Working groups to address skills, safety and productivity of the rail industry

Three working groups have been formed to improve the productivity and safety of the rail industry, and address key issues facing the sector, including skills development. The three working groups cover skills and labour, interoperability, and harmonising national standards. The leadership of each group includes government and industry representatives.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced the working groups, which were agreed upon as part of the National Rail Action Plan.

The National Rail Action Plan was agreed upon by state and federal transport ministers as part of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Transport and Infrastructure Council and is implemented by the National Transport Commission. It sets out several actions to support the rail industry’s efforts to undertake workforce planning, address skill shortages and build and operate an expanded rail network.

The action plan aligns well with the Rail Industry Reference Committee’s (IRCs) current review of Rail infrastructure qualifications. Chair of the IRC, Carol Hedrick, said “this project will ensure that the qualifications cover specific skills from entry level through to higher-level technical skills, whilst ensuring that the safety aspects for all operations, including accessing the rail corridor, are up to date.”

The IRC has responded to rail industry concerns about national variability in skills by focusing on Units of Competency, rather than qualifications, to make it easier for operators to address skill shortages across the various state and national infrastructure projects.