The Western Australian Government has approved a series of changes designed to make the state’s Rail Access Regime more efficient.
The Western Australian Rail Access Regime provides a regulated pathway for parties to gain access to pre-determined, privately-owned railways.
Through the Department of Treasury, the WA Government has been consulting extensively with stakeholders over 2018-19 to develop changes to the Regime that would make it a more effective alternative when commercial negotiations stall.
The changes are aimed at making the Regime more effective, by ensuring railway access arrangements are fair for all parties.
WA Treasurer, Ben Wyatt, said the reforms include a new valuation methodology which better reflects the conditions of railways, along with improved transparency and information requirements to assist negotiations.
“These reforms will encourage greater use of the rail network and support the efficient movement of freight across the State to support exports, regional businesses and jobs,” Mr Wyatt said.
The WA Government has focused on ensuring the Regime works effectively to allow Western Australian businesses to transport their products around the state in a timely and cost-effective manner, and that railway owners have enough incentive to invest in their railway networks.
The approved changes will particularly benefit regional areas. Grain growing areas are expected to benefit from obtaining agreements to transport grain on rail faster and, potentially, at a lower price.
Other regional areas, where there may be new mining projects for example, will also benefit from these projects experiencing less delays in accessing railways.
The reforms to the Regime will achieve this by:
- Ensuring access prices are fair for access seekers and railway owners (by changing the asset valuation method and requiring published standing offers)
- Providing better protection from unfair discrimination
- Better acknowledging foundation customers
- Increasing transparency
- Making the regulatory process more efficient (by adding timeframes, introducing information provision obligations and standardising some requirements)
The WA Government will now commence drafting regulatory changes to the Railways (Access) Code 2000 to affect the approved reforms. Stakeholders will continue to be consulted throughout this process.