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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2011
48 David Marchant (Former) CEO, Australian Rail Track Corporation Marchant outlined the significant improvements to track and signalling that have been achieved, and are still being implemented, across the national rail network. In the 1950s and 1960s, rail’s market share on the north south line was some 55 per cent – by 2004 it was around seven per cent. Road had become much more efficient, while rail had been allowed to suffer a significant maintenance deficit. Now, the situation is being turned around. In the second major corridor of the Hunter Valley, a capacity of 96 million tonnes in 2005 is expected to be around 210 million tonnes by 2013. On the east coast to west coast run, rail freight market share in 1988 was around 53 per cent. Now it is around 81 per cent and has been for a few years. This route compares well with the USA – the east-west distance across Australia is slightly longer, yet the Australian trip is some 24 hours quicker. Significant works have been undertaken and are still being implemented across the national network. These range from taking out curves, building passing loops, replacing rails, employing concrete sleepers and overhauling communications systems and signalling equipment. The example of the communications system is a good one – the run from Brisbane to Melbourne to Perth used to require nine separate radio systems. Now 900 locomotives are being re-equipped – in some cases three tonnes of communications equipment are being replaced in one locomotive by a small box of electronics that also offers extensive data communication. While significant improvements have been made that have cut travel times dramatically, there is still much work underway, with much more to be done. While Marchant applauded the move to a single national rail regulator, he warned that there are still ‘dark’ forces at work that might attempt to subvert such an initiative. Gerard Waldon Managing Director, ARRB Group ‘The future need not be what it is going to be,’ suggested Waldon, recommending that industry should engage in both hard and soft infra- structure developments and enter into dialogue with government and others to communicate what it wants. Australia spends twice as much as the average OECD country on transport. There is a need for soft infrastructure to enhance performance of hard infrastructure. A complete end-to- end systems approach is required. Some such infrastructure elements already exist, such as detection loops in the road, the Sydney-coordinated adaptive traffic system (SCATS, developed 35 years ago) and more recently, ramp metering, which controls access to a motorway. Communication breakthroughs will dramatically change the way our transport systems work. Communication between infrastructure and other traffic management systems, as well as the traffic itself, will become more commonplace, with systems including cooperative intelligent transport systems (CITS), vehicle- to-vehicle (V to V), and vehicle-to- infrastructure (V to I). Volvo is looking at developing a car in which no one will be killed or injured, by 2020. New systems are constantly appearing in cars, with Mercedes-Benz for example having systems such as radar crash avoidance, park assist and collision avoidance. Work is well underway in several places around the world on infrastructure that provides information to vehicles. Not getting it right is expensive. Congestion costs the Australian community $20 billion per annum, and the cost of road trauma in Australia spends twice as much as the average OECD country on transport. While significant improvements have been made that have cut travel times dramatically, there is still much work underway, with much more to be done.