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Value of rail

The contribution of rail in Australia

This Deloitte Access Economics report was commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association to quantify the current value of rail to the Australian economy and broader society. The research also explores the key challenges facing the industry.


Rail plays a significant role in Australia’s economy, society, and environment; connecting Australians to each other, to job opportunities, and to products and services.

The Value of Rail 2020 report builds on previous reports by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australasian Railway Association in 2011 and 2017.

2020’s report highlights that although the COVID-19 pandemic saw notable changes to the role of rail, forecasts are reflecting that the sector is likely to continue growing in significance.

Some key points from the report:

  • In 2019, the rail industry contributed around $30 billion to the Australian economy and employed more than 165,000 workers.
  • Since 2010, the demand for rail in Australia has been steadily increasing by around 2% each year.
  • Rail continues to prove great results in lowering carbon emissions and congestion costs, as well as providing society with safety and health benefits.

Download the report


This report quantifies the current value of rail to the Australian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP and employment as well as its broader contribution to society through benefits such as reduced emissions, greater safety and reduced congestion. The key challenges facing transport in Australia are explored in more detail and areas of focus for Government and industry are identified in order to ensure that rail continues to generate value for the Australian economy and society.

The report finds:

  • The rail industry directly contributes $13.3 billion in value add and
    employed 53,490 FTE workers in 2016
  • The total contribution of the rail industry to GDP (direct and indirect)
    was $26 billion and 142,288 FTE workers – making up to 1.6% of the Australian economy
  • Rail generates significant benefits for society in terms of reduced accidents, carbon emissions and congestion and improvements in health and social inclusion.

Download the report


This report, written for the Australasian Railway Association in 2011, seeks to identify and quantify, where possible, the benefits from rail transport that are not captured in prices and which accrue to the community at large. These benefits include: improved land use and urban densification; lower carbon emissions; reduced congestion; fewer accidents; removing barriers to social inclusion; improving land values; and enhanced energy security. It also investigates the level and type of investments needed to help rail achieve its potential and compares these to the benefits that could flow from increased rail use.

Download the report

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