National transport reforms have led to some improvements in the rail regulatory regime, but much more needs to be done to achieve the full benefits of reform.

Enhancing freight rail efficiency

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australian Railway Association (ARA) have applauded the announcement that the Federal and Queensland Governments will fund a $1.5 million study that will examine ways to enhance freight rail connections to the Port of Brisbane.
Improving these connections, including the establishment of a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane, will be critical to unlocking the full economic benefits of the Inland Rail project, which is now being constructed.
These benefits will be examined at length as part of the Inland Rail Conference being jointly hosted by ALC and the ARA on 18-19 July 2018 in Parkes, NSW.
The Port of Brisbane is a vital economic asset, not merely for Queensland but for the nation, particularly when it comes to agricultural and resource sector exports.
Its importance will increase significantly in the years ahead, with international demand for Australian export products expected to rise.
The economic significance of establishing a dedicated freight rail link to the port was recently reconfirmed by the decision of Infrastructure Australia (IA) to again include the project as a high priority initiative on the 2018 Infrastructure Priority List.
A separate IA report on corridor protection released last year confirmed that potential savings of $66 million could be realised if governments act quickly to protect the corridor needed for the construction of a dedicated freight rail link from the Inland Rail at Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.
These factors highlight just how critical it is to act now to ensure efficient freight rail linkages between the Inland Rail and other pieces of critical freight infrastructure, including ports and intermodal terminals at key strategic locations along the route.
The Inland Rail Conference will be the first dedicated industry event exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by Inland Rail, and will draw together major political, industry and community leaders to discuss at length the potential benefits of this nationally significant project.

Inland rail and regional rail revival process agreed

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack and Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Major Projects Jacinta Allan have signed a bilateral agreement in relation to Inland Rail, making Victoria the first state to sign up to the Inland Rail project.
This agreement includes a commitment to negotiate a new, long-term lease with the Australian Rail Track Corporation and to support the extension of the corridor to accommodate any changes to the North East Rail Line alignment required to support the delivery of Inland Rail.
On completion, the Inland Rail Project will create a direct rail freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane capable of moving double-stacked freight containers. Inland Rail will, they say, deliver almost $7 billion in additional state gross product through construction and in the first 50 years of operation.
Mr McCormack said this was a great step forward on a project that will create jobs and investment opportunities throughout regional Victoria.
“I’m pleased to reach agreement with Victoria, the first state to get behind Inland Rail which will improve freight travel times for local farmers and producers and support thousands of jobs,” Mr McCormack said.
“Once complete, Inland Rail will create thousands of jobs nationwide and return $16 billion to the national economy during the delivery phase and the first 50 years of operation.”
While the Inland Rail Project is a freight project, both governments acknowledge the North East Rail Line is currently used for both passenger and freight services and that this mixed use is intended to continue.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for acting quickly to release the funds which will provide much needed upgrades to every regional rail line, through the Regional Rail Revival program.
“I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for acting quickly, so we can now get on with the job of upgrading track, stations and signalling throughout regional Victoria, to run modern trains and get people home sooner,” Ms Allan said.
Now an agreement on Inland Rail has been reached, money for the $1.7 billion Regional Rail Revival program will begin to be delivered to Victoria.
The works will be delivered under the Regional Rail Revival Program that will provide an upgrade to every regional passenger rail line in Victoria.
Planning and defining the scope of works has already begun to ensure these projects meet the transport needs of passengers and regional communities, and the Victorian and Australian Governments reaching agreement on the first stage of works, with some work already underway.
As part of the Regional Rail Revival program, a joint Victorian Government and Commonwealth Government steering committee was established to look at the work needed to upgrade the North East Line. The steering committee resolved the $100 million committed was not enough to upgrade the track to run new modern trains, therefore the Commonwealth Government will contribute an additional $135 million to upgrade the track to at least a Class 2 standard.
“I am also pleased that in addition to the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival package, the Commonwealth will increase its contribution by $135 million to upgrade the North East Rail Line to a class 2 standard to allow faster, modern trains and give communities along the North East line the services they expect and deserve,” Ms Allan said.
The Victorian Government has committed to purchase new trains for the corridor once works on the track are complete.
The Regional Rail Revival program will, they say, deliver more frequent, reliable services and support over 1000 jobs.

The future of freight rail

DB Cargo is planning to equip its entire fleet with smart sensors, smart telematics systems and whisper breaks by 2020.
DB Cargo continues to ‘digitalise’ its freight wagon fleet: by 2020, every one of the roughly 70,000 wagons in Germany will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and telematics systems. Some 19,000 wagons will be retrofitted this year, with the remaining 50,000 to follow by 2020. A total of 1,000 wagons have already been equipped with smart technology. DB Cargo management recently approved tens of millions in investment in smart wagon technology between now and 2020.
Wagons equipped with GPS and other sensor technology will benefit DB Cargo customers directly. GPS will enable direct, constant wagon tracking, which in turn will make it possible to calculate estimated time of arrival. The sensors will also provide information about whether each wagon is full or empty, and about the temperature and humidity levels inside the wagon. Such information is key to ensuring effective end-to-end supply chains for customers. If paper reels, for example, are too damp when they arrive at the printing works, they cannot be used immediately to print newspapers. The wagon sensors will also be able to detect mechanical factors, such as bumps that occur during shunting.
“In a world of ever-increasing digitalisation, today’s customers expect a high level of service – they want to know, in real time, where their freight is, when it will arrive and what condition it is in,” said CEO of DB Cargo Dr Roland Bosch. “This is why we are retrofitting our entire fleet with digital technology.
“We are also dedicated to sustainability, and so we are making sure that our wagons are also low-noise. We want to offer a digital, low-noise wagon fleet that shows our customers how serious we are about performance, and that ultimately helps shift more traffic to rail.”
By 2020, DB Cargo will be retrofitting all the freight wagons that run in Germany with ‘whisper’ brakes. Whisper brakes keep the wheel surface smooth when the brakes are applied, halving the noise emissions generated by the wheels as they roll. Some two-thirds of DB Cargo’s own fleet has already been retrofitted, with nearly 11,000 more wagons scheduled for retrofitting in 2018.
 

Rail must go through Goulburn Valley

A rail group said the Melbourne-Brisbane freight rail route should go though the Goulburn Valley, instead of Albury, to enable faster services.

Following the Victorian Government’s recent announcement to standardise the state’s north-east passenger rail track, the industry is predicting the Melbourne-Brisbane inland rail corridor link would go through Albury, not the Goulburn Valley.

With the Federal Government’s decision on the route to be made within a year, Bruce Wilson from the Foodbowl Rail Alliance said a link through the Goulburn Valley would be a better solution for alleviating freight bottlenecks.

“Basically, we’re talking about a fast-freight service, no stations, no level crossings, a bit like a freeway all the way up to Brisbane without stops in the middle,” Mr Wilson told the ABC.

The Goulburn Valley industry has been anticipating the construction of the rail corridor, with a 331 ha freight and logistics centre featuring an intermodal terminal and general freight area proposed by the Greater Shepparton City Council.

Along with support from the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council, the project received $3 million in funding from the Federal Government.

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