Recently appointed chief executive officer of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator Sue McCarrey gave an insightful presentation on her new role as the national regulator, the unique model on which the organisation is based on, and the ONRSR’s priorities and objectives.
A shared responsibility
Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) CEO Sue McCarrey established a solid foundation for her presentation at the RISSB Rail Safety 2015 Conference with a comprehensive overview and analysis of the Australian railway network.
The ONRSR head emphasised the importance of knowing that while the industry and the regulator play distinct roles in the national rail system, the network works on a co-regulatory model. As such, the rail industry and the national regulator shares the responsibility of ensuring the productivity and safety reforms. With this co-regulation comes the delegation of tasks with the rail industry being held responsible for managing rail safety and the national regulator, for ensuring this is happening.
The co-regulation arrangement is underpinned by the Rail Safety National Law, which is set and monitored by the government. Essentially, all of the State and Commonwealth federal ministers sit on the ministerial council to oversee the national law for rail safety regulation and the appointment of the national regulator to oversee what the industry does. Both the regulator and the industry directly report to the Australian Transport Ministers.
McCarrey stressed that the National Rail Safety Board is an independent authority but established by statute. They are not a company for which their service is paid for; rather, they have been put in place by the Australian Government to ensure that the industry’s safety management system is properly and efficiently functioning.
The National Regulator: Know the benefits
Clearly, the biggest advantage of having a national regulator is finally getting consistency on the national level. The creation of the board ultimately brings together numerous entities, database, and systems into one single national law, one set of processes and procedures, one set of guidelines, and one set of rail safety data—all for the entire industry.
The National Rail Safety Board executive reiterated how difficult it was for her working as the executive director of Public Transport Authority. With 7 regulators working with her in trying to be consistent with the decisions they have to come up with, they couldn’t help but be frustrated with all seven regulators more often than not always having different views on how regulations were interpreted. Even when there was a consistent piece of legislation for deliberation, a consensus-based decision was always a strenuous objective.
Safety is the winner when the rail industry and the rail regulator work together on major rail infrastructure and improvement projects.
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator
Who Is the National Rail Safety Regulator?
The ONRSR was founded on July 2012 and began their operation on 20 January 2013. A body corporate created under section 12 of the Rail Safety National Law Act 2012 (South Australia), the ONRSR primarily aims to encourage safety across all rail operations, facilitate compliance with the RSNL, and promote and enhance rail safety on the national level.
With the authority vested on the board comes the responsibility to oversee the regulation of the Rail Safety Law in the jurisdictions of New South Wales, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Victoria. With the approval of an applied or mirror legislation, the ONRSR is looking forward to the reconfirmation of the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, and Queensland to pass the RSNL.
The ONRSR Structure
Susan McCarrey is the National Rail Safety Regulator (NRSR) and Chief Executive of the ONRSR. The chief executive is being supported by two Non-Executive Members who are appointed by the Standing Council of Transport and Infrastructure Ministers. The Non-Executive Members work together with the Chief Executive to administer strategy, leadership, and governance for the ONRSR. An Executive team likewise reinforces the Chief Executive over an extensive range of disciplines that include Communications, Corporate, Legal, Operations, Planning, Policy, and Technical.
The ONRSR is officially headquartered in in Adelaide.
The ONRSR has three branches:
Eventually, with the passing of the Rail Safety National Law, the other state regulators will form part of additional branches under the ONRSR.
The ONRSR Mission and Values
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator primarily aims to promote, enhance, and advance rail safety through effective risk-based regulations. As such, the internal culture and the external business of the entire organisation are firmly guided by a solid set of values that are summarised as follows:
The corporate priorities of ONRSR
Moving forward, the ONRSR aims to set its focus on overarching priorities that include the following:
Over the course of three years, the ONRSR looks forward to milestones and accomplishment of other relevant goals that include the complete transition of the other non-member states; the substantial reduction of regulatory burden by preventing inconsistencies and duplication; and finally, the establishment of national standards and harmonisation.
In her presentation at the RISSB Rail Safety 2015 Conference, the National Rail Safety Regulator chief executive highlighted the need for the organisation to be proactive specifically when it comes to making propositions for guidelines applicable for the industry.
For a comprehensive overview of the ONRSR’s Corporate Plan, please visit www.onrsr.com.au.
The ONRSR’s top 10 safety priorities
As for the organisation’s safety priorities, Ms. McCarrey has enumerated the following as the most critical:
Overview on the guidelines for major projects
CEO Sue McCarrey of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator gave a quick rundown of the board’s guidelines on its major projects, stressing the need for a proactive approach across all of them. To ensure the safe and timely delivery of all infrastructure and assets through major projects, the ONRSR has outlined the following guidelines:
Please refer to the complete Major Projects Guideline of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator available here.
The ONRSR and their regulatory approach
The excellent regulatory approach of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator’s sets high-level benchmarks for the industry in terms of regulating rail safety and ensuring high compliance with the Rail Safety National Law. These standards help determine the principles and contributory factors that influence how the board regulates.
The principles helps govern and oversee the entire staff and the transport operators (duty holders) on their approach to safety enforcement, compliance, and improvement. They aim to support the organisation’s efficiency by encouraging a transparent and synergetic relationship with the rail industry and constant improvement in rail safety.
The following principles define the foundation and processes by which the ONRSR regulates in order to achieve their objectives, purpose, responsibilities, and functions:
Before her appointment as ONRSR’s new Chief Executive Officer, Sue McCarrey was Deputy Director General of the Department of Transport in Western Australia (Policy, Planning, and Investment). For more details about the organisation and access to their corporate publications, visit their website: www.onrsr.com.au
Related article: Regulating rail | Interview with Sue McCarrey, ONRSR