National regulator to help underpin rail's future

National rail safety regulator will deliver safer national network and encourage operators to invest in rail operations, NTC argues

A national rail safety regulator will deliver a safer national network and encourage operators to invest in rail operations, the National Transport Commission (NTC) argues.

A draft regulatory impact statement released by the Commission finds safety and efficiency gains will be made by consolidating rail regulation into one national body.

The rail industry has long argued for cross-border regulatory reform, identifying overlapping and inconsistent regulation as a major barrier to industry growth.

Australia currently has seven rail safety regulators and three rail safety investigators.

"Our analysis shows a single national rail safety regulator, administering a single national act, can improve the clarity and understanding of the new laws and deliver a safer rail network nationally," NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos says.

"The proposal is all about getting better and safer outcomes from the resources – in terms of people and systems – we already have in place. A single regulator could draw on a national pool of expert knowledge and experience."

Dimopoulos says creating a national regulatory body is "a window of opportunity for rail".

"A single regulator with one set of business processes and systems will cut red tape and allow rail operators to get on with the real job at hand – growing their business safely and playing a greater role in the growing transport task," he says.

"We believe a stronger rail sector has significant a contribution to make in improving transport safety and reducing carbon emissions."

The NTC is finalising a strategic rail productivity review and national supply chain reviews aimed at improving the competitiveness of the rail transport sector.

The draft statement also considers reform of rail safety investigation. It finds Australian and international best practice supports consideration of a wider multi-modal national transport investigator for rail, air, maritime and public transport.

Public comment on the draft is sought until December 14.

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