Freight Measurement and Modelling in Australia

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Freight Measurement and Modelling in Australia aims to summarise the existing state of knowledge on freight in Australia and to present the time series data, analysis and sources which underpin the BTRE's long term freight forecasts. Consistently measured time series data are required to model and forecast freight flows. The report describes the methodologies evolved by the BTRE to do this. It also includes the results of modelling and forecasting undertaken using the derived series. Non-bulk freight is projected to increase by 82 per cent in tonne-kilometre terms between 2003 and 2020 (average 3.6 per cent a year).

The expected rate of growth in gross domestic product and reductions in freight rates are the key drivers of this growth as well as a continuing trend to national distribution by manufacturers, wholesalers and importers. With Treasury projecting some fall-off in the long term economic growth going forward, the non-bulk growth rate is slightly lower than in the recent past. Based on past trends, road's share of national non-bulk freight is projected to increase marginally from 74 per cent to 76 per cent, with the rail share declining from 21 per cent to 17 per cent and sea freight making up the balance (with air freight vanishingly small in tonnekilometre terms, albeit not in value).

These mode share projections, however, do not take account of the potential for rejuvenation of rail on north-south routes, in somewhat the same manner as has already occurred on east-west routes. Capital city freight tonne-kilometres are projected to grow by 3.0 per cent a year between 2003 and 2020 (compared with a 1971–2003 average of 5.0 per cent). While heavy vehicles comprise only 4 per cent of the metropolitan traffic stream, growth of this level implies a slight increase in the heavy vehicle proportion (to 4.2 per cent in 2020).

Rail is expected to remain the largest mode in shipping bulk freight (46 per cent share in 2003, 45 per cent in 2020), followed by sea freight (30 per cent and 29 per cent shares respectively). Rail is well suited for transporting to port Australia's large export tonnages in coal, other minerals and grains. Rail freight has fallen in most other bulk commodities.

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