Our industry

Rail has been essential to the growth of Australia and New Zealand for over a century, and will be essential to our future.

Every year, the industry contributes more than $30 billion to our economies. Did you know that rail produces less carbon emissions than any other form of mass transport? This is why, with the help of new technologies, we’re helping Australia and New Zealand meet net-zero emissions by 2050.

Our industry is made up of forward-thinking people who bring their unique skills and experiences to help us achieve our goals.

Clean and efficient transport

Rail is the most efficient and sustainable way to transport people and freight across land. Each passenger train takes 578 cars off the road and freight trains minimise the need for trucks. This reduces congestion and makes our roads safer.

For every kilometre travelled, a rail passenger generates 30 per cent less carbon pollution than driving a vehicle. Freight travel generates 16 times less carbon pollution compared to road travel.

For these reasons, Australia and New Zealand are looking to rail to help lower our carbon footprints and achieve net-zero targets.

Adopting new technology

The rail industry has always been invested in new technology. In Australia, the rail network was electrified in the 1930s – decades before the first electric cars hit our roads.

New technologies help us be more efficient, reduce unnecessary costs, and improve worker and passenger experiences. Some of the technologies we are using today include:

  • renewable energy
  • industrial-scale recycling
  • internet-of-things (IoT)
  • artificial intelligence

Progressive companies are applying these technologies to challenge old methods. Their work will help us improve the capacity of rail networks and increase reliability and safety. They will also reduce energy use and make sure rail developments are sustainable.

Nation building

Rail has been central to the prosperity of Australia and New Zealand since the 1800s. Did you know that in Australia, trains move 1.2 billion passengers and 1.3 billion tonnes of freight every year?

The rail industry supports other key industries such as agriculture, resources, manufacturing, trade, and travel. Our communities are more liveable when we have rail because it connects people in towns and cities, and is much faster than road transport.

Place making

New rail projects revitalise communities with better public transport. Passenger infrastructure is designed in consultation with local communities and creates places where people want to live, work, play, and learn.

Rail networks are embedded into our social and public spaces. They add to our quality of life by safely connecting people with other infrastructure, community services, and entertainment precincts.

Community service

Rail creates a more equitable society. It provides reliable transport and independence for everyone, including people with reduced mobility and disability, people on low incomes, and people without access to a car or other personal vehicle.

When you work in rail you create tangible improvement to the quality of life for people and community.

Sydney Metro

Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. Its construction and operation combine leading-edge technologies, such as:

  • autonomous tunnel boring machines
  • state-of-the-art communications and control systems
  • a new generation of fast and safe driverless metro trains

Each station integrates with the local area. This creates possibilities for community facilities, new homes and green spaces, shops, restaurants, and commercial office spaces.


Rio Tinto’s AutoHaul is the world’s first fully autonomous, long distance, heavy-haul rail network. With no driver on board, the trains carry tonnes of iron ore over hundreds of kilometres. The train are monitored remotely by operators more than 1500 kilometres away.

AutoHaul improves safety by reducing risk through its automated responses to speed restrictions and alarms. It eliminates the need to transport drivers to and from trains mid-journey saving almost 1.5 million kilometres of road travel each year. And it delivers productivity and environmental benefits by using information about the train and rail network topography to calculate and deliver a safe, consistent driving strategy.