Chief executive of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) and national rail safety regulator, Sue McCarrey, has highlighted that over the last 10 years the rail industry is “making great progress” on rail safety.
“I’m very confident that Australian rail networks are now safer for the people using and working in railways and while like everyone in this business I’m very keen to see the next reform and to capitalise on the next opportunity, it doesn’t hurt to stop and contemplate what’s been achieved, which is really quite extraordinary,” said McCarrey.
In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided to establish a national rail safety regulator and in the decade since, national legislation has been drafted and passed in all states and territories.
In addition, the national regulator has been set up and is operational around Australia.
“To establish national law that facilitates the removal of barriers to safety and efficiency that have existed for more than a century is significant enough. But when you consider we’ve then been able to consistently apply that law right across the country – that’s worth commemorating.” said McCarrey.
In the standardisation of rail safety regulation across Australia, the ONRSR as replaced seven different regulations with a single law. This has led to a single accreditation process and nationally consistent data sets.
Implementation has been conducted through an annual national Rail Safety Report, 65 guidelines and specialised guidance for major rail projects, and a risk-based national work program of safety audits.
At the end of 2019, the decade was capped off with the full transition of the rail safety regulatory role in Victoria to the ONRSR. This followed transitions in jurisdictions beginning in South Australia, then NSW, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, with the ACT, Western Australia, and Queensland following.
“There is obviously still plenty of work to be done as we enter a new decade but we are, as a risk-based regulator working under a co-regulatory model, making great progress in delivering on the outcomes and objectives of improved rail safety and seamless national safety regulation,” said McCarrey.
In 2020, the ONRSR will improve the use of data and look to make the industry as efficient, productive, and safe as it can be.