Thursday, May 18, 2023
ONRSR is highlighting good practices and requirements for effective management of railway track infrastructure
ONRSR conducts regulatory activities, including audits, inspections, and site visits, across multiple operators and sectors. In conducting these regulatory activities, ONRSR often observes and identifies both good and poor safety practices.
In this safety message, ONRSR highlights some of the good practices for maintaining rail track – a key piece of rail infrastructure that many Rail Transport operators (RTOs) are required to manage and maintain safely, so far as is reasonably practicable - as per the Rail Safety National Law.
While not exhaustive and given the range of operational environments within the Australian rail industry, the following should be noted.
RTOs must consider a range of factors, including the likelihood of the hazard and the degree of harm to determine what management practices are reasonably practicable to implement.
Refer to the ONRSR Guideline – Meaning of duty to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable SFAIRP for more information).
In relation to effective management of rail track infrastructure, a good safety management system should contain:
Asset details (such as an asset register) provide information about the track infrastructure itself. Information that can be covered includes, but is not limited to:
Documenting the risks and controls for track infrastructure demonstrates that key risks are being monitored and managed effectively. A non-exhaustive list of risks includes:
Each of these risks should have controls in place to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable. A non-exhaustive list of controls includes:
Standards define the criteria for how track infrastructure should be maintained. Information that standards can cover includes, but is not limited to:
Procedures underpin the overall process for maintaining track infrastructure. Information that procedures can cover includes, but are not limited to:
Undertaking inspections of track infrastructure helps to understand its condition and what repairs or maintenance may be required. A non-exhaustive list of the information inspection records can cover includes, but is not limited to:
Defect management is about ensuring defects or non-conformances are accurately recorded, criticality assessed, prioritised, tracked, monitored and actioned ensuring traceability from defect discovery to rectification.
Information defect management materials can cover includes, but is not limited to:
Implementing these processes can have additional benefits beyond improved operational safety including:
Further to this safety message, operators may benefit from reviewing their SMS. The following list includes, but is not limited to, those systems and procedures likely to be most relevant for review:
Please see ONRSR Guideline - Safety Management System Guideline for more information.
The Safety Management Guideline provides accredited rail transport operators, and those seeking accreditation, with guidance on the legislative requirements for safety management systems and what the National Rail Safety Regulator (NRSR) looks for when assessing safety management systems, and how to prepare a safety management system that complies with the legislative requirements.
All RTOs managing railway track may benefit from reviewing this guideline.