Last reviewed 6 September 2021

British rail companies are on track for a potential export boom thanks to the UK-Australia trade deal, according to the Department for International Trade (DIT).

All current tariffs on rail-related goods, including railway stock, track fixtures and fittings, and traffic signalling equipment are set to be scrapped as part of the free trade agreement (FTA) that will be signed later this year.

This will allow UK companies to be even more competitive when bidding for Australian government contracts worth billions of pounds in the coming years, the DIT said.

It is already the highest priority country for UK rail exporters, with more than £82 billion being invested by Australia into its networks over the next decade, including new cross-country lines and modernised metros in cities including Melbourne.  

British rail companies are expected to benefit from new, legally guaranteed access to bid for Australian government contracts on an even footing with their local competitors, opening up billions of dollars of public sector rail contracts.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Our rail exports industry is a Global Britain success story. Australia is undergoing a huge reconstruction of its train networks and this trade deal will allow British companies to be even more competitive when bidding for these massive, multi-billion-pound infrastructure projects”.

She also pointed out that the proposed deal will give UK employees more freedom to  work ”down under”, allowing Brits under 35 to travel and work in Australia for up to three years.

Ms Truss was speaking as the DIT and Innovate UK launched a competition that will support UK companies in the rail sector to innovate globally. The competition will award small businesses grants of up to £50,000 to help them access growing markets such as Australia, India and Canada.