Govt-backed CSIRO report pre-empts road freight shifting to rail

Early results of a study across 140 commodities show an average transport cost reduction of 39 per cent by shifting freight from road to Inland Rail.

Approximately $170 million can be saved in transport costs each year according to the CSIRO supply chain analysis by shifting freight to Inland Rail for at least part of the journey.

Freight travelling the full length of Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane is earmarked to achieve an even higher transport cost reduction of 44 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack welcomed the early release of findings from the CSIRO Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Study as further proof of the benefits Inland Rail will unlock across Australia.

“In regional Australia distances between communities and towns, and towns and cities are measured in more than miles and minutes – they’re measured in the cost of moving essential goods where and when people need them,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Australian producers, manufacturers and growers as far away as Townsville, Perth and Launceston who have freight moved the full length of Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane will likely achieve a higher transport cost reduction of 44 per cent.

Existing rail-based supply chains are estimated to see an annual cost reduction of around $21 million when shifting at least part of their route to Inland Rail while bringing extensive opportunities to regional Australia.

“This study is the green light signalling to the industry to start planning now because the potential cost savings for being connected to, or close by, Inland Rail are immense for farmers and regional businesses,” said Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.

“Heavier, faster freight trains will divert non-bulk products from roads and provide the competitive edge regional Australia has been calling for,” he said.

Concrete World in Dubbo is just one business reconsidering options to move their freight with rail.

Director Troy Paton said Inland Rail will be a welcome freight option, provided it can deliver the cost reductions outlined in CSIRO’s study.

“Up to 39 per cent savings on the cost of moving freight is huge in this industry,” said Patton.

“We will definitely be looking at Inland Rail for our future freight needs,” he said.

“Additionally, it will assist us with further expansion of the business. The time delays in moving freight over the Blue Mountains are a constant constraint.”

The Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT), developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, was used to analyse existing freight supply chains and the potential cost reductions based on future infrastructure investments or operational changes.

“Our computer logistics tool can identify the transport benefits to every supply chain using Inland Rail and analyse potential savings over the long term. It can also be used to test future scenarios and transport technologies,” CSIRO’s TraNSIT project leader Dr Andrew Higgins said.

Last year CSIRO received $459 million in funding from the Federal Government to redeem industry partnership revenue lines decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $459 million in funding is over four years with $133 million allocated to the country’s peak science research organisation this year.

Full results of the CSIRO Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Study will detail the potential cost savings for 140 commodities and is expected to be released in coming months.