In 2011-12, 784.2 million passengers travelled by rail in Australia, an increase of 15.4 million over the previous year, while passenger-km grew by 300 million or 2.2% to 15.2 billion.

Urban heavy rail services carried 601.1 million passengers in 2011-12, an increase of 7.6 million or 1.3% over 2010-11, light rail traffic grew by 7.3 million journeys or 4.6% to 166.5 million, and non-urban passenger traffic increased by 3.8% to 16.5 million journeys on top of a 6.6% rise in 2010-11.

"If you look back to 2008, there has been a staggering increase of 84 million passenger journeys on rail, proving that Australians are seeing rail as a viable transport option now more than they ever have before," says ARA's CEO Mr Bryan Nye. "If the growing trend that this report indicates continues, Australia will be on right on track to a greener, efficient and more productive future through the utilisation of rail."

Total freight was 929.6 million tonnes in 2011-12, of which ore-related traffic accounted for 53.4%, followed by coal at 33%. Non-bulk traffic grew by 2.8 million tonnes or 14.8% to almost 21.6 million tonnes in 2011-12. Tonne-km increased by 29.2 billion or 11.2% to 290.6 billion.

"This report justifies increased investment in rail to reduce congestion on roads and increase productivity across the economy," says Nye. "With only 5% of freight moving by rail between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, rail has the capacity and is ready to take more freight between the capitals and free up our congested highways."