The Essential Services Commission is the Regulator for South Australia's Intra-State Rail Access regime as set out in the Railways(Operations and Access) Act 1997 and South Australia's Rail access regime as set out in the AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access ) Act 1999.

SA Rail

The Commission assumed this role from March 2004. This role had previously been assigned to the Executive Director, Transport SA.

The South Australian Rail Access Regime applies to railway services as defined under the ROA Act. This covers the Adelaide Metro broad gauge network within metropolitan Adelaide, the Genesee and Wyoming (GWA) lines in the Murray-Mallee, Mid-North and Eyre Peninsula, and the Great Southern Railway passenger terminal at Keswick.

The Railways (Operations and Access) Act 1997 assigns the following specific functions to the Commission:

  • monitoring and enforcing compliance with Part 3 (general rules for conduct of business) of the Act;
  • monitoring the costs of rail services under the Act;
  • making an application to the Supreme Court for appointment of an administrator where a rail operator becomes insolvent, ceases to provide railway services or fails to make effective use of the infrastructure of the State;
  • establishing pricing principles;
  • establishing requirements for information about access to rail services and determining the price to be charged for such information;
  • conciliation of access disputes and referral of disputes to arbitration;
  • fulfilling any other functions and powers conferred by regulation under the ROA Act.

The Commission has released an Information Kit, explaining the principal features of the Access Regime under the Act and communicating the pricing principles, information brochure requirements and reporting requirements established by the Commission.

Tarcoola-Darwin Rail

Operation of the 1,420 km Alice Springs-Darwin railway began in January 2004. The railway operator also controls the existing 830km Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway. Together, the Tarcoola-Darwin railway connects Darwin's East Arm Port to Australia's interstate standard gauge rail network.

Arrangements for access to the Tarcoola-Darwin railway are provided under the AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Code (the Code), which is a Schedule to the AustralAsia Railway (Third PartyAccess) Act 1999 (SA & NT).  The access regime in the Code has been certified as an effective State regime in accordance with section 44N of the Trade Practices Act 1974. Details of the certification process can be found on the National Competition Council (NCC) website.

Clause 5 of the Code appoints the Commission as the regulator under the Code. In particular, the clause authorises the Commission to exercise and perform the powers and functions of the regulator under the Code for the purposes of both the law of South Australia and the law of the Northern Territory.

The Code applies to the whole of the railway between Tarcoola and Darwin, pursuant to a joint ministerial notice published in January 2004. The Commission has the power to conciliate an access dispute and/or arrange for arbitration.

The Commission has developed four guidelines under the Code.


Related Projects

Project Status
icon-rail Review of rail guidelines – Tarcoola-Darwin rail and the South Australian rail access regimes Submissions
icon-rail South Australian rail access regime review 2015 Final
icon-rail Tarcoola to Darwin Railway - ten year review of revenues Final
icon-rail Review of South Australian rail access regime information kit Final
icon-rail South Australian rail access regime inquiry 2009 Final
icon-rail AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Code: guideline review Final
icon-rail Review of AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Code Final
icon-rail South Australian rail access regime - review of regulator components Final

More Projects

Related Publications


Tarcoola-Darwin Rail guideline no 2 - Arbitrator pricing requirements - draft


Tarcoola-Darwin Rail guideline no 3 - Regulatory information requirements - draft

More Publications