“Green” rail is the best freight option

Rail should be promoted as “greenhouse friendly” to seize the opportunity for further growth in the carbon-constrained economy, rail industry lobbyists have argued.

The Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development met in Melbourne last week to deliberate on the issues facing the rail sector.

Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer told the alliance that the world retuned to a “sensible” use of rail.

“Rail in the 21st century is the best option, just as it was when it was first introduced in the 19th century,” he said.

While commending the Australian Government for its recent commitments in rail, such as the track standardisation project, he said it needed to push harder to balance rail and road priorities.

The speakers at the meeting argued the “green” image of rail should be promoted further to seize the opportunity arising from the introduction of the emissions trading scheme.

Trains consume 30 per cent less fuel than trucks.

Helen Newell, Pacific National spokeswoman said Victoria needs to be more specific about which rail corridors they want to maintain.

“Let’s be frank. Rail is a capital-intensive, fixed cost business and we must pay high prices for it,” she said.

The company, which is the largest grain freight operator in the state, pointed out the size of Victoria’s rail market was very limited.

The speakers agreed high fuel prices and road charges meant now was the time to maximise the use of rail.


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