What was under review?
IPART was asked to review the arrangements governing third-party access to rail tracks in NSW.
The NSW Rail Access Undertaking sets minimum terms and conditions and pricing guidelines for rail owners to negotiate access to their rail tracks with businesses, such as train operators. The existing rail access framework has been in place for 20 years. With the freight movements in metropolitan NSW set to double over the next 30 years, it is important that NSW has the right rail access framework for allowing third-party train operators to use the rail network.
We made 33 recommendations in our final report, which was submitted to the NSW Government on 31 May 2023.
We considered a range of issues, including the :
- The negotiation framework for determining access fees and conditions for use of the network and the arbitration framework when parties cannot agree
- information that rail owners need to provide access seekers
- rules for the level of the access fees that TAHE can charge for third-party rail users
- rules for the other terms and conditions for delivering the service
- compliance and enforcement regime for ensuring the rules are followed.
Who does this review affect?
Access seekers such as train owners, freight companies, and coal and grain companies enter into agreements with the access providers to access the rail tracks.
Our review directly affects these stakeholders, but it also has broader effects on the whole NSW economy - road and rail freight is worth $66 billion to the NSW economy each year. Freight movements are forecast to increase by 50% from 2016 levels in metropolitan NSW by 2036, and the rail network will need to accommodate much of this growth. Every 1,200-metre freight train removes an estimated 100 trucks from NSW’s roads, leading to lower congestion, and improving environmental and health outcomes. Efficient use and investment in rail, would drive competition with road to lower freight costs and improve productivity.