Brief: In what may be some pre-budget lobbying, some of the largest transport and logistics firms in Australia including Toll, Aurizon and Linfox, took out a full-page ad in a major national newspaper last weekend, urging the federal government to commit further funds toward the $4.7 billion inland freight rail project.

In a media backgrounding released in October last year, the Australian Logistics Council said the government has currently committed $300 million to the project for pre-construction activities, including detailed corridor planning, environmental assessments, community consultation, and commencing land acquisition.

The ALC has identified the project as a key priority for action, and said that based on the findings of an Australian Rail Track Corporation study in 2008, the project could raise the mode share of rail for freight cartage from 30 per cent to 74 per cent.

A spokesman for the ALC told The Fifth Estate that this would reduce bottlenecks that currently occur on the costal rail route, where freight is frequently held up, particularly around Sydney, due to the requirement to give passenger rail priority over freight.

The spokesman also said that a key part of making inland rail effective would also be ensuring intermodal connectivity at each end – Brisbane and Melbourne – between rail and the ports.