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Objective 3Rail safety


Rail safety in Queensland

There is a strong rail safety culture in Queensland. As Queensland's Rail Safety Regulator we have provided a strong focus on informing the rail industry about appropriate safety standards, helping them to comply with legislation, undertaking investigations and checking safety standards are maintained.

We continued to advance rail safety outcomes in Queensland by leading the Queensland Level Crossing Safety Strategy 2012–2021, driving rail research activities through the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation and other independent rail safety projects.

We continue to see improvements in rail safety.

For example, during 2016–17 there was:

Graph– Rail fatalities per 100,000 population
Category 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13* 2013–14* 2014–15* 2015–16* 2016–17
Queensland 0.142197 0.115506 0.068108 0.08935 0.197014 0.021482 0.042636 0.105252 0 0.060928
Australia 0.158994 0.14234 0.126896 0.120946 0.186788

Data sources: Australian Safety Transport Bureau, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Transport and Main Roads' Land Transport Safety Branch


  • Data excludes fatalities resulting from suspected suicides, assaults and natural causes.
  • *Australian figures for 2012–13 to 2015–16 were not published.
  • Rates previously provided may have changed due to the recasting of Queensland population data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Rail fatality data is subject to review and amendment as additional or more detailed information becomes available. This may result in variations to historical data which have previously been published.

Upgrading key level crossings

Level crossing incidents have the potential to be catastrophic, but are all ultimately avoidable. Deterring level crossing misuse at Queensland's 1400 public crossings is an ongoing objective of TMR to prevent lives being put at risk, to minimise major delays for passengers and motorists and the high cost to industry and the public through damage and disruption.

Our efforts are guided by the principles and actions in the Queensland Level Crossing Safety Strategy 2012–2021. TMR's Director-General also chairs the National Level Crossing Safety Committee and led the update of the recently updated National Railway Level Crossing Safety Strategy 2017–2020.

In 2016–17, TMR (in conjunction with Queensland Rail) continued the trial and implementation of an innovative level crossing safety treatment that can upgrade a passive level crossing at a third of the cost of a conventional system.

TMR also provided funding to Queensland Rail for level crossing improvements through the Rail Transport Service Contract. In 2016–17, TMR provided $15.7 million for level crossing upgrade and renewal projects, which included infrastructure upgrades and CCTV monitoring system upgrades.

Queensland rail safety regulator

The department, as the Rail Safety Regulator, discharged its duties prescribed in theTransport (Rail Safety) Act 2010 through an accreditation scheme, audit and inspection program and investigations.

As of 30 June 2017, 65 railway organisations were accredited as rail transport operators in Queensland. Seven rail safety audits, 70 compliance inspections, and six site visits of railways were undertaken in 2016–17.

The Rail Safety Regulator applied a risk-based approach. In 2016–17, increased regulatory effort was directed toward large railway projects, such as New Generation Rollingstock and Moreton Bay Rail. Where the Rail Safety Regulator found safety issues, railways were required to correct non-compliances. In addition to planned audits and inspections, the department responded to information received from rail safety workers through the Confidential Reporting Scheme.

National Rail Safety reforms – ensuring alignment

The Rail Safety National Law (Queensland) Act 2017 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 28 February 2017 and the associated regulations were made on 1 June 2017, both to commence at the end of 30 June 2017.

TMR's Rail Regulation employees were supported through the transition process with the option to either take up employment with the ONRSR or to be deployed into another position in TMR.

From 1 July 2017, ONRSR became the rail safety regulator in Queensland and the ATSB became the rail safety investigator for no-blame investigations in Queensland.

The practical benefits of national rail safety regulation include a single national accreditation regime for rail transport operators and removing duplication of auditing, monitoring and compliance processes.

In 2016–17 there were three rail-related fatalities (excluding suicides) reported. This compares to zero in 2015–16, five in 2014–15, two in 2013–14 and one fatality in 2012–13.

Fatalities involving railway trespassers (55 per cent) and collisions at level crossings (18 per cent) comprise the majority of all fatalities for the five year period 2012–13 to 2016–17.

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