Usual approach to regional rail not viable

News from Engineers Australia:

Following the recent "Future frameworks for regional rail" symposium, at Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga in southern NSW, Engineers Australia's Railway Technical Society (RTSA) is alerting a wider audience to the issue.

The RTSA invited regional rail partnership expert Ed Zsombor, the director of rail services in Saskatchewan Province in Canada, to address the symposium and undertake a national tour to meet with industry and state government representatives. Zsombor also was invited to present at a special public hearing of the House of Representatives Transport and Regional Services Committee in Canberra (see here). His main message is that regional "non viable" branch lines can be managed by local groups and businesses, which in turn transport produce and goods to mainline nodes.

He said his involvement in harnessing local energy, skills and business acumen in promoting innovative regional rail solutions has produced:

  • increased farmer choice in transport
  • increased local economic development in the past decade
  • savings on public finances from operational efficiencies as a result of transfer of control of regional railways
  • energy and greenhouse gas savings assisting in national CO2 reduction targets
  • increased profits to mainline rail operators due to extensive regional rail feeders
  • a reversal in the decline of branchline closure.

Australia and Canada have many similarities in agriculture, grain marketing, geographical size, population and GDP, according to the RTSA.