The National Operations Publications

In its ongoing efforts to standardise rail safety, RISSB has released a new resource for industry.

Last month RISSB reached a milestone in its work towards harmonising rail operations throughout Australia with the online publication of a set of documents that contain safe working instructions for Rail Transport Operators (RTOs) – The National Operations Publications.

The National Operations Publications webpage contains both the Operational Concept for the Australian Rail Network (the Concept) and the National Rules Framework (the Framework).

The Concept contains seven fundamental operating principles and provides the highest level of incident prevention for all RTO’s:

The seven principles are:

  • Rail traffic must maintain safe separation via an appropriate method of signalling;
  • Before any rail traffic is allowed to start or continue moving, it must have an authority to move that clearly indicates the limit of that authority;
  • Rail traffic and other transport modes must be separated, or the interface managed;
  • Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the infrastructure’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state;
  • Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the rail traffic’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state;
  • Rail traffic must only operate on compatible infrastructure; and
  • Safe separation must be maintained between people and rail traffic.

Rail Safety National Law requires RTO’s to demonstrate consideration of risk in all rail operations, that consideration includes the application or exclusion of risk controls. RISSB recognises that in a risk-based co-regulatory environment, every RTO has their own list of hazards and a unique risk profile and to that end, RTO’s implement operational rules.

The National Rules Framework consists of rules based on the seven fundamental operating principles, which are nationally applicable within the Australian rail industry. Each rule within the Framework has been mapped to one of seven fundamental operating principles providing RTOs with a logical progression for hazard and “top events” identification.

The Framework provides industry with a nationally consistent approach to the creation of risk-based operational rules and procedures.

The National Rules Framework:

  • Incorporates nationally applicable rules to cover rail operations and alignment to specific roles within rail operations;
  • Contains content derived from the Australian National Rule and Procedures to ensure each rule meets the intent of a set of rail operation principles;
  • Incorporates new technology to ensure that it is captured in the Framework; and
  • Demonstrates traceability to the associated risks for which the rule is providing guidance on mitigation.

In the coming months, RISSB will continue to refine the Framework by:

  • Reconvening the National Rules Advisory Group;
  • Consulting with senior executives of RISSB members;
  • Conducting industry workshops to identify opportunities for harmonisation;
  • Identifying and drawing upon on those rules and procedures, which currently remain, within the ANRP and can be refined to a nationally applicable; and
  • Gaining commitment from its members, to move towards national harmonisation and interoperability.

The following diagram illustrates the conceptual relationship and traceability between documents within the National Operations Publications and those within an RTO’s network rules.

Based on seven fundamental principles, the Publications attempt to provide high standards of incident prevention.

Members seeking to help refine the Framework, or requiring assistance in the training and application of the Framework within their organisation, should contact RISSB for further information.

To access the National Rules Framework and the Operational Concept for the Australian Rail Network, RISSB members should visit www.rissb.