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National Rail Safety Scheme

The national rail safety scheme commenced operation in Victoria on 19 May 2014.

The national rail safety scheme commenced in South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and New South Wales on 20 January 2013.  Queensland and Western Australia are yet to join the scheme.

The changes result from an intergovernmental agreement between the Commonwealth and States and Territories signed in August 2011 for a single national rail safety regulator, based in Adelaide.

Victoria's Parliament passed legislation enabling Victoria's entry into the national scheme in April 2013. ollowing the signing of a service level agreement between the Minister for Public Transport, the Director, Transport Safety and the national rail safety regulator on 16 March 2014, the national rail safety scheme commenced operation in Victoria on 19 May 2014.

The national scheme applies to all heavy rail operations in Victoria except tramways (in particular, the Yarra Trams network) and seven tourist and heritage heavy railway operators which opted to remain under local regulation. 

Domestic rail operators like V/Line, Metro Trains Melbourne and private siding operators (such as those at Dynon, Port Melbourne) are regulated under the national scheme alongside interstate passenger and freight heavy railway operators such as Australian Rail Track Corporation and Pacific National.

The tourist and heritage railway operators which are regulated under the national scheme are:

  • Steamrail Victoria
  • Seven-0-Seven Operations (also known as R 707)
  • Diesel Electric Rail Motor Preservation Association of Victoria
  • Seymour Rail Heritage Centre
  • Geelong Steam Preservation Society (operating as The Bellarine Railway)
  • The Mornington Railway Preservation Society
  • Emerald Tourist Railway (operating as Puffing Billy).

Key features of the national scheme

The key features of the national scheme replicate existing Victorian requirements including:

  • general safety duties covering industry parties and individuals which require persons to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable
  • accreditation requirements for rail operators including those who manage track and other rail infrastructure and operate rolling stock
  • safety management system requirements and risk management requirements
  • a range of measures which enable the rail safety regulator to take appropriate compliance and enforcement action.

The national rail safety scheme is implemented at local level by the Victorian Safety Director (through Transport Safety Victoria) acting under delegation from the national rail safety regulator. New South Wales is also operating under this arrangement which enables the continuation of local oversight of rail operations.

Benefits of the scheme

The national rail safety law was developed after extensive consultation with the rail industry and jurisdictions. Having a national regulator means that rail operators working across multiple jurisdictions need only obtain one rail safety accreditation, thereby reducing red tape for interstate operators.

Page last reviewed on 15 May 2015

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