The draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) recommends the inclusion of transport, with an immediate cost offset for road use.
The ARA said the complementary measure, however, does not apply to rail, which would result in increased costs for rail freight and passenger transport, while road transport would remain unaffected.
“It is bizarre that someone catching a train to work will have to pay more under the CPRS, while car users causing pollution, congestion and health impacts will be compensated. I thought we were trying to get more people to use public transport, not get them back on the roads,” ARA CEO Bryan Nye said.
“The same effect will occur on the freight network. For example, currently rail carries only seven per cent of freight along the Sydney-Melbourne corridor, the rest goes by road.
“Despite rail’s acknowledged significant energy and environmental advantage over road transport, where one train takes 150 trucks off the road, saves 45,000 litres of diesel and saves 44 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, rail will pay under the CRPS, but road transport will be fully compensated.”
While the CPRS indicates a vague hope that railways will be considered as a “strongly affected industry” meeting all of the proposed criteria and assistance might be available to the sector under the Climate Change Action Fund, the ARA said neither of them offers certainty.
The ARA said the only way that rail can remain competitive under the new carbon scheme is the Government’s immediate investment in extensive infrastructure upgrades, such as the construction of a freight line through Sydney and accelerated depreciation rates, instigating incentives that encourage better use and investment in rail.
Without effective measures to compensate the rail industry, “the Government would fail to grasp an opportunity to achieve the full environmental benefits of the CPRS and finally optimise its beleaguered rail network,” the ARA warned.