THE CSIRO has been mapping supply chains for 140 commodities and the early results show average transport cost reductions of $170m for Australian producers through shifting freight from road to Inland Rail for at least part of the journey.

Minister for transport and regional development Michael McCormack welcomed the early release of findings from the CSIRO Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Study.

“In regional Australia distances between communities and towns, and towns and cities are measured in more than miles and minutes – they’re measured in the cost of moving essential goods where and when people need them,” Mr McCormack said.

“CSIRO has mapped supply chains for 140 commodities and the early results show an average transport cost reduction of 39% can be achieved by shifting freight from road to Inland Rail for at least part of the journey.”

Freight travelling the full length of Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane achieves a higher transport cost reduction of 44%.

Minister for finance Simon Birmingham said, “The report recognises businesses as far as Townsville, Perth and Launceston would have the potential to reap the benefits with suitable road-based supply chains.

“Equally, existing rail-based supply chains are estimated to see an annual cost reduction of around $21m when shifting at least part of their route to Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Federal member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia would bring extensive opportunities to regional Australia.

“This study is the green light signalling to the industry to start planning now because the potential cost savings for being connected to, or close by, Inland Rail are immense for farmers and regional businesses,” Mr Coulton said.

“Heavier, faster freight trains will divert non-bulk products from roads and provide the competitive edge regional Australia has been calling for.”

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Concrete World in Dubbo is just one business reconsidering options to move its freight with rail.

Director Troy Paton said Inland Rail will be a welcome freight option, provided it can deliver the cost reductions outlined in CSIRO’s study.

“Up to 39% savings on the cost of moving freight is huge in this industry; we will definitely be looking at Inland Rail for our future freight needs,” Mr Paton said.

“Additionally, it will assist us with further expansion of the business. The time delays in moving freight over the Blue Mountains are a constant constraint.”

The Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT), developed by CSIRO, was used to analyse existing freight supply chains and the potential cost reductions based on future infrastructure investments or operational changes.

The project’s leader Dr Andrew Higgins said, “Our computer logistics tool can identify the transport benefits to every supply chain using Inland Rail and analyse potential savings over the long term.

“It can also be used to test future scenarios and transport technologies.”

Full results of the CSIRO Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Study will detail the potential cost savings for 140 commodities and is expected to be released in coming months.

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