ARA supports move to single rail regulator and safety investigator

By: Jason Whittaker

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed the proposal by the Australian Transport council (ATC) to move towards a single

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed the proposal by the Australian Transport council (ATC) to move towards a single national rail safety regulator and a national rail safety investigator.

The push for national schemes came during the May 2 ATC meeting, in which the nation’s transport ministers agreed a seamless, coordinated transport system was necessary.

ARA Chief Executive Bryan Nye says a national plan is essential to fixing the "mess" that is the current system. At present there are seven different regulations in place, meaning interstate rail operators are subject to different requirements such as training, occupational health and safety standards and driving hours.

As such, interstate operators must pay a number of different fees depending on how many borders they cross. While the news from the ATC meeting is welcomed by the ARA, Nye says it has taken a while for governments to consider the plight of the rail industry.

The ARA has been campaigning for four years to have the system overhauled, because, as Nye says, transport systems don’t recognise state borders.
"It is something that is an anathema of the past that has to go," he says.
"We can’t afford to have this anymore because it is constraining the economy."

The move to a single safety investigator will also remove a number of overlaps because, under the current arrangement, New South Wales and Victoria have their own safety investigator while Western Australia is about to introduce its own. There is also a federal safety investigator.

By adopting a single system, Nye says there will be a consistent approach to safety investigations and the Federal Government will able to devote resources to equipping one instead of many safety investigators.

It is, however, uncertain as to how the ATC will develop the single models. Details will start to emerge during the next meeting of the nation’s transport ministers in July, in which they will consider a number of proposals for a national regulator and safety investigator.

Following that, the ministers will seek in-principle support from the nation’s leaders during October’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

Nye is also pushing for other inconsistencies to be overhauled, such as training, environmental, noise and access regulations.
"We operate as one market in Australia so we should be only one market," he says.

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