Safe railways for Australia

Notice to conduct a s122 investigation


Following a rail safety incident, ONRSR may instruct a Rail Transport Operator (RTO) to undertake an investigation into an occurrence and set the terms of reference for that investigation by issuing a Notice to Conduct an Investigation under s122 of the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL). This may occur because ONRSR is concerned:

  • About the rail incident that occurred;
  • That the incident is reoccurring within the individual RTO’s operations or within the rail industry; or
  • That the RTO has not undertaken an adequate investigation into the incident or considers it necessary to set the scope for the investigation.

The Notice will typically set out the:

  • Terms of reference for the investigation to ensure that the RTO’s investigation will take into consideration the matters that are of concern;
  • Timeframe for the investigation, noting that there are penalties applicable under the RSNL for failing to meet the timeframe – ONRSR may consider extensions for genuine reasons; and
  • Requirement to provide the investigation report to ONRSR.

However, the RTO retains the ability to investigate the incident in a broader nature and in line with their safety management system. The onus remains on the RTO to identify and rectify safety issues that are identified through the investigation.

It is important that the final investigation report provided to ONRSR addresses all the matters outlined in the scope of the Notice. If the investigation report is incomplete it is likely further requests for information will be made or compliance activities undertaken.

Further guidance on what ONRSR expects from industry investigation reports is provided in the Investigation Reports by Rail Transport Operators Guideline.

How is the report used?

The findings and recommendations will be examined to gain a better understanding of the incident and how the RTO is managing safety. ONRSR may use the investigation report to inform its audit and inspection activities for the individual RTO(s) involved in the incident or at a broader industry level.

The information contained in the investigation report provided under a Notice cannot be used by ONRSR as evidence against the RTO in civil or criminal proceedings (other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the information or document).

Related documents

Last updated: 11 May 2020