Infrastructure and Transport Ministers have asked ONRSR to develop a code of practice for train illumination to reflect the findings of recent train lighting trials. A code of practice will set out best practice to the industry and is admissible in a proceeding as evidence of whether or not a rail operator has complied with a duty or obligation under the Rail Safety National Law.

A draft code is expected to be presented to Ministers in 2024 for their consideration and approval.

Consultation – ONRSR Code of Practice – Level Crossings and Train Visibility

Throughout 2022-2023 ONRSR facilitated important research into train visibility as part of a continuing focus on safety at regional level crossings.

On the back of this research, in June 2023, Infrastructure and Transport Ministers tasked ONRSR with the development of a Level Crossings and Train Visibility Code of Practice.

ONRSR has now released a draft Code of Practice – Level Crossings and Train Visibility for public consultation - available for viewing via the link below.

Consultation is open from Wednesday 13 March 2024 to Thursday 11 April 2024. Feedback should be provided by email to before 5pm (ACST) Thursday 11 April 2024.

General feedback and public submissions will be accepted. To support specific comments against particular text, we have created a Feedback Form which can be accessed below via the link below. Use of the feedback Form is voluntary, ONRSR will accept written feedback in any form.

Feedback Form- Code of Practice Level Crossings and Train Visibility

Use of the feedback Form is voluntary, ONRSR will accept written feedback in any form.

Registration Form - Online Consultation Session

To register for an information session, click on the link above and select your preferred date and time. We will email you the Teams link prior to your session.

If you would like to register multiple people from your organisation, please register one person and use the Teams link provided to join in more people.

If you have any questions please contact Gabby O’Neill, Executive Director – Strategic Policy by phone on 0419 108 641 or via

Update January 2024: Next step in Train Visibility boost

After facilitating important research that identified how supplementary lighting may provide additional safeguards, ONRSR is now in the process of developing the first Code of Practice for train visibility in Australia.

In 2023 the nation’s Infrastructure and Transport Ministers welcomed industry stakeholders’ willingness to endorse a code that incorporates findings from the research on illumination.

The new code will assist rail transport operators to strengthen the overall safety management systems that underpin their operations where trains interact with people, drivers and vehicles - with an emphasis on risk controls for train visibility.

ONRSR Chief Executive, Dr. Natalie Pelham said the code of practice will assist operators to assess and treat risks associated with interactions between pedestrians, rail workers, motor vehicle and truck drivers.

“Development of the code means we will have another resource for operators further enhancing a robust systems approach to rail safety,” Dr. Pelham said.

“A code of practice will set out train visibility expectations to the industry by providing a risk management process for operators to follow when considering their unique operations.”

“It will facilitate a particular emphasis on identifying the suite of tailored risk controls for train visibility, encouraging consideration of the illumination of rolling stock along with things like surrounding vegetation and approaches to crossings.

“It’s not the only tool we expect operators to use in addressing train visibility, but rather one they can add to their list of risk controls.”

In time, ONRSR will back up the release of the code of practice with in-field compliance activities - and as an approved code of practice, it will be admissible in any proceedings relating to train visibility as evidence of whether an operator has complied with the Rail Safety National Law.

ONRSR is currently engaging with a range of stakeholders to inform development of the code, including those with lived experience of rail collisions, industry representatives, unions, governments, and other subject matter experts.

The draft code of practice will then be the subject of public consultation in the first quarter of 2024. Following which, a final draft will be submitted to Federal and State Infrastructure and Transport Ministers for consideration and approval by mid-2024.

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 Final Report from MIRT: Assessment of Trials to Improve Train Conspicuousness Approaching Passive Level Crossings. 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, 2024, 7:28:25 PM