Wednesday, February 28, 2024

ONRSR Welcomes RSNL Court Clarification

ONRSR has welcomed the outcome of an appeal in the NSW Supreme Court by rail transport operator, Aurizon, against a decision that saw a variation to its accreditation denied on the basis of inadequate consultation with rail safety workers.

Regional railway tracks

In February 2022 ONRSR granted the variation that allowed Aurizon to add “crew cars” to a freight service running across Australia. The decision coming after ONRSR was satisfied that Aurizon had consulted with all relevant staff that would be impacted by the operational change.

In May of that year, the Rail Tram and Bus Union initiated a successful legal challenge to the variation on the basis that the consultation was not sufficient, arguing that it did not encompass “all persons who carry out railway operations, or work on, or at, the operator’s premises, or with the operator’s rolling stock.”

On appeal, Aurizon argued that the primary judge’s interpretation of the relevant section of Rail Safety National Law (s 99(3)(a)) was incorrect and that consultation with only those directly impacted, i.e. those ONRSR was satisfied needed to be consulted, was adequate and appropriate.

The appeal court stated: “it is hard to conceive of a reason why the legislature would have intended an applicant such as Aurizon to be required to consult its entire workforce about crew cars when only a small percentage of its workforce may ever have occasion to use them. Such a blanket approach would not appear to promote rail safety.”

The decision has helped to clarify this particular section of Rail Safety National Law and given more certainty for operators in relation to the scope and nature of consultation required in the event of variations to accreditation.

Last updated: Feb 28, 2024, 12:03:49 PM