Australasian Railway Association (ARA) released (16-Nov-2020) its new Value of Rail 2020 report, calling for "[increased] use of rail to avoid rising environmental, safety and social costs over the next decade". ARA advised the rail industry contributes AUD29.8 billion to the country's economy, and support 165,000 direct and indirect jobs.
ARA chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie also called on commuters to return to railway transport after COVID-19, noting: "Patronage has been hit hard by COVID-19... If just one in 10 people who moved to using their cars instead of rail during the pandemic don't return to the network, Australia faces AUD4 million in additional environmental costs and AUD55 million in crash costs". Despite the impact of COVID-19 on passenger railway activity, the report forecasts 16% growth in the use of passenger services by 2026.
ARA advised rail freight accounts for approximately 56% of national freight movements. The association forecasts that rail will account for approximately 72% of expected growth in Australia's freight activity, following the inclusion of Inland Rail to the national rail freight grid. Ms Wilkie noted: "While rail freight has played a crucial role in the resources sector, limited containerised freight facilities in city centres and the absence of policy settings to ensure a level playing field has limited its growth in other area... with inland rail to deliver more capacity on the network, we must focus now on ensuring the right policies are in place to support greater use of rail freight by other sectors".
The Value of Rail 2020 was prepared by Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of the ARA. [more - original PR]