The way Australia’s interstate rail network is regulated is under review and the ACCC today released a concept paper calling for contributions from companies that depend on the network.
The interstate rail network crosses five states, stretching from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Acacia Ridge in southern Brisbane, passing through South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. It is used by general freight services in the manufactures sector, bulk freight services in mining and agriculture, and long-haul and regional passenger services.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), a public company, manages and provides access to the network. The ACCC accepted the current regulatory parameters for the interstate rail network in 2008, and they are due to expire in 2023.
The ACCC is seeking user input on the need to regulate the network based on the level of competition it currently faces. The ACCC also wants to understand how future market and policy changes may impact the need to regulate.
“The interstate rail network is an essential part of the national infrastructure and we are once again considering whether and how it should be regulated,” said ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey.
“It is important that the regulatory framework for the interstate network protects users by preventing the ARTC, as a monopoly, from exercising market power. We also want to make sure that the framework will be appropriate in the longer term, not just for now. “
ACCC would like to hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including rail operators, freight forwarders and companies that move goods by rail.
“This review gives us the opportunity to look at the regulatory framework from top to bottom. We look forward to engaging with stakeholders in the rail freight value chain and hearing their views, ”said Ms. Brakey.
Interested parties have six weeks to respond to the concept paper. ACCC will also facilitate industry engagement during the consultation period to hear directly from stakeholders on the regulatory framework.
The Concept Paper and information on how to make a submission are available at The Regulatory Framework of the ARTC Interstate Network
More information is available on ARTC Interstate Access Undertaking
The interstate rail network is regulated through a voluntary undertaking submitted by the ARTC to the ACCC under Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Law of 2010. The undertaking sets out the conditions for ‘network access, indicative prices, dispute settlement mechanisms and other issues. .
The ARTC currently has two access companies, one for the interstate rail network and one for the Hunter Valley rail network in NSW.
The ARTC is responsible for the “under-rail” operation of the interstate rail network over which it has a monopoly. This includes the management and maintenance of the railway, investment in the network and access to users.
“Above the rail” operators provide freight and passenger services on the network.