p>The higher-productivity vehicle is credited with improving the productivity levels of the road freight industry, and now comprises 37% of the national articulated fleet.</p> <p>The B-double has enjoyed phenomenal growth &#8211 up 220% to 8,500 trucks since 2000 &#8211 and is now operating widely on urban arterials and into ports and freight terminals.</p> <p>&#8220The decision to adopt B-doubles was policy-led,&#8221 Mr Baines said. &#8220It involves governments facilitating productivity improvements. </p> <p>&#8220We need to have more of that thinking &#8211 but across the transport sector &#8211 to break down the age-old barriers between road and rail, and look at how we can really make intermodal work.&#8221</p> <p>While State Governments have set ambitious targets for improving rail’s share of the freight task, very few decisions had been made to support, or move toward, those goals, Mr Baines said.</p> <p>&#8220If you travel on the dedicated freight line in Sydney, and look at, for example, the minimal number of structures that you’d have to modify to allow double-stacking between Port Botany and Enfield &#8211 these sorts of ideas require assessment and examination,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220We’ve been locked into old ways of thinking and assumptions that things can’t be done.&#8221</p> <br />