I agree with you james.auBy cutting travel time down to 24hour turnaround, comparable to truck, the 1700km inland rail distance should make rail very competitive.Absolutely agree KR but, sadly, I cannot help but feel that all that will happen is that the existing Melbourne - Brisbane freight services will simply run via Narromine in lieu of via Casino.
I find it exceedingly difficult to visualise the massive modal shift that should come with Inland Rail. Even if the ARTC infrastructure is all well and good it seems that there is always some tin pot restriction or darg that kills everything; whether it be a heritage country dunny or some influential NIMBY.
This is exactly what I envisage. No significant increase in freight traffic because we have been there and heard it all before when it comes to how they are trying to move freight off trucks and on to the rails and yet each year the rail freight task gets smaller. This is what we heard here about the freight line and yet all it has done is allow freight trains to move in to Sydney during the curfew periods which is good but it hasn't resulted in this massive modal shift that was talked about.
Also, in the queensland area, a better SG link into Brisbane is going to make major changes for Northwest NSW and SEQ production, and should see local mode shift in itself.
I have been following the progress of the Inland Rail development from its earliest days of its current concept by Everald Compton, through to it being embraced and funded more recently by both sides of the political spectrum. By targeting the more realistic goal of Melbourne to Brisbane by the most direct route possible (and bypassing Sydney rather than trying to compete with the 1 shift truck movement so prevalent on this corridor), Inland Rail has the potential to revolutionise this corridor with some rewarding side benefits to the local community and the nation as a whole.
I say potentially, because while we have this great opportunity, the rail industry generally (and repeatedly - despite successes in coal and iron ore haulage) is better at 'own goals' than it is at winning back lost business opportunities. Given the opportunity that government support for Inland Rail provides, there are some weak links that need to be addressed if the full potential is to be reached. The biggest weakness I perceive at this stage is the immature level of logistical processing of rail bourne containers at Brisbane. Even the SG link to the Port of Brisbane is underutilised. Without adequate logistical support for rail bourne containers arriving in Brisbane, all the containers that double stacked trains that the line could deliver to Brisbane may not be forwarded onward as easily as they arrive on the massive double stacked trains that are envisaged.
Perhaps the Roll-On/Roll-Off solution may not only alleviate this limitation of container handling logistics, but could well provide a more workable solution for the widespread distribution of the carrying capacity of Inland Rail's primary benefactors - the logistics industry.
Whether IR should have included a more northerly termination point is a debatable point, but nevertheless, it remains to be seen how this seemingly endless conveyor belt of containers northward will be distributed across its targeted market.
The same goes for Melbourne, but to a lesser extent, but again, from what I can see, it does not have enough port connected rail infrastructure to ensure a successful execution of a much touted 'landbridge' that is what we would like to see take place.
On side note, I find this an interesting and informative thread, and one of the most interesting on RP at the moment
Regards to all