Safety, Standards & Regulation

Partnering to create a safe, efficient and effective rail industry: The RISSB story


In this exclusive message, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board outlines its purpose, its approach, and plans for the future.


Origianlly established in 2003 as the Code Management Company, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) exists to develop Australian Standards, Rules, Codes of Practice and Guidelines for national application across Australia. RISSB is jointly funded by the rail industry and by the State and Commonwealth Governments.

Membership of RISSB is open to all rail transport operators in Australia and overseas as well as network owners and managers, and contractors and suppliers to the rail industry. Most recently, RISSB opened up membership to individuals, small contractors and charitable tourism and heritage operators under a new Associate Member scheme enabling more organisations or individuals to take advantage of RISSB’s membership benefits.

RISSB is the industry leader in promoting interoperability and harmonisation of the Australian rail industry, and championing safety, productivity and efficiency.

Under Australia’s co-regulatory model, RISSB supports the rail industry by coordinating the development of performance-based national rail standards (which encourage innovation and open up markets) and providing guidance and advice to help industry achieve safer outcomes.

RISSB is accredited by Standards Australia as the only Australian standards development organisation for the rail industry.

RISSB’s Strategic Approach

Over 150 years of divergence in railway Standards and practices have left the rail industry with a legacy of inconsistency. Breaks of gauge across jurisdictions create operational differences and ultimately affect the performance of the entire rail network in Australia.

RISSB promotes the adoption of rail Standards, facilitates the harmonisation of rail practices, promotes innovation, and contributes to programs of national significance that will enhance the safety and sustainability of Australian rail.

RISSB is continuing to support the interests of a diverse rail industry in Australia through its five-year strategic plan. The plan not only builds on RISSB’s heritage, achievements to-date and reputation, but also provides industry with a path to tackle emerging issues that will affect it in the areas of safety and productivity.

  • RISSB’s six strategic pillars are:
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 1: Industry Safety and Productivity
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 2: Technology and Innovation
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 3: Value add
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 4: Transparent and Collaborative Processes
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 5: Stakeholder Engagement and Promotion
  • STRATEGIC PILLAR 6: Leadership

RISSB’s core focus is, and always will be, on developing, managing and promoting a quality suite of products to assist the rail industry. Each year, RISSB produces more than 20 products for the benefit of its members and key industry stakeholders. In the 2018/2019 financial year, RISSB coordinated another vast cross-industry work program resulting in the development of 23 publications, including the following:

  • Rail Cybersecurity Guideline
  • Configuration Management for Railway Contractors Guideline
  • Digital Engineering Code of Practice
  • National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers – Technical Note for AHPs on Category 3 Assessments
  • AS 7457 – Management of SPADs and Proceed Authority Exceeded Events
  • AS 7643 – Track Stability
  • AS 7508 – Track Forces and Stresses
  • Safety Critical Communications Guideline
  • AS 7711 – Signalling Principles

In 2019/2020 RISSB’s workplan spans 42 products comprising 5 new ones, 12 new reviews and 25 products carried over from the previous year.

Further to the development of products and as part of RISSB’s remit to facilitate and maintain the Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP) the past year has seen RISSB make great advances.

The National Rules project is taking the ANRP and modularising and updating it. It began with the significant achievement of obtaining agreement across industry of seven fundamental operating principles – the first time this has occurred in Australia’s 150 rail history. Since then, RISSB has, and is continuing to, work closely with industry to develop modules and handbooks that will be accessible to all members through RISSB’s website.

RISSB considers the ANRP/National Rules a core program that provides the rail industry with opportunity in the harmonisation of national rail operational rules. RISSB will continue to improve the rules and support the industry through continued working collaboration and relationships.

A key part of RISSB’s role is to facilitate industry engagement and provide education and training around rail safety, especially to aid in the adoption of RISSB products.

RISSB manages a number of committees and groups through which it engages with industry. Such groups include technical product Development Groups (comprising subject matter experts who contribute technical content to RISSB products), Advisory Groups (provide specialist advice) and Standing Committees (overseeing the development and management of RISSB products).

With an ageing workforce, a key issue faced by the Australian rail industry is encouraging intergenerational knowledge sharing and incentivising Generation Y workers to continue working in the rail industry.

RISSB has a longstanding commitment to add value to industry and is proud to have initiated the Horizons Program. The Horizons Program encourages young rail professionals to be involved with RISSB, gain exposure to the standards development process and develop their technical and professional capability. In its inaugural year, the Horizons Program attracted nearly 50 applications for its 15-month program and provided opportunities for professionals aged 35 and under to meet and learn from senior figures in the rail industry.

Since it commenced, RISSB has undertaken events and training for members to add value to their membership as well as provide opportunities for members to share knowledge and comply with legal requirements. In the past year and a half, RISSB has not only reinvigorated its National Rail Safety Investigation and Derailment Investigation and Analysis courses, but also has rolled out a new Safety Critical Communications course supporting its Safety Critical Communications Guideline.

What RISSB plans to do in the future

Technology and innovation is another key pillar in RISSB’s strategic plan and is important for the future of the rail Industry.

In 2017, RISSB launched a risk modelling tool – the Australian Rail Risk Model (ARRM) with the capability to assess safety risk across a large number of different hazardous events, (each one interrogatable at multiple levels) allowing users to drill down into individual precursors to understand the major contributors to those hazardous events.

Further development work is planned for ARRM to enhance its capabilities and fast track the uploading of data into the model. This will enable the better understanding of safety risks and result in new functionality.

RISSB has also embarked on a program to identify the barriers in industry that make take up of new technology difficult and diminish the opportunities for innovation.

Over the next year, RISSB will also be focusing on interoperability and finessing its Train Control Road Map for industry. With the launch of the Rail Cyber Security Standard in July 2018, publication of the Australian Rail Network Cyber Security Strategy late last year and the introduction of a rail cybersecurity themed conference, RISSB will continue to lead industry in the development of strategies to mitigate rail cyber security risks.

RISSB would like to acknowledge the many members who support RISSB’s work in Standards development and industry harmonisation through their continuing financial contribution and in kind support. Contributions continue to enable RISSB to deliver on a substantial work program and help create a safer, Australian rail industry.

For more information about RISSB and its products, visit