In 2016, Synergies was contracted by the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) to undertake an inaugural survey of stakeholder perspectives about the challenges, opportunities, and future strategic directions for the rail industry. The survey was designed to assist in promoting dialogue within the industry and serve as a baseline against which to measure future trends in issues and priorities.
ACRI commissioned this survey as a means of taking stock of stakeholder views and perceptions about commercial, regulatory, and public policy issues confronting the rail industry in Australia.
The survey was unique, as never before had such a comprehensive survey been undertaken.
ACRI’s charter is to undertake targeted, applied research and strategic analysis to solve issues raised by rail industry participants or other entities – whether with a commercial or public policy interest. Through its work it aims to support and ensure continued improvement in productivity and sustainability to underpin the competitive position of the Australasian Rail Industry.
Synergies worked with a reference group assembled by ACRI to help guide the design of the survey.
The survey sought feedback on a range of themes, including:
Operational efficiency of the industry
Regulation and pricing
An online questionnaire was sent to rail industry representatives on ACRI’s customer database and recipients were invited to forward the survey to their colleagues. A total of 157 industry participants were surveyed.
Just over half of respondents (56%) were industry decision makers, holding positions at the middle management or senior executive level. In addition, two thirds of respondents had ten or more years rail industry experience. The collective experience of respondents demonstrates their deep understanding of the rail industry.
The survey identified a number of ‘big issues’.
Almost 70% of respondents identified the lack of a vision and overarching strategy for the industry as the most important factor that is holding back progress.
Almost all respondents believed that improving operational efficiency is either critical or important for the success of the sector.
There was dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of economic regulation in the rail industry. In aggregate, only 35% of respondents said that economic regulation of the rail industry was very or quite effective.
Key areas identified by respondents for improvement were rail corridor preservation and addressing inconsistencies in regulatory process across jurisdictions.
There was broad agreement on the need for road pricing reform. Almost 50% of respondents strongly agree that road pricing needs reforming to ensure a level playing field with rail.
The highest priority identified by survey participants was stronger policy coordination, planning and integration of rail, freight logistics and other transport modes.
Synergies will repeat this survey at periodic intervals to gauge how stakeholder perceptions change over time. This will provide ACRI with a clear picture of industry progress and what thematic areas require further attention, which will be valuable insights for shaping its R&D program. The next survey is scheduled for 2020.
ACRI Industry Stakeholder Survey 2016
The aim of the survey was to identify stakeholder perspectives about the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian rail industry, together with collecting views about strategic priorities going forward. The survey provided fresh insights about issues and stakeholder concerns. ACRI has published our report on its website and intends to commission a follow up survey to assess whether priorities and views are changing over time.