Transport council CEO: Freight trains seen as second class
THE head of the state's peak industry body representing the views of the freight transport and logistics industry has told a parliamentary committee a sick passenger train currently gets priority over a healthy agricultural train full of goods.
Queensland Transport and Logistics Council CEO Dr Rebecca Michael said that needed to change if the State Government was serious about attracting the agricultural and livestock industries to the state's rail network.
However, she told the Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee on Wednesday there was some rail corridors across the state where the road network was a far more viable option for industry.
"The rail sector is susceptible to regulatory distortions such as the passenger priority," she said.
"It will always prioritise a sick passenger train over a healthy freight train.
"That will interfere with reliability and for certain types of cargo is unsustainable and they cannot use rail for those reasons."
Dr Michael said the movement of freight across the state would always come down to price.
"We have a highly innovative, highly responsive road freight industry that is operating within a policy paradigm that is sometimes at odds with what this committee is trying to achieve," she said.
"Much of the commodities that come down in the western corridor come down to the Port of Brisbane on road.
"We are talking about 85%, there is some bulk grain that comes down by rail, but pretty much everything else comes down on road.
Dr Michael said her organisation was fully supportive of the dedicated freight corridor to the Port of Brisbane as it would address issues of efficiency and reliability.
"Independent of that, the second Toowoomba Range crossing and certain other upgrades will enable a massive productivity increase for road," she said.
"It will not compete with rail.
"Road is far more competitive, it is far more responsive and it is highly innovative.
"Once the Toowoomba Range crossing goes through, livestock trucks will basically increase their productivity by one third to a half, straight away."
The Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee has held a number of public hearings across the state to inquire and report on options to offer incentives the agricultural and livestock industry to utilise rail.
The committee is to finalise its report before June 10.