Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

Hot-air balloon accident could lead to new alcohol rules for rail

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

A 2012 hot-air balloon accident which killed 11 people could result in new rules surrounding alcohol testing in New Zealand’s rail industry.

NZ’s Ministry of Transport is seeking views on several options to manage drugs and alcohol in transport, following recommendations made by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission in its report on the 2012 Carterton hot-air balloon accident.

As a consequence of that fatal accident, the TAIC recommended legislation or regulations be introduced that will prescribe the allowable maximum levels for alcohol; prohibit the operation of aircraft, vessels or trains by people affected by drugs; require the implementation of drug and alcohol detection and deterrence regimes including random testing and the introduction of post-incident drug and alcohol testing.

NZ already manages drug and alcohol in transport through a variety of health and safety, employment and transport pieces of legislation and rules.

But the ministry is seeking feedback on whether rules, and penalties surrounding transport should be tightened.

It is asking for feedback on four ‘options’ which have emerged so far in the study:

  • Option 1 is to leave the current regime in place and increase educational efforts.
  • Option 2 would make commercial operators, that are not already under a legislative or regulatory regime, develop and implement specific management plans including mandatory testing.
  • Option 3 would require alcohol / drug testing after an incident but the tests would not include any extra enforcement or penalties beyond those that already exist.
  • Option 4 would set maximum alcohol limits across the commercial aviation, maritime and rail sectors with new specific-alcohol-related offences and penalties with police powers to test with “good cause” and also after an event.

In relation to Option 4, further comments are sought on whether limits should be the same across all modes of transport or whether they should differ sector by sector.

The paper also asks whether all safety-sensitive roles should be subject to testing.

Police would require extra powers to enter workplaces “such as ports, airports and rail yards to test employees,” the review suggests.

A further thought expressed in the options paper is giving power to the Transport Accident Investigation Commission to enable testing of any person involved in an incident regardless of whether or not that person was on a plane, ship or train.

Submissions can be made to the NZ Ministry of Transport before 5pm this Friday, May 8. Click here for more information.

This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Lloyd’s List Australia.

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