Safe railways for Australia

Compliance and enforcement


The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has the principal objective of facilitating the safe operation of rail transport services across Australia. This is achieved through regulation of the rail industry in accordance with the Rail Safety National Law, supporting regulations, guidelines and policies, and promotion of safety as a fundamental objective in the delivery of rail transport services.

Compliance with legislative obligations can be promoted through the provision of information, education and monitoring or compelled by enforcement action. The ONRSR will consider the circumstances of a failure to comply with legislative obligations and then apply a compliance measure appropriate to those circumstances and in proportion with the risk presented at the time.

The compliance and enforcement tools available to the ONRSR range from the "softer" tools at the bottom of the pyramid to the immediate and dramatic at the top.

Regulatory pyramid


Regulatory pyramid

  • Revocation or suspension of accreditation
  • Prosecution; enforceable voluntary undertaking
  • Statutory notices (improvement notice, prohibition notice, infringement notice, non-disturbance notice); conditions or restrictions on accreditation/registration; Direct amendment of safety management system
  • Finding of non-conformance
  • Provision of advice, education and training, verbally or through development of guidelines, fact sheets, information, safety alerts and seminars.

Each finding from an audit, inspection or investigation activity will be considered so that the most appropriate option (or options) for the circumstance is applied.  Where appropriate, the ONRSR will liaise with the Rail Transport Operator (RTO) when considering the compliance and enforcement option so as to afford the RTO an opportunity to remedy the matter. However, the ONRSR shall, if appropriate, use stronger enforcement options dependent upon the risk to safety and/or the gravity of the circumstances.

Related documents

Last updated: 9 September 2013