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Evaluation of impediments to the competitiveness of the rail sector in Australia : a systems approach

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Ghaderi, H (2016) Evaluation of impediments to the competitiveness of the rail sector in Australia : a systems approach. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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[img] PDF (Whole thesis)
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Full text restricted
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.

Abstract

Over the past four decades, Australia’s rail sector has been in decline and has lost almost half of its previous share in the non-bulk freight market. Government policies to encourage the use of rail for the transportation of freight have been met with ongoing challenges, resulting in an urgent need to explore strategies to increase rail’s competitiveness and achieve greater market share.
While there has been an increase in international research on improving the competitiveness of rail transport in the non-bulk freight markets, previous studies focussed primarily on the line-haul component of rail transport and insufficient attention was been paid to the relationship between competitiveness and the broader transport system in which rail operates. Until now, rail freight transport has not been investigated as a system comprised of different sub-systems which must be integrated into the wider multimodal freight transport environment. As a result, fragmentation of freight strategies have occurred which does not necessarily improve the competitiveness of rail transport.
This research addresses the above issues by providing a more detailed and transparent image of the key challenges faced by the rail sector in Australia. These challenges were previously ambiguous, mainly due to the paucity of empirical research and absence of stakeholder involvement. Therefore, the primary research question of this thesis is to identify and investigate strategies to improve the competitiveness of the rail sector in the Australian non-bulk freight market.
A quantitative research methodology was adopted to address the primary research question, and a conceptual model was developed following a systematic literature review. The systematic review adopted in this thesis was critical to achieving a more detailedunderstanding of the key challenges facing the rail sector in Australia and to create an accurate input for the empirical stage. This approach was also beneficial to reducing the bias of available literature by applying predefined data collection strategies, inclusion and exclusion criteria and meta-analysis. Subsequently, an instrument was developed to conduct a web-based survey. The data collection was accompanied with large participation (200 potential participants with a 42.2 per cent response rate) from rail stakeholders at a national level.
By conducting exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, the empirical results of this thesis identified four key impediments, each containing three to five factors: (i) infrastructure management, (ii) shortage of freight data and poor information sharing, (iii) interoperability and service delivery and (iv) organisational communications and commercial relationships. Four key research areas emerged when the findings of the literature review and empirical research were synthesised, resulting in further investigation being undertaken to fully address the primary research question: (i) providing strategies for service improvement, (ii) investigation of rail freight from a transport geography perspective, (iii) exploring the role of intermodal terminals in development of non-bulk rail freight market and (iv) the role of rail in the Australian port-based market. Further analysis was then conducted to address these areas. To provide strategies for improved service quality a probabilistic mathematical model was developed to evaluate the relationship between reducing transit-time and reliability as the major time-based attributes of a freight service. The model was then applied to the Australian rail freight network to provide strategies for service improvement in poor corridors. To investigate the rail freight from a transport geography perspective and to explore the role of intermodal terminals in development of non-bulk rail freight market, various secondary data sources were used with author’s original analysis. Finally, primary data was collected using a survey distributed among Australian ports with intermodal activity and secondary data was collected from other sources to explore the role of rail in the Australian ports. The above investigations were accompanied by various transportation science methods. This thesis has been developed on a publication basis and the findings have been presented as seven publications, five of which have been published and two are currently under review. These publications focus on addressing the secondary research questions and objectives, all of which answer the primary research question.
This thesis makes several contributions to the industry and academia. Firstly, it provides a more transparent image of the key challenges faced by the rail sector in Australia. Secondly, it provides important recommendations for the Australian rail sector and government to make informed transportation and policy decisions, including those related to track upgrade, development of intermodal terminals interoperability and access charging systems. Thirdly, this thesis contributes to the stakeholder management and rail transportation literature by framing the concept of rail stakeholders. Fourthly and most importantly, this research contributes to the literature of transportation by developing a conceptual framework which integrates the systems approach into the competitiveness concept within a freight transportation context. This in-depth investigation into the relationship between freight service performance and competitiveness in the freight markets offers significant benefits to industry and academia when developing freight transportation improvement strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Rail freight, non-bulk, intermodal, rail transport, systems aproach, freight
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2016 the author

Additional Information:

Appendix A-1 has been removed for copyright or proprietary reasons.

Appendix A-2 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-print or less of an article submitted as: Ghaderi, H., Fei, J., Cahoon, S. (2015) "The impediments to the competitiveness of the rail industry in Australia: The case of the non-bulk freight market", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 27 Iss: 1, pp.127 - 145.

Appendix A-3 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Ghaderi, H., Cahoon, S. and Nguyen, H-O. (2017). Factors affecting the competitiveness of the Australian rail sector: A systems approach to improving service quality. International Journal of Logistics Systems and Management, 26 (3), 294-315.

Appendix A-4 has been removed for copyright or proprietary reasons.

Appendix A-5 has been removed for copyright or proprietary reasons.

Appendix A-6 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-print or less of an article submitted as: Ghaderi, H, Cahoon, S., Nguyen, H-O. (2016) The role of intermodal terminals in the development of non-bulk rail freight market in Australia, Case studies on transport policy. 4 (4) 294-305,

Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2016 04:52
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2017 01:54
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