The impediments to the competitiveness of the rail industry in Australia: The case of the non-bulk freight market
Ghaderi, H and Fei, J and Cahoon, S, 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, 27, (1) pp. 127-145. ISSN 1355-5855 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify current impediments to the competitiveness of the
rail industry in the Australian non-bulk freight market.
Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review was adapted to identify the
impediments and challenge themes from 1,081 studies available on the Australian rail industry.
To select the studies relevant to the research question, a tollgate criterion was then deployed.
Impediments were identified by a structured data synthesis process and a heuristic algorithm was
developed to explore the possible relationships between the impediments and challenges.
Findings: Four major themes are apparent, each of which presents the rail industry with challenges
in the non-bulk freight market. "Infrastructural inefficiencies and the need for further integration" was
ranked as the main rail industry challenge, while "environmental concerns and the associated costs of
externalities" was the least. In addition, across the four themes data synthesis identified 43
impediments from purely policy related to technical and operational aspects.
Research limitations/implications: The major implication of this review is the identification of
impediments that have no linkage to the four industry challenges as revealed by stakeholders in the
literature. That means that the rail industry has been dealing with a number of issues that have not
been explored and studied in depth either by practitioners or academics. The underlying elements of
impediments in this group are perceived as managerial, organisational and leadership factors. The rail
industry has failed to manage its organisational ties across the system, both horizontally and
vertically. This issue has been intensified as the result of complex interactions between different
transport modes and operators associated with the non-bulk freight sector.
Originality/value: For the first time in the Australian context, this study provides an en masse and
summarised picture of impediments to the competitiveness of the rail industry in the non-bulk freight
market by systematically reviewing the reports generated by different stakeholders in the last ten
years. The outcomes will assist the rail industry and government to understand impediments
impacting on the quality of rail freight services that may lead to collaboration on decision-making and