Union says national rail access system needed

Current regime of state-based regulation leaves the sector open to manipulation

Union says national rail access system needed
National secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union Bob Nanva


The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) says the current regulatory regime for rail access is a "dog’s breakfast" of different state rules and oversight. It is urging the federal government to intervene, possibly by placing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in charge of the entire sector.

National secretary Bob Nanva says the issue has been highlighted by the proposed merger between Brookfield and Asciano.

"Australia’s rail assets are split up among different owners, with different access regimes across the different states, and with differing levels of transparency," Nanva says. 

"The potential privatisation of the Australian Rail Track Corporation will further complicate this environment, particularly if it leads to greater vertical integration in the industry.

"For rail freight providers, this means a highly complex regulatory environment."

That complexity enables for an "unacceptably high" potential for market manipulation.

Nanva says rail freight operators and their customers no longer have faith that the current system is working either fairly or unfairly.

A nationally-administered rail access regime would simplify arrangements, reduce red tape, and boost confidence across the industry, he says.

"We strongly believe that regulatory control over access to rail networks should be transferred to the federal Government, under the auspices of the ACCC, and a single national access regime should be put in place."

Nanva says this should happen before any further consolidation of rail – including the proposed Brookfield-Asciano merger – takes place.

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