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Freight rail maintenance 'should be made a priority'

Australia sees 'dramatic rise' in use of railways around the country"

The importance of freight rail maintenance and development has been highlighted by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

According to the ARA, governments across Australia need to "look at the bigger picture" when it comes to boosting rail operations, especially in rural areas.

Bryan Nye, chief executive officer (CEO) of the organisation, said relying on rail could prevent more trucks forcing their way onto highways and roads that are already too congested.

"In this day and age, pushing more and more trucks onto country roads is counterproductive for not only safety but also economic reasons," he said.

"The lack of an equitable and consistent model across Australia for funding track maintenance can still threaten the operation of otherwise perfectly viable rail lines."

There are several advantages to promoting rail use over other freight transport methods, the ARA commented, including environmental and safety benefits.

Figures from the association showed the typical freight train removed 110 trucks off the road, lowering truck movements by close to 50 million kilometres a year.

This is the equivalent of 3,100 trips between Sydney and New York.

In terms of safety, there are 1,500 road fatalities a year and 30,000 injuries, which costs the country $35 billion a year, while rail transport results in 40 deaths and 130 injuries annually.

The ARA also noted the cost benefits, with rail offering the cheapest transport options across most of Australia's markets, despite substantial ongoing access fees and high up-front capital expenses.

"Viable grain and other agricultural rail lines right across Australia are being forced to unfairly compete with other transport modes which do not pay their fair share of infrastructure maintenance costs," Mr Nye stated.

This results in situations where rail lines are shut down unnecessarily, with the ARA CEO likening it to shutting down a highway because of not being willing to pay for a pothole repair.  

Interconnect Systems has more than 20 years of cable engineering industry experience, and can work with you to find the solutions that best meet the unique needs of your next rail project.

For more information, and for advice about choosing the right cable and wire harness and composite technologies, contact Interconnect Systems today by calling 1800 812 214.

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