The road versus rail problem in Australia

 
  woodford Chief Commissioner

A woodford opinion, you have been warned.

We see on a fairly regular time frame comment something like the governments are stupid for funding major road projects rail is the way to go.

The problem with this though is Australia has largely grown up with road transport well and truely dominating the scene, Australias population went from 7.5 million in 1945 to 23.5 milliion now, in comparison in the same period Britian went from around 49 million to 62 million souls.

What this means is Australia simply has not got the basic rail infrastructure to suit its current population size and the current population is so road biased that it will NOT sit still and let the governments bulldoze major sections of the metro areas to allow improving rail enough so that it can compete effectively. This leaves governments with almost no option than to go further down the road path, The governement simply CANNOT go against this will of the people. Its the people that have to change and become rail aware, this will not occur until road transport hits a major hurdle, Australia will of course by then likely to be suffering from serious hardship.

woodford

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  apw5910 Chief Train Controller

Location: Location: Location.
this will not occur until road transport hits a major hurdle, Australia will of course by then likely to be suffering from serious hardship.

woodford
woodford
Agreed. Australia's population is just too low to generate much internal rail freight or passengers. Those who don't use private cars or can't afford planes for internal travel are adequately served by buses now. The freight task can be entirely handled by trucks if necessary. This has put rail into a downward spiral ever since the rationing of WW2 ended.

Note that I am not counting mineral and grain exports here, just what the 26 odd million Australian population needs. I don't like it, I'd get some things happening to straighten out the rail mess if I had my hands on the levers, but there it is.

As you say, if road transport hits a major hurdle (eg oil gets cut off), we'll have a lot more to worry about than transport.
  1771D Junior Train Controller

For years the truckie has been revered as some sort of working class hero Rolling Eyes, even when people are faced with the consequences of there being too many trucks on our roads, with the related issues such as congestion, pollution, massive damage to road infrastructure, and the inevitable accidents causing unnecessary death and injury.  

Until the average Joe understands and accepts the fact that rail is the best form of transport, we will continue to see road dominating, as politicians are only interested in being re-elected, not actually doing what is best for the country and its people.  It also doesn't help that the road transport industry are right in the pockets of those making the policy and funding decisions, and both sides of politics are implicit in this, from a local government level, right up to the feds.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
A woodford opinion, you have been warned.

We see on a fairly regular time frame comment something like the governments are stupid for funding major road projects rail is the way to go.

The problem with this though is Australia has largely grown up with road transport well and truely dominating the scene, Australias population went from 7.5 million in 1945 to 23.5 milliion now, in comparison in the same period Britian went from around 49 million to 62 million souls.

What this means is Australia simply has not got the basic rail infrastructure to suit its current population size and the current population is so road biased that it will NOT sit still and let the governments bulldoze major sections of the metro areas to allow improving rail enough so that it can compete effectively. This leaves governments with almost no option than to go further down the road path, The governement simply CANNOT go against this will of the people. Its the people that have to change and become rail aware, this will not occur until road transport hits a major hurdle, Australia will of course by then likely to be suffering from serious hardship.

woodford
woodford
I would argue that Australia has too much rail infrastructure for the tonnages available and hence the traffic density is too light to justify investment in improving as for much of the national network, most lines barely justify their commercial existence.

For example it wasn't until the mid 90's to early 2000's that Qld got rid of 1000's km of lines that carried more sleepers than freight using trains that weigh less than a B-double running 1-2 x a month traveling not faster than a horse could probably manage servicing less than a few thousand people and even then the protests where loud and strong.

State Prolocalism didn't help either and its got nothing to do with gauge, but that hasn't helped.

Post WW2 and into the 60's as car, bus, plane and diesel locos started to emerge and prove their respective worth the vision should have been from the late 60's through to 80's was rationalise the various networks in a controlled manner. Focus on practical routes to nearest or most viable port and not parrelleling lines within a few hundred km of each other. We still have the grain network in Vic at times less than 100km apart from hundred's of km.

Instead we fought and lobbied govt to retain outdated work practices and equipment, investment was piecemeal and often poorly assign, govts bent over to every communities demand to retain their railway despite it realistically having no future and being a drain on the taxpayer and basically no future vision, including sustaining what they had. Many lines closed years after they should have.

