Rebuilding through infrastructure – skilling the Rail industry

With the federal and state governments investing billions of dollars in rail infrastructure there is an immediate need to incorporate the new technology and automation into the industry. AIS is working with the Rail Industry Reference Committee on a range of new projects to address priority skills needs brought about by automation and expanded infrastructure.

Driving rail vehicles used for passengers OR freight

The closer running times of rail traffic means operators must manage substantially more rail vehicles in the same area of the network, including some without direct human interaction (autonomous trains). This has led to a need for a broader range of skills required for train drivers to interreact with other rail vehicles to control rail traffic operations. The project will address the skills gaps identified in the existing qualifications by the Rail industry to ensure alignment with the specific driver requirements at various operator levels. These include autonomous and remotely operated rail vehicle systems set up, fault rectification, communicating with operational staff, preparing for operation and monitoring.


Rail transport operators have identified the need for faster transit of rail transport services through transit points. Increased rail movements place greater stress on the network and potentially leads to an increase in network congestion and system breakdowns, causing substantial delays or downtime of the rail network. Minimising delays on the rail network is critical to keeping not only the affected rail movements on schedule, but also to maintaining reliability of transport services. Automation is now replacing the signalling job role, but not in all locations or networks.

The Rail IRC will review the Certificate III in Rail Yard Coordination. The revision will update and align the qualification with new and emerging technologies including advances made in rail signalling and autonomous and remotely operated rail vehicles. It will also integrate the Certificate III in Rail Signalling (TLI32615), which is proposed for deletion from the national register upon completion of the review. This revision will also provide greater transferability of skills between various job roles in the rail industry.


This project will review the Certificate II and III in Track Protection and the associated Skill Sets and Units of Competency, for Rail Track Protection Officers (Level 1 & 2) and Possession Protection Officers (Level 3 & 4).

Rail transport operators are now using these rail qualifications as pathways into more technical job roles being created as rail infrastructure projects continue to increase throughout Australia’s rail networks. The project will address the move away from lookouts, flag, hand, or light signals to automated protection devices or audible warning devices, leading to increased safety and productivity gains for the industry.

Track protection officers are the first line of safety for track workers working in the rail corridor environment. Updating safety management system compliance requirements will enable rail safety workers to meet WHS/OHS regulatory requirements, with lower risk of incident or injury. This review is critical to assist rail transport operators to deal with the increased reliance on rail infrastructure and track worker safety into the future.


The Rail IRC will develop a new Certificate in Rail Rolling Stock Maintainer qualification to address the increasing need by rail transport operators to develop in-house capabilities for the maintenance of rail rolling stock. In the past, rail maintenance has relied on traditional trades for qualified persons to perform these tasks, but with plug-and-play technologies and the need to specialise in the rail sector, it is becoming difficult to recruit competent operators. With rail operators experiencing a skill shortage of in-house maintenance capability, rail network owners need to create a career pathway for rail rolling stock maintainers.

Skills and knowledge requirements relating to new automation systems, security and monitoring operations will be included, along with maintainer roles relating to rail traffic to ensure alignment with specific rail and light rail operator requirements.

The Rail IRC will form Technical Advisory Committees for each project to provide industry expertise to the development work. For more information, contact Ron Horne on 0448 166 536 or email