The ATA has taken aim at the rail industry saying it must focus on improving its level of service and ‘stop grandstanding about the productivity of the trucking industry’.

 The chair of the ATA Geoff Crouch, fired the shot at the rail industry following a TV story in which the rail industry alleged the truck industry does not pay its way when it comes to road funding.

Crouch was incensed at the allegation and said the business case for the inland rail project would be a high cost project that will not pay for itself in the next 50 years.

The war of words comes as big business rail executives met at the Inland Rail conference, and Mr Crouch said that ‘they should focus on improving rail’s level of service rather than complaining about trucks’.

Crouch pointed out that ATA and its member associations collectively represent 50,000 business and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry.

“The Government’s own business case for inland rail shows it will not recover the net present value of its construction costs during the next 50 years,” Mr Crouch said.

“And yet the rail industry has the hide to argue in the media – wrongly – that the trucking industry does not pay its way on the roads.

“The National Transport Commission, an independent government body, has found that trucks are overcharged ‒ not undercharged ‒ for their use of the roads, with the projected over-recovery estimated at $189.5 million in 2018-19.

“Trucks pay more than their fair share through a fuel-based road user charge and very high registration charges, and unlike rail, Australian trucking is dominated by small and family businesses.”

Mr Crouch said that Pacific National’s director of corporate affairs was wrong when he said on the Nine Network that Australians wanted freight carried by rail, rather than by modern, safe and efficient trucks.

“In the real world where Australians actually live, we’re worried about the rising cost of living. A recent independent report from Deloitte Access Economics shows that implementing more productive truck access on our roads would save a typical family $452 each year,” Mr Crouch said.

“Rail doesn’t serve our local supermarkets, local farms or the majority of Australian businesses and consumers.

“The trucking industry supports rail. We want rail to do well, and to do that it needs to focus on improving its own level of service and stop trying to hold back the productivity of our industry,” he said.