Thank you for the post.
What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?
This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.
Can't ever understand it.
Cost. Plain and simple.
On average, for a grain train running at full load your profit is in the last 5-8 wagons. The moment you start consists shorter then full load for the locomotive power, then your profit is being eaten away.
Furthemore, additional costs to consider include:
- Track access
- Wagon PM scheduling
- Employee skills maintenance
- Locomotive availability/economy
All of these add up. Additionally, unless your rail line is of such standard that you can load, unload and load again at rates comparable to trucks, then your never going to get ahead. Old sidings designed for short grainy's, old school loading set ups and congestion at bottleneck junctions all contribute to make trucks the more favourable choice.
The issue of bottlenecks is a good one. For example, say a truck driver finds a problem with his trailer- he waits on the side of the road to fix it. Compare this to say Cootamundra yard, where a wagon which is red carded during grain season:
- Needs to be shunted out
- Wait for available road to shunt onto
- Wait for access to the main line for the signal
- Hold up every other train waiting to use the yard.
A 15 minute shunt rapidly turns into a 2 hour affair, all the while trains are banking up across the network, incurring penalty fees which further strip away at your profit. Lets remember, I said earlier that if your running at less then full load, your giving away profit. That red carded wagons you removed just knocked 25% off your profit for that train alone, and you havent even left the yard!!!