Publication Details

Laird, P. (2014). A competitive interstate rail freight and passenger network. Conference on Railway Excellence, Proceedings (pp. 121-130). Australia: Railway Technical Society of Australasia (RTSA).


An outline is given of the East - West rail corridor linking Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and the North - South corridor between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The competitiveness of freight services on the North - South corridor is limited due to 'steam age' alignment and low clearances. Both corridors have lower axle loads and restricted train lengths when compared with mainlines of the two Canadian Class I railroads. The Brisbane Cairns corridor is cited as an example of where rail deviations completed during the 1990s have allowed for faster and heavier freight trains and the effective introduction of tilt trains. Proposals for an inland railway are also noted along with the impact on rail of the reconstruction of the Hume and Pacific Highways. Continuing to improve rail’s share of land freight on the East West corridor (now over 80 per cent) and lifting the low shares on the North - South corridor (lower than 10 per cent on the shorter corridors) would deliver substantial savings in diesel use along with reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and result in appreciably lower external costs.