The Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) push for a national rail manufacturing plan is a step closer with the Federal Government appointing a Rail Manufacturing Advocate and new council tasked with streamlining practices to drive growth in the industry.
The announcement follows ARA-funded research, released by the Federal Government last year, which showed that a coordinated national approach to rail procurement and manufacturing would have saved $1.85 billion over the past 10 years.
Separate ARA research also confirmed the current uncoordinated approach to type approval processes by procurers is costing the rail industry $230 million per year.
The Rail Industry Innovation Council will be chaired by Jacqui Walters, appointed as the Advocate.
ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said the ARA has worked closely with the Office of National Rail Industry Coordination since it was formed last year, advocating strongly for better harmonisation across jurisdictions.
“It is encouraging to see the Federal Government act on the decades-long lack of harmonisation across the country’s rail networks that has hampered competitiveness, significantly increasing costs and constraining investment,” Ms Wilkie said.
“The industry urgently needs a centralised approach to procurement to drive productivity and innovation if we are to meet the challenge of a $154 billion pipeline over the next 15 years.
“The current state-based local content policies are akin to operating in different countries and have led to duplication of facilities and made it hard for some organisations to bid for key contracts.
“A transparent, long-term and coordinated strategy will be critical to support a sustainable industry and enable increased investment through certainty.”
ARA Chair Danny Broad, who was appointed as a Council member, said the announcement is the first step towards developing safe, sustainable rail and will foster research and development and boost skills and capabilities in the sector.
“This plan will support more trains being built here in Australia and create local, skilled manufacturing jobs,” Mr Broad said.
“It will improve government supply and export opportunities for local businesses and improve competitiveness overall.
“The ARA looks forward to the delivery of the National Rail Manufacturing Plan to support industry productivity and facilitate opportunities for Australian manufacturers.”
The rail rolling stock manufacturing and repair industry has a revenue of just over $2.4 billion and a direct value-added of $515 million.
The ONRIC is leading a national approach to deliver the Australian Government’s $14.2 million National Rail Manufacturing Plan.
The office is tasked with working closely with state and territory governments, manufacturers, industry peak bodies, unions and research organisations to implement the Plan.
Federal Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Trade Senator Tim Ayres announced the appointment of the Council members today at Maryborough Railway Station in Queensland.
The following appointments were made to the Council:
- Danny Broad (Chair, Australasian Railway Association),
- The Hon Rachel Nolan (former Queensland Transport Minister),
- Ravi Ravitharan (Professor, Monash University Institute of Railway Technology),
- Katarzyna Stapleton (CEO, Queensland Rail),
- Glenn Thompson (Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union),
- Vicki Brown (University of Technology, Sydney)
- Graham Bentley (Aurecon)
- Samantha McWilliam (WSP)