A common Platform

Interoperability has the potential to change the way our country moves. Far from being just a technical accomplishment, interoperability is a transformative concept that will create a safer, more efficient, sustainable, and connected future for the nation’s rail networks.

The benefits of Interoperability

The Challenges ahead

A pathway towards success

Rail is fundamental to an efficient transportation system. In this era of rapid technological transformation we strongly endorse efforts aimed at enhancing interoperability and standardisation across all states.

The rail industry is uniting to increase the compatibility and interoperability of intermodal system. Essential to this collaboration will be nurturing a skilled workforce, and where skills shortages exist, pioneering innovative ways to upskill or re-skill workers.

The points highlighted in this report align closely with Engineers Australia’s commitment to advocating for engineering’s pivotal role in shaping the future of transportation.

Romilly Madew AO FTSE HonFIEAust EngExec
CEO, Engineers Australia
Melbourne trains - interoperability

What is Interoperability?

Interoperability has long been a challenging concept to define. In its simplest form, it refers to the ability of disparate systems, sub-systems, and their operational processes to work together. In the context of rail, interoperability means enabling compatible systems such as signalling and train control systems to work with each other. Doing so will allow the safe and uninterrupted movement of trains, people, and cargo across the country and create a more efficient, competitive, and productive industry.

Why must it be addressed?

Despite the incredible growth the rail system has experienced over time, developments have still largely occurred in isolation. As a consequence, we now have a highly fragmented and complex series of networks that include:

  • 1,800 operational locomotives
  • 29 different networks
  • 3 different railway gauges
  • 11 separate signalling and train control systems
  • 17 safe-working systems
  • 50 different operators across both freight and passenger rail
  • Over 900 rail related businesses in operation

Until interoperability can be managed the industry will continue to suffer higher operational costs, reduced efficiencies, preventable safety risks, technology locks and regulatory challenges.

For a national industry such as rail in Australia that started its life as a number of separate and disparate State-based systems, it is not surprising that we’re continuing to deal with the challenges of the lack of interoperability. Much has been done by industry and government since the significant industry reforms in the late 1990’s, however, some interoperability challenges continue to be an impediment for the industry, and an impediment to national productivity and Australia’s decarbonisation efforts. 

Damien White, CEO, Rail Industry Safety & Standards Board (RISSB)

The Fast Track to a seamless, safer railway system

In this publication, we delve into the benefits and challenges that will come with interoperability, and focus on the critical role data, technology and people will play in ensuring the journey is as smooth as possible. We also explore a selection of compelling case studies, provide insight into some of the long-term opportunities interoperable rail networks will present, and offer practical guidance on the best way to make a common platform a reality.

Interoperability is more than just a technical accomplishment. By seamlessly connecting cities and regions, interoperable rail systems not only open new opportunities for safer and faster travel but can also deliver long-term cost savings and act as a catalyst for economic growth, increased productivity, and sustainable development.

Alana Newbrook, CEO,SYSTRA ANZ
  • News

11 October 2023

SYSTRA ANZ and the NTC Partner to Boost Rail Interoperability

SYSTRA ANZ has taken a significant step towards advancing rail interoperability across Australia by signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the National Transport Commission (NTC).
Read more
  • News

28 November 2023

The Evolving Workforce and how interoperability will help

An excerpt from our publication on Interoperability.
Read more
  • News

28 November 2023

The role of data and technology in unlocking interoperability

An excerpt from our publication on Interoperability
Read more

Contact Us

social media - careers - join us

Contact us

Read more

For more information, please get in contact with us by hitting the button below. Alternatively, if you wish to keep in touch please hit subscribe.

Download Publication

To download your copy of our publication on Interoperability, please fill out your details using the form.