The government has commissioned a report to figure out what to do with Australia's national rail network

The Abbott government is considering the future of Australia’s national rail network, commissioning a scoping study this financial year to figure out what to do with the entity which managers over 8,500km of interstate track across South Australia, Victoria, WA, Queensland and NSW.

Ahead of the federal budget there was a report the government was considering privatising the Australian Rail Track Corporation, possibly through a share market listing.

It’s a sale which has been discussed on-and-off for years, including by the Commission of Audit in its report to the government last year where it valued the ARTC’s fixed assets at $4.4 billion. (The Medibank Private float last year raised almost $5.7 billion.)

In the Budget the government said it would undertake a scoping study in the coming financial year to determine the “future management, operations and ownership” of the ARTC.

It said the move forms part of the “smaller government reforms” which aim to reduce the size and complexity of bureaucracy.

The cost of the review will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Finance.

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