By the time rail started to get appreciated, in many cases it was simply too late or rail so far behind that catch up will be decades based on available funding. Even today despite billions being poured in the East Coast corridor, how many km have been built as a diversion? Both Brisbane and Sydney strange their regional and intercapital freight to themselves as the last 100km is usually by far the slowest.
  LancedDendrite Deputy Commissioner

Location: Scoping a preliminary feasibility study
When it comes to road freight, Australia can be treated as a national economy. But it was really only through the advent of long-distance trucking (and the elimination of unconstitutional interstate road taxes) that we became that way.

When it comes to rail, we're still as much 'just five islands' as we were when Sir Harold Clapp first coined that phrase in the 1940s. There was a time when the lazy attitudes of the State Railways towards customers was the major impediment, but I think we're finally reaching a breakthrough on the customer service front. State-specific quirks and regulations on things like signalling, comms, loco and rollingstock certification etc are still a problem though.

If only we could bridge the gaps between those '5 islands' once and for all. Australia's Eastern Seaboard and the hinterland west of the Great Dividing Range are ideal territory for rail freight: it's a long strip of arable land and population centres. The distances suit rail, if only appropriate infrastructure was there.  Imagine a train running from Townsville to Melbourne without a single change of gauge - that'd be a day to celebrate!


The case has to be made that investing in rail for the arable inland regions is more beneficial and saves money compared to investing in highways for long-distance trucking. Local Governments in these regions are 'getting it' these days, but they don't have the control over most of the funding that goes into roads in their areas. Even State Governments are hamstrung, even though they have much more money to spend. The whole funding structure is inappropriate and badly needs to change.
  M636C Minister for Railways


When it comes to rail, we're still as much 'just five islands' as we were when Sir Harold Clapp first coined that phrase in the 1940s. There was a time when the lazy attitudes of the State Railways towards customers was the major impediment, but I think we're finally reaching a breakthrough on the customer service front. State-specific quirks and regulations on things like signalling, comms, loco and rollingstock certification etc are still a problem though.

If only we could bridge the gaps between those '5 islands' once and for all. Australia's Eastern Seaboard and the hinterland west of the Great Dividing Range are ideal territory for rail freight: it's a long strip of arable land and population centres. The distances suit rail, if only appropriate infrastructure was there.  Imagine a train running from Townsville to Melbourne without a single change of gauge - that'd be a day to celebrate!
LancedDendrite

Not so much islands now and it isn't as simple as five....

During the last Federal Election, the LNP candidate for the Gladstone electorate promised that he would bring the Inland Railway to to Gladstone. Nothing was said about what traffic it would serve.

Victoria has been painting itself into all four corners since 1961.What could have been a simple conversion of country lines has been complicated almost beyond solution and what little is being done is fifty years late.

South Australia and Western Australia are divided in two by gauge.

In South Australia the narrow gauge is isolated and has relatively low utilisation.

In Western Australia the Kwinana Bunbury line and connections could be converted to standard gauge. It carries much of the narrow gauge traffic handled by Aurizon and the locomotives are in general too heavy for use elsewhere (except in the iron ore services to Geraldton, itself effectively isolated.)

The DBZ class, now offered for sale, are too heavy for general use elsewhere.

Peter
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
The whole funding structure is inappropriate and badly needs to change.
LancedDendrite

Once this is fixed the rest of the issues will be quick to solve.

We need:
- Distance and mass based road user charging so that real price signals are sent to freight users
- Some form of congestion penalty (moreso in central city locations) and possibly a 'reward payment' for those modes who reduce congestion

Once youve got these two things in place, rail would probably be more financially viable and more attractive to invest in.
  1771D Junior Train Controller

Also the actual cost of damage done to road infrastructure by the heavy vehicle industry needs to be factored into the real cost of road vs rail.  This has been conveniently glossed over for many years and many road upgrades claimed to be done to assist everyday road users have in fact been done purely to advantage the road transport industry on behalf of often corrupt politicians with vested interests in that industry.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
The whole funding structure is inappropriate and badly needs to change.

Once this is fixed the rest of the issues will be quick to solve.

We need:
- Distance and mass based road user charging so that real price signals are sent to freight users
- Some form of congestion penalty (moreso in central city locations) and possibly a 'reward payment' for those modes who reduce congestion

Once youve got these two things in place, rail would probably be more financially viable and more attractive to invest in.
james.au
While I agree semi-trailer and B-double should have weight/km based charging over 100km of travel (to keep it simple), I also think we over estimate what would actually end up on rail in regional Australia.

I'm sure the coastal route could do much better, but from regional Australia which already has distance in its favour, mmm.

Congestion charging I agree there is some benefit but its not huge at this time.

