Value of Rail: The contribution of rail in Australia

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, land use - impacts, mode - car, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, place - australasia, planning - environmental impact, planning - integration, economics - benefits


population growth, city density, private vehicles, emissions, congestion, rail infrastructure


Australia's population growth rate - around 1.5% a year - is among the highest in OECD countries, and since the year 2000, out population has grown by more than 25%. This growth, projected into the future, has startling consequences: Australia's population is forecast to double by 2017, reaching almost 45 million people. This means that, on average, the population will increase by 370,000 people every year for the next 50 years.

Larger, more populous and more dense cities create significant challenges for achieving quick, convenient and affordable transport. Projections indicate that, with current vehicle technology and ownership trends, the stock or private motor vehicles will grow from around 14.8 million today to around 28 million by 2050.

A similar, but more extreme, story is seen in freight with growth likely to follow along the path of GDP rather than population: a potential 88% increase in kilometres travelled by 2050 and an increase in vehicle stock of some 2.5 million trucks and light commercial vehicles.

To manage these challenges Australia will have to develop its transport infrastructure with rail in a central role.


Permission to link to this report has been given by Australasian Railway Association, copyright remains with them.