Safe railways for Australia

Scope and methods

Reporting period and geographic coverage

The current reporting period is from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2019. Data for Western Australia is included from 2 November 2015, and data for Queensland is included from 1 July 2017. Data for South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory is included for the entire reporting period. The statistics are updated every six months, which allows for further trending and analysis over time.

Railway operations

The statistics cover all railway operations within the aforementioned geographic bounds, with the exception of Victoria. There are 11 railways which continue to be regulated under local Victorian law and are therefore not subject to Rail Safety National Law (RSNL). These comprise the metropolitan tram operator and 10 standalone tourist and heritage railways.

Data and sources

The statistics are principally based on notifiable occurrences – the initial written advice of a rail safety incident that a rail transport operator (RTO) submits to ONRSR in accordance with section 121 of the RSNL.

The statistics are based on the incident definitions of the national occurrence classification guideline, which is date dependent. For data up to and including 7 June 2017, incident definitions are based on those in the Occurrence Classification Guideline (OC-G1). For all other data, incident definitions are based on the Reporting Requirements for Notifiable Occurrences (RRfNO).

Variations from the incident definitions provided in the national occurrence classification guideline are described below:

  • Running line collisions between trains or with rolling stock – statistics exclude trains striking or being struck by out of gauge equipment on trains on adjacent lines.
  • Signal passed at danger/Authority exceeded – statistics are limited to SPAD classification A1 Limit of Authority (LOA) Missed by Train Crew, and LRTAE classifications A2 Light rail/tram signal passed without authority and A4 Limit of Authority missed by Light Rail/Tram Crew, which are defined in the RRfNO.
  • RRV safety – notifiable occurrences involving road rail vehicles (RRVs) exclude the categories listed in the RRV safety tab.
  • Level crossing safety - statistics are based on definitions specific to this website to support a more meaningful risk-based analysis of critical events and are available in the level crossing safety tab.

Statistics relating to Tourist & heritage safety are based on key occurrence categories in which a tourist & heritage rolling stock operator or rail infrastructure manager was involved, rather than those occurrences where a tourist & heritage passenger train was involved, and will therefore differ from any values listed against the subcategory of Tourist & heritage passenger on the Key Occurrences page.

Activity data (for example, train kilometres travelled, or drug and alcohol testing undertaken by industry) is based on monthly returns supplied by RTOs in accordance with section 120(3) of the RSNL. The specific information to be provided is defined in clause 56 of the National Regulations.

Level Crossing numbers are sourced from the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM).


The statistics may differ to other sources that utilise the same data and coding specifications. This will be due in part to the data collection and preparation methods used to generate the tables and charts on this website, which included identification and correction of errors in historical data. In addition, the statistics are subject to review and amendment as more information becomes available through investigation or inquiry, or as ONRSR refines its systems for data capture, validation and reporting. This may result in variation between historical and future reports.

Counts relating to RRV safety are of notifiable occurrences in which an RRV was involved, with the exclusion of the following occurrence types:

  • Running Line Collision
    • With Animal
    • With Obstruction
      • Natural Object
      • Other Object
  • Yard Collision
    • With Animal
    • With Obstruction
      • Natural Object
      • Other Object
Level Crossing Occurrence 
  • Level Crossing Equipment Failure/Defect
  • Near Miss with Road Vehicle
    • At Crossings with Active Traffic Control Equipment
    • At Crossings with Passive Traffic Control Equipment
    • At Unprotected Level Crossing
  • Near Miss with Person
    • At Crossings with Active Traffic Control Equipment
    • At Crossings with Passive Traffic Control Equipment
    • At Unprotected Level Crossing
Signalling And Other Proceed Authority Systems Irregularity 
  • Wayside Signalling System Irregularity
  • In-cab Signalling System Irregularity
  • Token Based System Irregularity
  • Communications Based Train Authority System Irregularity
  • Other Signalling and Proceed Authority System Irregularity
Slip, Trip, or Fall 
  • Between Platform and Rolling Stock
  • On Rolling Stock
  • On Track
  • On/From Platform/Concourse
  • On/From Escalator/Lift
  • On/From Stairs/Ramps
  • From Structure
  • Caught in Rolling Stock Doors
  • Other Slip, Trip or Fall
Load Irregularity 
  • Door Open
  • Out of Gauge
  • Load Shift
  • Uneven Distribution of Load
  • Loose Load Fastening
  • Other Load Irregularity
Dangerous Goods 
  • On Rolling Stock
  • Off Rolling Stock
Track and Civil Infrastructure Irregularity 
  • Broken Rail and Rail Defects
    • Detected Outside of Maintenance Inspections
    • Maintenance Inspection Detected
  • Misaligned Track
  • Spread Track
  • Points Irregularity
  • Track Obstruction
    • Natural Object
    • Railway-Related Object
    • Other Object
  • Civil Infrastructure Irregularity
  • Bridge Strike
  • Other Track Infrastructure Irregularity
Electrical Infrastructure Irregularity 
  • Overhead Traction Supply
  • Other Electrical Infrastructure Irregularity
  • On Train
    • Passenger or Load Related
  • Lineside Fires
    • Safety Related Infrastructure
    • Other Lineside Fires
  • Station/Terminal Fires
Suspected Suicide or Attempted Suicide 
  • Suspected Suicide
    • Struck by Train
    • Other Suspected Suicide
  • Attempted Suicide
    • Struck by Train
    • Other Attempted Suicide
Railway Network Security 
  • Railway Trespass
    • Near Miss With Trespasser
    • Other Railway Trespass
  • Alleged Assault
    • On Train
    • On Platform
    • Other Alleged Assault
  • Terrorism/Sabotage
    • Terrorist Act
    • Threat of Terrorist Act
    • Other Terrorism/Sabotage
  • Vandalism
    • Object Projected at Rolling Stock
      • Struck Train
      • Other
    • Graffiti
    • Other Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Other Railway Network Security

Counts relating to level crossing safety are assigned a relative risk level using the criteria below:

Relative Risk Level: High - an equipment failure or defect resulting in:

  • Complete failure of active warning devices
  • Late or intermittent activation of warning devices
  • Premature deactivation of warning devices.

Relative Risk Level: Medium - an equipment failure or defect resulting in:

  • Failure of road boom(s) to fully lower but other active warning devices operational
  • Complete failure of road warning lights but other active warning devices operational
  • Failure of pedestrian gate(s) to close or boom(s) to lower
  • Lights not working as designed or advanced warning boards do not activate.

Relative Risk Level: Low - an equipment failure or defect resulting in:

  • Failure of pedestrian don't walk / warning light(s)
  • Failure of audible warning devices (bells, sirens)
  • Defective locking mechanism on emergency escape gates
  • Damaged / missing passive warning devices (e.g. signs).

Relative Risk Level: Negligible - an equipment failure or defect resulting in anything other than that listed above.

Relative Risk Level: Unknown - not enough information supplied to assign a failure category.

A sub-set of level crossing equipment failures and defects reported up to and including 7 June 2017, in accordance with the Occurrence Classification Guideline (OC-G1) in place at the time, have been excluded from the data presented. These occurrences are no longer reportable under the current Reporting Requirements for Notifiable Occurrences.