The Australian and NSW Governments have agreed that the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will lease the NSW interstate and Hunter Valley networks for 60 years.
ARTC has significantly improved the infrastructure between Kalgoorlie in WA and Albury in NSW. Rail's share of the land transport market on the east-west corridor increased from around 60 percent in 1996-97 to over 81 percent in 2003-04, compared to less than 20 percent on the north- south corridor.
ARTC is to lease for a period of 60 years the NSW interstate and Hunter Valley rail corridors, the dedicated metropolitan freight lines to the Sydney ports, and be granted a licence to construct the Southern Sydney Freight Line within the existing rail corridor. The total length of these tracks is about 3,400 kilometres. Although ownership of these tracks will remain with NSW, ARTC will have full responsibility for these lines including investment decisions and train control.
Lines not leased to ARTC
All rail lines in NSW, including the urban system and the branch lines not specifically leased to ARTC, will remain the responsibility of NSW.
ARTC will manage the remaining non-interstate, non-Hunter country branch rail network on behalf of NSW under a management agreement between NSW and ARTC. NSW will retain funding responsibility for these lines.
Maintenance and train control staff will remain employed by NSW. Clearly defined key performance indicators for maintenance work will be developed co-operatively between ARTC, staff and unions.
The lease was signed by the NSW Government and the ARTC on 4 June 2004 and will take effect from 4 September 2004. To give effect to the lease, legislation was passed in the NSW Parliament in May 2004.
ARTC is committed to the highest levels of safety and will be subject to the standards established by NSW Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator.
Metropolitan Network and Priority Principles
The metropolitan passenger network remains owned and managed by NSW. New South Wales passenger priority principles will continue to apply across the entire New South Wales network, including the lines leased to or managed by ARTC.
Transport and Logistics Centre of Excellence
The Australian and NSW Governments will work together to establish a Transport and Logistics Centre of Excellence, to support career paths for rail workers and to ensure key skills are maintained in the industry. The Centre of Excellence will work with the Australian Logistics Council, existing transport agencies, operators, higher education and training providers to continue their investment in training and development. The Australian Government has allocated $4 million in the May 2004 Budget to fund its 2 year contribution to the establishment of the Centre of Excellence