Rail freight is essential to Australia’s commodities export. It is dominated by iron ore and coal, which represent over 75 per cent of Australia’s total rail freight volume by weight. Rail freight is expected to peak in 2024, due to the growth of iron ore and coal, before declining gradually to 2037 and plateauing to 2050. This is driven by stagnating global steel production and the increasing share of solar and wind for power generation. Interstate non-bulk rail freight is projected to increase steadily in line with domestic population growth.

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Growth in rail freight volumes between 1970-71 and 2019-20*
445.3 billion
Tonne kilometres of rail freight moved in 2022-23**
Projected growth in total rail freight task between 2020 and 2050*
Rail transport jobs in August 2023**

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Sources: *Australian aggregate freight forecasts – 2022 update, **Australian Infrastructure and Transport Statistics Yearbook 2023