Safe railways for Australia

Scope and methods


Reporting period

The current reporting period is from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2020.

Where possible, charts will present occurrence counts over the full reporting period with the exception of serious injury data, which is displayed from 1 July 2016.

The statistics are updated every six months, which allows for further trending and analysis over time.

Railway operations and geographic coverage

The statistics cover all railway operations in Australia.

Data and sources

The statistics are principally based on notifiable occurrences - the initial written advice of a rail safety incident that a rail transport operator (RTO) submits to ONRSR in accordance with section 121 of the RSNL.

Activity data (for example, train kilometres travelled, or drug and alcohol testing undertaken by industry) is based on monthly returns supplied by RTOs in accordance with section 120(3) of the RSNL. The specific information to be provided is defined in clause 56 of the National Regulations.

Consistent activity data for tourist and heritage operators in Victoria (Vic.) that transitioned under ONRSR’s regulatory oversight on 2 December 2019 is unavailable prior to this date. Exclusion of this data has no material effect on the statistics presented within this report as it is expected to comprise only three tenths of one percent of total activity data over the missing period.

Some of the data presented was collected by previous state-based regulators under different legislative regimes. A review of this data was undertaken to ensure comparability with ONRSR collected data. This applies to the data outlined below:

  • WA – notifiable occurrence data from 1 July 2014 to 1 November 2015 was collected by the WA Department of Transport, Office of Rail Safety.
  • Qld. – notifiable occurrence and activity data from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017 was collected by the Qld. Department of Transport and Main Roads.
  • Vic. – From 1 July 2015 to 1 December 2019, the following data was collected by Transport Safety Victoria: notifiable occurrence and activity data for the Melbourne metropolitan tram network; and notifiable occurrence data for tourist and heritage operators that transitioned under ONRSR’s regulatory oversight on 2 December 2019.

Definitions

Statistics are predominantly based on the incident definitions of the national occurrence classification guideline, which is date dependent. For the majority of data up to and including 7 June 2017, incident definitions are based on those in the Occurrence Classification Guideline, 2013 (OC-G1). For data collected since 8 June 2017, and for all SPAD / LRTAE data, incident definitions are based on the Reporting Requirements for Notifiable Occurrences (RRfNO).

Variations from the incident definitions provided in the national occurrence classification guideline are described below:

  • Running line collisions between trains or with rolling stock – statistics are Category A only and exclude trains striking or being struck by out of gauge equipment on trains on adjacent lines.
  • Signal passed at danger– statistics are limited to SPAD classification A1 Limit of Authority (LOA) Missed by Train Crew as defined in the RRfNO.
  • Light rail/tram authorities exceeded – statistics are limited to classifications A2 Light rail/tram signal passed without authority and A4 Limit of Authority missed by Light Rail/Tram Crew, also defined in the RRfNO.
  • Level crossing safety - statistics are based on definitions specific to this website to support a more meaningful risk-based analysis of critical events and are available in the level crossing safety tab.

Train types are as specified within the relevant chart filtering tabs, except for “Other”. In addition to including occurrences involving all other types of rolling stock, “Other” train type also includes a small number of occurrences where the train type is unknown.

Disclaimer

The statistics may differ to other sources that utilise the same data and coding specifications. This will be due in part to the data collection and preparation methods used to generate the tables and charts on this website, which included identification and correction of errors in historical data. In addition, the statistics are subject to review and amendment as more information becomes available through investigation or inquiry, or as ONRSR refines its systems for data capture, validation and reporting. This may result in variation between historical and future reports.

The incidents in scope of the Level Crossing safety chart show al notifiable level crossing equipment failure / defects. The highlighted “Higher risk failures” are those which meet the following criteria:

  • Complete failure of active warning devices
  • Late or intermittent activation of warning devices
  • Premature deactivation of warning devices.

Examples of other level crossing equipment failures and defects reported to ONRSR include:

  • Failure of road boom(s) to fully lower but other active warning devices operational
  • Failure of pedestrian gate(s) to close or boom(s) to lower
  • Partial failure of flashing lights (individual lamp failures)
  • Failure of audible warning devices (bells, sirens)
  • Damaged / missing passive warning devices (e.g. signs)
  • Defective locking mechanism on emergency escape gates
  • Failure of pedestrian ‘don’t walk’ warning light(s)