Anderson will act as the chairman of the new independent research body, which will take over the work of Australia's existing research institute, the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Rail Innovation, which opened in 2006, and established an environment for collaboration between the railway industry and Australasia's universities.

ACRI says that it is paramount that research continues to develop and evolve through the new structure, and its roles will include undertaking targeted, applied research, strategic analysis and problem solving to improve the efficiency and competitive position of Australasia's railway industry.

"Passenger journeys in Australia have increased by 84 million over the past four years and our freight trains are moving almost a billion tonnes of freight per year," Anderson says. "It will be my responsibility to ensure the Australasian Rail Industry is provided with timely, relevant and effective applied research and strategic analysis that will offer continuing improvements in productivity and sustainability."

With headquarters in Canberra, ACRI is supported by Australia's Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA). It is now open for business and its work and operations will be gradually scaled up during the course of 2014.