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Tuesday, 9 September 2003
Page: 19617


Mr Murphy asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 26 June 2003:

(1) What proportion of freight movements in Australia is transported by rail.

(2) How does this compare with the proportion of freight movements transported by rail (a) 5 years ago and (b) 10 years ago.

(3) Is he able to confirm whether the proportion of freight movements in the United States transported by rail is 0.4 or some other proportion.

(4) What is the current level of Commonwealth financial support for (a) improvements in rail transport and (b) improvements in road transport per year.


Mr Anderson (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Based on the Bureau of Transport & Regional Economics' estimates, the proportion of freight movements by rail in Australia, defined in terms of net tonne-kilometres, was 34.6 per cent in 2001.

(2) The comparable proportion of freight movements by rail in Australia in 1996 was 33.4 per cent. In 1991, the proportion was 33.5 per cent.

(3) In the United States, the Association of American Railroads reports that rail's share of tonne-kilometres of domestic intercity traffic in 2001 was 41.7 per cent.

(4) (a) In terms of the 2003-04 Budget, the Government will provide $0.4 million to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to establish a rail database and confidential reporting system. An equity injection of $143.4m is being held subject to the successful conclusion to negotiations with the NSW Government. The Government's policy reform in this regard will see additional investments in rail from various sources including the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the private sector and the NSW State Government. This will facilitate my announcement of $870m being spent on the interstate rail line in NSW and is subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations.

(4) (b) In terms of the 2003-04 Budget, the Government will provide a total of $1 762 million in road funding. This consists of $700 million for National Highways, $227 million for Roads of National Importance, $4 million for Land Transport Research, $45 million for the Black Spots programme, $20 million for the Federation Fund, $302 million for Roads to Recovery and $464 million in untied funding as Local Government Financial Assistance Grants identified for roads.