Next ATHRA Vic members meeting is on Thursday 28th November

The next ATHRA Vic members meeting is on Thursday 28th November , 6pm at Hawthorn. (4th Thursday every 3 months)
This will be another great opportunity to get an update and ask questions on what’s happening in rail preservation both here in Victoria and around Australia.
The Victrack VRSS team will be joining us to discuss the project – where its currently at and where its heading.
There will be updates on our Vic move to ONRSR for all the remaining TSV regulated organisations and an update on the joint ATHRA/ONRSR working group looking at some really progressive changes in the SMS environment
Nationally, ATRQ in Queensland have recently voted to come on board – yet another state based rail heritage group to merge with ATHRA and dissolve their existing organisation.
This is more great news and demonstrates the growing support for the sector to work together to deliver mutual benefits to all our organisations.
Depending on time, we should also have quick updates from each T&H group on their key recent activities and upcoming events or projects.
Plenty for all, look forward to seeing you there – please pass on to others in your group as all are welcome.


Steve Strangward

Association of Tourist & Heritage Rail Australia Inc 

Victoria finally migrates to ONRSR

Message from ONRSR CEO Sue McCarrey

It is with great delight that I can finally announce that the Rail Safety Legislation Amendment (National Services Delivery and Related Reforms) Bill 2019  passed the Victorian Upper House last Tuesday 29th October paving the way for transition to take place.

Taking into consideration required Parliamentary processes we will formally transition on Monday 2nd December. Rail safety will be overseen by TSV until 11.59pm on Sunday 1st December with ONRSR taking up at 12.00am (midnight) on Monday 2nd December.

Further information will follow, however the move will take place to the new ONRSR Melbourne office at Level 10, 565 Bourke St on that Monday.

It has been a long journey for us to become a fully national regulator and we thank you for your patience.

Sue McCarrey

Chief Executive

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator

Delays to Victorian final move to ONRSR

The acting CEO of ONRSR has advised there will be a delay in the migration from TSV to ONRSR due to delays in the passing of the required Vic State legislation. The correspondence is included here FYI.

Subject: Message from the A/CE  |  Victoria transition

Good afternoon everyone,

As you are aware we have been working to transition Victoria (TSV staff and remaining operators) into ONRSR on 1 October 2019.  This was always subject to the legislation passing through Parliament.   Even though the Bill was tabled in the Victorian Parliament during August unfortunately it was not debated last week by the Legislative Assembly and therefore the agreed transition date of 1 October 2019 is unable to be met.

ONRSR, TSV and the Department are continuing to work closely together to ensure transition takes place as smoothly as possible.  When factoring in the sitting dates, Victorian Parliamentary processes and other considerations two revised transition dates have been identified.  We are now working towards transition taking place on either Monday 28 October 2019 or Monday 11 November 2019.  A date will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Thank you to everyone that has been working towards the 1 October timeframe.

Peter Doggett

A/Chief Executive

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator


Maintenance of Heritage Buildings

As a sector we all struggle to balance the spend of our limited financial resources between maintenance of rolling stock, track infrastructure and all those aspirational restoration projects. What often suffers is the need to carry out regular routine preventative maintenance on heritage buildings.

The attached link is a reminder of the catastrophic consequences that can befall us if this is left un-actioned.

We all know too well of similar incidents in our own heritage rail space – the need to maintain and upgrade fire protection of our historic building assets AND our historic rolling stock assets is another task we need to work together on to find financially practical solutions.


Tourist & Heritage Sector – ONRSR Workshops Update

Please find below an update from ONRSR which was sent to all T&H operators last Friday. 

One of ONRSR’s national priorities and a key part of our safety improvement program is Tourist and Heritage Sector Safety Management System Capability.

Throughout the first half of this year, ONRSR held a series of national workshops focussed on risk, safety culture and governance attended by more than 200 people.  The overwhelming majority of feedback was positive with 96% of those in attendance recording that they either strongly agreed or agreed that the event was worthwhile.

A copy of the final presentation from the workshops is available for your information as well as links to existing documents and data that were referred to during the sessions:
•    Duties of Rail Safety Worker Fact Sheet
•    Guideline – small isolated line heritage operators
•    Guideline – Safety Management System
•    Fact sheet – Assessment of rail safety worker competence
•    National priority rail safety data 

In addition to the workshop, ONRSR has produced a short video on the important role Tourist and Heritage operators’ Board members have in relation to safety culture and risk within their organisations. This video, released at the August ATHRA meeting, has been developed specifically for the tourist and heritage sector and available to view on our website.

