Our work with CSIRO
Inland Rail provides the opportunity for businesses to reach new or existing markets through alternative pathways. To better understand the potential value of Inland Rail to businesses, we partnered with CSIRO in 2018 to modal transport cost reductions by applying the Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT).
Through strategic projects in agriculture, national freight and food supply chain security, the Australian Government has invested approximately $5 million in the development of TraNSIT. The application of TraNSIT to Inland Rail supply chains provided a further opportunity to expand the national science asset, while improving the operational evidence for regional industries and local operators to enhance the competitiveness of their supply chains
As at 2022, TraNSIT accommodates over 150 commodities, representing 25 million vehicle and 200,000 rail trips per year and maps millions of vehicles trips across thousands of supply chains between production and domestic and export markets.
Testing the application of TraNSIT to Inland Rail supply chain
In 2018 we commissioned work with CSIRO to undertake a pilot study, looking at the Parkes to Narromine corridor in New South Wales. CSIRO scientists modelled the potential for more than 100 commodities traversing the study areas of Inland Rail alignment and revealed substantial cost reductions when transporting goods on Inland Rail instead of road.
The pilot study area, which covers Parkes Shire, Narromine Shire and Dubbo Regional Council and was established to explore rail networks, road networks – including the Newell Highway – and to facilitate stakeholder engagement by way of a stakeholder stock take.
Results of the pilot study were announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in March 2019 and projected savings on average of $76 per tonne from the use of Inland Rail for horticulture and post-processed foods.
This pilot study demonstrated the ability of TraNSIT to identify supply chains and potential savings in transport costs that could benefit from shifting to Inland Rail. From 2019 the department has been working with CSIRO to expand on the pilot study – undertaking further supply chain mapping for the entire Melbourne to Brisbane alignment.
Initial results from the full alignment study were released in May 2021. At that time the study data enabled TraNSIT to analyse more than 175,000 annual transport movements of 140 commodities associated with nearly 5,000 industrial enterprises and 11,000 supply chains. The project results announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2021 did not include supply chains accessing Inland Rail on a transition to or from Adelaide.
Cost Reductions – shifting freight from road to Inland Rail
For existing road-based supply chains, by switching to Inland Rail for at least part of their journey, early results show these supply chains have the potential to capture annual transport cost reductions of about $170 million. Of this, the annual transport cost reduction for freight moving between Melbourne and Brisbane could be $75 million, representing a transport cost reduction of around 44%.
Potential annual transport cost reductions for freight shifting from road to Inland Rail
|Route||Total transport cost reduction ($m)||Transport cost reduction ($)||Transport cost reduction ($/payload tonne)||Avg payload net payload weight per wagon (tonnes)||Payload tonnes with a cost reduction (tonnes)|
|Brisbane and Melbourne||$74.6||44%||$90.67||14.72||822,384|
|Other intercity routes||$39.7||43%||$136.76||17.94||290,128|
Note: Other routes include trips to and from regional intermodals such as Parkes, Toowoomba, Albury and Townsville. Shifting a trip from road to rail requires a road trip from the origin to an intermodal facility, a rail trip from the intermodal facility to the destination intermodal facility, followed by a road trip from the destination intermodal facility to the destination enterprise. Only commodities currently suitable for a modal shift to rail (e.g. based on time sensitivity, and the capacity for modal shift using existing rolling stock and handling/storage infrastructure) were eligible for a modal shift.
Cost Reductions – existing rail freight shifted to Inland Rail
For existing rail-based supply chains, it is estimated Inland Rail is likely to deliver an annual cost reduction of about $21 million by switching to Inland Rail for at least part of their route. Of this, the annual transport cost reduction for existing rail freight moving between Brisbane and Melbourne would be about $15 million, representing a transport cost reduction of about 27%.
Likely annual freight transport cost reductions from Inland Rail for existing rail users (intercity routes)*
|Route between||Assumed backload (%)||Total transport cost reduction ($m)||Transport cost reduction (%)||Transport cost reduction ($/payload tonne)||Avg payload net payload weight per wagon (tonnes)||Payload tonnes with a cost reduction (tonnes)|
|Brisbane and Melbourne||50||$15.0||27%||$30.70||14.83||488,921|
|Brisbane and Perth||78||$5.2||17%||$35.34||17.58||147,177|
|Brisbane and Adelaide||80||$0.7||16%||$20.27||15.97||32,272|
* Freight currently being transported by rail between Brisbane and Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide are likely to switch to Inland Rail due to its superior service offering faster, heavier and better reliability and availability.
Following further data validation undertaken in 2021 the department and CSIRO released the final Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Technical Report 2022
Key findings of the Supply Chain Mapping study revealed that switching supply chains to Inland Rail could save $213 million on transport costs each year across 22 million tonnes of freight.
For existing road-based supply chains, the switch to Inland Rail could deliver $179 million per year, with businesses accessing an estimated $80.77 per tonne saving on transport costs averaged across a range of commodity types and destinations.
Further study areas and investigation
We are now working with CSIRO to understand how TraNSIT can assist to determine additional potential benefits from new or improved complementary Inland Rail infrastructure such as upgrades to country rail links. While this work will continue the focus on Inland Rail’s potential benefits to existing supply chains, we will also work with CSIRO to see how TraNSIT can be used to explore what new regional supply chains may arise because of the lower operating costs provided by Inland Rail.
These additional areas of further study are expected to be completed by June 2023.