Reference number
Date reported
Published date
Affected operation/industry
Concern summary

The concern related to train drivers and network controllers utilising personal electronic devices whilst operating trains and control boards.

Reporter's deidentified concern

The reporter has expressed a concern regarding the use of personal electronic devices by drivers and controllers across the [Operator] network.

The reporter advises there appears to be a lack of procedure, and/or enforcement relating to the use of personal devices within work areas that are critical to rail safety. 

Whilst train drivers are entitled to a mobile phone for secondary means of communication, it is evident that mobile phones are being utilised for private use. Passengers in the first car of any [Operator] rail service can hear podcasts, YouTube videos, Facebook messenger dings, twitter whistles and snapchat clicks whilst trains are in motion. In addition, at times the noise level from podcasts is overbearing and much louder than the train radio itself. The reporter believes that personal use of devices is increasing, and resulting in driver complacency and distraction across the network.

The reporter further believes that as drivers make no attempt to hide their mobile phone use, it is indicative that [Operator] is accepting of this behaviour and drivers know they will not face any disciplinary action.

The reporter further states it is evident that there is no policy on the use of personal electronic devices in the train control centre. It is not uncommon for tour groups or official visits to see iPads, phones and smart watches out on tables in full view. Furthermore, an AM/FM radio appears to be part of the control set up and the radio station is often heard over the open channel WB radio to train drivers.

Named party's response

The operator did not provide a response.

Regulator's response

ONRSR has reviewed the information contained within REPCON Report Number: RR201800023 issued by the ATSB on 26 November 2018 regarding reported concerns regarding the use of personal electronic devices by drivers and controllers across the [Operator] network.

ONRSR notes that at the time of issuing the REPCON report, the ATSB had not received a response from the rail transport operator involved.

ONRSR considers the issue to be a valid safety concern and intends to conduct regulatory activities as part of the ONRSR 2019 Work Program.