CANBERRA, AAP – Freight transport costs could be slashed by more than $200 million per year as part of a shift from road to Inland Rail, according to new research.

Modelling carried out by the CSIRO found the 1700km Inland Rail network would cut the cost of 22 million tonnes of freight transport by $213 million annually.

The CSIRO’s Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping Project, released on Tuesday, showed costs of transport would be reduced for more than 12,000 supply chains and 94 commodities, such as coal, steel and grain.

The modelling found costs would nearly halve for freight along routes from Melbourne and Brisbane, while there would be a 40 per cent reduction in transport costs for freight travelling to Queensland.

The CSIRO report showed businesses which switched to Inland Rail for freight could save more than $80 per tonne.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said shifting freight from road to rail would drive down the cost of transporting goods and commodities to ports.

“Reducing freight costs for businesses and industries along the route means they can expand and hire more Australians, helping regional economies grow into the future,” he said.

It is estimated Inland Rail would take 20,000 trucks off the roads each year, or 150 B-doubles for each train between Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Inland Rail project will see rail freight lines connect Melbourne and Brisbane through regional Victoria and NSW.

Construction on the project began in 2018, and is expected to be completed by 2027.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said it would help to provide freight companies with more competition.

“CSIRO’s modelling shows how Inland Rail could slash transport costs for more than 90 commodities across Australia,” he said.

“This highlights the significance of building a national freight network that gives producers and businesses better access to domestic and international markets at competitive prices.”