Thursday, October 28, 2021
ONRSR is reminding rail transport operators about a range of risks, causes and controls associated road vehicles or vessels striking rail bridges.
Rail bridges, referred to as rail under bridges, are designed to safely carry rail over a roadway or waterway. However, bridges with low vertical clearance over a road or a waterway are susceptible to road vehicle or vessel collisions. Bridge strike incidents typically involve over-height road vehicles (such as trucks or lorries including loads) or vessels impacting against a bridge structure, bridge supports, piers and abutments. It may also involve over-width loads, colliding with the bridge supports or abutments.
These incidents can result in derailments and collisions that can ultimately cause serious injuries and even fatalities. ONRSR’s investigations have shown there are several mitigations that can minimise the risks. While not exhaustive, given the range of operational environments within the Australian rail industry, the following causes/contributing factors and controls should be noted.
1. Organisational factors e.g.
2. Technological or equipment factors e.g.
3. Individual factors e.g.
While not an exhaustive list, ONRSR is aware of the following controls that are available and have been used in railways both in Australia and overseas. Rail Transport Operators (RTO) should note that there are safety and operational benefits and possible detriments associated with each control. Operators must consider a range of factors, including the likelihood of the hazard and the degree of harm to determine what controls are reasonably practicable to implement (see the ONRSR Guideline – Meaning of duty to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable SFAIRP for more information).
The following controls are likely to eliminate the risk but this may not be reasonably practicable:
(see the ONRSR Guideline – Meaning of duty to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable SFAIRP for more information)
Some of the engineering controls that railways can employ to mitigate the risks associated with bridges strikes include the following:
Load resistance controls:
Collision protection controls:
Some of the administrative and organisational controls that railways can employ to mitigate the risks associated with bridges strikes include the following:
Signage and markings:
Height detection systems:
Permit assessments, enforcement and response controls:
This information is provided as guidance only.