Rail productivity reform on the agenda

Following the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to progress national rail safety regulation, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has now outlined what it calls “an ambitious national reform agenda for rail productivity”.
NTC chief executive Nick Dimopoulos said further reform is essential to ensure rail plays its part in servicing the growing land freight task safely and sustainably.
“Freight customers want a rail option that better meets their needs,” he said. “While the review focused on freight rail productivity, it found that we can improve national policies and planning so all transport modes work smarter together and compete on their own merits.
“A focus on productivity reform will deliver a growing rail freight system, with better track speeds, quicker transit times, higher axle weights, improved service and reliability.
“The end result will be more competitive exports and lower cost products on supermarket shelves.”
Key recommendations of NTC’s Freight Rail Productivity Review include:
  • Clear national objectives and policies to plan and develop the right infrastructure;
  • Certainty and transparency of government subsidies to rail;
  • Explore options for more nationally consistent rail pricing and access regulation;
  • Open access regulation for key strategically-located rail terminals;
  • Long-term pricing reform so truck charges do not unfairly disadvantage rail;
  • Industry-led coordination of freight movements along the supply chain; and
  • Better performance measures for rail.
Mr Dimopoulos said the recommendations are consistent with the findings of the intermodal, grain, coal, livestock and meat supply chain reviews completed earlier this year.* NTC will work closely with all governments to progress the reform recommendations.
The review is the result of broad consultation with the rail industry, their customers, unions and governments.
You can download the final report here: Freight Rail Productivity Review Final Position Paper.
* NTC completed the supply chain pilots on behalf of the Capacity Constraints & Supply Chain Working Group led by South Australia (National Transport Policy Framework). More information is available here.

Nationwide transport regulations at last?

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has today agreed to microeconomic reforms that will streamline the regulations applying to the nation’s $46 billion transport sector. These long-overdue reforms have the potential to boost national income by as much as $2.4 billion a year.
COAG has endorsed:
  • The establishment of a single national heavy vehicle regulator with responsibility for regulating all vehicles over 4.5 gross tonnes, including inspection standards, safe driving hours, mass limits and registration;
  • The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) becoming the national regulator of all commercial vessels operating in Australian waters. At the moment ASMA only regulates interstate operations; and
  • The creation of a national rail safety regulatory system and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) becoming the preferred investigator of rail accidents. Currently Australia has seven rail safety regulators, three rail safety investigators and different rules in every state.
The governments of Australia are attempting to put in place a seamless national economy – a long-overdue outcome that would lift national productivity and allow transport operators to get products onto supermarkets shelves and our exports to market at the lowest cost.
For example, at the moment an interstate truck driver must comply with all the regulations that apply in each of the jurisdictions they drive through. Even small differences can create extra costs, red tape and confusion for the trucking industry, particularly for the many family operators.
Agreement on these reforms followed the finalisation of Regulatory Impact Statements and a recommendation from the nation’s transport ministers.
It is proposed that all reforms will be fully implemented by 2013.  Transitional arrangements will come into effect in 2011 for heavy vehicles, maritime, and rail.
Example: rail freight
The transport ministers have unanimously voted to approve a policy and process for regulators to recognise industry-developed rail safety standards as ‘good practice’.
The agreed mechanism will improve the take-up of national standards across the rail sector. Common standards reduce costs where freight moves between different rail operations in the supply chain. Previously, the rail industry had to ‘prove’ its standards were robust on a case-by-case basis.
“This is a great example of co-regulation working successfully in the rail industry,” said general manager – safety and environment, Tim Eaton.
The National Transport Commission developed the National Policy Statement for the Recognition of Industry Developed Standards for Rail Safety through consultation with industry, unions and rail safety regulators. The document is available for download here:
Rail safety is based on the principle of co-regulation where safety risks are managed by industry through accreditation, including the use of technical standards. In 2007, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board was established to develop national rail industry standards. Standards Australia owns 29 other rail standards.

Ministers support training package for new fatigue laws

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) has unanimously endorsed a training package to support heavy vehicle driver fatigue accreditation.
New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are working toward implementing the national Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue reform on 29 September 2008.
Drivers and schedulers working under the new Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) schemes must now demonstrate that they are competent at managing fatigue risks. Drivers working under Standard Hours will not be impacted.
“It’s basically a step-up from the existing Transitional Fatigue Management Scheme (TFMS) training requirements”, said National Transport Commission (NTC) chief executive Nick Dimopoulos.
“Drivers will have their existing training and skills recognised, so many will only need to complete a ‘top-up’ course.”
Drivers currently accredited in the TFMS scheme can operate under BFM hours until 30 April 2009. This provides more time to complete the training.
A Statement of Attainment in the following competencies can be obtained from Registered Training Organisations (RTO):
·          TLIF1007C Apply fatigue management strategies (for drivers)
·          TKIF6307A Administer the implementation of fatigue management strategies (for schedulers)
More information on training, including a list of RTOs offering competency units, has been published on the NTC website.
NTC has developed an extensive national communications package to assist transport operators, drivers and other parties in the supply chain. An Implementation Kit includes bulletins, fatigue and napping guidelines, self-assessment tools, presentations and promotional material.
“Commencement of the new laws is less than six months away. I’d encourage everyone in the supply chain to understand how the new laws impact on your business and what you need to do, such as training drivers and schedulers,” Mr Dimopoulos added.
Content on the NTC website is free and available for download in the Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue reform section (www.ntc.gov.au).
Check road agency websites for the latest information on reform implementation in your State or Territory.
Ministers also approved the BFM and AFM Standards, Assessor and Enforcement Officer Guidelines, minor amendments to the model legislation and a new national Work Diary.
Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) Standards
Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) Standards
Assessor Guidelines

National Transport Commission CEO Nick Dimopoulos told the Roads Summit that he intends to effectively make this conference redundant by next year.

“A Roads Summit typifies the old modal, project-based, corridor-focused, fragmented, blame-shifting mind-set of the past,” he told delegates.

“Small ad-hoc road funding decisions don’t add up to smart transport infrastructure investment. And ad hoc regulations, pricing and planning decisions don’t add up to smart use of transport infrastructure we’ve already got.

“It’s time for governments, industry and conference organisers to shift their thinking on transport,” he said.

Mr Dimopoulos told about a brave new world, where “trains, trucks, trams, buses, cars, ships and planes all fit into the big picture.

“Our road, rail, air and sea transport systems must be planned and operated as an integrated network to meet the needs of its users.

The national transport plan, ‘New beginning for transport’, developed by the NTC on the request of federal minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, is “a plan for significant and decisive action to keep this nation moving.

“Last week, Australia’s Transport Ministers enthusiastically agreed to support a national approach to transport policy. Ministers will chart this new course by leading a number of working groups, which will report back to the next council meeting in May,” he said.

The following reform hotspots will be addressed by ministers:

• Economic Framework for Efficient Transportation Marketplace (NSW)

• Infrastructure Planning and Investment (VIC)

• Capacity Constraints and Supply Chain Performance (SA)

• Urban Congestion (VIC)

• Climate Change, Environment and Energy (WA)

• Safety and Security (QLD)

• Strategic Research and Technology (TAS)

• Workforce Planning and Skills (NT)

• Social Inclusion (ACT)

• Governance (Commonwealth)

Read the entire speech.

Download “A New Beginning: National Transport Policy Framework”.

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