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Providing mobility to millions of passengers and vital freight services across the country.

The larger two rail freight businesses hold a 54% market share
vacancies per month
Adverts for Tram and Train Drivers have tripled since November 2019
qualification enrolments
77% of Rail enrolments in 2022 were in Rail Infrastructure
125 RTOs are explicitly authorised to deliver rail training
workforce growth
to 2028. Freight and passenger transport workforces to grow 7% by 2028

Source left-right: Enterprises; ABS Counts of Australian Businesses, Online Vacancies; JSA - Internet Vacancy Index, Qualification Enrolments; NCVER, RTO's;, Workforce Growth; IBISWorld Industry Wizard.

The Australian Rail industry is an integral part of the economy and supply chain. The industry underpins Australian business, providing mobility to millions of passengers and vital freight services on over 33,000 km of track across the country. With $155 billion worth of rail infrastructure projects in the pipeline,  existing shortages of labour can be expected to continue.

Increased demand for rail freight and strong expansions in passenger rail across States and Territories are factors driving skills demand. An ageing workforce is also contributing to the rail sector skills story.  

In 2018, it was estimated that 20% of the rail workforce was expecting to retire by 2028. A lack of nationally consistent regulatory arrangements across the rail sector is a challenge that needs to be addressed to unlock productivity gains across the sector.

The industry employs more than 165,000 people directly and indirectly across private and public operators, passenger and freight operators, track owners and managers, manufacturers, infrastructure maintenance and suppliers. Australia’s rail network is the 6th largest in the world.

Rail Training Package

The Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system aims to provide individuals with work-ready skills for the labour market – skills that businesses and industries need to be highly productive and internationally competitive. 

The TLI Transport and Logistics Training Package covers the vocational requirements including Rail Infrastructure, Light Rail, Tram and Train Driving, Rail Operations Management, Signalling and Safety Management. 


Rail Strategic Workforce Planning Committee


Industry Skills Australia has established a Strategic Workforce Planning Committee for each major industry to sit at the heart of the Jobs and Skills Council. Comprising senior industry leaders, these Committees are the central mechanism through which industry is empowered to identify its immediate and emerging skill needs and the responses that are needed by the national skills system, industry and governments.

The Committees work on behalf of industry to shape and oversee the development of the National Workforce Plan based on intelligence and consultation with key stakeholders from across Australia. The Rail Industry Strategic Workforce Planning Committee membership was established in November 2023. The Committee comprises of:

  • Brian Appleby (Chair), Public Transport Authority of Western Australia  
  • Shayne Kummerfeld (Deputy Chair), Rail, Tram and Bus Union – Queensland Branch (RTBU) 
  • Caroline Wilkie, Australasian Railway Association (ARA) 
  • Kate Alam, Pacific National 
  • Kim Drew, John Holland Group 
  • Matthew Wheatley, TasRail 
  • Paul Baxter, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union – Queensland and Northern Territory Branch (AMWU) 
  • Timothy Pease, Aurizon 
  • Tony Landi, V/Line 

For any enquiries about the Rail Strategic Workforce Planning Committee, contact the Industry Engagement Manager, Paul Humphreys.


Draft 2024 Workforce Plan

Workforce Plans set out the workforce development challenges and opportunities facing the industry and serve as a roadmap for the future by identifying what industry, the national skills system and governments need to do to build an agile, highly productive and resilient workforce.

For more information about the Workforce Plans please contact Paul Humphreys.

2023 Initial Workforce Plan

Workforce Planning is the strategic centrepiece for Jobs and Skills Councils to inform and establish each of their other functions. An Initial Workforce Plan has been developed by Industry Skills Australia for each of our four industries: Maritime, Rail, Transport and Logistics (including Omni-channel Logistics and Distribution) and Aviation (including Space Transport and Logistics). 

In developing the Initial Workforce Plan, we leveraged our deep understanding of ‘the state of play’ across each of the four industries to produce four Skills Priorities Papers. These papers outlined common megatrends impacting industries and specific workforce challenges and opportunities.  Following targeted consultation with ‘critical friends’ including State and Territory Training Authorities, these Skills Priorities Papers formed the backbone of our workforce plans. 

Informed by this consultation and a quantitative and qualitative evidence base, Industry Skills Australia’s 2023 Initial Workforce Plans provide an important baseline for our Strategic Workforce Planning Committees as they embark on developing the 2024 Workforce Plans for their sectors. 



Australia’s rail industry provides mobility to millions of passengers and vital freight services across the country and it is expanding at a rapid rate. Employing almost 50,000 people in urban, regional and rural areas of Australia, rail operations are transforming thanks to recent technology changes such as automation and driverless systems.

Get on board for a career in customer service, or one where you can use your technical and professional skills to move freight, build and maintain tracks, and organize the movement of thousands of people every day. Offering flexibility, security and great training along the way, a career in rail might be just what you’re looking for.

Your Industry Engagement Manager

Paul Humphreys

Paul has extensive experience in the VET sector. Starting as a trainer/assessor, he has since worked in instructional design, learning and development management, workforce planning, work readiness and foundation skills training. He has also worked as technical manager at an Industry Skills Council, and Executive Officer of two NSW Industry Training Advisory Bodies. Paul holds qualifications in adult education, communication, leadership and project management.

How to get involved

Great ideas to address these challenges and many more can come from anyone and anywhere. Whether you’d like to collaborate with us, share your ideas, get involved in our activities or simply stay informed, get in touch now to join us on the journey.

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