REGIONAL communities and farmers are set to be the winners from freight cost savings achieved through the Inland Rail, a new CSIRO transport cost study has revealed.

CSIRO used its Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) to do a supply chain analysis indicating potential transport cost savings of between $64 per tonne and $94 per tonne, by moving farm freight onto the Inland Rail.

The CSIRO findings follow a 2015 study which forecast a more modest freight cost reduction of $10 per tonne by building the Brisbane to Melbourne rail route.

The new analysis has forecast a potential average transport cost saving of $76 a tonne for horticulture products and post-processed food road trips shifted onto Inland Rail.

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Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack welcomed the findings.

Mr McCormack said the costing analysis was justified the federal government’s decision to commit $9.3bn to build Inland Rail.

“Inland Rail has been described as a game-changer for our farmers and rural and regional communities and the CSIRO’s analysis showing freight savings of up to $94 per tonne highlights why we’re building this 1700-kilometre corridor of commerce,” Mr McCormack said.

“Australian farmers have called on the Australian government to build infrastructure that improves their market access and helps create efficiencies which can drive freight costs down and that’s precisely what we’re doing by building the Inland Rail.”

Finance minister Mathias Cormann said the CSIRO report showed why the Australian government is committing $9.3bn in the Inland Rail to get ahead of the game.

“Efficient supply chains also support our capacity to enhance economic opportunities associated with our Free Trade Agreements which we have signed with major export destinations such as China, Japan, South Korea and now Indonesia,” Senator Cormann said.

“This is all about driving current and future economic productivity and export growth by lowering the costs of doing business and to participate in existing markets and enhancing access to new markets.”

National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said the Inland Rail project had the potential to transform the movement of east coast agricultural freight.

“The NFF welcomes CSIRO’s conclusion that the landmark infrastructure project could save horticulture growers an average of $76 per tonne in transport costs and result in 63,000 fewer heavy vehicle trips per year along sections of the Newell Highway,” Mr Mahar said. Though Inland Rail has many supporters, questions remain in terms of port connections, with the link between the Acacia Ridge intermodal terminal and the Port of Brisbane still to be finalised.

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