A review of research, and national and international best practice in relation to train visibility – commissioned by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has been completed. In releasing the document, ONRSR has welcomed the identification of a range of potential measures that freight operators may be able to use to improve the visibility of their trains, particularly in rural areas.

Update: APRIL 2023

Monash Institute of Railway Technology Report Released

In October 2021, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) commissioned the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) to conduct a review of current research and best practice both in Australia and internationally on train visibility. The report identified approximately 30 potential controls for improving train visibility at level crossings, with the majority focussed on better illumination of trains.

In March 2022, ONRSR met with the Freight on Rail Group (FORG) to discuss opportunities to trial some suggested controls identified in the ACRI report.

Following on from this meeting, ONRSR engaged Monash Institute of Rail Technology (MIRT) to design a scientific testing regime to validate two suggested recommendations from the ACRI report under supervised trial conditions. These two being:

  • flashing beacons on locomotives; and
  • conversion of locomotive headlights from halogen globes to light-emitting diode (LED).

ONRSR has now received the Assessment of Trials to Improve Train Conspicuousness Approaching Passive Level Crossings – Final Report from MIRT. The report is a very detailed, technical document – reflecting the thoroughness and scientific rigour of the academic research.

Update: February 2022

Statement from the National Rail Safety Regulator - including ACRI report

ONRSR Chief Executive and National Rail Safety Regulator, Sue McCarrey said that the review is a major step in improving safety at level crossings around Australia but has reminded all safety stakeholders that it is only part of the work on delivering tangible safety outcomes.

“There are many facets to level crossing safety and while critical, train visibility is only one of them,” she said.

“It is important to note that while we are really encouraged by the review identifying a range of possible risk controls, at this point in time they have only been assessed to the extent that they are possible solutions.”

“What we have to do now is have the industry take the initiative and commit to trialling these controls where appropriate to collect the evidence as to their effectiveness as longer-term safety measures.”

“I’m pleased to note that through the Freight On Rail Group (FORG), the industry has indicated that they are going to be doing that.”

In all the report identified around 30 potential controls for improving train visibility at level crossings with the majority focussed on better illumination of trains. At this stage there is limited evidence regarding the effectiveness of these controls, emphasising the need for further testing and evaluation by freight operators.

In addition to FORG, the Australasian Railway Association, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board and TrackSafe are supporting the work to improve train visibility.

ONRSR along with the broader rail industry is confident that the continued trialling of the measures identified may deliver options for short, medium, and longer-term initiatives that make a positive difference to rail safety.

In the meantime ONRSR continues to focus on the broader issue of level crossing safety and a range of initiatives it is undertaking as part of the issue’s standing as an ongoing national priority.

To download a copy of the report, click on the link below.

ACRI Freight Train Visibility Review Final Report

Last updated: Apr 3, 2023, 4:24:52 PM