Indian-Pacific Railway across the Australian outback

Research commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), has revealed inefficient approval processes have cost the industry up to $230 million per year.

The ARA and RISSB have called for a nationally-consistent approach to Type Approval (TA) processes to address the inefficiencies outlined in their co-commissioned report Estimating the economic cost of Type Approval processes in the Australian rail industry.

Type approvals confirm a product used in a specific rail network meets the operators’ requirements and is fit for purpose.

RISSB developed the standard AS 7702 – Rail Equipment Type Approval in 2014 to provide a common framework to evaluate TAs for railway products.

However, there are still differences in how this approval process is managed by individual rail operators.

The research found the current TA process adds complexity for industry, requiring multiple sets of documentation, studies, trials and evaluations to approve one product across different jurisdictions or rail networks.

ARA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the collaborative project highlighted the inefficiencies faced by the rail industry and confirmed the need to review and harmonise type approval processes.

“This research addresses key actions in the ARA’s Rail Supply Chain Blueprint, which recommended developing a clearer understanding of the impact of current type approval processes,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The findings provide a clear pathway to achieving a national approach to support improved efficiency in the rail industry.”

RISSB Chief Executive Officer, Damien White, welcomed the findings of the report.

“The report findings are compelling. If we’re going to encourage innovation in our industry then our approvals processes have to support it; this report points to potentially significant gains in efficiencies and savings,” Mr White said.

“Now’s the time to move away from legacy systems and work practices and embrace a national standardised approach.”

The report, conducted by Synergies Economic Consulting, recommended a streamlined approach for existing products to allow for a focus on the assessment on products and technologies that make a material change to rail operations.

RISSB will implement the findings in its current review of Australian Standard 7702 Rail Equipment Type Approval.

View the Estimating the economic cost of Type Approval processes in the Australian rail industry report in full here.

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