Major Projects & Infrastructure

RISSB major projects update

RISSB is working with stakeholders to respond to some of the greatest challenges facing rail.

RISSB has traditionally worked on, and is best known for, writing rail industry standards, codes of practices and guidelines. However, in 2020 we added a new aspect to our work plan – that of major projects. RISSB’s major projects portfolio targets problem areas for the rail industry not easily addressed by standards, codes of practice and guidelines.

Since last year we have worked with stakeholders to respond to some of the greatest challenges that rail faces through eight focused work streams: track worker safety, national rules, national vehicle register, train control interoperability, noise, technology benefit realisation and the national rail action plan. Over the past six months, we have made major progress delivering work in many of the eight work streams.

National rules

Following the delivery of the National Rules Framework in February 2020, a National Rules Industry Reference Group was established and agreed to identify those individual rules – not entire rulebooks – where the industry wanted harmonisation to improve safety and deliver business benefits. The group agreed to proceed in communications and at the end of 2020, RISSB delivered a National Communications Rule to industry.

Work is now underway to develop a Safety Critical Communications Code of Practice that will establish and define the common terminology and phrases relevant to safety critical communications within the Australian rail industry and a harmonised national rule – Walking in The Danger Zone.

RISSB will also start work on a new Railway Rule Books Standard.  This Standard will describe a common approach for writing railway rulebooks building on RISSB’s National Rules Framework and incorporating the above mentioned harmonised national rule. The objective of this work is to incrementally improve the safety of workers.

Track worker safety 

RISSB is developing a Guideline called Achieving a Positive Safety Culture in The Rail Corridor. Investigations into occurrences in the rail corridor regularly cite a poor safety culture as a contributing factor and this has been the case for some time. RISSB has several projects focusing on track worker safety and this document is part of that suite.

National vehicle register

RISSB is developing a national vehicle register for rail vehicle identification. Interfaces between adjoining rail infrastructure managers (RIMS) often present challenges, both for RIMs and for the operators that move across them. This tool will reduce administrative burden and will help move people and freight around the country with greater ease and across complex networks of infrastructure managers and multi-jurisdictional operators by creating a national overlay that will allow existing systems to “talk to each other”. This project reached a critical milestone earlier this year with the completion of procurement activity.

Skills and competencies

RISSB continues to progress a series of important projects around harmonising and raising the quality of our industry’s communications including the development of two online communications courses. One of those courses is focused on the role of the protection officer (PO/TFPC/safe working specialist) and builds on the accredited unit of competence Apply Safety Critical Communications in the Rail Environment (TLIF0008). This course will be a short, online (non-accredited) course with an assessment, that can be completed at the student’s own pace.


RISSB continues to progress a major project looking at noise generated by railway operations and how its impact on residential areas can be mitigated. A key part of this work looks at noise generated by wheel squeal. A draft research report was presented to RISSB earlier this year for review and comment and will be made available to members once it is finalised. 

Train horn (whistle) noise and its adverse impact on communities has been a growing industry and community concern driven by more people living near rail corridors, more rail services (including at night), and a greater understanding and acceptance of the adverse health impacts of environmental noise. In March, RISSB delivered a white paper highlighting some of the key challenges facing industry and the community, and recommended options for industry to manage this issue. A new train horns code of practice currently underway will build on the findings outlined in the white paper and provide a good practice approach to managing train horn noise that will drive national consistency.

Final thoughts

If you would like to know more about RISSB’s major projects, including how to get involved in any upcoming work, send an email to with ‘Major Projects’ in the subject line.