Pricing & access

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icon-rail SA Rail

Railway ownership on South Australia’s metropolitan and intra-state lines is vertically integrated. This means the owner of the railway is also a provider of above-rail services on those lines.

As a result, the State introduced the Railways (Operations and Access) Act 1997 (the ROA Act), to ensure other operators could offer rail services to customers and compete with the owner/operator by obtaining access to the rail network on commercial terms.

The ROA Act establishes the South Australian Rail Access Regime (the Access Regime), which was intended to be consistent with National Competition Principles and with Part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

It aims to encourage negotiation for access on fair commercial terms. Specifically, it provides for:

  • a regulator to monitor and oversee access matters, establish pricing principles and information requirements, and refer access disputes to arbitration; and
  • the use of arbitration to resolve access disputes, where required.

South Australian rail access regime review 2020

Access to South Australian intrastate rail infrastructure services is available to accredited rail operators under the terms of the Railways (Operations and Access) Act 1997. The Act assigns regulatory functions to the Commission and requires the Commission to periodically review the regime and provide to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure a report on whether or not the regime should continue for the next prescribed period (five years). Having regard to the Commission’s report, the Minister is responsible for making the decision on whether or not the regime will continue.

South Australian rail access regime review 2015

Under the Railways (Operations and Access) Act 1997, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (the Commission) is responsible for conducting 5-yearly reviews into the access regime that applies to the major intrastate railways in South Australia.
The Commission’s review must recommend either that the access regime should continue in operation for a further prescribed period or expire at the end of the existing prescribed period (30 October 2015).

South Australian rail access regime inquiry 2009

The Commission has finalised its inquiry into the access regime that applies to the major intrastate railways in South Australia. The inquiry focused on the extent to which the existing access regime is consistent with certain principles of the Competition and Infrastructure Reform Agreement (CIRA), entered into by COAG in February 2006.  This Inquiry also examined areas where the access regime could be improved.

South Australian rail access regime - review of regulator components

The Commission is undertaking this review of the information kit’s regulator components to ensure that the information kit better reflect recent developments in the administration and design of rail access regimes, and current conditions in the Australian rail sector. The Commission stresses that this review is limited only to the specific components for which the Commission is responsible.


icon-rail Tarcoola-Darwin Rail

Access to the Tarcoola-Darwin Railway is provided for under the AustralAsia Railway (‘Third Party Access’) Code (“the Code”).

The Code has been certified as an ‘effective’ State-based access regime in accordance with the principles set out in clauses 6(2)-6(4) of the Competition Principles Agreement.

The Code unbundles railway services (both freight and passengers) into:

  • below-rail services (relating to the provision of track and associated infrastructure); and
  • above-rail services (running rolling stock, or trains, on the below-rail infrastructure).

The Code regulates the provision of below-rail services only. It establishes a right for above-rail operators to negotiate access to the below-rail services of the Railway.

The Code sets out the rights and responsibilities of above-rail operators (access seekers) and the access provider (APT), and covers matters such as the negotiation process, dispute resolution, and the terms and conditions of access.

The Code establishes a right to negotiate access to the services provided by means of the Railway. It follows a negotiate/arbitrate model, where parties first attempt to agree on an access arrangement, with dispute resolution processes available if necessary.


Tarcoola to Darwin rail infrastructure: review of asset valuation methodologies for periodic revenue reviews

The Commission is reviewing the asset valuation methodologies that could be adopted for the purposes of periodic reviews of revenues. Clause 50 of the AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Code (Code) requires that the Commission review, in five-year intervals, below-rail freight revenues where no sustainable competitive

This review of asset valuation methodologies is intended to allow all stakeholders the opportunity to submit evidence and views on the topic of asset valuation methodologies and their application in future reviews of revenues. The timing of any potential change to asset valuation methodology will be considered. prices exist. A key component of those periodic reviews of revenues is the value attributed to the rail infrastructure. 

Review of revenues for the Tarcoola to Darwin railway 2013-14 to 2017-18

The Commission is the regulator of the third party access regime that applies to below-rail services on the Tarcoola to Darwin rail line, established under the AustralAsia Railway (‘Third Party Access’) Code (Code). Under Clause 50(4) of the Code, the Commission must, for five-year periods, review below-rail freight revenues where no sustainable competitive prices exist. It must determine if those relevant revenues are excessive, having regard to the factors outlined in the Code.

Tarcoola to Darwin rail - ten-year review of revenues

The Tarcoola-Darwin Railway is subject to a third-party access regime established under the AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Act 1997 (the Code) for below-rail railway infrastructure services.  This regime is intended to ensure that access to railway infrastructure services provided by a monopoly operator is available on reasonable commercial terms.

The Code requires the Commission to review whether or not excessive revenues have been earned for below-rail services that are not subject to a sustainable competitive price during the first 10 years of operation (and every five years thereafter) and, if it has, to put in place more targeted regulatory measures which will ensure that excessive revenues are not earned the future.

Review of AustralAsia Railway (Third party Access) Code and Guideline

In 2006, on behalf of the responsible SA & NT Ministers, the Commission conducted a review of the rail access regime set out in the AustralAsia Railway ('Third Party Access') Code ('the Code'), which is itself a schedule to the AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Act 1999 (SA & NT).

While no changes to the Code resulted from this ministerial review, the Commission identified in its report that it would, after that review, examine the various guidelines it had made under the Code to ensure they remain up-to-date and relevant.

The Commission's review of the guidelines, conducted pursuant to clause 45A(1) of the Code, commenced in November 2007 with the public release of an issues paper.

The Commission's draft decision on proposed changes to the guidelines was released in May 2008. The Commission's final decision, along with an amended rail Guideline No. 2, was released in September 2008.