ONRSR looks forward to continuing to work closely with Australia’s Tourist and Heritage railway sector.

For any queries relating to the workshops or any of the information in this correspondence, please contact Janice McLoughlin, Manager Safety Improvement and Projects, at email or phone 0427 823 976.

Melissa Radke
Acting Executive Director – Policy, Reform & Stakeholder Engagement

ATHRA Vic Members Meeting Thursday 22nd August, 6pm, Hawthorn Tram Depot

The next ATHRA Vic members meeting is on Thursday 22nd August , 6pm at Hawthorn. (4th Thursday every 3 months)
We had a great attendance last meeting for the National AGM back in May and I encourage you all to brave the weather and get down to Hawthorn for this members meeting as well.
In Victoria, our preservation movement is in uncertain times. The various branch line operations are moving forward with implementing their various key  business strategies, some with good assistance from State and Federal Grants.  For those without current grant funding for capital works, it remains economically hard – for some its a case of keeping the head above water until some assistance is found.
We still face a  severe problem of the funding differential between regional and metropolitan grant opportunities.
Other challenges remain – gaining access to surplus materials and the perennial shortage of volunteers
For Melbourne based mainline groups, the future remains very uncertain. We all await with more than keen interest the outcome of the Victrack developed strategy for our sector through their Vintage Rolling Stock Strategy (VRSS) project.
The ATHRA meeting on the 22nd will include an update on the VRSS project based on the collective knowledge from those participating in the Victrack workshops, the next being on Friday 16th August.
We also hope to have our ONRSR partners unveil a brand new training video on the night – this has been produced by ONRSR for T&H groups as a result of our joint discussions on rail safety improvement opportunities back in 2018/19 and is further recognition of the importance of a strong working relationship between the 2 organisations.  We hope further training videos to assist us can be produced in due course.
There has been a lot of discussion about scalable SMS development and the use of a software tool to manage our accreditation activities. We have now moved from talk into action on the use of TSMS – I hope to be able to expand on recent progress here.
I recently attended an excellent Rail Heritage WA (RHWA) conference and will be reporting on the doings from our colleagues in the West .
Depending on time, we should also have quick updates from each T&H group on their key recent activities and upcoming events or projects.
Plenty for all, look forward to seeing you there – please pass on to others in your group as all are welcome.


Steve Strangward

Association of Tourist & Heritage Rail Australia Inc 

ONRSR – Risk Assessment Workshops for T&H

ATHRA identified with ONRSR that the T&H sector has a thirst for more training and resources in the areas of Safety improvement. As a result ONRSR has agreed to run a number of safety improvement workshops for the T&H sector.

This ATHRA initiative has now resulted in the first of these ONRSR road shows commencing around the country – this was a Qld trial in Feb . These workshops are focussed on risk assessment.

T&H groups from each State should by now have invitations from ONRSR to the other state workshops scheduled between May and July. These workshops are not only for risk or safety managers but aimed at all members so that they understand the processes behind good safety management so that the general member can appreciate what it takes to ensure the safety of their organisation and be a part of the safety culture.

The schedule is :

  • Western Australia – Perth – 11 May 2019
  • Victoria – Melbourne – 25 May 2019
  • Tasmania – Launceston – 26 May 2019
  • New South Wales – Sydney – 1 June 2019
  • South Australia – Adelaide – 15 June 2019

The first trial workshop was delivered in Queensland in February. An impressive 48 T&H members attended this workshop from all parts of Queensland. The morning started with an update from Julie Bullas and Janice McLachlan with an update on ONRSR activities. This was followed by an overview of the risk assessment process and discussions on what elements should be in a risk assessment register. This was followed by the splitting up the group into 6 smaller groups to risk assess 6 different scenarios ranging from operational to financial risks. Each group set about identifying the risks, likelihood, controls and the inherent risk for their groups. This was then presented in from of the entire group and discussions resulted around this.

The session was extremely well received and everyone in the room benefited regardless of their experience.

This was then followed by lunch which was supplied by ONRSR and the networking continued.

ONRSR is to be commended for their continual support of ATHRA and its members and the entire T&H sector. This partnership ensured openness and networking opportunities for the overall improvement in rail safety in the sector.


The Board of ATHRA would like to extend an invitation to all ATHRA Member organisations and their own members to attend the ATHRA Annual General Meeting on Saturday 4th May 2019 at the Melbourne Tram Museum, Hawthorn, Melbourne.

