Regional transport expert Professor Ian Gray is advocating a return to rail freight.A Dubbo council-owned railway could be the answer to safer highways, says an expert on regional transport.
Nanjing Night Net

Regional and rural Australia’s growing dependence on road rather than rail was a worrying trend, said associate professor Ian Gray from Charles Sturt University.

A survey by the RTA found nearly 40 per cent of heavy vehicles exceeded the speed limit in 100km/h zones last year.

This followed research by the National Transport Commission which found that 87 per cent of speeding heavy vehicles, travelling up to 10km/h over the speed limit, were responsible for a third of all accidents attributed to speeding.

“The first thing that came to my mind was we have moved the transport of freight almost entirely onto roads in NSW,” he said.

Associate professor Gray cited this year’s closure of the Shell fuel depot and Patrick’s terminal in Dubbo which would impact on the city’s truck traffic.

This has reinforced NRMA predictions the amount of freight carried on the Newell Highway would double during the next 20 years.

“I think you can say that the trend in rail has declined in regional areas,” he said.

However he said there were still prospects for rail and highlighted the efforts of five NSW regional councils in trying to get a railway line open for business.

Blayney, Cowra, Harden, Young and Weddin local governments have all worked together in persuading the NSW Government to look at reopening the Blayney to Demondrille rail line.

“I think that should be a model of what people should do,” he said.

“I think the State Government should facilitate local businesses to use local rail.

“Basically it can be a lot cheaper over a reasonable distance and safer.”

Cowra mayor Bill West said inland rail “ticked all the boxes of regional development”.

“The five councils got together because of issues with not having a railway line,” he said.

“The five councils believe it was going to close if we didn’t do something.”

The councils pooled funds to hire a consultant who “proved it was worth saving”.

As a result the Government commissioned a ministerial taskforce into the line’s reopening.

“If (freight) all goes by road it is going to put more traffic on local roads and regional roads,” he said.

“The cost of maintaining local roads comes out of council’s pockets and regional roads are paid for by the taxpayer.”

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