Key Issues

Our Approach

To ensure we best engage with and represent our 150 plus member organisations, we split rail into four sectors; passenger, freight, contractors and suppliers.


Each of these sectors is led by an Executive Committee that reports to our Board and has developed their own strategies and implementation plans to guide our priorities.  The diagram below illustrates this approach.


Technology and innovation

The ARA launched its research report, Finding the fast track for innovations in the Australasian rail industry in October 2020.
The report calls for rail innovation to be made a national priority through the creation of a new national body and dedicated investment in research and innovation. It confirms the need for a single Australian rail market with a national local content policy, replacing the current state-based and fragmented procurement processes.


Rail has long been identified as a sustainable mode of transport when compared to alternatives. In recent years, a growing number of organisations within the industry have taken steps to further embed sustainability across their operations.

As we continue to strive towards an even more sustainable industry, we are committed to ensuring rail remains an industry that benefits the wider economy and community, now and in the future.

COVID-19 Update

The rail industry has continued to provide essential services to the public during COVID-19. We thank the many people within our industry that have introduced new measures to keep our trains, trams and light rail services going and to make sure vital freight connections were available to get goods where they were needed most.

Rail Pipelines

The New South Wales and Victorian Governments have mapped their significant infrastructure projects occurring in rail to develop a pipeline of projects.
The New South Wales pipeline can be viewed here.
The Victorian pipeline can be viewed here.
These pipelines will assist the rail industry to plan for upcoming projects in rail.

2019 Federal Election

In 2019 and beyond, rail is more important than ever.
As Australian cities continue to grow and our freight task increases, the pressure on our road network also increases. Avoiding and reducing congestion is one of the biggest benefits that can be achieved from moving passengers by rail and moving freight from road to rail.
Properly planned and funded rail, integrated with other transport modes can ease congestion, reduce travel times, increase commuters’ access to transport, making cities more liveable and our economy more productive.

Smart Rail

The Smart Rail Route Map is a 30-year framework which defines the rail industry direction, development initiatives and research programs required to underpin the successful integration and support of next-generation digital and telecommunications technologies.

National Rail Safety Data Strategy

The National Rail Safety Data Strategy 2018 – 2022 (the strategy) has been developed as a partnership between the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and rail industry representatives to achieve consistent, quality and accurate national rail safety data that is readily available to stakeholders to make rail safety decisions.  

Management of Locomotive Exhaust Emissions

The Australasian Railway Association publishes data provided to it by freight rail operators to meet the operators’ obligations under the Code of Practice for Management of Locomotive Exhaust Emissions.  The Code focuses on two key priorities; greenhouse gases and diesel particulates. 

Diesel engines create several emissions of concern to the community, including diesel particulates (PM), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and greenhouse gases (GHG).

Drug and Alcohol Management

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) conducted a review into drug and alcohol management in the rail industry. This review provided six recommendations that the rail industry supported in full.

Transport Ministers voted on ONRSR’s drug and alcohol recommendations when they met in Darwin on 18 May 2018. To support a legislative change, all Transport Ministers must vote in support for a recommendation.