Safe railways for Australia

Scope and methods

Reporting period

The current reporting period is from 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2019.

Where possible, charts will present occurrence counts over the full reporting period. Due to data limitations, activity data and occurrence rates are only available from 1 January 2016 and some charts present occurrence count data over a reduced period:

  • Serious injury counts are displayed from 1 July 2016;
  • Level crossing near miss counts are displayed from 1 July 2015;
  • Level crossing equipment failures and defect counts are displayed from 1 July 2015; and
  • Drug and alcohol testing data is presented from 1 January 2016.

The statistics are updated every six months, which allows for further trending and analysis over time.

Railway operations and geographic coverage

The statistics cover all railway operations in Australia with the exception of some operations in Victoria. Prior to 2 December 2019, all tramways operating in Victoria, including the metropolitan tram operator in Melbourne and several tourist and heritage railways, were regulated under local Victorian law and were therefore not subject to  Rail Safety National Law (RSNL). Data for these railways will be included at the next update to the National Safety Data.

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.

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.

Some occurrences are excluded from the associated rate calculations due to the unavailability of corresponding activity data from certain operators. This is noted on the applicable charts.

Some of the data presented was collected by previous state-based regulators under different legislative regimes. A review of this data was undertaken to ensure comparability with ONRSR collected data. This applies to the data outlined below:

  • WA – notifiable occurrence data from 1 July 2014 to 1 November 2015 was collected by the WA Department of Transport, Office of Rail Safety.
  • Qld. – notifiable occurrence and activity data from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017 was collected by the Qld. Department of Transport and Main Roads.


Statistics are predominantly based on the incident definitions of the national occurrence classification guideline, which is date dependent. For the majority of data up to and including 7 June 2017, incident definitions are based on those in the Occurrence Classification Guideline, 2013 (OC-G1). For data collected since 8 June 2017, and for all SPAD / LRTAE 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– statistics are limited to SPAD classification A1 Limit of Authority (LOA) Missed by Train Crew as defined in the RRfNO.
  • Light rail/tram authorities exceeded – statistics are limited to classifications A2 Light rail/tram signal passed without authority and A4 Limit of Authority missed by Light Rail/Tram Crew, also 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.

Train types are as specified within the relevant chart filtering tabs, except for “Other”. In addition to including occurrences involving all other types of rolling stock, “Other” train type also includes a small number of occurrences where the train type is unknown.


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.

The incidents in scope of the RRV safety chart are notifiable occurrences in which an RRV was involved irrespective of the cause of the incident, 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

The incidents in scope of the Level Crossing safety chart are a sub-set of notifiable level crossing equipment failure / defects that meet the following criteria:

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).