Freight is transported around the Australian continent by a variety of means, though mostly on Interstate Highways.
This has been a matter of some concern for various groups including those representing the environment as well as energy efficiency. Rail transport on the other hand accounts for a minuscule proportion of the total freight movement.
Oz Road Trains
One kind of effective freight transport is by use of the road train. They have this name because some trucks and trailer combinations are very long. Road trains really are enormous in length, some stretching over 50 metres in length, and weighing around 200 tonnes.
Obviously there are restrictions on where these monsters can be driven, and are generally to be found more in the outback areas of Australia. They aren’t suitable for inner city work, so in areas where they are allowed they often have to load and unload at safe limits away from the built up areas of cities.
Use of road trains actually cuts down on the costs of transporting freight, due to the volume of freight per driver and truck being moved. No surprise when you think of three or more trailers being used for carrying such things as fuel, livestock, foodstuffs. Road trains certainly are a cost-effective form of freight transport.
There have been many initiatives by the government to try and improve the use of railroads for freight, but long standing issues such as the differences in gauge sizes as well as the powerful trucking unions have systematically stymied such efforts. As matters stand now, freight transport by rail takes place in the hands of private contractors. Rail is preferred when the distances involved are very large and when the amount of freight to be transported is significant as well.
It should be remembered that Australia is the world’s sixth largest country, and covers three time zones, so moving freight around is no easy task.
The shipping industry in Australia not surprisingly deals with demand that is linked to countries overseas. Large shipments such as coal and other mining resources are sent via ship. Iron ore especially is a major contributor to shipping freight.
Australia is a growing supplier and though the growth has slowed a bit recently, it’s not due to the lack of demand, but rather due to the insufficient capability to efficiently transport large amounts of freight. But with the recent growth initiatives by the government, you can be sure that freight transport is all set to boom.