Australia considers major undertaking in Intermodal rail system

Australia’s domestic freight task is expected to triple from its current size by 2050. There is a concerted industry push to increase rail’s share of the growing freight transport task through productivity and customer focused initiatives. As a result, major additions to the inland transportation hub are being planned to accommodate the uptick in rail volumes. While the current rail infrastructure has worked fine for many shippers, paper manufacturers, lumber producers and other companies that rely heavily on boxcars to protect and move heavy shipments say the fleet has declined so much that they’re struggling with a boxcar shortage.

Many large companies have had to periodically slow production at because they couldn’t obtain available rail equipment. In America, for example, the paper industry alone accounts for half of the 1.25 million boxcar loads in North America last year, so the impact rail shortages can have is obvious.

The project includes the construction of a rail and infrastructure package, an intermodal container terminal, agricultural bulk goods precinct, a rail related development precinct, and enabling road infrastructure. Currently, there is no intermodal terminal on the main southern railway line able to load and unload trains. The plans in Australia are especially interesting for US-based companies because of the aging status of our own infrastructure. Just like the Australians, the Federal Highway Administration estimates total U.S. freight shipments will rise to 28.5 billion tons in 2040 — a 45 percent increase from 20121. As demand grows, intermodal rail will play a critical role in the current and future freight transportation landscape. There are more than 14,000 miles of high-speed rail operating around the world, but none in the United States. In Chicago, it can take a freight train nearly as long to go across the city, as it would for the same train to go from Chicago to Los Angeles. But perhaps the most glaring example of neglect and inaction may be this sad little railroad bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey. It was built 104 years ago and is, according to Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, critical to the U.S. economy.