The Australian Government has established a Rail Industry Innovation Council tasked with simplifying practises to enhance domestic production, forming part of the National Rail Manufacturing Plan.

The council is an independent entity under the Department of Industry, Science and Resources that provides advice to the government on innovation objectives and promotes competitiveness in the rail industry.

The council, which currently consists of up to 11 high-profile members, are set to meet up to four times a year.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie emphasised the need for a centralised approach to drive innovation in the rail sector: “It is encouraging to see the Federal Government act on the decades-long lack of harmonisation across the country’s rail networks that has hampered competitiveness, significantly increasing costs and constraining investment.

“The industry urgently needs a centralised approach to procurement to drive productivity and innovation if we are to meet the challenge of a $154bn pipeline over the next 15 years.”

The new processes come following studies supported by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), which found that a unified national strategy to rail procurement and manufacturing would have saved $1.85bn over the previous 10 years.

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The Australian Government’s $14.2m National Rail Manufacturing Plan is part of the government’s commitment to ‘A Future Made in Australia’ and hopes that building additional trains in Australia will create skilled manufacturing employment.

Along with building the innovation council, the plan also aimed to appoint a rail supplier advocate and develop a national rail procurement and manufacturing strategy.

“A transparent, long-term and coordinated strategy will be critical to support a sustainable industry and enable increased investment through certainty,” Wilkie added.