Governments and rail industry agree to overcome legacy issues for more productive and safe freight and passenger travel

An historic agreement has been signed between Australian governments and rail industry stakeholders to bring the nation’s rail network up to date as one, addressing some of the key long standing legacy issues of incompatible networks.

The ground-breaking Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) commits rail operators, builders, manufacturers and transport ministers to work together to make rail more interoperable, particularly for any future major rail investments.

This has been co-signed by Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, Victorian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Jacinta Allan and Australasian Railways Association Chair Danny Broad on behalf of senior rail industry leaders. Other jurisdictions are in the process organising their signing of the MoC, signalling this as a national, unified commitment.

Since federation, rail has run as a series of independent networks using different rail line widths, signalling systems and rail crew management systems – often receiving upgrades and new technologies from differing suppliers at different times.

This has caused experienced rail workers to be isolated to geographic areas based on these differing technologies, compounding rail skill shortages.

Today’s agreement is a critical first step towards addressing these challenges, and builds on the productivity and safety measures agreed on by Australian transport and infrastructure ministers in December 2022, including:

  • setting a small number of critical national rail standards
  • aligning the different train control and signalling technologies used along the eastern seaboard
  • reducing the burden that different rail approaches have on drivers, crew and maintenance workers.

Realising no single technology or party can solve all of Australia’s rail challenges, this historic agreement recognises advancing interoperability requires cooperation and collective thinking by governments and the private sector.

Find out more:  Read the Minister’s media release.