From 1 July 2017 the new Rail Safety National Law will apply in
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Have a plan in place to ensure a smooth transition to the new
Rail Safety National Law regime.
This focus alert is the first of three publications outlining
recent changes to the new rail safety regime and how it will apply
to rail transport operators in Queensland.
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator
(ONRSR) was established in 2013 with the Rail
Safety National Law (RSNL) initiated first in
South Australia, and soon followed by New South Wales, Tasmania and
the Northern Territory. Since then, Victoria, ACT and Western
Australia have all joined the national regime.1
On 9 March 2017, the Rail Safety National Law (Queensland)
Act 2017 (Qld) (Act) received assent with the
Act's substantive provisions to commence on 1 July 2017. This
will align the regulation of Queensland railroads with other States
and Territories by applying the RSNL (with minor modifications) as
a law of Queensland, and establishing the ONRSR as Queensland's
rail safety regulator.
In addition, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau
(ATSB) will take on the role of Queensland's
no-blame rail safety investigator.
Immediate impacts of RSNL
The Minister for Transport, Jackie Trad, announced that by
'implementing these reforms in Queensland, we are cutting
red tape for industry and making our railways
safer.'2 The immediate effect of joining the
RNSL means that:
the local regulator (being the Department of Transport and Main
Roads, rail regulation unit) will become a branch office of the
the national framework will apply such that:
existing accreditation and registration will be recognised
under the ONRSR and RSNL
the notice of accreditation or registration for rail transport
operators accredited or registered in multiple jurisdictions will
be consolidated into a single notice per entity
national policies and guidelines will apply (including the
Guideline titled, Duty Holders on Transition to the Rail Safety
National Law (RSNL), which was published back in 2013 to
assist in transitioning to the RSNL, and
there will be a single contact point (being the ATSB) for the
reporting of Reportable Category A occurrences.
The Queensland legislation provides for transitional
arrangements to apply, preserving the operation of the existing
legislation. The transition provisions will be further detailed in
the subsequent bulletins.
What stays the same?
Although not excluded in all States and Territories, in
Queensland the RSNL will not to apply to monorails and cane trains
(provided they continue to meet certain requirements). Also, those
accredited under current Queensland regime for railway operations
of a particular scope and nature will automatically be taken to be
accredited under the RSNL. However, after two years, those existing
accredited operators will be required to comply with the conditions
of accreditation under the RSNL.
Finally, those parties that were granted an exemption for
particular railway operations under the current regime, for which
there is an applicable exemption under the RSNL, have a three year
Towards 1 July 2017
Over the coming weeks as Queensland moves towards the RSNL,
McCullough Robertson will provide publications with further
information on these legislative changes, in particular:
an understanding of the transition provisions; and
a look at rail automation.
1 The RSNL was introduced to South Australia as a
schedule to the Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) Act
2012 (SA) and in January 2013, the Northern Territory, New
South Wales and Tasmania enacted legislation to give effect to the
schedule containing the RSNL. In Victoria it occurred in May 2014,
in the ACT, in November 2014 and in Western Australia, in November
2 The Honourable Jackie Trad, 'National reforms to
improve rail safety' (Media Release, 28 February
3 Rail Safety National Law (Queensland) Act 2017
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