ATHRA Notice of Meeting – 4th May 2019 v2

This will be your chance to meet up with fellow sector colleagues and discuss opportunities, ideas and concerns directly with the ATHRA national directors.  The day is focussed on discussions of a range of issues concerning the sector – only a quick 30 min after lunch will be taken up with the formal AGM proceedings.

We start at 08:30 with an engaging discussion with our national office ONRSR colleagues and then get into issues surrounding training , accreditation, risk management, and strategy to name a few.

Lunch will be provided and we have allowed time for plenty of informal discussions with others over a sandwich

The Tram museum will also be open for attendees to walk around and view the magnificent collection.

We are anticipating a good turn up so please rsvp by 30th April to in order to assist us with catering.


RSNL Fatigue Management review

As part of ATHRA’s ongoing work with the  rail industry through our membership of the ARA we recently participated in a review of the fatigue management part of the Rail safety National Law

It is important for the T&H sector that the current risk based fatigue management regime continues rather than one based on mandatory hours of duty as applies in Qld and NSW. That is in essence what is industry response argues

Below is part of the joint ARA/FORG submission that has been provided to ONRSR. This aligns with the views expressed by industry in our first submission to this process. Now we await the final paper and recommendations from ONRSR.

We write on behalf of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and Freight on Rail Group (FORG) of Australia member organisations in response to the three recommendations the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has proposed in its Fatigue Risk Management Review Consultation Paper. 

Recommendation 1: Continue to apply the current fatigue provisions of the Rail Safety National Law. 

Not supported. 

This is a significant national reform opportunity. In its paper, ONRSR states that “a nationally consistent risk-based approach to fatigue risk management encompassing all rail safety workers would be best suited to the Australian rail context, both in terms of delivering on safety and productivity benefits”. To recommend no change would be a missed opportunity.

Prescribed hours for train drivers are inflexible; remove the ability for operators to deal with unforeseen events with any degree of agility, create internal compliance burdens, inefficiencies, diminish rail’s competitiveness and potentially drive more freight to road.

With no evidence to justify the continuation of the prescriptive NSW and QLD schedules, this review provides an opportunity to recommend the removal of the NSW and QLD variations to ensure the benefits of nationally consistent rail safety regulation are realised. 

A consistent, national approach to fatigue management is appropriate for a national industry. Removing the NSW and QLD schedules and being consistent nationally should be the key recommendation of the ONRSR review.

Recommendation 2: ONRSR to complete a further review of the fatigue provisions of the Rail Safety National Law in five years, if not required earlier. 

Not supported. 

ONRSR, Government and Industry have invested considerable resources and funding into the current review. This investment should not be disregarded through recommendations to maintain the status quo and repeat the process in five years’ time. Further, the ONRSR report did not find evidence to support maintaining the NSW and QLD schedules. 

The industry position is that the ONRSR recommend the removal of the NSW and QLD schedules and adopt a single risk-based approach to fatigue management for all Rail Safety Workers, regardless of jurisdiction.

Recommendation 3: Note that ONRSR will produce guidance materials on fatigue risk management under the Rail Safety National Law to support operators. 


Industry welcomes the recommendation to develop further guidance on how to best manage fatigue and is willing to work closely with ONRSR in developing this guidance material.

The ARA, FORG and broader rail industry welcome the opportunity to continue working closely with ONRSR on this important national reform opportunity to achieve a nationally consistent fatigue management regulatory framework that will provide safety and productivity benefits to Australia’s rail industry

Vic members meeting – Thursday 28th Feb

Next ATHRA Victorian members meeting is at the Hawthorn Tram Depot, on Thursday 28th Feb at 6pm.

As discussed at last Novembers meeting we have invited ONRSR to come along and discuss Accreditation.  They will be updating us on the migration (later in 2019) from TSV to ONRSR and the national regulators focus for T&H in 2019.  Time will be allowed for plenty of Q&A from the membership attending.  This is a great opportunity for the members to send along their staff or volunteers who have any involvement with developing, implementing, maintaining  or using their SMS.

We are expecting to have Julie Bullas and Dave James from Adelaide in attendance. For those of you who haven’t met them here is a quick intro.

Julie Bullas – Executive Director, Policy, Reform and Stakeholder Engagement

David James – National Manager Regulatory Operations

It should be an informative and engaging evening so I encourage you all to attend and feel free to bring along any of your Board members and Volunteers who have an interest in this area.

We shall also be providing the usual sector update briefing session and discussion.

Meetings continue to be quarterly on the 4th Thursday of the month starting at 6pm       -28th February, 23rd May, 22nd August and 28th November

For further information contact Steve Strangward at