Road wins but rail left out in latest ATC meeting

By: Jason Whittaker

The rail industry has missed out in the latest Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting, after the announcement work will not

The rail industry has missed out in the latest Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting, after the announcement work will not begin on a single rail safety regulator and investigator until next year.

Despite Australia’s transport ministers agreeing to send a number of road transport reforms to the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) for support, the ATC merely agreed to "progress work" on the rail issue.

The ATC agreed to wait until 2009 to develop a framework on a single regulatory and investigator, with the latest ATC communiqué saying ministers will wait for the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) regulatory impact statement.

After considering the NTC’s recommendations, the communiqué says the ATC will then put proposals to CoAG when it first meets in 2009.

"Minister reaffirmed that in the interim all jurisdictions will proceed with the model ail safety legislation previously agreed by CoAG," the communiqué says.

The NTC is currently looking at a number of options to move toward a single system, which the Australasian Railways Association (ARA) argues is vital to removing regulatory impediments.

Chief Executive Bryan Nye says the group has been campaigning for four years for a single system.

There are currently 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.

Nye has said in the past a single system will result in a consistent approach to safety investigations and the Federal Government will able to devote resources to equipping one instead of many safety investigators.

The reforms going before CoAG in October include the establishment of a road safety council and the introduction of a single registration and licensing system.

"We are determined to improve the way we as a nation regulate our vital maritime, rail and trucking industries," Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says.

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