The Treasurer of Australia, on behalf of the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) has asked the Commission to report on "the economic costs of freight infrastructure and efficient approaches to transport pricing".
The Commission has asked for input from the industry and other interested parties.
Balance Research has made a submission suggesting that to avoid the expected doubling and redoubling of road traffic in coming decades, railway systems could be enabled to absorb most of the growth in total task, retaining road traffic around its present level, and that this outcome would use less land, less energy and cause less damage.
The submission may be downloaded from the Productivity Commission website (as submission number 48) or from here:
Submission as rtf 160 KB
Submission as pdf 485 KB
The Commission published a Draft Report in October and invited interested parties to respond.
Balance Research responded on 7 November 2006. The brief letter indicates that the approach taken in the Draft Report does not deal with reducing the rate of growth of road traffic and claims that the never-ending growth of road traffic is society's greatest concern about the future impacts of transport.
The reply will be available for download from the Productivity Commission website or from here:
Reply as web page 2 KB
Reply as rtf 3 KB
Reply as pdf 70 KB
The Commissioners for this particular enquiry were Dr. Derek Scrafton and Ms. Helen Owens. The Commissioners travelled widely to gather information, held hearings in five cities and received numerous written submissions. A Draft Report was published in March 1999 and a new round of submissions and hearings was conducted seeking reaction to their draft. A very thorough process.
The final report was submitted to the Government later that year, and released by the Government in April 2000.
The Commission made sixteen recommendations. Many of these go to very useful detail about railway operations. Some go the the economics of the transport industry and the methods that are used by governments (Federal and State) for financing road and railways and railway operation.
To some extent, the recommendations seek to improve the present imbalance between road and rail funding and pricing. But any such effect would be felt only after some years of political debate over, for example, "the scope to improve road pricing".
On the other hand, the recommendations strongly encourage governments to take a more commercial approach to railways, without waiting for a commercial approach to roads. Nor is there any suggestion of a basis for equalising the subsidies while waiting for full commercial operation of road and rail.
"PROGRESS IN RAIL REFORM" SUBMISSIONS:
BALANCE RESEARCH MAIN SUBMISSION
BALANCE RESEARCH FOLLOW-UP SUBMISSION