Overall the total country's annual road funding is about $25B or about that from feds. Considering the condition of the road network, how much do we plan to divert to rail? I think if you got $2B you have done well. The Europeans may have good railways compared to Oz, but they have better roads. Much of it achieved via higher fuel taxes and on major hwy's road tolls of significance. Drive from Italy to France, the tolls in Euro's start to add up to hundreds of Euro's.

Unlike the Europeans which have alternatives such as multiple rail and roads via population, often Australia doesn't and taxing for sake of taxing is not a good thing.

But overall, what I'd like to see
- weigh/distance charging for semi-trailer and above for loads delivered more than roughly 100km, a fix rate for less.
- introduction of peak flow charging in cities on major corridors
- Reduction in registration fees and increase in fuel taxes by 10% and then 10% per decade to off-set reduction in consumption/km.

Running SG further into Qld apart from Inland is a very low priority and likewise the inland to Gladstone.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

A woodford opinion, you have been warned.

We see on a fairly regular time frame comment something like the governments are stupid for funding major road projects rail is the way to go.

The problem with this though is Australia has largely grown up with road transport well and truely dominating the scene, Australias population went from 7.5 million in 1945 to 23.5 milliion now, in comparison in the same period Britian went from around 49 million to 62 million souls.

What this means is Australia simply has not got the basic rail infrastructure to suit its current population size and the current population is so road biased that it will NOT sit still and let the governments bulldoze major sections of the metro areas to allow improving rail enough so that it can compete effectively. This leaves governments with almost no option than to go further down the road path, The governement simply CANNOT go against this will of the people. Its the people that have to change and become rail aware, this will not occur until road transport hits a major hurdle, Australia will of course by then likely to be suffering from serious hardship.

woodford
woodford

If your talking about NSW you would be correct but why it doesn't take off in Victoria amazes me. Your tracks are relatively straight and flat and it is only the extremely low investment and poor quality of track in Victoria that makes rail a second class citizen.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Broadly agree RTT.  Though a few points I'm not so sure about.

- Why a fixed rate for journeys less than 100km?  I think the fixed cost element of road damage/use/consumption is zero or very close to it.  It will actually add a complexity to the measurement and billing systems etc to work out if a distance is less than 100km and what rate should be applied.

- Urban congestion is estimated to cost upwards from ~$50bn.  Granted most of this is passenger, but some of it is freight.  Even if 5% is freight that is $2.5bn - that should be incentive enough to reduce it (and I think freight is more than that).  

- Re Europe, I don't think there is any benchmark for who funds roads the best.  The whole world over it is pretty disconnected from its actual use.

- How much would move to rail?  Thats the $64k question.  Though could the $2bn you suggest moving from road to rail actually get you more benefits for your buck?  I think the biggest thing with fixing the road funding dilemma is that roads will suddenly look like any other project/business with revenue streams and cost streams, and this will put things in perspective a lot more than they are now.  So in reality i think making that comparison isn't all that relevant.

- Id say with a fully cost recovering road user charge, you would remove the fuel tax entirely.  What purpose does it serve?  And is it equitable, because electric cars will still pay no tax regardless of how many 10% increases you get.  It will also become regressive as poorer people can't afford to buy into electrics for now, and all the while, the electrics will do the same damage to the road as the petrols/diesels/LPGs.   If it is for environmental reasons, then we need to bring back the carbon tax as this would tax all energy sources, including

- And running SG into Queensland, id like to see a proper analysis done on this.  The talk int he Qld Grain Season thread suggests the rolling stock is getting to a point where it is pushing the economic envelope, and really, the market from St George down to Wagga and across to Pt Augusta is really one when it comes to agricultural production - having SG rail through all areas would help lower the cost for all areas.  Im keen to see in a couple of years time what we learn from the Murray Basin project and its implications on train ops and costs.
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

The DBZ class, now offered for sale, are too heavy for general use elsewhere.
M636


The DBZ's can be used on almost the entire currently open network of narrow gauge lines in WA, especially the Albany line, the lines to Lake Grace and Hyden, Kalannie via Dowerin, Wyalkatchem (at least), Wongan Hills, and the Geraldton line.
  8888 Chief Commissioner

Location: Shire of Mundaring
The DBZ class, now offered for sale, are too heavy for general use elsewhere.


The DBZ's can be used on almost the entire currently open network of narrow gauge lines in WA, especially the Albany line, the lines to Lake Grace and Hyden, Kalannie via Dowerin, Wyalkatchem (at least), Wongan Hills, and the Geraldton line.
Bulbous
The DBZ can work north of Wyalkatchem to Mukinbudin.  They are too heavy for the McLevie line, and on much of the Midland Railway, though they could work Geraldton to Karara.

