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Report on the review of the Rail Safety National Law

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has now published the final report on a targeted independent review of the Rail Safety National Law.

NTC CEO Michael Hopkins said that while the Rail Safety National Law was a landmark reform when enacted in 2012, replacing 46 pieces of State, Territory and Commonwealth legislation and creating the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), the targeted review presented an opportunity to look at how effective the law has been.

The independent review focused on whether the law best positions ONRSR to deliver its regulatory functions efficiently and if it is flexible enough to support the safety aspects of rail reform and the National Rail Action Plan’s focus on interoperability and harmonisation.

“Recommendations in the report include a more proactive role for the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator in achieving rail interoperability in line with our rail reform work through the National Rail Action Plan,” Hopkins said.

“It also recommends ONRSR be given additional powers to enter into safety interface agreements, especially around level crossings and that ONSW have an increased safety and education role.

“The report also recognises the need for meaningful engagement with workers and unions.”

Other recommendations include greater transparency for ONRSR’s regulatory activities.

“During the course of the review we engaged with 39 interested stakeholders including state and territory governments, regulators, industry representatives and unions and received 17 submissions,” he said.

The package of recommendations is also informed by rail industry experts and has broad stakeholder support.

“Australia’s transport ministers have now endorsed the recommendations of the review,” Hopkins said.

“The NTC will continue to work with rail sector stakeholders as we commence the implementation phase of the review.”

Recommendations from the review:

· Increased transparency around ONRSR’s regulatory activities

· Increased safety promotion and education function based on the national data insights

· Regulator more proactive in achieving interoperability outcomes and promoting innovation and productivity across the national rail network (without any detriment to safety).

· Approved Code of Practice outlining evidence to demonstrate what meaningful consultation with unions and workers looks like

· Regulator be granted additional powers to compel parties to enter into safety interface agreements (especially around Level Crossings) and developing an Approved Code of Practice to outline the requirements of effective agreements. The report is available on the NTC website.