On 13 September 2012, the Australian Parliament passed the Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Bill 2012. The bill supports the establishment of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as Australia's first national rail safety investigator.
From January next year, the ATSB will have the responsibility of investigating safety events on all passenger and freight rail networks across Australia; this is a key part of new national arrangements making rail travel safer for all Australians. At present, the ATSB is limited to investigations on interstate rail lines.
From next year, the ATSB will conduct more safety investigations across a greater range of safety matters and share the safety lessons that will save lives and prevent injuries.
Martin Dolan, the Chief Commissioner of the ATSB said;
"The ATSB is looking forward to taking on a bigger job in improving Australian rail safety through investigating accidents and incidents on all Australian rail networks. It is fundamentally important to rail safety that we learn what caused things to go wrong and prevent it from happening again."
"We have built up significant experience over the last ten years of conducting interstate rail investigations and we are ready to expand our jurisdiction as a part of the national rail safety reforms. While we will be independent from the new national rail safety regulator and industry, we will be working with them to identify risks to safety that might be addressed to prevent future accidents", said Mr Dolan.
Consistent with the ATSB's current role and international best practice, the ATSB will be focussed on finding the factors that contribute to accidents and incidents so that lessons can be learned and shared in order to improve the safety of the rail systems across Australia.
"Our interest is in improving safety, not in allocating blame", Mr Dolan said. "We will have succeeded if we can prevent future accidents through thorough investigation and publicising and sharing the results."
Over the last 12 months the ATSB has recruited new rail investigators in readiness for the expanded role and negotiated financial and resource sharing arrangements with the states.
"We will be making assessments of occurrences reported to us to determine which ones would benefit from an ATSB investigation in order to assist with improving future safety. Certainly where there are deaths or serious injuries, we will be there", said Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan.
- More information on the National Safety Investigation Reforms
Last update 08 March 2016