On track to greater insights

Through collaboration with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), the ATSB is gaining access to a detailed data feed of rail safety occurrences, as well as many years’ worth of historical records.

A train

Rail safety data in Australia comes from many different sources and covers a large spectrum of operations. This includes the interstate rail network, suburban and intrastate rail networks, and private rail networks.

Originally, the ATSB had a limited focus on accidents and incidents that occurred on the interstate rail network. More recently, as part of the national rail safety reforms, the ATSB’s rail safety investigation role has been expanded to include all operations within every Australian state and territory.

ATSB Executive Director of Transport Safety, Mr Nat Nagy, said the access to the new data represented an important step forward.

“Previously, there were significant limitations – some information was limited to the interstate rail network, and only consisted of certain details,” Mr Nagy said. “The new data covers everything, including suburban rail. It’s going to provide invaluable context to our rail safety investigations.”

The ATSB previously had access to limited occurrence information held by regulators in each state and territory. The limitations made it difficult for the ATSB to conduct significant analysis of rail safety events, preventing any effective analysis of safety trends and statistics.

The ATSB now receives a daily feed each evening from ONRSR containing a complete update of all occurrences reported by the rail industry, Australia wide. The ATSB can now combine this information with its own data holdings on safety investigations to form a rich data set.

In addition to the new flow of current information, there is a transfer of historic occurrence records dating back to 20 January 2013. Over 208,000 records are migrating over to the ATSB databases. Some of the occurrences recorded are highly significant, others are routine, but combined they form a detailed picture of rail safety in Australia.

Mr Nagy anticipates this new access will be of tremendous value in advancing rail safety in Australia. “This is going to enable the ATSB to conduct much more effective rail safety research and analysis,” Mr Nagy said. “Our investigators will be able to drill down into the details. We will be looking to identify trends and problems before they become significant.”

Last update 16 November 2018