Victoria aims for better dealings in rail access bill

<p>Laws to reform Victoria’s rail access regime have been introduced into State Parliament, with the aim of improving the balance in negotiations.</p> <p>Transport minister Peter Batchelor said legislation to reform the Victorian Rail Access Regime contained in the <em>Rail Corporations (Amendment) Bill </em> would provide the right legal framework to increase competition in the rail freight industry.</p> <p>Mr Batchelor said the Bracks Government had a long-term goal of creating workable third-party rail access to promote competition in the industry and this legislation was a major plank in this process.</p> <p>It would replace the arrangements established by the Kennett Government which failed to promote competition in the rail freight industry, he said. Under those arrangements, no third-party operator was able to gain access to the network on acceptable terms.</p> <p>As part of the consent to last year’s sale of Freight Australia to Pacific National, the Victorian Government committed to reforming access arrangements.</p> <p>Mr Batchelor said the previous legislation required an access seeker to negotiate an access price with the access provider, which gave the provider an unfair advantage in negotiations.</p> <p>"The new legislation will provide the framework under which standard services will be provided," he said. </p> <p>"The access provider will be required to submit an access arrangement to the Essential Services Commission for approval. </p> <p>"Non-standard services will continue to be subject to a negotiation process."</p> <p>The Bill also provides for "Ring Fencing" rules, which require the vertically integrated access provider to have operationally and financially separate above and below rail businesses. </p> <p>It also requires the access provider to do "all things reasonably necessary" to allow new participants to connect infrastructure to the rail network.</p> <br />