Simon
  SinickleBird Locomotive Fireman

Location: Platform 1 at Mudgee, waiting for the next train

- Why a fixed rate for journeys less than 100km?  I think the fixed cost element of road damage/use/consumption is zero or very close to it.  It will actually add a complexity to the measurement and billing systems etc to work out if a distance is less than 100km and what rate should be applied.

- Urban congestion is estimated to cost upwards from ~$50bn.  Granted most of this is passenger, but some of it is freight.  Even if 5% is freight that is $2.5bn - that should be incentive enough to reduce it (and I think freight is more than that).  

- Id say with a fully cost recovering road user charge, you would remove the fuel tax entirely.  What purpose does it serve?  And is it equitable, because electric cars will still pay no tax regardless of how many 10% increases you get.  It will also become regressive as poorer people can't afford to buy into electrics for now

james.au
Agree that an arbitrary 100km flat fee adds complexity.

Doesn't make sense to me to separate "freight" congestion from "passenger". If you have tried the M5 in Sydney lately, the area between Foreshore Drive and King George's Road is fraught, partly because about 8 lanes are required to merge into 2 through the tunnel, and partly because every B-Double that joins displaces half a dozen passenger cars. Now is that congestion "freight" congestion or "passenger" congestion.

The worst part is that, by the time the Moorebank facility is finally completed, the M5 will have been expanded so the truck companies' part of the problem will have been largely resolved, eliminating the obvious reason to move to the rail solution.

Also agree with the regressive nature of fuel tax. If you must introduce road user pricing based on distance, then set it at a rate that replaces all fuel taxes. When import price parity was introduced (way back when), the funds raised were promised for investment in roads. Not at all convinced that this has ever happened.

In any case, the cost of projects has escalated disproportionately - witness $250m being spent in Mt Victoria and a further $250m being spent around Forty Bends for no improvement in travel time (when compared with the previous regime, not compared with the 40km/hr current restrictions)
  gordon_s1942 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Thinking over this almost perpetual argument of which is better and what SHOULD be done reminded me of the situation in the United States before and after World War 2.
From all sorts of articles, movies and TV shows both made now and those using archival footage, the USA had very few highways and what they had wasnt always paved once you left a town or city area.
Prior to WW2 the railways met the needs of the populace in both passenger and heavy bulk freight due to the bad roads and motor vehicles (cars, Trucks and Bus') not like they are today.
It was WW2 that brought to light the need for a VASTLY improved road network even though the Trains before had carried the burden but Rail is not able to respond quickly to service new areas and factories needed for the War effort in remote areas as Road does.
Also in the equation is that Rail can be very easily disrupted and can take considerable time to be reopened unlike Road.
Nothing can beat rail for Bulk Haulage like Coal, Grains and other similar items but road beats it for short haul and single loads.

The 'Bottom Line' now comes into play as well when deciding how to send what where and how.
I have a 40 tonne refrigerated container with its contents destined to my 5 Supermarkets, 3 are close to rail and 2 are miles away in another direct, should I use rail and still have to use Road transport at each of the Rail locations to deliver to the stores or send it by Road from start to stores directly?

I have 10,000 tonne of grain for the export market, do I send 10 Trains or a 100 trucks.
Train loads vary from 500 t to 10,000 t depending on the line, a 'B' double may carry 60~80 t?
The Train takes an hour or two to load where a truck takes 20 minutes and is gone and may do the journey much quicker than  a Train does, Choice?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@SinickleBird - Agreed, congestion is congestion, though it is caused by different things.  Your point is valid, and I was low baling the freight number to point to how big it could be.  I don't believe that freight would be more than 50% of the cost though, there are lots and lots of passenger vehicles out there

@gordon_s1942 - a b double is legal for around 45 tonnes - and I don't think any are yet able to legally do 50.  Way way back when the rules were not enforced (I was about 15, it was 11pm on a Saturday night and storm clouds were rolling across the hills to the west of where we were harvesting), I loaded a B double with about 75t of grain.  It was quite a sight to watch the driver pull out and head towards the (dirt) road and listen to the chassis creaking all the way.  He said to me he took it steady at about 60km all the way to town, wasn't game to go faster!
  HardWorkingMan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Echuca
With the changes to truck suspensions to become more road friendly and the now nationalised rates for truck and trailer registrations the National Transport Commission has determined costs are covered and your average landcruiser/patrol can now inflict more damage than a B-Double.

