Safe railways for Australia

Road rail vehicle safety

ONRSR is working closely with the rail industry to achieve an industry-wide improvement in the safe operation of road rail vehicles (RRVs). RRVs are purpose-built or modified vehicles which are used in ‘rail mode’ for maintaining and inspecting track but can also be used in ‘road mode’ to drive between worksites.

While industry initiatives have been implemented in some areas (for example, upgrading or retrofitting better braking systems), the risks around the operation of RRVs remain and preventable incidents are still occurring.

ONRSR’s RRV Compliance Strategy includes:

  • undertaking compliance inspections targeting RRVs; and
  • developing a national profile on RRV incidents.

The ONRSR has also requested that rail operators:

  • revisit the bow tie risk analyses on the four main types of ‘loss of control’ events associated with RRV operations;
  • if the organisation is a rail infrastructure manager, provide a list of all RRVs that operate on their network as well as the name of the organisation that operates the RRVs.

The rail industry is well aware of the poor safety performance of RRVs and the risks associated with their use. Many operators were involved in the industry workshops in late 2013 which brought a national focus to the issue and saw collaboration and knowledge sharing among rail operators. There continue to be insufficient controls in place to manage risks including common risks such as forgetting the handbrake, errors of judgement and poor maintenance.

Based on intelligence gathered from rail operators in 2014, ONRSR is concerned that these risks pose a serious risk to rail safety workers and an ongoing threat to the rail network.

In recent years there have been hundreds of reported incidents involving RRVs on the rail network. These incidents have included RRVs colliding with trains, road vehicles, infrastructure and people resulting in two deaths and multiple serious injuries.

Concurrently, RISSB is developing an RRV standard to be adopted by industry. ONRSR is represented on the development group for this standard.

Related documents


October/November 2013

May/June 2013

October 2012 (pre-ONRSR)

Last updated: 8 September 2016