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.

Safety message - Ageing infrastructure

Of particular concern is the deterioration of signalling and supporting infrastructure in some parts of the country. Such systems are key controls for the elimination or mitigation of fundamental risks of railway operations. As they age and degrade, their loss of effectiveness undermines the reliance that is placed on these systems by rail safety workers to work safely.

Acting Chief Executive and National Rail Safety Regulator, Peter Doggett said ONRSR can no longer sit idly by while the situation worsens.

“There is a tipping point approaching in some parts of Australia where the age of the infrastructure is starting to have a real impact on the risk profile for both Rolling Stock Operators and Rail Infrastructure Managers,” he said.

“Signalling is the most concerning one for us because it is such a fundamental safety system for any form of railway operations.”

“Some of the signalling infrastructure is reaching the end of its operational life and just has to be replaced. If that doesn’t happen, then we will need to look at using the powers at our disposal under the national law to make sure the risks to safety are addressed.”

In raising the concern, ONRSR acknowledges that upgrading signalling infrastructure is not a cheap or simple exercise but is also encouraging industry to think outside the square when it comes to modernising operations.

ONRSR has a range of technical expertise within its ranks, including signalling, bridge and structure specialists and has pledged to work with industry to look at what options are available where full scale overhauls aren’t immediately viable.

“Rail is full of lower-cost technologies that can be applied to address what have traditionally been very expensive problems and with the collective expertise from operators and our regulatory team, I am sure we can find a few more,” Peter Doggett said.

“And the reality is we have to, so please don’t be afraid to come and talk to us, because the excuse that upgrading infrastructure is just too expensive isn’t going to wash anymore.”

To discuss this and any other safety matters with ONRSR, get in touch with your local office.

Last updated: Sep 19, 2023, 11:07:36 AM