Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Safety Groups, Railway Crossings, Track Construction, Industry Safety

Improving train visibility at level crossings

After facilitating important research that identified how supplementary lighting may provide additional safeguards, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) is now in the process of developing the first Code of Practice for train visibility in Australia. 

The new code will assist rail transport operators to strengthen the overall safety management systems that underpin their operations where trains interact with people, drivers and vehicles – with an emphasis on risk controls for train visibility. 

ONRSR Chief Executive, Dr. Natalie Pelham said the code of practice will assist operators to assess and treat risks associated with interactions between pedestrians, rail workers, motor vehicle and truck drivers. 

“Development of the code means we will have another resource for operators further enhancing a robust systems approach to rail safety,” Pelham said. 

“A code of practice will set out train visibility expectations to the industry by providing a risk management process for operators to follow when considering their unique operations. 

“It will facilitate a particular emphasis on identifying the suite of tailored risk controls for train visibility, encouraging consideration of the illumination of rolling stock along with things like surrounding vegetation and approaches to crossings. 

“It’s not the only tool we expect operators to use in addressing train visibility, but rather one they can add to their list of risk controls,” she said. 

In time, ONRSR will back up the release of the code of practice with in-field compliance activities – and as an approved code of practice, it will be admissible in any proceedings relating to train visibility as evidence of whether an operator has complied with the Rail Safety National Law. 

ONRSR is currently engaging with a range of stakeholders to inform development of the code, including those with lived experience of rail collisions, industry representatives, unions, governments, and other subject matter experts. 

The draft code of practice will then be the subject of public consultation in the first quarter of 2024. Following which, a final draft will be submitted to Federal and State Infrastructure and Transport Ministers for consideration and approval by mid-2024.