TasRail acknowledges the public release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) final report into TasRail’s 2018 Devonport train incident. TasRail has worked cooperatively with the ATSB throughout its four-year investigation process, actively assisting with the provision of data, records, documentation, and access to key TasRail personnel.
During the past four years, various opportunities for improvement in TasRail’s operational systems have been identified and implemented, well in advance of the ATSB releasing its report. The ATSB investigation report identified six specific safety issues relating to TasRail. The report also confirms that all six issues have been satisfactorily addressed and are closed.
Examples include the installation of physical runaway protection at defined locations (based on a network-wide risk assessment process), implementation of best practice methodology for the integration of safety critical equipment and a new change management framework.
In September 2019, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) confirmed that, based on its compliance investigation, there would be no further regulatory response (beyond the initial Improvement Notice) to the 2018 incident.
Before the incident, TasRail had safely used hand-held remote-control technology for site-specific terminal operations for almost 2 decades. Although suspended since the 2018 incident, TasRail has established a project team to lead the reintroduction of remote-control technology for terminal operations at Railton and Devonport. The reinstatement process will include all lessons learnt relevant to the safe reintroduction and use of remote technology.
By virtue of physical separation from motorists, freight rail is inherently the safest method to transport heavy goods. Safety is one of TasRail’s core values, and it is committed to zero-harm for staff, customers, contractors, and the communities in which it operates. The investment in TasRail’s rollingstock, terminals, rail network and safe working systems has resulted in mainline derailments being at record lows. In TasRail’s first year of operation (2009-10), there was a mainline derailment every two months. TasRail has reported just a single minor mainline derailment (related to an extreme weather event) in the previous two financial years. Likewise, TasRail operates safe and disciplined train operations, with 98.9 per cent of its six daily container services meeting contracted delivery windows in 2021-22 financial year.
The 2018 incident was an isolated event, specifically related to the use of handheld remote-control technology. Subsequently, TasRail has updated its operating systems and continues its pursuit of a zero-harm working environment.