THE Western Australian government’s policy to raise the container rail subsidy has resulted in a 30% increase in the amount of freight taken by rail to Fremantle Inner Harbour.

The overall average in 2018-19 was 20.2%, up from 15.5% just prior to the subsidy being introduced. The figure for April was a record of 23.7% of freight.

While a mix of road and rail is needed to move WA’s container freight task, the port said using rail is more efficient, safer and helps reduce truck volumes and congestion on metropolitan roads.

Over the past 12 months, it is estimated the 20.2% rail share equated to around 110,000 one-way truck movements, helping reduce congestion on arterial roads connected to Inner Harbour.

“We have now surpassed the freight on rail target set prior to the election and are focussed on other road projects that will improve traffic flow to and from the port,” transport minister Rita Saffioti said.

“The container rail subsidy is just one of several actions being taken to reduce the number of trucks on arterial port roads in the metro area.

“Planning to facilitate the development of more intermodal terminals in the greater metropolitan area is also underway, which will enhance the efficiency of the rail system and encourage more freight to move by rail,” she said.

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Ports minister Alannah MacTiernan said that meeting the target of 20% for freight on rail at the Fremantle Inner Harbour is a “great achievement”.

“Fremantle Ports is currently undertaking a market process to determine who will manage and operate the North Quay Rail Terminal in future, which will help drive further efficiencies in rail operations at the port. “We are also looking at other ways to increase efficiency at Fremantle Port by encouraging off-peak use of the Inner Harbour, off-port container staging and port vehicle access,” she said.

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