There has been much talk around Rail concerning the Asset Standards Authority (ASA), an independent unit within Transport for NSW established as the network design and standards authority for NSW rail assets. The key questions I hear are “what does it mean for me?” and “how might it affect me and my business?” In this article you will get a better understanding of the role of the Asset Standards Authority as well as Authorised Engineering Organisations (AEOs) in the industry.

There has been lots of talk around Rail concerning the recently established Asset Standards Authority (ASA). This is an independent unit within Transport for NSW, established as the network design and standards authority for NSW rail assets. Given the momentous changes recently in the industry, this is no surprise. The key questions I often hear are “what does it mean for me?” and “how might it affect me and my business?”

The ASA is responsible for providing the engineering standards for NSW rail assets which industry organizations apply in delivering projects. For the NSW Passenger rail network, this responsibility was previously held by Rail corp (now known as Sydney Trains and NSW Trains). The change aligns with the NSW Government’s change in approach to managing public transport services. The Sydney Trains and NSW Trains organizations are now tasked with operating and maintaining the rail network whilst Transport for NSW retains responsibility for improving customer experience, planning, program administration, policy, regulation, procuring transport services and infrastructure.

The ASA is also responsible for developing engineering governance and frameworks to support industry delivery in assurance of design, safety, integrity, construction and commissioning of transport assets for the whole asset life cycle.

The core responsibilities of the Asset Standards Authority (ASA) are supported by nine key functions as illustrated below.

Functions of the ASA (with acknowledgement to TfNSW)

These governance frameworks and processes outline that engineering services performed on NSW rail assets must be:

  • to an approved standard
  • within a robust safety change framework
  • delivered by an Authorized Engineering Organization (AEO) which must provide assurance for any engineering service provided

The ASA will authorize Engineering Organizations that have demonstrable processes and procedures in place to assure the design, safety and integrity of NSW rail assets. Authorized Engineering Organizations (AEOs) can provide a wide variety of services for NSW rail assets, and it is anticipated organisations that deliver engineering services will become AEOs.

One of the Objectives stated in the ASA’s Charter is to facilitate increased and effective private sector participation in Asset Life cycle assurance functions.

As with any significant change in our industry the implications will take time to play out. The process of separating responsibilities for determining standards from engineering assurance has involved a significant amount of organizational change for Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and TfNSW. These changes take time to bed in as people become familiar with their changed roles.

What does this mean for you? As a starting point and as a local supplier or contractor you might like to consider whether you need to become an Authorized Engineering Organization to continue doing what you currently do in the industry. You might think about how these changes might lead to opportunities to change what you do in the Rail industry. Also, consider how you might need to respond to new off-shore contractors and suppliers who may be encouraged to participate in a local industry with more transparent standards. I’ll explore these issues further in later articles.

For more information on the ASA, Transport Standards and how to become an Authorized Engineering Organization, visit the ASA website.

Peter Wilkinson

BE (Mech), MBA