Governments and rail industry sign historic agreement

Rail agreement

The Department of Infrastructure (DoI) says Australian governments and rail industry stakeholders have signed an historic agreement to bring the nation’s rail network up to date.

This will involve addressing some of the key long standing legacy issues of incompatible networks.

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

Catherine King, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Jacinta Allan, Victorian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, and Danny Broad, Australasian Railways Association Chair, co-signed on behalf of senior rail industry leaders.

Other jurisdictions are all in the process organising their signing of the MoC, signalling this as a national, unified commitment.

Since federation, rail has run as a series of independent networks using different rail line widths, signalling systems and rail crew management systems – often receiving upgrades and new technologies from differing suppliers at different times.

This has caused experienced rail workers to be isolated to geographic areas based on these differing technologies, compounding rail skill shortages.

The DoI notes this agreement is a critical first step towards addressing these challenges, and builds on the productivity and safety measures agreed on by Australian transport and infrastructure ministers in December 2022, 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

Realising no single technology or party can solve all of Australia’s rail challenges, this historic agreement recognises advancing interoperability requires cooperation and collective thinking by governments and the private sector.

For more information on the Department of Infrastructure, click here.

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