Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation, Signalling & Communications

ONRSR working with Queensland Rail SPAD taskforce

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) is now working with Queensland Rail (QR) to help reduce the number of signals passed at danger incidents across the state.

The national safety body will oversee the activities of QR’s SPAD Prevention Taskforce, and will provide advice and proposed actions in relation to SPAD prevention strategies.

A signal passed at danger is defined as an occurrence where a train passes a signal displaying a stop indication without the authority to do so.

There was a slight increase in in the rate of SPADs on Queensland’s network between July 2017 to January 2018. However, the implementation of initiatives by the Prevention Taskforce since February 2018 has stabilised the trend: the SPAD rate per million train kilometres has gone down from 2.53 in January to 2.40 in May.

State transport minister Mark Bailey said the ONRSR would help the Taskforce build on the initiatives already in place to reduces SPADs.

“The SPAD Taskforce has already progressed a number of initiatives including increased one on one engagement with train drivers by management to ensure we’re communicating with staff the importance of SPAD awareness and a new toolbox talk has been rolled out for network control officers to ensure they play their part in SPAD prevention,” Bailey said.

“Through regular reviews of signalling infrastructure and SPAD data, Queensland Rail also recently identified an opportunity to improve the safety of signalling at Normanby, through the installation of a permanent yellow signal to be installed at the location to reduce the likelihood of drivers misreading the signals over the curved section of track. This work is expected to be completed in October 2018.”

Future initiatives to be implemented include improvements to post-SPAD analysis and management, the establishment of mandatory competency assessments for drivers at 18-month intervals, and use of historical SPAD investigation data to improve coaching and performance improvement.

The government also expects that the European Train Control System (ETCS) – which features automated engineering controls that stop trains from moving beyond the limits of their authority – in Brisbane’s inner-city network from late 2019 onwards will effectively eliminate SPAD risk in the area.

“Overall SPAD rates remain low, however we want to take every precautionary measure available to us to prevent these incidents from occurring,” Bailey said.

“Dedicated resources are allocated to Queensland Rail’s SPAD Prevention Taskforce in order to accelerate the implementation of priority initiatives, based on detailed SPAD investigations, research, benchmarking, and industry best practice.”