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Freight And High-Speed Rail

A vision and a detailed plan to shift a significant part of future freight movement from trucks onto rail using the high-speed rail line between Sydney and Melbourne

Freight movement in Australia is vital for the economy and is also a key cause of carbon emissions. Improving its efficiency and reducing its environmental impact is vital.


Whilst rail moves most of our iron ore, coal and other bulk freight, road has captured over 90% of the movement of merchandise freight between Sydney and Melbourne. This is a result of decades of under-investment in our interstate rail corridors. As a result, an average of 6,300 trucks travel on the Hume highway every day, with up to 10,000 in the approaches to Sydney and Melbourne.


Fastrack Australia’s new report on freight and High-Speed Rail examines how to change this. It highlights developments in rail freight overseas, such as new types of rollingstock, high-powered locomotives and the sharing of tracks by fast freight and high-speed passenger trains. It also describes recent initiatives in rail freight and logistics in Australia, including the development of new terminals like Moorebank Logistics Centre, which revolutionises the way rail freight interfaces with warehouses.


The report also includes a detailed analysis of current freight movement by both road and rail in the Sydney – Melbourne corridor, estimating mode shares and traffic patterns both by location and time of day.


This enables realistic strategies to be developed for increasing rail’s mode share for merchandise freight to 50%, by designing the high-speed line between the two cities to accommodate fast freight trains, mostly at night when few passenger services are operating. This can cut the transit time by rail from the current 13 hours to 8-9 hours, and improve the productivity of rollingstock, making rail competitive with road for next-day deliveries.


The report contains original and detailed research and innovative approaches to the design and operation of the high-speed line, which will enable it to accommodate up to 400 trains a day, including high-speed inter-capital as well as fast regional, commuter and freight services.

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