Rail travel in Australia is growing in popularity with new figures showing an escalation in the number of passenger journeys.

The Australian Rail Industry Report looked at data from 22 operators across the country and found that passenger journeys have increased by 84 million over the past four years.

The latest figures from 2011/12 showed a total of 784.2 million journeys, reflecting an increase of 15.4 million on the previous year.

"The average passenger train can take 525 cars off the road and reduce carbon emissions by the same amount as planting 320 hectares of trees," Australasian Railway Association boss Bryan Nye said in a statement on Wednesday.

"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."

Data was collected from major metropolitan providers including Sydney's CityRail, Metro Trains Melbourne, Brisbane's AirTrain, the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia, South Australia's Transport Department, operators of The Ghan and Indian Pacific, plus private industrial services.

The report also revealed increases in light rail journeys and the amount of freight being transported by rail.

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