Rail safety issues and actions

Supervision of trainee drivers

Issue number: RO-2012-009-SI-01
Who it affects: All rolling stock operators
Issue owner: Genesee and Wyoming Australia
Transport function: Rail: Freight
Background: Investigation Report RO-2012-009
Issue release date: 28 May 2014
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

The actions undertaken by Genesee and Wyoming Australia should adequately address the safety issue.

Safety issue description

The Genesee and Wyoming Australia safety management system procedures did not provide supervising and trainee drivers with sufficient guidance or direction as to the extent of their supervisory or permitted driving roles.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Genesee and Wyoming Australia
Date: 28 May 2014
Action status: Closed

Genesee and Wyoming Australia has advised the ATSB that:

A system of ranking trainees has been implemented – each level in the three-tier system correlating to the trainee’s progression towards being able to assume control of a main line train or locomotive. Under this system, a card is issued to each trainee, which details their ranking and any associated limitations that apply to their role relative to the operation of the locomotive/train. Under the supporting protocol, the trainee is required to present their card to the Driver in Charge [supervising driver] prior the commencement of the service.
A locomotive driver memo was drafted and sent to the home address of all drivers and operators in GWA, reminding them of the three category restrictions that apply to all grades of trainee.

Category A: Trainee locomotive drivers without their air brake and locomotive engine qualifications are NOT permitted to drive under any circumstances.

Category B: Advanced trainee locomotive drivers are permitted to operate locomotives/trains under very clear and strict supervision.

Category C: Assistant drivers are able to operate locomotives/trains with some autonomy while under the supervision of a qualified driver.

Personal briefs were held with every driver/operator in each location detailing the incident, the possible ramifications and the consequences of allowing inexperienced and untrained drivers to operate locomotives and trains. These briefing sessions expanded on the safety theme and allowed for two way conversations with staff that were beneficial in many respects. The underlying focus of the briefings involved gaining an unconditional commitment from every driver that they understood the consequences that could have been realised and that they would apply all safeworking rules and protocols.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB is satisfied that the action taken by Genesee and Wyoming Australia should adequately address the safety issue.

Last update 28 May 2014