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Our Rail Related Work

The ERA is an independent statutory authority established by the Parliament of Western Australia. Our purpose is to benefit the WA community by promoting an efficient and customer focused economy. We aim to achieve this purpose through the range of regulatory functions that we perform. We also provide advice to the government on important economic issues.

The ERA regulates about 5,500 kilometres of railway track in Western Australia. The railway network we cover includes 5,000 kilometres of track in the southwest of WA, comprising the Perth urban passenger rail system (owned by the Public Transport Authority) and the freight rail system (owned by Brookfield Rail). The remaining railway regulated by the ERA is owned by The Pilbara Infrastructure and connects FMG’s mine sites in the east Pilbara with facilities at Port Hedland.

We approve regulatory documents which set out guidelines, statements of policy and principles for access to railway lines and the on-the-ground facilities (known as the “below-rail” facilities). These terms and conditions do not apply to the rolling stock (the trains) and other “above-rail” facilities. We do not regulate the freight prices offered by train operators and we do not set prices for urban passenger services.

The approved documents form the basis on which third parties may negotiate access agreements with the railway line owners under the access legislation. Railway owners and rolling stock operators may also make agreements ‘outside the Code’ and the regulatory documents do not apply to any such agreements.

In administering the compliance of regulated railway owners with the legislation that governs access to the “below-rail” facilities, we help to encourage the efficient use of WA’s regulated railway network and investment.

The legislation that governs access to railway lines are the Railways (Access) Act 1998 and the Railways (Access) Code 2000.

The regulatory documents which we are responsible for approving underpin third party access agreements made under the Code, and include the Train Path Policy, the Train Management Guidelines, the Costing Principles and the Over-payment Rules. These are important as they:
  • determine the rules for the safe running of trains on a railway network
  • ensure that rail capacity is allocated fairly to all users and
  • establish a basis for railway owners (those who own the actual railway lines) to set limits for cost recovery from train operators, and manage the refund of any payments in the event of an over-recovery.

We ensure fair access to rail infrastructure by approving/determining the “ring fencing” or segregation arrangements of railway owners, which set out the controls and procedures for segregating a railway owner’s access-related functions from its other functions. This ensures that third parties seeking access to the rail network are not unfairly disadvantaged compared to any of the railway owner’s own above-rail operations on the railway.

Other functions include:
  • Provide advice to access seekers on whether the price offered by a railway owner is consistent with prices charged to other users of the railway, including to associates of the railway owner.
  • Maintain a public register of access arrangements.
  • Disseminate information that will benefit negotiations (other than commercially confidential information) if and when appropriate.
  • Determine the rate of return (weighted average cost of capital), annually as at 30 June of each year that would apply in calculating cost limits.
  • Establish panels of arbitrators who may be appointed to resolve any disputes that arise during the negotiation of an access agreement. Although not directly involved in the arbitration process, we may provide information or advice to the arbitrator if requested.