ARA discusses national rail industry plan with Chester

Peak rail body make case for a new national plan to coordinate future opportunities

ARA discusses national rail industry plan with Chester
ARA board met with Darren Chester yesterday.


The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has laid out five key areas of focus for a proposed National Rail Industry Plan.

ARA board members met with federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester yesterday to discuss current challenges and future opportunities related to key freight and transport sectors, and how a national plan can boost productivity.

ARA CEO Danny Broad says with government investment in rail expected to reach $100 billion by 2030, a national plan was needed to coordinate all future efforts.

"Through better coordination and long-term certainty, we can ensure the industry is well positioned to take advantage of all the lessons from the past and position ourselves for the future," Broad says.

The rail industry will need combined support from all federal, state and territory parties to set up a plan that supports the development of rail transport infrastructure, Broad says.

Chester says investments in major rail projects can help boost the national economy.

"Rail plays a significant role in the productivity of our nation, and I am always keen to hear the views of industry on how we can ensure rail continues to meet the needs of both commuters and industry," Chester says.

"Through the 2017-18 Budget, the Australian Government committed $20 billion toward the delivery of rail projects, including the $10 billion National Rail Program, and the $8.4 billion Inland Rail.

"This significant investment will not only support freight operators and commuters, but also directly invest in the rail industry by providing high-quality—and road competitive—rail links.

"Industry engagement will continue to play an important role in ensuring we get the policy and investment settings right."

Speaking about the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project, Chester says the project will encourage complementary private sector investments, such as fleet upgrades, new metropolitan and regional terminals and integrated freight precincts.

Next, ARA will present its A national rail industry plan for the benefit of Australia to state and territory governments.

The five key focus points outlined in the document are:

1.       Recognising the importance of rail for Australia’s infrastructure development, urban planning and freight movements

2.       Harmonising standards, minimising regulations and maximising economies of scale

3.       Growing the capabilities of individuals and companies

4.       Maximising opportunities for rail companies

5.       Fostering innovation, research and development.

"Looking to the future, rail will continue to have a central role as a focus for investment in transport infrastructure," the paper notes.

"Sustained investment in transport infrastructure (and rail more specifically) will not only allow us to manage the challenge posed by population and economic growth but will allow us to develop a better integrated and prosperous society."

Read the full document here.

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