THE Australian government has welcomed measures by the Australian Rail Track Corporation to provide immediate financial relief to rail freight operators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support includes extending payment terms for existing access charges and deferring the Consumer Price Index increase scheduled to take effect in July for three months.

Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack said the initiatives would allow operators to manage cash flow and the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“Our efficient freight network is critical to ensuring our supermarket shelves are stocked and our valuable export commodities can reach overseas markets – both of which have been vital during this pandemic,” Mr McCormack said.

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“Rail freight companies have worked tirelessly to service the initial growth in consumer demand during the pandemic to keep Australia open for business by supplying the essential goods that have supported our nation through this global health crisis.”

Finance minister Mathias Cormann said freight rail operators made a significant contribution to Australia’s economy and also welcomed ARTC’s actions.

“Each year, Australia’s freight and supply chain networks deliver billions of tonnes of goods across the country,” Minister Cormann said.

“ARTC plays a significant role in making this possible through its management of national rail infrastructure. We welcome its response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has ensured freight rail operators are able to continue providing an important service Australians and the Australian economy rely on.”

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