Safety Advisory Notice RO-2008-005-SAN-035

Safety Advisory Notice issued to: Australian Rail Track Corporation

Recommendation details
Output No: RO-2008-005-SAN-035
Date issued: 03 February 2010
Safety action status: Closed
Background: Why this Safety Advisory Notice was developed

Output text

Safety issue
The process for identifying potential rail defects is limited by the ultrasonic test vehicle operator's ability to detect and assess the echo patterns correctly.


Action taken by the ARTC
Rail Technology International (RTI) is actively conducting further development of their ultrasonic testing process. For example, RTI are developing software based on 'Artificial Neural Networks' for recognising ultrasonic reflection patterns that represent potential rail defects such as bolt-hole cracks. RTI have conducted post test re-analysis of ultrasonic test data using the neural network software to identify any defects that may have been missed during the test run. RTI's plan is to run the neural network software in the background and conduct this analysis while ultrasonic testing is being undertaken. RTI have indicated that implementation is planned for early 2010.

ATSB assessment of action
The ATSB acknowledges that the ARTC and RTI are developing processes to reduce the risks associated with operator dependence. While some of those
initiatives have been introduced, especially in relation to bolt-hole cracks, other rail defects are also exposed to the issue of operator dependence. The opportunity exists for continued development and implementation of strategies aimed at reducing operator dependence.

ATSB safety advisory notice RO-2008-005-SAN-035
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau advises that the ARTC should consider the implications of this safety issue and take action where considered appropriate.

Last update 05 April 2012