Book review

RECENT years have seen a transformation in the operation of Australia's railways.

Completion of the standard gauge line between Melbourne and Adelaide in June 1995, the introduction of a single manager for most of the interstate track, and the establishment of national-scale public and private train operators have facilitated seamless rail freight services, while complementary investment in infrastructure and locomotives has enabled use of heavier, longer and more efficient trains.

But future growth is being hampered by the legacy of separate state-based networks, not least the use of three different gauges, and increases in safety and pricing regulations. While measures are in place to tackle the problems, this report suggests that more drastic measures may be required.

Report 114 examines the issues involved in harmonising track and train assets across Australia, along with standardising safety and access regulations. The 348 pages look at the theory and the practice of physical and regulatory harmonisation, drawing on examples from overseas to explore the costs and benefits of harmonisation and develop a concept of optimal harmonisation.

Department of Transport and Regional Services, GPO Box 501, Canberra ACT 2601
free download from