The Eastern Goldfields Railway (EGR) continues to be the backbone of the Arc network and has also seen an increase in interstate freight moving east to west. Westbound tonnes are up 9.5% year-on-year and eastbound tonnes have remained steady. This is despite all of the relevant economic metrics softening, including those that are WA-specific such as State Final Demand and the Construction Index, which would typically reflect a reduction in freight volumes.
Arc Infrastructure CEO Murray Cook said this may be due to other transport modes experiencing greater impact from COVID-19 restrictions.
“This indicates a modal shift towards rail, which is due to shipping, road and air freight operators facing greater challenges than rail operators due to COVID-19. The decrease in passenger flights resulting from border closures has reduced the capacity for freight to travel in the hull of passenger planes, which has had a positive flow-on effect to rail.
“The closure of state borders ultimately had a positive impact on rail tonnes from the eastern states. The WA Police have been brilliant to work with this year as we’ve navigated the business through COVID-19 restrictions. Freight and logistics were quickly categorised as an essential service and they’ve worked tirelessly to give us the clarity we’ve needed to work with above rail operators to continue operations and with our internal teams and contractors to complete maintenance and network upgrade works more or less as ‘business as usual’.
“Arc has not dropped a single service or train as a result of the pandemic, even at the height of restrictions, and we have managed to complete all major works and upgrades across regions as planned,” Murray said.
For more information on how Arc has responded to COVID-19, click here