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

ONRSR safety report 2017/18 – T&H

ONRSR has released their safety report for 2017/18

Some of the more relevant items to T&H sector can be found here –  tandh pages from 17789-onrsr-safety-report 201718

In particular we draw your attention to their focus on the TOURIST AND HERITAGE SECTOR, SAFETY MANAGEMENT CAPABILITY.  This will be further reinforced by ONRSR during 2019 in all states.

For the full report go to

ATHRA continues to work with ONRSR on the development of improved Safety Management Systems for our sector and an improved understanding of our collective responsibilities in the running of our T&H organisations.

For more information contact your state ATHRA board member.

HRWL Exemptions – 2 down, 4 to go

There is more good news on the Worksafe High Risk Work Licence (HRWL) exemption front.   ATHRA finally have confirmation in writing from Worksafe Vic that HRWLs are NOT required in Victoria for railway steam locomotives transporting the public.

The relevant section in the regulations is:

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 –  see below
Schedule 4—Pressure equipment for which high risk work licence is not required 
Regulation 130 
3. Steam locomotive boilers used for public rail transport.

Those Victorian T&H operators who have HRWL requirements in their SMS would be advised to take this part out as ONRSR will audit against your SMS – and not against the exemption in the Act.

An ATHRA Steam Fireman or Steam Drivers certificate of competency is clearly recognised by ONRSR nationally as sufficient qualification for those RSW roles without the need for any Worksafe HRWL.

2 states down (WA and Victoria) – 4 to go. (Exemption applications have been lodged in all states)

FYI – correspondence received from Worksafe below


From: []
Sent: Tuesday, 27 November 2018 2:11 PM
To: Frank Hussey
Subject: RE: Application by ATHRA for HRWL exemption Ref H18/00030


In response to your recent query, What is  the meaning of “public railways” in Regulation 130 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, I have been advised that this regulation when read in its entirety refers to the boiler only that is used to provide the steam for a locomotive steam engine, used on railways for transporting the public, which is considered pressure equipment for which a high risk work licence is not required under the Victorian OHS Regulations 2017.

Kindest regards,

Senior Licensing Officer
Tel/ 1800 136 089 or 9641 1444

Head Office, 1 Malop Street
Geelong VIC 3220


Changes to RSW definitions

This is an information update to T&H operators on the status of proposed changes to Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) definitions of Rail Safety Workers (RSWs)

On Friday last week, the RSNL Maintenance Group met and considered an industry-developed proposal to narrow the definition of Rail Safety Work (RSW).

At this meeting, the ARA tabled the attached proposal which was developed with the industry reps on the RSNL Maintenance Group (Lindsay Holt, Laing O’Rourke; Danny Harnedy, Aurizon; Karlie Southwood, GoldLinq; Frank Hussey, ATHRA; Todd Bentley, MTM; John Gibbon, BHP and Sandra Wilson-Ryke, now David Bainbridge, ARTC).

2. Rail Industry Rail Safety Work Definition Amendment Proposal

1. Rail Industry Proposal Paper – definition of rail safety work (002)

Essentially,  agreement was sought on the following principles, that the definition of RSW should:

  • be based on the task or function being undertaken,
  • focus only on those who have a direct impact on rail safety operations, and
  • not be based on location.

To implement the above principles, a number of options were proposed:

  1. Removing the link to location as a determinant of RSW (through Clause 8 1 f of the RSNL)
  2. Reinforcing the need for Rail Safety Workers to have a direct impact on the safety of rail operations
  3. The identification of tasks/functions not classified as RSW
  4. Supporting any changes with guidance materials and industry education
  5. Case-by-case exemptions from ONRSR

I’m pleased to advise that the NTC, ONRSR, State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments all agreed change is required and were supportive of exploring the ARA and industry proposed solutions.

For T&H operators in particular, the changes proposed were structured to try and address the often intermittent/casual participation of voluntary workers undertaking roles such as workshop maintenance and track maintenance

In terms of next steps, the NTC will develop a consultation paper that explores the options tabled (considering the pros/cons of each, potential legislative impacts etc) as well as a few other concepts agreed at the meeting. The NTC has proposed releasing its discussion paper in February 2019 (at the earliest) for public consultation.

Engaging the Next generation of Volunteers

The UK All parliamentary group on Heritage rail have released a report on engaging the next generation of young people on Heritage railways.  It is a document worth reading and considering for each of your organisations.  There are many learnings that we can directly apply to the T&H sector in Australia.

The document is available here Volunteering – Young People Attraction and Engagement

For more information on UK Volunteering in Heritage Rail  you can contact the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) via their website –