Safety messages are published by ONRSR periodically and are designed to focus on specific areas of rail safety concern, to share information between the regulator and the rail industry, and to identify positive steps to enhance rail safety.

Image i Stock Rail Workers in yard 2148576647 May 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Safety Message: Management of change

During regulatory activities and interactions, ONRSR identifies both good and poor practice when operators undertake changes to their railways.

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Image i Stock Rail Worker 1487491039 April 2024
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Safety Message: Pre-possession Planning Meetings

A current ONRSR investigation has highlighted a concerning issue where safety critical staff such as protection officers are not attending pre-possession planning meetings.

Safety message rolling stock
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Safety Message: Type Approval

During regulatory activities and interactions, ONRSR identifies both good and poor practice regarding rail equipment type approval.

Safety Message - Incident investigations
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Safety Message: Investigating incidents

During regulatory activities and interactions, ONRSR identifies both good and poor practice from rail operators’ investigations reports.

Safety message - Digital re-creation: Altered working arrangements
Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Safety Message: Altered Working Arrangements

ONRSR investigations and those conducted by other regulatory authorities have identified both good and poor practice when managing risks that arise when unexpected changes occur during railway operations.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Safety message: Human Factors in maintenance

In this safety message, ONRSR is highlighting some of the ways rail transport operators and rail infrastructure managers can apply a human factors lens to maintenance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Safety message: Ageing infrastructure

ONRSR is growing increasingly concerned about the prevalence of ageing infrastructure on Australian railway networks and is calling on operators to work closely with it to find appropriate solutions to address the issue.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Safety Message: Digital re-creation #6 - Braking procedures and capability

ONRSR’s latest digital incident re-creation is based on a potentially disastrous incident that highlights the need for absolute vigilance in adhering to the fundamentals of a safety management system.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Safety message: Managing your signalling assets

ONRSR is highlighting some of the key good practices and requirements for effective management of railway Signalling, Communications, Electrical and Control Systems (SCE&CS).

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Safety message: Managing your rolling stock assets

ONRSR is highlighting some of the key good practices and requirements for effective management of freight and passenger rolling stock.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Safety message: Managing your track infrastructure assets

ONRSR is highlighting good practices and requirements for effective management of railway track infrastructure

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Safety message: Managing your bridge assets

ONRSR is highlighting some of the key good practices and requirements for effective management of railway bridges.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Safety Message: Lineside fires

ONRSR is highlighting the risk of lineside fires and detailing a range of effective controls.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Safety Message: Runaways within and from yards and sidings

ONRSR is highlighting the risk of rolling stock runaways in yards and sidings and detailing a range of effective controls.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Safety message : Risk assessments undertaken as administrative tasks

In conducting ONRSR’s regulatory activities, ONRSR has found that some operators are undertaking a risk assessment as an administrative task or hurdle rather than as a process to support or guide their decision-making.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Safety message: Deviating from procedures and standards

ONRSR is highlighting the dangers of straying from documented processes when designing and maintaining operations and infrastructure.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Safety message: Sandbox maintenance

As the saying goes, what can go wrong will go wrong and it’s this reality ONRSR wants rail transport operators to more actively consider when assessing what have been generally low safety risks.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Safety message: The Dangers of Reprioritising Defects

ONRSR conducts regulatory activities, including audits, inspections and site visits, across multiple operators and sectors. In conducting these activities, ONRSR often observes and identifies common safety themes and issues.

In this series of safety messages, ONRSR highlights these issues, how they can potentially increase risks to rail safety and what better practice can look like to minimise the potential risks.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Safety Message – Ad hoc systems and procedures vs Safety Management Systems

In this safety message - the first in a new series - ONRSR identifies a number of potential scenarios whereby informal or ad hoc processes and procedures can undermine a safety management system and create safety issues.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Safety Message: Digital re-creation #5 - Authority gradients and safety culture on worksites

ONRSR’s first digital incident re-creation of 2022 details what can go wrong when safety culture is eroded and safety systems are not prepared, explained and executed correctly.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Safety Message – Fires in tunnels and underground stations

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with fires in underground tunnels and stations (FTUGs).

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Safety Message – Fires on passenger rolling stock

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators (RTOs) about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with fires and explosions on passenger rolling stock.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Safety Message – Sticking brakes

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with sticking brakes on all types of rolling stock.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Safety Message – Falls between the platform and train

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with passenger falls between the platform and train.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Safety Message – Network Controllers and Runaways

ONRSR is asking those rail transport operators (RTOs) – with Network Control centres – to ensure network controllers are properly trained in the event of runaway incidents.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Safety Message – Rail bridges struck by road vehicles or vessels

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated road vehicles or vessels striking rail bridges.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Safety message - Digital recreation #4 - SPADs: managing the risks SFAIRP

ONRSR is reminding operators of the importance of managing the risks of SPADs and what the consequences of not doing so can potentially lead to.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Safety Message – Short Warning Times (overspeed or procedural breaches)

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with short warning times at level crossings caused by train overspeed or procedural breaches.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Safety Message: Short warning times (wheel-rail interface issues)

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with short warning times at level crossings caused by wheel-rail interface issues.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Safety Message: 'A1 SPADs’ – Limit of authority missed by train crew

Note: As a result of the National Rail Safety Data Strategy implementation, from 1 July 2022, A1 SPADs are Category A Proceed Authority Exceedances. Further information about reporting and occurrence data submission requirements can be found here


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Safety Message: Train to train collisions - risks, causes & controls

ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated with train to train collisions.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Safety Message - Digital recreation #3 - Worksite protection incident recreation & learnings

ONRSR’s first digital animation for 2021 focuses on a worksite protection occurrence and provides key learnings and advice for operators in relation to work on track.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Safety Message: Wabtec Air Brake System – advice to rail transport operators

