AUSTRALIA’S railway luggage and travel industry is “not quite complete”, according to a new report.
Key points:The report shows that the number of rail cargo shipments has grown by 2.5% over the past yearThe report says the number is down on 2013, which saw an increase in freight shipmentsThe Australian Institute of Transport and Construction Engineering (AITC) said that in the 12 months to July 2016, the total number of freight shipments to Australia fell by 2,058 to 8,923.
This is down from a peak of 1,964,000 in May 2016, but the report says it is “a reflection of the continuing global economic downturn”.
In a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into rail transport, the AITC said:The number of train passenger and freight shipments dropped by nearly a third in the year to June.
It was down from 6,724 in May.
This was due to a sharp decline in freight volumes in the month of July.
The rail industry’s biggest concern is how the industry will cope with the shortage of rail freight, particularly in remote parts of Australia, and a lack of capacity to handle the growing volumes of goods that are expected to arrive.
“While the rail industry is experiencing a boom in rail freight volume, there are still areas that do not have the capacity to support the growth,” the Aitc said.
The report also highlighted that the rail freight market is still recovering from the 2015 downturn, when freight volumes were much lower.
It noted that in July, the number was up by 0.9% to 5,988,000.
The growth was also driven by increased volume from China and India, which had been importing a lot of freight, but which are now exporting a lot less.
“This is in contrast to the increase in the UK and the USA,” the report said.
This will lead to an increased demand for rail freight to carry goods from China to the UK.
“We have no idea how we will cope if that trend continues,” the government said.
“The challenge for rail companies is that if the industry continues to grow in the short-term, it will be harder for the government to meet the growth targets.”
The AITS said the freight growth is largely due to the growth in China, which is importing much more freight.
“As China has become a major importer of freight and is exporting much more, there is a need for the industry to be able to increase its freight volumes,” it said.
Rail freight was a major driver of the Australian economy, contributing more than 30% of GDP in the first half of 2016.
The industry employs 1.2 million people, with the vast majority working in freight or freight-related activities.
The Government has been working with the industry, and will continue to develop a strategy for increasing rail freight capacity, to allow for the long-term growth of the industry.
“In the longer term, the rail market is likely to be an important source of growth for the Australian economic outlook,” the Government said.