Aus and Vic governments, rail industry sign agreement

Grain Central, March 27, 2023

Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, Federal Transport Minister Catherine King and ARA chair Danny Broad signing the MOC last week. Photo: Office of Catherine King

AN AGREEMENT was signed by the Federal and Victorian governments and the Australasian Railway Association on Friday to help modernise Australia’s rail network.

The Memorandum of Cooperation aims to make rail more competitive and interoperable across Australia, and will see rail play a bigger role in the national economy while delivering more freight and passenger services for Australians.

Australia currently has three railway gauges and 29 networks operating across 10 different signalling systems.

It means that since Australia’s federation in 1901, rail networks have often received upgrades and new technologies at different times from different suppliers.

This has led to a range of critical issues impacting national rail productivity and innovation, such as:

  • the use of different rail gauges, signalling systems, rolling stock and safe working arrangements, which are an economic handbrake requiring costly work-arounds;
  • differences in how trains are run, crews are managed investment in new rolling stock is made;
  • experienced rail workers being isolated to geographic areas based on these differing technologies, compounding rail skills shortages.

Improving national rail interoperability has been named by the Federal Government as  one of five priorities for collective action.

In December, Victorian and Federal government infrastructure and transport ministers agreed to a number of productivity and safety measures, including:

  • setting a small number of critical national rail standards;
  • aligning the different train control and signalling technologies used along the eastern seaboard;
  • reducing the burden that different rail approaches have on drivers, crew and maintenance workers.

The Memorandum of Cooperation commits rail operators, builders, manufacturers and transport ministers to work together to make rail more interoperable, particularly for any future major rail investments.

This builds on the Albanese Government’s commitment to delivering the National Rail Manufacturing Plan, to support a nationally coordinated approach that will grow the rail manufacturing sector and create skilled manufacturing jobs.

National rail council next

The government will shortly appoint a National Rail Advocate and Rail Industry Innovation Council to support the plan and drive change in Australian rail manufacturing, including bolstering supply chains and building domestic capabilities.

“Improving interoperability of the national rail network will mean more people will be employed, more manufacturing will be local, and more passenger and freight services will travel by rail,” Federal Minister for Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King said.

“Today’s first signatures on the historic Memorandum of Cooperation commits all governments and industry to work together to ensure rail can play a bigger role in our nation’s future.

Source: Federal Government


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