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Australia’s rail freight sector has applauded the New South Wales government for elevating the priority of essential freight train services on the Sydney rail network during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes as the Covid-19 lockdowns have seen public transport patronage plummet in Sydney and all other major cities.
Freight on Rail Group (FORG) of Australia chair Dean Dalla Valle says the haulage of essential goods, supplies and commodities to depots, terminals and ports across the state is critical to help bolster the NSW economy and protect local jobs.
"Freeing up extra paths on Sydney’s rail network, notably for goods trains, is a smart, quick and cost-efficient way to help support and amplify critical freight activity in the economy," Dalla Valle adds.
"It means freight trains can access more paths during peak morning and afternoon periods, which normally would not be available, to better service the transport supply chain."
FORG notes that, typically, freight trains cannot operate on the Sydney rail network between the peak commuter periods of 6am-10am and 3pm-7pm.
Meanwhile, access is limited on both sides of these peak periods, resulting in only 10 hours of ‘non-peak’ access for freight trains.
Dalla Valle highlights that many daily freight train services have to weave through the busy Sydney network to deliver vital supplies, raw materials and commodities to destinations including the ports of Botany, Kembla and Newcastle.
"For example, each day thousands of import and export shipping containers arriving or leaving Port Botany pass through key rail depots and terminals at Chullora, Enfield, Minto, Cooks River and Moorebank," he says.
"Similarly, goods trains running between Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have to be threaded through the Flemington rail junction – rail’s equivalent of passing through the eye of a national logistics needle.
"Likewise, grain originating from central west NSW to be converted into food and industrial ingredients like flour, starch and ethanol at Manildra Group’s Nowra facility is hauled via the Flemington junction to eventually join the South Coast-Illawarra railway line."
Not only a major fuel for light vehicles (E10), ethanol is the key ingredient of critically required hand sanitiser and Dalla Valle says every unit hauled is another unit delivered to critical domestic and international markets, helping to preserve Australian jobs and generate export revenue for both the state and nation.
"We are in the eye of a three-to-four generational event and not only do we have to help flatten the curve, we have to get ahead of the curve to sustain our economy," he adds.
This article first appeared on www.fullyloaded.com.au
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