An ONRSR investigation into a recent runaway incident revealed a feature of the Wabtec air brake system that is now highlighted to rail transport operators.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Safety Message: Preparedness and Awareness - Know Your Operation and Kit

The systems, machinery, hardware and software used to run rail operations are often necessarily complex, but ONRSR is becoming increasingly aware that operators are not always fully aware of the detailed operational specifications of their many and varied pieces of kit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Safety Message: Track Worker Safety National Priority Project Update

ONRSR identified track worker safety as one of its inaugural national priorities in 2016, ensuring the issue was the subject of a sustained period of regulatory attention.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Safety message: Digital recreation #2 - Uncontrolled wagon movement

In this, ONRSR’s second digital re-creation, we look at the issue of uncontrolled movements and what happens when rail safety workers take shortcuts and ignore processes and protocols.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Safety Message: Network Controller competencies

ONRSR is advising operators to assess competency of network controllers following an emerging trend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Safety message: Emergency communications and readiness

Training for an emergency situation is important so that it becomes routine, as much as possible.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Safety message: Digital recreation #1 - Safety critical communication

This digital recreation explores the issue of a communications breakdown that resulted in a near miss for a track worker

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Regulating during COVID-19 - Freight

Regardless of the current circumstances, the principles of risk management, risk control, and active supervision continue to be a legal and critical requirement even if there is a need to perform work in different conditions.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Safety Message - Rail Safety Officers: Powers under Rail Safety National Law

ONRSR’s rail safety officers (RSOs) are our primary interface with accredited rail transport operators and they are based in each of our offices around the country

Monday, February 10, 2020

Safety Message - Safety Management System Case Study - ONRSR and ASSCO

ONRSR recently worked with the Australian Society of Section Car Operators to address an outdated safety management system and safety culture. The experience serves as an important reminder to all rail transport operators to ensure safety is always the top priority

Friday, December 13, 2019

Safety Message - Load distribution for Road Rail Vehicles

rail transport operators are reminded that wheel loads effect safe guidance of vehicles on track with excessive loads leading to damaged rolling stock components and track structures.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lessons Learned: ONRSR & GWA - Whyalla Runaway Incident

This document shares findings made from a runaway incident that occurred on 31 July 2019 in Whyalla, South Australia that should be used as an input to the risk review processes for operators managing a similar operating scenario.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Safety message: Passengers caught in rolling stock doors - Risks, causes and controls

ONRSR has developed new guidance for rail transport operators about the potential causes of incidents where people get stuck in rolling stock doors. It includes information regarding the existing controls available to eliminate or minimise the risk.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Safety Message - Track Condition and Derailment Risk

ONRSR is emphasising to all Rail Infrastructure Managers (RIMs) the increased risks posed by poorly maintained track following a series of recent derailments.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Safety Message: ONRSR Investigation Findings: Worksite Protection Incidents

ONRSR is reminding all operators of the importance of careful planning when carrying out Track Occupancy Authority and Local Possession Authority activities.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Safety Message: Unsafe Loading of Coal Wagons

This safety message is directed to coal loading operators and any other rolling stock operators responsible for loading coal into wagons.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Safety Message - Importance of a System Engineering Approach

Following recent incidents and observations the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) is reminding all operators of the importance of a system engineering approach.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Safety Message: Fatigue risk management programs and enterprise bargaining agreements

Some rail transport operators (RTO) may choose to apply arrangements from enterprise bargaining agreements to their fatigue risk management program. In this instance there are strict obligations that an RTO’s safety management system must meet.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Management of emergency working (unplanned works)

ONRSR reminds all rail transport operators to be aware of the inherent risks associated with undertaking emergency or unplanned maintenance.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Safety Message: Management of emergency working (unplanned works)

ONRSR is reminding all rail transport operators to be aware of the inherent risks associated with undertaking emergency or unplanned maintenance.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Safety Message: ATSB investigation report findings on use of bio-mathematical models of human fatigue – learnings for the rail industry

An ATSB-identified limitation of use of the bio-mathematical model FAID has relevance to the rail industry.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Asbestos found in imported friction wear plates in rail carriages – WA Government alert

Asbestos has recently been found in friction wear plates in the suspension systems of rail carriages.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Technical Review: Wheel Failure Incidents and Other Data in the Hunter Valley: 2013–2015

A review of the metallurgical and associated factors covering eight wheel failure incidents, issued for the benefit of like-for-like railways.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Technical Review: Wheel Failure Incidents and Other Data in the Hunter Valley: 2013–2015

Sets out ONRSR's road rail vehicle (RRV) human factors observations and analyses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Safety Message: Preventing unbraked runaways of permanently coupled wagons with shared braking platforms

The ONRSR is concerned about the risk of permanently coupled pairs of freight wagons, which share a braking system, becoming uncoupled and resulting in a runaway. Rail operators are expected to reassess the risk/s associated with permanently coupled wagons and consider additional measures to mitigate these risks.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Safety Message: An emerging issue: 'shattered rim' wheel defects

Australian rail operators may need to review and revise risk registers to manage the hazards associated with ‘shattered rim’ following two recent incidents, which may be indicators of a larger safety issue for the industry.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Safety Message: Learning lessons from international rail incidents

Investigation reports into rail accidents overseas can provide valuable lessons learned which, when applied, may reduce the risk of these incidents occurring in Australia.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Safety Message: Managing the risks associated with roadrail vehicles

The ONRSR has been working closely with the rail industry to assist in the identification and management of risks associated with the operation of Road/Rail Vehicles (RRVs).

Last updated: Feb 22, 2023, 10:46:14 AM