Governments face 'stark choice' on rail reform

Transport ministers face 'stark choice' on national reforms, rail lobby says

November 5, 2009

The rail lobby is using the eve of the latest Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting to urge governments to pledge support for national rail regulations.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) says it is vital transport ministers agree to end cross-border inconsistencies which cost the industry and stifle efficiency.

There are currently seven regulators and ARA Chief Executive Bryan Nye says the current response so far to reforming the rail sector from ministers has been "rubbery".

The meeting will be the last chance for the ministers to put a recommendation to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) before it meets in Queensland on December 7.

"There is a stark choice: status quo, keeping the brakes on rail, or to reform, making it possible for rail to excel in an efficient, effective regulatory environment in fair competition with heavy vehicles and coastal shipping," Nye says.

"COAG approved both heavy vehicle and maritime single national safety regulators – a good result. But at the same time, and in stark contrast with rail as the competing mode for freight transport, premiers delivered a rubbery non-decision that talked about a ‘national rail safety regulatory system’."

Nye says a national regulator will also help reduce transport’s impact on the environment traffic levels.

Under a national system for the road sector, one state will be responsible for hosting the single regulator and other jurisdictions will implement its decisions.

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