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The impediments to the competitiveness of the rail industry in Australia: The case of the non-bulk freight market

Hadi Ghaderi (Department of Maritime & Logistics Management, Australian Maritime College, Newnham, Australia)
Jiangang Fei (Department of Maritime & Logistics Management, Australian Maritime College, Launceston, Australia)
Stephen Cahoon (Department of Maritime & Logistics Management, Australian Maritime College, Launceston, Australia)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Article publication date: 12 January 2015

Abstract

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 investment strategies.

Keywords

Citation

Ghaderi, H., Fei, J. and 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 No. 1, pp. 127-145. https://doi.org/10.1108/APJML-11-2013-0136

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited