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Uniform operating standards for Australia's railways established.

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Media Release


John Anderson

Minister for Transport and Regional Services





30th April 1999


Australian transport ministers today agreed to end chaotic state differences in operatio nal and safety procedures that have impeded the development of a truly national integrated rail network.


The nation’s capital cities are now linked by a standard gauge track. The initiatives endorsed today provide the means for developing a truly national rail safety regulatory regime and the introduction of uniform operational requirements and investigation procedures.


The Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, likened the agreement to overcoming the historic ‘break of gauge’. It signalled a fundamental move away from discrete state-based networks and rail systems to an efficient sector supporting lower transport costs for Australian industry.


Such moves will further encourage private sector investment in rail.


“No longer will each State maintain separate regulatory, operational and safety procedures for the mainline track in isolation of each other,” Mr Anderson said after the Adelaide meeting of the Australian Transport Council.


The breakthrough was the third plank in the Commonwealth’s strategy for revitalising Australian rail following completion of the standard gauge network (funded by the Federal Government) and establishment of the Australian Rail Track Corporation to manage the 7300 km inter-capital rail grid, he said.


“Currently, rail operators are subject to a range of different rail safety regulatory arrangements, operational systems and standards as they move from the jurisdiction of one state rail authority to another.


“They face more than 20 different safeworking systems on the interstate network and need to comply with different rail safety regulatory requirements.


“These arrangements will end, starting today.”


The rail industry has climbed on board the reform train, with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) contributing $250,000 to a $600,000 fund established by the governments to bankroll development of national operational standards and requirements.


Mr Anderson said an Inter-Governmental Agreement would be drawn up to govern implementation of agreed new operational arrangements, including establishment of a management unit to be attached to the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services.


Complementing this initiative would be a high level review of rail safety by independent consultants. This would proceed immediately.


Commonwealth, State and Territory Transport Ministers also endorsed new arrangements for nationally consistent investigation of rail accidents and incidents. Mr Anderson predicted this would create a better informed rail workforce and encourage industry to reduce the risk of accidents,


Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 0419 233 989