Safety concerns cause rail rift

A rift in the rail industry has formed following a call for comment on proposed rail fatigue regulations

Safety concerns cause rail rift
Safety concerns cause rail rift

By Sean Muir | March 6, 2012

The Australasian Railway Association threw its weight behind flexible work hours yesterday in opposition to the Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union, which has expressed safety concerns about shift lengths.

The conflicting views have emerged a week after the release of a National Transport Commission draft regulatory impact statement, which outlined four regulation options for rail work and rest hours.

Australasian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye says over regulation that limits work hours without a scientific basis will stop industry innovation.

"Nobody is saying that we shouldn’t have something in place, but it’s got to be better than just mandating hours," Nye says.

"They are trying to define exactly how many hours."

Nye says the industry should be able to manage fatigue with modern risk management methods based on sleep quality, work intensity, and fatigue management awareness.

"Safety is the rail industry’s highest priority and all rail operators have systems in place to manage fatigue and ensure a safe working environment."

"The last thing the rail operator wants is to have an accident because an accident costs us the earth."
He says the National Rail Safety Regulator will impose almost two pages of detailed requirements as part of its fatigue management regime.

Nye says rail operators should be able to adopt good practice and expert advice from internationally renowned fatigue management experts.

"As well as a duty of care, each rail operator undergoes an extensive accreditation process, on-going audits, regulatory oversight and approval of its fatigue management program to ensure they have appropriate and effective controls managing fatigue."

"The Industry has worked with a number of internationally renowned fatigue management experts including the University of Central Queensland based Centre for Sleep Research."

Nye says the Rail Industry - through the Australian Standards endorsed Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board - plans to develop its own Code of Practice to provide technical assistance to rail operators as they put together their fatigue management cases.

Submissions on the draft regulatory impact statement can be made through the NTC website ( or by post to the Chief Executive, National Transport Commission, Level 15/628, Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000.

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