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Rail safety newsletters

News update from the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Rail Safety team for the rail industry and safety assessors.

Issue 6 - Spring 2011

Auckland tramway

The NZTA welcomes Auckland Tramway Ltd to its list of licence holders.

John Smith and his team from Christchurch Tramway have gained the contract to operate trams on a 1.6km loop in the Wynyard Quarter of Auckland's waterfront. The track is currently under construction and two trams refurbished in Bendigo, Australia have arrived in the country and are now housed in the new tram depot.

It is intended that the trams will be carrying passengers in time for Rugby World Cup.

Auckland tram

Assessment responses

Just a quick reminder that all assessment responses are to be sent to the assessor and copied to your client manager at the NZTA. All responses must include evidence to effect closure of the condition or recommendation. Full instructions on responding to report findings are contained in the recently issued assessment report template.

Unlicensed rail activities

From time to time the Rail Systems team hears about rail activities that are occurring despite the operator not having the required rail licence to perform those rail movements as defined in the Railways Act 2005.

If you are aware of any organisation or individual who falls into this category could you please inform them of their legal obligations or notify the Rail Systems team (our contact information is detailed on the back of this newsletter) and we can assist them through the process.

Who needs a rail licence

The following rail participants need to hold a rail licence

  • a rail operator
  • an access provider
  • a rail participant who is required by regulations to hold a licence.

You also require a rail licence if your railway has a gauge of 550mm or greater between the rails, laid for the purposes of transporting people or goods by rail.

Once the Rail Systems team is aware of the pending rail operation we will contact the organisation or individual and email them a rail licence application form, which must be returned to us completely filled out accompanied by the rail licence fee and safety case.

Safety performance report

by John Freeman, Manager, Rail Systems

Many of you will be aware that I have recently signed off on a request for rail licence holders to submit to the NZTA an annual Safety Performance Report (SPR). We have also taken the opportunity to discuss this report during our recent rail industry seminars.

In most part we have received positive feedback and the industry understands the benefits of collating such data. However, a few rail licence holders are yet to be convinced of the benefit(s) and have requested further information. The key questions that I have been asked include:

  • Why are you asking us to supply this data?
  • Don't we tell your assessors this during the assessments?
  • What are you going to do with the information?

Why?

I'll start with the 'technically correct response' and state that it is a requirement of the Railways Act 2005(external link) [refer to sections 30 (1) (h) and 21 (2) (c)] to supply such data to the NZTA. It has also been noted in both internal and external reports that the NZTA is not receiving this information. However, enforcing compliance for the sake of compliance is not the intent of the Railways Act; neither does it fit with the culture of the Rail Systems team.

This information will be used for the betterment of the rail industry as a whole. For example, there is currently no information readily available to the NZTA to show in total how many passenger journeys are taken per annum across the industry. If it were, this information could be broken down and would be valuable when making strategic decisions in relation to passenger transport. Additionally, we could use this data to show the benefits, public interest and importance of rail in the heritage and/or tourism industry. The same goes for freight and industrial operators and so on.

The benefit of the SPR is not just external, but would assist the rail participant in strategic planning. For a moment, in lieu of calling it the Safety Performance Report, call it 'conducting and documenting management review' (or something of that nature). Think of it as an opportunity to review the effectiveness of your (safety) management systems. You will be able to review what has been successful and where you should target your continuous improvement initiatives over the next 12 months and years ahead.

Don't we tell your assessors this during the assessments?

It is not a requirement of the assessment process to report on analysis and strategic planning data.

The SPR is the rail licence holder's opportunity to describe from your perspective how you have managed safety over the 12-month period and what initiatives are being taken to ensure continuous improvement into the future. That is, it is a chance to look at the positives beyond assessments, as these only pick up non-compliances and safety system failures.

It also gives you the opportunity to express to the NZTA any general comments or suggestions on matters of rail safety that we might like to consider in the wider context of the rail industry within New Zealand or that might be of interest internationally.

What are you going to do with the information?

The answer is two fold. Firstly the information will be used by the NZTA to make strategic decisions in rail regulation and licensing, freight efficiency, network optimisation and public transport activities. Secondly, we will be able to share with the rail industry applicable data, safety initiatives (non-commercial) and facts of interest.

I trust this helps to address any concerns that you may have; however, please feel free to contact me directly
(john.freeman@nzta.govt.nz) should you have any questions. Meanwhile I look forward to receiving your first SPR prior to 30 November 2011.

John Freeman

Manager, Rail Systems

Proposed new accident/incident report form

Below is a proposed new NZTA accident/incident report form for non-NRS operators. We would like your feedback on this form. Please contact Adrian Douglas on 04 894 5015 or adrian.douglas@nzta.govt.nz with your feedback. A final version will be sent out after your feedback has been considered and will also be attached to the next newsletter. Copies of report forms will be available on the NZTA website www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) after the forms have been finalised. Additionally, we have supplied a copy of the NZ Police level crossing complaint form below.

NZTA incident report draft page 1 NZTA incident report draft page 2 Level Crossing Complaint - Non NRS

Industry seminars underway

All rail licence holders and safety assessors will have received an invitation to attend one of the seminars being hosted by the NZTA Rail Safety team during August and September. These are now underway in the South Island and will continue for the next few weeks.

We will be discussing with you some key concepts we are focusing on at present, and how we can work together to further improve the collective safety of the rail industry. The success of the seminars depends on your involvement, so come along willing to share your experiences so we can all learn together.

Thank you all for your responses. The take-up of the seminars has been very good throughout the country.
We appreciate that for a variety of reasons not everyone is able to make it to a seminar, so we are looking at ways to ensure those people and organisations will have access to the material in due course.

If you were not aware of an invitation being received by your organisation and would like to ensure you have a representative(s) there, please in the first instance check with other members of your organisation who may have received the invitation. Following that, contact Rob Gould (details below) for more information.

Any corrections to email contacts should also be advised to your client manager, so we can keep our database accurate and up-to-date.

We look forward to seeing you out and about at a seminar near you over the next couple of months.

Correspondence to the NZTA

These days, all correspondence is filed in an electronic storage system here at the NZTA, so sending your letters, files or reports electronically saves us a bit of time.

Please send all of your electronic correspondence to your client manager and please 'cc' our Rail Safety Manager - john.freeman@nzta.govt.nz. However, if electronic mail is not available for your organisation 'snail mail' will still be answered!

New name for the NZTA Rail team

Following a restructure at the NZTA our team has been renamed. We are now called the Rail Systems team and are working in the Delivery part of the Access and Use group. Our updated designations can be found below. Our contact details remain the same.