Our rail manufacturing capabilities
Australia’s rail manufacturing industry focuses on 3 main capabilities:
- components (part of the pre-production stage)
- assembly (part of the production stage)
- maintenance and repair (part of the post-production stage).
Australia has a well-developed industry for making rolling stock components. We have many small companies manufacturing technically complex components and systems that meet Australia’s high safety standards.
The components and systems we make in Australia are internationally proven. But in most cases, we need to modify them for Australian conditions and networks. That can make it hard for Australian manufacturers to sell their products to other countries.
Assembly means putting components together to create rolling stock.
Our rail manufacturing sector is transitioning from a model where one manufacturer handles all aspects of rolling stock production from design to assembly.
Under this model, specialised small manufacturers can remain viable in the sector by supplying complex components and services to large manufacturers. These larger companies then import less complex prefabricated rolling stock from overseas before assembling and fitting them out in Australia.
Maintenance and repair
Transport networks need their rolling stock to be reliable, long-lasting, affordable to maintain, and fitted with the latest components and technology.
Australia’s world-leading maintenance and repair sector helps them achieve this with innovative methods like:
- real-time train monitoring and data analysis
- workshop automation and robot-assisted repairs
- simulation and modelling to reduce expensive manual testing
- complex sensors and diagnostics to detect defects
- software to optimise fuel consumption.
Getting our rail manufacturing sector back on track
Australia can grow these existing capabilities to manufacture more rolling stock and components in Australia, as well as export them to the world.
This will help meet Australia’s growing transport needs, particularly in freight rail. 58% of all freight in Australia in 2021–22 travelled by rail, compared to just 36% in 2000 (BITRE 2023). More businesses are choosing to transport their goods by rail because it is safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than road transport. We can take advantage of this boom by manufacturing more freight wagons here in Australia.
The National Rail Procurement and Manufacturing Strategy is the first step in taking our rail manufacturing capabilities to the next level. It outlines how the Australian Government will work with states, territories, industry, unions and other stakeholders to:
- deliver a more collaborative approach to passenger rolling stock procurement
- grow a competitive rail manufacturing sector.