Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Rolling Stock, Rolling Stock, Suppliers and Manufacturers

The Rail Industry Innovation Council visits WA to progress work on National Rail Manufacturing Plan

Members of the Rail Industry Innovation Council, including Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chair Danny Broad, held their first meeting for 2024 in Perth this week to progress work on the National Rail Manufacturing Plan.

Broad visited a variety of local rail companies and manufacturing facilities as well as travelled to Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara, together with Federal Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing Senator Tim Ayres and the National Rail Manufacturing Advocate Jacqui Walters.

Broad said that the opportunity to visit such companies as Alstom (passenger car build), Gemco Rail (maintenance and wagon manufacture), Arc Infrastructure (demonstration of the Hiivr autonomous wagon), Hofmann Engineering (manufacturing), Volgren (bus manufacture), RCR Manufacturing, Civmec and the operations at Rio Tinto in the Pilbara highlighted to all Council members how the rail industry will greatly benefit from a national approach to manufacturing.

“The ARA continues to advocate strongly for a national approach to rollingstock manufacturing and procurement and looks forward to continuing to work with industry and government on the National Rail Manufacturing Plan to boost local capabilities and grow a more globally competitive industry,” Broad said.

“Rail brings great benefits to the Australian economy. A strong local manufacturing industry will enable more trains and rail components to be built here in Australia, delivering more skilled jobs in the regions and less resources being sent overseas.

“It will also drive innovation and support increased export opportunities for local businesses – building a more sustainable, safe and productive rail industry.”

At a small function on Monday evening, the Council and local representatives from the rail industry heard an update from Federal Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing Senator Tim Ayres and Minister Assisting the Minister for State and Industry Development, Jobs and Trade, Stephen Dawson, on their respective governments’ commitment to expand local rail manufacturing.

While in Perth, Broad also visited the Speno Rail Maintenance facility, a leader in the field of rail maintenance, technology, diagnostics and rectification.

The Federal Government released its National Rail Procurement and Manufacturing Strategy at the ARA’s AusRAIL PLUS conference in Sydney in November last year, paving the way towards increased productivity and growth in the rail industry.

The Strategy, under the National Rail Manufacturing Plan, focuses on developing a nationally coordinated approach to rolling stock procurement, harmonising standards for manufacturing rolling stock, adopting a national local content approach, maximising opportunities for freight and heavy haul rail manufacturing, improve research and innovation outcomes in the rail sector, and establish the foundation for good jobs and rewarding careers in rail manufacturing.

The Strategy is part of the National Rail Manufacturing Plan, announced in the 2022-23 Budget.

The rail rolling stock manufacturing and repair industry has a revenue of just over $2.4 billion and a direct value-added of $515 million.

The rail industry contributes some $30 billion overall to the Australian economy, according to the ARA’s 2020 Value of Rail report.