There has been a “dramatic rise” in the use of rail across all market segments, according to the Australasian Rail Association (ARA).
An ARA-commissioned report, which featured contributions from 22 rail organisations, showed freight, light rail and passenger activity all increased in 2012 when compared with the previous year.
The news is likely to be welcomed by the railway engineering industry, with increased usage suggesting more projects will be on the horizon.
Figures showed freight loads jumped by more than eight per cent to 929.6 million tonnes, of which ore and coal constituted 53 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.
The remainder was largely made up of sugar (2.7 per cent), bauxite (1.9 per cent) and construction products (0.5 per cent).
This eight per cent increase dwarfed last year’s growth, which stood at 1.1 per cent.
Cargo carried by ancillary rail climbed 24.2 million tonnes, the equivalent of 5.7 per cent in 2010-11, while a further 56.7 million tones (12.6 per cent) was added in the subsequent fiscal period.
ARA chief executive officer Bryan Nye said he was encouraged by the statistics and outlined ways in which the railway industry can prepare for future growth.
“This report justifies increased investment in rail to reduce congestion on roads and increase productivity across the economy,” he stated.
“With only five per cent of freight moving by rail between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, rail has the capacity and is ready to take more freight between the capitals and free up our congested highways.”
According to Mr Nye, the expansion of Australia’s network activity would have numerous benefits for the country.
He remarked: “If the growing trend that this report indicates continues, Australia will be right on track to a greener, efficient and more productive future through the utilisation of rail.”
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