AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Rail raises shield as Truss hits out at its competitiveness

<p>Rail freight companies hit back today (Thursday, June 15) after federal transport minister Warren Truss effectively called them lazy.</p> <p>In comments seen as pre-empting a Productivity Commission inquiry into the nation’s land freight system and which appear to signal a ruling out of additional charges for heavy trucks, Mr Truss said reform and better management were needed in the rail industry.</p> <p>&#8220There is a lot of reform and improved management that could occur in the rail system that would do far more to make rail competitive than putting additional penalties or taxes on road transport,&#8221 Mr Truss said</p> <p>He pointed to the $2bn earmarked for rail infrastructure and the National Transport Commission’s finding that there was an &#8220over-recovery&#8221 from the road sector.</p> <p>&#8220Rail should be very good and unbeatable on long-haul and heavy loads, and it’s been losing market share year on year," he said. "So rail needs to look very closely at itself to make sure that trains work efficiently and well and provide a reliable service.&#8221</p> <p>But Australasian Railway Association chief executive Brian Nye said today the minister’s comments were misguided.</p> <p>&#8220I don’t think minister Truss has read our submission into the Productivity Commission, nor has he been briefed on it,&#8221 Mr Nye said. &#8220We are not asking for an increase in trucking prices.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Nye said the problem was the $10,000 cross-subsidisation of bigger trucks by smaller trucks.</p> <p>&#8220Let’s have a rationalisation to optimise the network,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220And I fully accept that we have to improve our productivity. </p> <p>"But it’s very difficult to improve your productivity when you’ve got seven safety regulators, seven economic regulators, four different signalling systems, 72 different occupational health and safety regulations, all state based.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Nye said new locomotive investment by all major operators in his industry hinged on new track, which was yet to be built.</p> <br />