C series

AUSTRALIA: The federal government has appointed a Rail Industry Innovation Council tasked with streamlining practices to increase domestic manufacturing as part of the National Rail Manufacturing Plan.

The council is chaired by Jacqui Walters, who has been appointed as Rail Manufacturing Advocate with the aim of improving the co-ordination of rolling stock procurement. Walters has a background in transport, renewable energy and venture capital funding and has worked across federal, state and territory governments.

The council was welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association, which said that a co-ordinated national approach to procurement and manufacturing would have saved A$1·85bn over the past 10 years, while the current lack of co-ordination in type approval is costing the industry A$230m/year.

‘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’, said ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie on June 28.

’The industry urgently needs a centralised approach to procurement to drive productivity and innovation if we are to meet the challenge of a A$154bn 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.’

Rail Industry Innovation Council

  • Jacqui Walters (Rail Manufacturing Advocate)
  • Danny Broad (Chair, Australasian Railway Association),
  • 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)