Rail safety issues and actions

Pre-warning train driver of occupied track

Issue number: RO-2015-007-SI-04
Who it affects: All rail transport operators throughout Australia
Issue owner: Australian Rail Track Corporation and SCT Logistics
Transport function: Rail: Infrastructure
Background: Investigation Report RO-2015-007
Issue release date: 16 December 2015
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

The ATSB is satisfied that the actions proposed jointly by the ARTC and SCT Logistics will reduce the risk of this type of safety issue.

Safety issue description

The practice of pathing a following train onto the same line occupied by a preceding train, without pre-warning the driver regarding the train ahead, presented an elevated level of risk.

Proactive Action

Action number: RO-2015-007-NSA-006
Action organisation: ARTC and SCT Logistics
Date: 16 December 2015
Action status: Closed

In response to this safety issue, the Australian Rail Track Corporation have advised:

C light / Low speed signal indications are a Proceed Restricted Authority the definition of which and conditions of use is adequately covered in the CoP.

The improved safety case for vital track side signal systems over verbal authorities has been long established; the gains primarily come from minimising the human input and associated human error (i.e. misinformation or misinterpretation of information) between Network Control and Train Crews.

The current rules and conditions are considered appropriate as they place the onus for safety on the person best placed to manage the situation – the train driver.

Train crews have an existing obligation to seek clarification of situations or signal indications that they do not readily understand and NCO’s have and will continue to provide clarification as requested.

In response to this safety issue, SCT Logistics have advised of the following proactive safety action:

SCT have issued instructions to train crews advising that they should seek clarification from the ARTC Network Control Officer of situations or signal indications that they do not readily understand.

Last update 16 December 2015