Trucks are cleaner than trains, MP says

By: Brad Gardner

Liberal MP says putting more freight on rail will only increase pollution.


Stricter engine pollution regulations should be slapped on trains hauling freight through urban areas, according to a Federal Government MP.  

Craig Kelly wants freight locomotives to be required to meet particulate matter standards, which already apply to the trucking industry.  

While Kelly says moving freight by rail will use less fuel, he adds that a diesel locomotive emits 20 times more particulate matter than a modern truck engine built in 2006-07.   

He says reducing rail’s emissions is important in light of the World Health Organization classifying particulate matter as a carcinogenic.   

"If we are going to have these freight rail inter-urban links running through highly urbanised areas where the air pollution is already very high we need to bring in some type of standard to limit those particulate emissions," Kelly says.  

"Otherwise, taking freight from roads and putting it on rails will make our pollution worse."  

Kelly says truck engines built between 2007-08 emit 18 times less than an engine built in 1996.   

"And that is regulated. But when you look at those rail locomotives that are shuttling freight backwards and forwards through the urban area of our cities, there are no regulations at all on those," he says.  

Kelly made the comments in response to an Opposition request that Parliament recognise investment in rail freight increases productivity, reduces road congestion and has environmental benefits.   

Opposition spokesman on infrastructure and transport Anthony Albanese says the Federal Government must commit to investing in freight and passenger rail.  

"The Australian public have an expectation that rail’s advantages both in terms of moving freight but also moving people is something that the commonwealth government simply should not ignore," Albanese says.   

The body representing the rail industry, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), says one freight train from Melbourne to Sydney takes 150 semi-trailers off the road and saves 45,000 litres of fuel on every journey.

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