Freight Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

Rail struggle in Fremantle due to ‘shorthaul’ competition

Port of Fremantle - Photo Fremantle Ports

WA transport minister Dean Nalder says while the government is trying to get more freight on rail running through the Port of Fremantle, the mode is not a natural fit for the bulk of its trade.

Nalder has told WA parliament that current market share for freight moved by rail is around 14%.

The government hopes to lift that figure to a 30% share for rail, but the distance travelled by most of Fremantle’s containers is inhibiting that transition.

“It is difficult for rail to compete effectively with road over the shorthaul distances which are involved with the greater part of the Fremantle container trade,” the minister said.

According to Nalder, the state government’s key strategies to increase the percentage of freight moved by rail from Fremantle Ports include investment in railway infrastructure at the port and on lines running to and from the port; improvements in efficiency of rail operations; and continuing subsidies for containers moved by train.

Nalder expects the port of Fremantle to reach maximum container capacity in eight years if there is a high average annual growth rate.

Alternatively a low average annual growth rate would mean the port will not reach capacity for 21 years (through to 2036).

Nalder said the current estimated annual container capacity at the port is between 1.2 and 1.4 million 20ft equivalent units (teus).

The most recent truck survey, taken in 2014, determined that an average of 2600 container vehicles were visiting the port each week day.

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