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Transport & Logistics

Learnings and key takeaways from RISSB Rail Safety 2021

19 Nov 2021, by Informa Insights

Thanks again to everyone who made RISSB’s Rail Safety Conference 2021 such a success.

Themed ‘New ideas, new perspectives and new directions’, the conference brought together over 180 attendees, both in-person at the Swissotel Sydney and online in a new virtual conference environment, representing government, regulators, operators, network managers, safety leaders, and suppliers from right across Australia and overseas.

The 2-day program featured international and local keynotes, 2 panels of renowned rail industry experts, concurrent streams, workshops, our popular ‘Ask the Regulator’ panel, an exclusive networking event, three site visits and much, much more. With safety innovation, safety harmonisation and interoperability, fatigue, asset management, safety culture and track worker safety all on the agenda there was plenty of ground to cover.

More than fifty speakers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines shared their heartfelt leadership stories, hard won lessons learned, and strategies on how to achieve positive outcomes in an industry that has traditionally been slow to change.

The conference theme ‘New ideas, new perspectives and new directions’ reflected not only a 21st anniversary coming of age for the conference, but also the need for the rail industry to respond to unprecedented and rapid changes, including the challenges of a post pandemic world. A special thanks to speakers who stepped up to the challenge of speaking authentically and engaging in difficult conversations rather than reading from a safe playbook.

Conference highlights included:

  • Australia’s leading authorities on rail safety launched a report on world standard safety technology that can be used to protect track safety workers. The six-month global investigation included a detailed literature review informed by technical and global experts and international case studies to identify new and emerging track worker safety technology. You can download a copy of the report here.
  • The launch of RISSB’s dedicated resources hub, Grand Central, developed for RISSB members and industry. Come here if you would like to participate in online discussions, read the latest rail news, access our webinar and podcast library, and find some useful information on a host of topics including SPADS. Visit Grand Central by going to
  • A defining international keynote delivered by the American Association of Railroads’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Ian Jefferies, who gave a predominantly Australian audience an update on the USA’s enhanced safety results, drive for increased sustainability initiatives, and domestic policy goals.
  • Our Ask the Regulator panel discussion which unsurprisingly refocused attention on track worker safety.
  • Dr Natalie Pelham who discussed her new role as CEO and Chief Investigator at OTSI and Greg Hood, Chief Commissioner and CEO of ATSB, who talked not only about his career but briefly talked about a soon to be released Wallan report.
  • Insights from other industries – Suzanne Holden and Chadi Chalhoub’s career defining moments and how they applied their learnings from aviation to the rail industry.

After the considerable challenges of staging events during COVID, a special thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s conference the fruitful event that it was, including all 2021 conference speakers and conference delegates who turned up online and in-person and dug deep and pushed boundaries with their questions.

A big thank you also to our sponsors and exhibitors 4Tel and 7DX for supporting the event and enhancing our knowledge of of AI, VR and AR.

View the event images from Rail Safety 2021 here

Feedback included:

“The speakers were engaging and informative. The different streams allowed me to select the topics that I believed were most beneficial to my business, while having access to the presentations post-conference will allow me to revisit those that I wish to see again and watch those that I missed.” 

“Excellent speakers. Given the current circumstances we all find ourselves, the conference provided the opportunity to obtain the latest safety implementations being made across the Nation and even globally.” 

“Good range of topics, and good to see industry-wide idea sharing and general direction of the industry. Obviously, given the current situation the only way to meet is virtually, but naturally it would be more value to have this type of event in a live environment.” 

For information on RISSB Rail Safety 2022 visit

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