COMMONWEALTH, state and territory ministers attending the recent Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting in Adelaide noted several key issues regarding constraints in the national rail environment, including skills and workforce.

The council said in a communiqué that commonwealth, state and territory governments needed to work collaboratively to address challenges in harmonisation of rail industry standards and in sourcing skilled labour.

The council tasked the National Transport Commission to develop an action plan on these issues ahead of the next council meeting in November.

The Australasian Railway Association welcomed the decision by the transport ministers at the meeting to refer the issues to the NTC.

A statement from ARA noted that rail is undergoing a continuum of significant  public investment as state, territory and the commonwealth government are funding more than $150bn in new rail infrastructure projects over the next 15 years.

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New and expanded heavy and light rail, metro and freight rail projects are planned or underway in most Australian states and capital cities.

The ARA has previously warned that these projects would be delayed and delivered over budget if skilled labour shortages were not addressed in a collaborative approach between government and industry.

ARA CEO Danny Broad said industry is looking to work with government in a joint partnership to solve these problems.

“Governments can’t leave it to a nebulous training ‘market’ to resolve, because it’s just not working,” he said.

“These are national issues requiring a national approach, which reinforces the need for jurisdictions to work together to ensure consistency and alignment between jurisdictions.”

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