The trailers are not all paying the same registration. The registration costs on the A-trailer, when coupled with the increased fuel loads means that for the average owner/driver the A-Trailer is costing them money not making them money.  For big fleets (eg toll) the equation is slightly different as they have negotiated bulk purchase discounts on fuel, tyres etc making the trailer cheaper than an extra driver.

I know plenty of truck drivers who are quite happy to run from port/railhead to local destinations but as they are often paid by the km not the hour the waiting for loading/unloading means there isn't any money left to buy food etc.

When the transfer costs/time is included there are very few destinations where transfer from truck to rail and back again for delivery of one or 2 containers are feasible within Victoria. The reason for this is the time taken to change modes and cost of holding the contents of those containers for the extra time make the road option more viable - even if it's travel costs are marginally more expensive then by rail.  Stuff in transit is costing you money not making it so minimising that time minimises your costs.  Also if you lose one truckload due to a crash other trucks between the same 2 destinations can make it up fairly quickly. Lose a trainload of stock due to a derailment or similar and your business is shut down due to the costs involved

If there are bulk goods (such as wheat/rice) by the trainload from one destination to the same other destination or the distances are longer (eg Melbourne - Perth) the equation changes in rail's favour, particularly if the freight is not perishable.
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

With the changes to truck suspensions to become more road friendly and the now nationalised rates for truck and trailer registrations the National Transport Commission has determined costs are covered and your average landcruiser/patrol can now inflict more damage than a B-Double.
HardWorkingMan


You will have to link to this news, as the NTC is quite open that the costs (including rego, fuel taxes, everything) for any heavy vehicle below 19m in length simply covers road damage costs, not anything else, and anything above that length does not cover damage costs fully, let alone the rest of the societal costs (congestion, construction, etc). This is also well known across all state and federal transport agencies, as shown in repeated yearly reporting on this issue. The NTC and the ATA are well aware of this, even whilst pushing for additional axle loadings to be permitted on routes that will not ever recover the damage costs.

Main Roads WA are open about all of this as well, so if the NTC is now trying to sing a different tune, that is one big turn-around from the current stance by all parties.
  62440 Deputy Commissioner

The Gladstone link was driven by coal, removing coal traffic through the Brisbane metro. The link was from Wandoan to Banana, driven by Compton. There is an exciting section north of Wandoan. The Moura system would have been converted to standard gauge. A fair bit of potential freight was identified in the study including intermodal via Gladstone port. I understand this proposal is filed next to the dodo.
  HardWorkingMan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Echuca
With the changes to truck suspensions to become more road friendly and the now nationalised rates for truck and trailer registrations the National Transport Commission has determined costs are covered and your average landcruiser/patrol can now inflict more damage than a B-Double.


You will have to link to this news, as the NTC is quite open that the costs (including rego, fuel taxes, everything) for any heavy vehicle below 19m in length simply covers road damage costs, not anything else, and anything above that length does not cover damage costs fully, let alone the rest of the societal costs (congestion, construction, etc). This is also well known across all state and federal transport agencies, as shown in repeated yearly reporting on this issue. The NTC and the ATA are well aware of this, even whilst pushing for additional axle loadings to be permitted on routes that will not ever recover the damage costs.

Main Roads WA are open about all of this as well, so if the NTC is now trying to sing a different tune, that is one big turn-around from the current stance by all parties.
Bulbous
I don't know how you expect me to link to some paperwork in the office of a company I no longer work for.  It was used as input to toll calculations as the toll company wanted to ensure their costs on each of their toll roads were covered (and a bit for staff overheads and profit for shareholders of course).
Naturally the toll company doesn't receive any of the registration fees, nor the fuel excise but the only vehicles not paying their way were MR class and below (including cars and 4wd but excluding motorbikes) (MR class is 2 axle rigid trucks)
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

I think you have those figures almost completely reversed. Internal and public MRWA reports, WA DoT reports, BITRE analysis, federal DoT reports, all of our previous calculations within MRWA across regional WA - all come to the same (+/- 3%) conclusion. Vehicles below 19m in length cover their road damage, and the lighter the axle loading the more there is left over for other considerations. Nothing over 19m in length covers their road damage alone, and this is not disputed by either the ATA or the NTC, both in internal reporting or their published reports.

