ARTC and EWN weather monitoring procedure and service agreement
Date issue released
Safety Issue Description

The weather alerts issued by the EWN did not reliably reflect the data and frequency of ARTC’s extreme weather monitoring procedure or the service agreement. This and the services ARTC believed were included in the service agreement likely impacted the expectations of ARTC users who relied on these warnings to inform their response.

Issue number
Issue Status
Closed – Adequately addressed
Transport Function
Rail: Infrastructure
Issue Owner
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Early Warning Network (EWN)
Mode of Transport
Issue Status Justification

The ATSB is satisfied that the safety actions taken by both ARTC and EWN addresses the safety issue.

Proactive action
Action number
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)
Action Status
Action description

In August 2022, ARTC advised that they had undertaken a review of their contract with the EWN to address inconsistencies between ARTC's extreme weather monitoring procedure and contract.

Additionally, they clarified their requirements in relation to flood warnings with the EWN. Monitoring of rainfall depths for the Hunter Valley corridor had also been rectified and commenced.

In response to the draft report ARTC advised of the additional proactive safety actions:

  • Appointed a new weather provider that offered a mobile device application that provides lightning and fire alerts specific to a particular location and is expected to deliver a marked improvement in the early warning of severe weather systems.
  • The weather provider uses a geographic information system (GIS), so ARTC can geolocate sections of track and achieve more granular reporting.
  • ARTC is also using a number of data points to inform decision making e.g., BoM, ARTC monitoring sites, reports from maintainers and drivers.
  • The new provider service agreement acknowledges the safety-criticality of the information being provided and the contract has been prepared in line with the requirements of the ARTC procedure OPE-PR-014. This procedure has also been reviewed to ensure it is in line with expectations around how ARTC manages extreme weather events. 
  • The locations of flooding special locations have been communicated to the service provider with amber alerts to be generated if rainfall exceeds ARTC’s thresholds within 20 km of the special location.
  • Monitoring of BoM flood warnings (moderate and major) for bridges that cross major rivers/floodplains have also been included in the contract. ARTC are in the process of identifying the locations that require monitoring. 
  • ARTC will be undertaking regular reviews of the service being provided with an expectation that it is upgraded as required.
  • ARTC also advised that their longer-term plan is to have a better understanding of their assets and to improve their knowledge bank to better understand and deal with the many inputs relating to weather and its impact on their network.


ATSB Response

The ATSB notes that ARTC have taken action to ensure that the weather monitoring service is aligned to their extreme weather monitoring procedure and have also introduced more proactive monitoring to manage the risk of flooding at special locations. The action taken by ARTC addresses the safety issue.

Proactive action
Action number
Early Warning Network (EWN)
Action Status
Action description

In response to the draft report the EWN advised that they had performed the following safety actions:

  • Monitoring of rainfall depth for the Hunter Valley corridor had been setup and was being performed.
  • Rebuilt their entire rainfall alert system, added all ARTC owned gauges and ARTC special locations for amber alerts.
  • Developed a Radar Derived Rainfall (RDR) alerts system. Where there was weather radar coverage the system would allow for rainfall accumulations to be derived for a particular area rather than relying on land-based weather monitoring equipment. The EWN reported that based on the rainfall on the night of the occurrence that if the RDR alert system was operating, a red alert would have been issued at 2230 and a black alert at 2245 for rainfall exceeding the 6-hour ARI rainfall threshold.
ATSB Response

The ATSB notes that EWN have taken action to revise their weather monitoring system and services, which addresses the safety issue.