Safe railways for Australia

Safety Bulletin: Loading irregularities

13 December 2017

ONRSR will be conducting a review of occurrence data and other regulatory intelligence gathered in recent months to ensure our ongoing audit and compliance activities effectively monitor the risks to rail safety posed by loading irregularities across the rail industry. This will enable ONRSR to more effectively determine the appropriate regulatory tools to use to ensure the requirements of the Rail Safety National Law are met, and rail safety is improved.

The issue has previously been the subject of specific investigations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and while some proactive measures have been taken by certain sectors of industry, these types of incidents were recently identified by ONRSR during a review of our operational priorities. While still requiring a thorough analysis of the data to verify the extent of any problem, a recent noticeable trend of loading irregularities among freight operators is cause for concern. Furthermore, given the potentially disastrous consequences associated with incidents of this kind, a reminder of rail transport operators’ and duty holders’ obligations and responsibilities is considered timely.

Loading irregularities can be caused by a number of factors but generally arise as a result of:

  • ineffective twist locks
  • insufficient load restraint and securement
  • incorrect loading and load distribution
  • track and train dynamics
  • extreme weather conditions.

It is vitally important that those responsible for loading ensure that the load is secured and restrained in a way that it will not cause it to move whilst in transit. This includes that all devices used to secure containers to rail wagons are in sound and serviceable condition. Regular maintenance regimes must include checks of the condition of twist locks and like devices while associated guidance material such as wagon maintenance manuals should reinforce the need for vigilance.

The following ATSB investigation reports are recommended reading for all rail transport operators and duty holders under Rail Safety National Law:

If you have any queries regarding this issue please call ONRSR on (08) 8406 1500.