Rail leads the way, but more work to be done: NTC


Rail industry playing key role in overhauling anachronistic regulations, but more work is needed to achieve significant results, NTC says

By Brad Gardner

The rail industry is playing a key role in overhauling anachronistic regulations, but more work must be done to achieve significant results, the National Transport Commission (NTC) says.

Speaking at the 2008 AusRail conference, NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos told the industry to maintain its advocacy for change, built on the back of its strong support for harmonised transport laws.

Dimopoulos congratulated the Australasian Railways Association (ARA) for its work in pushing for an end to cross-border inconsistencies at a time when the transport industry was plagued with overlaps and red tape.

"This time last year, Australia was the only OECD country in the world not to have a national transport plan," Dimopoulos says.

"The ARA stepped up and supported a national transport plan."

But while saying governments continue to progress reforms through working groups, the industry’s involvement "will be crucial to ensure the momentum for change is sustained".

Citing a recent NTC draft proposal for a single rail safety regulator, Dimopoulos says the industry must make a strong case for change if it hopes to achieve uniformity.

"The window of opportunity is open. However, the outcome is far from done and dusted," he says.

Dimopoulos also urged governments to speed up reforms, saying decisions made in the coming years will underpin the long-term future of intermodal freight.

He says this must include greater investment in rail freight links, more efficient terminals and cooperation between all parties in the supply chain.

"Now, more than ever, is the right time for governments to put the foot on the national reform pedal," Dimopoulos says.

He says ministers are playing a lead role in chairing the working groups under the NTC’s national transport plan.

Under the plan, each state and territory is responsible for a particular issue.

The groups range from urban congestion, land-use planning and investment, climate change, safety, workforce skills, national markets and institutional reform.


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