ONRSR driving a national approach to rail safety

The Australian rail industry will continue to see a more national approach to rail safety regulation, attendees heard at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference.

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) chief executive and National Rail Safety Regulator Sue McCarrey said that since the regulator become truly national at the end of 2019 with Victoria joining the program, the body has been working to align standards across states and territories.

Across ONRSR’s four priorities, track worker safety, contractor management, level crossing safety, and control assurance, efforts are being taken to standardise safety approaches with better outcomes for the rail industry.

“There are huge advantages to being truly national,” said McCarrey.

One area where this is currently occurring is in the development of a guideline for fatigue management. By looking at the issues from the perspective of the impact of fatigue on rail safety risk, ONRSR hopes to enable operators to follow one practice across different states.

McCarrey said that these efforts were recognised in the recent Productivity Commission report which identified that ONRSR was the leading Commonwealth transport regulator in delivering a nationally-harmonised approach.

With the national model now established, McCarrey said that ONRSR would look further into encouraging the uptake of more advanced technology, including in cab video and audio recordings.

The adoption of modern technology to improve track worker safety is another area where McCarrey said that a risk-based approach to safety is allowing for innovation in the industry. With technology now costing much less than it did five to 10 years ago, the obligation for rial organisations to ensure safety so far as reasonably practicable is enabling the adoption of new technology.

McCarrey said that ONRSR would also be looking at where it can further develop its own practices and encourage regulatory reform.

“We should constantly be looking at how we can improve,” said McCarrey.

Looking towards 2025, McCarrey said that with the rapid deployment of new technology, the best fit for regulation may need to adapt.

Harnessing the rail boom to improve safety outcomes

There is a concerted effort underway across the rail industry in Australia to leverage the current investment in the rail sector to improve safety outcomes.

Speakers at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety & Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference 2020 highlighted that with the many major projects occurring concurrently around Australia, there is the opportunity to reset and improve when it comes to safety.

John Langron, rail safety manager Sydney Metro outlined how this is happening in practice on Australia’s largest public transport project. With construction underway on the CBD and South West portion of the project, new safety practices and methods are being implemented and normalised to improve overall safety culture.

While Langron noted that on such a high visibility project there is an expectation that the project will provide safer outcomes, the size of the project is also an opportunity. In the construction phase, Sydney Metro has implemented processes that are “a step above a normal maintenance job” said Langron.

These include daily preliminary checks before starting work, including drug and alcohol testing and verification of workers’ qualifications.

On major worksites such as at Central Station, large concrete barriers have been erected to separate work sites and the live rail environment, which also reduce dust and noise pollution for passengers on the adjacent platforms.

Ways of working have shifted too. Sydney Metro has instituted a prohibition on lookout protection working and conducted on-track works under local possession authorities (LPA). Through forward planning and collaboration with Sydney Trains, this has ensured that works are done on time at a higher level of safety.

Changing safety culture however takes more that physical and administrative controls. As Langron pointed out, with a new project a new culture can be established with the formation of the organisation. There is an “Opportunity for creating the culture that Sydney Metro wants” said Langron.

The culture from the top then sets the standard for within the organisation and the principle contracts and rail transport operators that Sydney Metro interacts with. Having had this experience of working alongside Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains has now shifted to doing more routine maintenance tasks during night time when no trains are running, according to Langron.

Get on board with RISSB’s bold new rail safety conference program

Australia’s premier safety conference for the rail industry, RISSB’s Rail Safety Conference, returns to Sydney at the end of March with a bold new program and even greater opportunities to learn from the best.

The 2020 event promises greater interactivity, more topics that are timely and relevant, and sessions that will provide a completely new perspective on how the industry operates. With so much to choose from now’s the time to get on board.

From panel discussions to networking, plenary presentations to technical streams, the new and improved format truly has something for everyone.

New in 2020

  • A 2-day supercharged program featuring more than 40 Australian and international speakers
  • Concurrent technical streams on the afternoon of Day 1 focused on issues that matter most to today’s rail transport operators – track worker safety, data and information, rail level crossings, system safety assurance, contractor management and sharing investigations
  • Safety leaders panel
  • A night at the museum (Australian National Maritime Museum) conference dinner
  • A choice of site tours.

Two keynote speakers (one internationally recognised) join an already impressive speaker line-up of industry leaders who are ready to challenge conventional thinking and deliver actionable insights during two jam-packed days.

RISSB’s stellar speaker line-up includes:

  • Sue McCarrey, Chief Executive, ONRSR
  • Carolyn Walsh, Chair, National Transport Commission and Chief Commission ATSB.
  • Sandra Wilson-Ryke, SQE Director, Keolis Downer
  • Tilo Franz, General Manager, Operations & Maintenance, CMET
  • Kieran MacKenzie, CEO, Presien and Innovation Engineer, Laing O’Rourke
  • Scott Cornish, Executive General Manager, Safety, Risk and Assurance, Queensland Rail
  • John Langron, Rail Safety Manager, Sydney Metro
  • Rachel Wood, Lead Investigator – Rail Safety, Transdev Auckland
  • Associate professor Anjum Naweed, CQU University
  • Simon Vaux, Director, Digital Engineering, Transport for NSW
  • Stewart Haycock, Project Manager, Operations Services, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Tim Proctor, Senior Consultant, Indec Consulting
  • David McMah, General Manager Train Service Delivery, Queensland Rail
  • Daniel Upton, Manager Continuous Improvement Zero Harm, Metro Trains Melbourne
  • Neil Robinson, Consultant and Director, RGB Assurance
  • Bill Palazzi, Director, Palazzirail
  • Guy Widdowson, Compliance and Investigations Manager Safer Rail, New Zealand Rail Safety Regulator, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Jamie Dean, Assurance & Improvement Manager Country Regional Network, John Holland
  • Paul Nheu, Systems Assurance Manager, Digital Systems Program, Transport for NSW
  • Celeste Young, Research Fellow, Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University
  • Lindsay Holt, Rail Safety & Compliance Manager, Laing O’Rourke
  • Nafiseh Esmaeeli, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Craig Dance, General Manager – Safety Risk and Assurance, V/Line
  • Russell McMullan, General Manager – CRL Assurance and Integration, City Rail Link Project NZ
  • Sudha Niles, G&R Lead – Compliance and HSE, Arc Infrastructure.

The Rail Safety Conference will be held at Aerial UTS Function Centre in Ultimo on March 31 and April 1, 2020.  For more information or to register to attend the conference, go to www.informa.com.au/event/conference/rissb-rail-safety-conference/