Industry Report backs National Approach to Rail Procurement

17 March 2023

Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Trade Tim Ayres will launch a new report today which details how adopting a more nationally coordinated approach to rail procurement could help grow Australia’s rail industry.

The report estimates states could have saved $1.85 billion over the past ten years had they better harmonised their heavy rail passenger rolling stock policies.

Assistant Minister Ayres said the BIS Oxford Economics report, commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), confirms that a more integrated approach to rail procurement will deliver significant economic benefits and job creation opportunities.

“We know the different approaches by the states and territories to rail procurement and manufacturing leads to capabilities being duplicated,” Assistant Minister Ayres said ahead of today’s launch.

“This pushes up costs, exacerbates skills shortages, and constrains investment.

“By working together to build and maintain modern passenger trains, Australia can reduce procurement costs while boosting manufacturing capability and creating high-skilled jobs in regional and outer suburban Australia.”

Assistant Minister Ayres said the Albanese Government has committed to delivering the National Rail Manufacturing Plan, aimed squarely at coordinating a national approach to support and grow the Australian rail manufacturing sector.

“We know many states are committed to building trains locally.

“Current projects in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria represent some of the largest investments in locally made trains and trams yet seen in Australia.

“But look across the border at New South Wales where too many major transport projects have been bungled.

“Trains that didn’t fit through tunnels, ferries that couldn’t fit under bridges and projects over budget and behind schedule.

“The NSW Liberals’ lack of confidence in Australian workers and Australian capability has gnawed away at our capacity to create the rolling stock of the future.

“It’s destroyed regional rail manufacturing and killed good jobs in the regions and outer suburbs.”

Between 2011 and 2021, thousands of rolling stock manufacturing jobs were lost in NSW. Most of these jobs were lost in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle.

“The Australian Government wants Australia to be a smart nation that makes high-value products for the country, the region, and the world,” Assistant Minister Ayres said.

The National Rail Manufacturing Plan's development is being led by the Office of National Rail Industry Coordination (ONRIC) in the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

As part of the Plan, the government will shortly appoint a National Rail Advocate and Rail Industry Innovation Council to support and drive change in the rail manufacturing industry.