I spent five years working inside MRWA in a regional project manager capacity, and this is more than well known throughout the industry. Incidentally, the worst performers are the pocket road-trains in WA hauling grain, with a 60.3% cost recovery on road damage alone, without including anything else.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
Broadly agree RTT.  Though a few points I'm not so sure about.

- Why a fixed rate for journeys less than 100km?  I think the fixed cost element of road damage/use/consumption is zero or very close to it.  It will actually add a complexity to the measurement and billing systems etc to work out if a distance is less than 100km and what rate should be applied.

- Urban congestion is estimated to cost upwards from ~$50bn.  Granted most of this is passenger, but some of it is freight.  Even if 5% is freight that is $2.5bn - that should be incentive enough to reduce it (and I think freight is more than that).  

- Re Europe, I don't think there is any benchmark for who funds roads the best.  The whole world over it is pretty disconnected from its actual use.

- How much would move to rail?  Thats the $64k question.  Though could the $2bn you suggest moving from road to rail actually get you more benefits for your buck?  I think the biggest thing with fixing the road funding dilemma is that roads will suddenly look like any other project/business with revenue streams and cost streams, and this will put things in perspective a lot more than they are now.  So in reality i think making that comparison isn't all that relevant.

- Id say with a fully cost recovering road user charge, you would remove the fuel tax entirely.  What purpose does it serve?  And is it equitable, because electric cars will still pay no tax regardless of how many 10% increases you get.  It will also become regressive as poorer people can't afford to buy into electrics for now, and all the while, the electrics will do the same damage to the road as the petrols/diesels/LPGs.   If it is for environmental reasons, then we need to bring back the carbon tax as this would tax all energy sources, including

- And running SG into Queensland, id like to see a proper analysis done on this.  The talk int he Qld Grain Season thread suggests the rolling stock is getting to a point where it is pushing the economic envelope, and really, the market from St George down to Wagga and across to Pt Augusta is really one when it comes to agricultural production - having SG rail through all areas would help lower the cost for all areas.  Im keen to see in a couple of years time what we learn from the Murray Basin project and its implications on train ops and costs.
james.au
Hi,
100km was a nominal number, what I was thinking is if a truck is used for "local" use where there are multiple deliveries a day in a short range, then a fixed rate is less cumberson on business. The term local could and likely vary depending on where you are.

Tend to agree, if you go to weight/distance changing, remove the fuel excise which is What I think they do in NZ as diesel in 2009 when I was there was very cheap.

How much to charge is purely based on what you want from road levies.
For me its
- Road damage, is distance and weight related but so too the vehicles suspension technology.
- Congestion
- Road/emergency services funding
- and potentially some general revenue

I think even if you did all of above, there wouldn't change most of the current freight mode from road to rail.

The only SG into Qld that is needed is the Inland which would pretty much replace and close the Qld SW line used by cotton and grain and probably some of the western line. The bulk of the rest of the network operates as an island traffic wise with regard to NSW and SG. Freight from NQ and CQ into NSW and beyond has significant km on the Qld side of the border to justify being on rail from there to the border and beyond.
  HardWorkingMan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Echuca
part of the issue is you still need trucks to make the final delivery from the railway yards.  Rail never has and never will deliver to every address with a platform or siding.  Before trucks the competition was the horse and carts which rail had the advantage over.  Most truck deliveries are relatively local or where there is no rail service.  I have friends whose job it is to move containers from port / railhead to businesses and back. A long distance trip to them is Phillip Island or Wonthaggi.  Most of the truck drivers I know actually work like that.  I only know a couple of single men who do the interstate runs

The real cause of congestion is the single occupant vehicles carrying people to offices etc.  Most trucks are as full as the railway freight services as they can't afford to run empty if they can avoid it.  However one person needs 15 square meters of road space to carry themselves and one briefcase to work.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
The real cause of congestion is the single occupant vehicles carrying people to offices etc.  Most trucks are as full as the railway freight services as they can't afford to run empty if they can avoid it.  However one person needs 15 square meters of road space to carry themselves and one briefcase to work.
HardWorkingMan
By far and away the SINGLE biggest issue with commuter traffic. It's one person and one person only with 95% of cars on the Monash in peak hours.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
Totally agree guys, we have single occupied vehicles causing congestion on our roads and long distance trucking adding to the hazardous on the interstate highways. Unfortunately we have a distraction for funding for both with to many people focused on transport that predominately is trying to compete with planes.

I've known a few truck drivers over the years, not too many said long haul truck driving was much fun once the family came along. At least with long haul rail the drivers are home more often.

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