Aurizon recommends policy changes to rail freight services

Aurizon has pushed Australia’s federal and state governments to consider policy changes to increase the environmental and economical benefits of rail freight over road freight.

The rail freight transport company operates the only electrified heavy-haul rail network in Australia, suggesting that ‘clear and effective’ government policies are required to provide the medium and longer term benefits of electric traction.

Government policies aimed at lowering electricity costs and improving the reliability of power have been welcomed by Aurizon, however the company is pushing the government to map out a long-term emissions reduction policy.

Aurizon stated that the lack of a long-term emissions reduction policy will impact the investment decisions of the private sector.

“Transport infrastructure and rail supply chain assets are underpinned by investments with timeframes of up to 30 years,” Aurizon stated.

“The absence of clear, long-term emissions reduction policy settings adds to the uncertainty and difficulty for the private sector when making investment decisions.”

Aurizon has also pushed for policies to acknowledge the benefits of electric traction.

The benefits of rail freight over road freight include its ability to produce 16 times less carbon than rail freight per tonne kilometre, and that it’s a safer and more productive method of transportation.

According to Aurizon, the transition from road to rail has been stalled by the different policy and regulatory approaches for infrastructure and operations that both transport methods require.

“This means that Aurizon and other rail freight operators are placed at a disadvantage when it comes to costs, infrastructure provision and regulation compared to truck operators, particularly on key regional freight corridors where rail and road compete to transport the same products,” Aurizon said.

Aurizon has mentioned that policy changes must address inequity of infrastructure costs and an unclear focus on improvements and investment that impacts rail freight.

The company has advocated targeted infrastructure investments for links between rail networks, further work with ports to increase the presence of rail freight, and improvements to national and state-based regulatory frameworks to increase productivity.

Coal is one of the major commodities transported by Aurizon’s rail freight operations.

According to Aurizon, Australia has the lowest average transportation and port costs for seaborne metallurgical coal compared to other coal exporting countries, which is expected to help bolster demand for the commodity, including continued demand from Asia.

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