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Productivity Commission Inquiry - progress in rail reform.



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TREASURER

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

NO.73

EMBARGO

 

PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION INQUIRY - PROGRESS IN RAIL REFORM

 

The Productivity Commission will conduct an inquiry into progress in rail reform and report within twelve months. I foreshadowed this inquiry in my Press Release dated 30 April 1998 announcing the Forward Work Programme for the Commission for 1998.

 

Australia’s rail network forms a crucial part of Australia’s transport infrastructure. Past reforms have delivered significant improvements in the operation of Australia’s rail systems. However, the pace and nature of the reforms varies between systems. Performances in some areas continue to be below world’s best practice. There needs to be a stocktake of progress in rail reform to identify areas, including both urban passengers and freight, where action is most needed. The Industry Commission last undertook a stocktake of progress in rail reform in 1991.

 

I have asked the Productivity Commission to report on recent reform initiatives and their implications; the operation of third party access regimes for the interstate and intrastate rail freight networks; the implications of the changing role of the Commonwealth, the States and the private sector in rail operations and ownership; and the implications for rail transport of arrangements affecting competing and complementary modes of transport.

 

The Productivity Commission will shortly release an issues paper and invite expressions of interest from parties wanting to participate in the inquiry. I encourage all interested parties to make submissions to the Commission and to attend the public hearings.

 

CANBERRA

5 August 1998

 

Contact Officers:

Alistair Davey, Treasurer’s Office  (02) 6277 7340

Tony Webster, Treasury  (02) 6263 3274

Dr John Salerian, Productivity Commission  (03) 9653 2190

 

 

PROGRESS IN RAIL REFORM

 

PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION ACT 1998

 

I, PETER COSTELLO, Treasurer, pursuant to Part 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998 , hereby refer progress in rail reform to the Commission for inquiry and report within twelve months of receipt of this reference. The Commission is to hold hearings for the purposes of the inquiry.

 

Background

 

2. Australia's rail network forms a crucial part of Australia's transport infrastructure. Past reforms have delivered significant improvements in the operation of Australia's rail systems. However, the pace and nature of the reforms vary between systems. Performances in some areas continue to be below world's best practice. There is a need to undertake a stocktake of progress in rail reform to identify areas, including both urban passengers and freight, where further action is most needed. The Industry Commission last undertook a stocktake of progress in rail reform in 1991.

 

Scope of Inquiry

 

3. In undertaking this inquiry, the Commission should identify progress made in rail reform as well as areas which could be subject to further reforms and the benefits of pursuing further reforms. The Commission should also clearly differentiate its analysis of interstate rail operations from intrastate and urban rail operations.

 

4. The Commission should report on:

 

(a) recent reform initiatives and their implications;

 

(b) the current structure of the rail industry, including the regulatory environment;

 

(c) structural and operational rigidities and impediments which constrain the efficiency and development of the rail industry;

 

(d) the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian rail industry, drawing on international and intermodal comparisons where appropriate;

 

(e) the operation of third party access regimes for the interstate and intrastate rail freight networks;

 

(f) the implications of the changing role of the Commonwealth, the States and the private sector in rail operations and ownership;

 

(g) the implications for rail transport services and the economy generally of regulations, charges and arrangements affecting competing and complementary modes of transport; and

 

(h) international best practice in rail and impediments to achieving best practice in Australia.

 

5. The Commission should als o:

 

(a) report on implementation strategies for any measures recommended by the Commission;

 

(b) take account of any recent studies undertaken; and

 

(c) have regard to the established economic ' social, regional development and environmental objectives of gov ernments.

 

6. The Commission's recommendations will be considered by the Government and the Government's response shall be announced as soon as possible after the receipt of the Commission's report.

 

PETER COSTELLO

 

 

KD