ONRSR can grant exemptions to operators from the requirement to be accredited or registered.

However, the use of exemptions is limited to exceptional circumstances and is only considered where a railway or railway operations are captured by the RSNL but in their nature, are not of the type intended to be captured. For example, rolling stock testing facilities and amusement railways (those captured by other safety certification regimes), railway activity integrated into factory or plant operations and unique one off operational scenarios.

Where an exemption has been given, the operator is still required to comply with the overarching duty to ensure safety SFAIRP, as well as other duties that may be applicable and the operator will remain subject to regulatory monitoring activities.

In some cases, conditions may be imposed on an exemption in order to secure the operator’s alternative means of compliance or introduce additional notification requirements to monitor an operator’s safety performance in the context of the removal of a RSNL requirement.

How to apply

An RTO intending to apply for an exemption is encouraged to first contact ONRSR using the Initiate interest to apply for Exemption Form.

An ONRSR representative will be in touch to discuss the nature and scope of the exemption within three (3) business days.

Following that discussion, and confirmation of the intended exemption eligibility, an application form will be provided to formally start the process.


Each application for exemption is treated and assessed on an individual basis, taking into consideration the scope and nature of the rail transport operator’s railway operations and the circumstances in question.

ONRSR is required to decide to grant or refuse an application for exemption (including an application for variation of exemption) within six months of receiving an application (this is known as the relevant period under the RSNL, which is formally re-started if further information is required to process the application).

Exemption is granted by the issue of:

  • a notice of exemption; and
  • a cover letter to the notice of exemption confirming the extent of railway operations that the exemption covers, providing the reasons for any conditions or restrictions imposed and addressing any other issues relevant to the commencement of railway operations under the exemption.

Where exemption is refused, which would typically be where ONRSR considers it is reasonable for the operator to comply with the plan and/or program requirements of the RSNL, notification is by a letter setting out the reasons for refusal.

Last updated: Aug 24, 2021, 1:25:08 PM