The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has called on the Federal Government to fix the “dog’s breakfast” of rail access regimes that differ across States before allowing any further company mergers in the sector, including the proposed takeover of Asciano by Brookfield Infrastructure.
RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva said the Asciano takeover had exposed significant inconsistencies in the way access to below rail infrastructure was managed across jurisdictions.
“Australia’s rail assets are split up among different owners, with different access regimes across the different states, and with differing levels of transparency.
“For rail freight providers, this means a highly complex regulatory environment.
“The potential privatisation of government-owned network manager ARTC will further complicate this environment, particularly if it leads to greater vertical integration in the industry.
“To put it simply, the scope for market manipulation under the current arrangements in unacceptably high.
“Rail freight operators – and their customers – cannot have faith that the current system is working either fairly or unfairly.”
THE NATIONAL INTEREST
Mr Nanva said national rail access regime would simplify access arrangements, reduce red tape, and boost confidence in the future of the rail industry.
“A simpler, more transparent national access regime would be of significant benefit to freight users, and is clearly in the national interest.
“That’s why we strongly believe that regulatory control over access to rail networks should be transferred to the Federal Government, under the auspices of the ACCC, and a single national access regime should be put in place.
“This needs to be done before any further industry consolidations or privatisations take place.”