Safe railways for Australia

ONRSR calls for independent track audit


28 Feb 2020

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has called on the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to immediately commission a fully independent audit of the railway track between Sydney and Melbourne.

The audit, which ARTC has pledged to co-operate with, will focus on both the suitability of the standards it uses to maintain the track between Australia’s two largest cities, and its ongoing adherence to them.

ONRSR Chief Executive and National Rail Safety Regulator, Sue McCarrey said this action is distinct from ONRSR’s ongoing investigation into the recent fatal derailment at Wallan.

“I want to stress that it remains far too early to speculate on the direct causes of the derailment at Wallan,” she said.

“The action I’ve taken in relation to ARTC is about addressing the very public concerns of rail safety workers and making sure we can promote public confidence in rail safety which is a key objective for ONRSR under our Rail Safety National Law.”

ARTC will begin the process immediately with the work to start once ONRSR has verified the independence of the selected auditor.

A final report must be provided to ONRSR in due course for its consideration and review.

“Of course, having this broader corridor information, along with the specific findings of the investigation at Wallan, will help us have the best possible understanding of what can be done to prevent incidents like this in the future,” Ms McCarrey said.

“By taking proactive steps and looking at everything we can, we’ll have a clear picture of what actions will need to be taken at an operational level and any broader implications for the rail industry and the regulatory environment.”

Wallan derailment

On Thursday, 20 February a Melbourne bound XPT train derailed near Wallan in Victoria. Tragically two people lost their lives in the accident and several others were injured and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time.

Having deployed to the site immediately after the incident occurred, ONRSR personnel will continue their investigation in the coming weeks.

ONRSR Rail Safety Officers along with track, rolling stock and signalling engineers are focusing their investigation on the safety procedures and systems that the rail operator and track maintainers have in place and ultimately whether there has been any breach of the safety duties they have under Australia’s Rail Safety National Law.

The National Rail Safety Regulator oversees adherence to Australia’s Rail Safety National Law (RSNL).

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