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Occurrences and Investigations

About Us


General Information


An accredited railway is required to Notify the Rail Safety Regulator, in the required manner, of all accidents or incidents associated with railway operations. Examples of notable occurrences include:

  • Derailments
  • Collisions between rolling stock
  • Collisions between rolling stock and either a road vehicle or a person
  • Fire or an explosion on or in a rolling stock or rail infrastructure
  • Passing a signal at danger
  • Breach of a safe working system

For a full list of the classes of incidents that must be notified and the required manner of the notification, please see the Rail Safety Act 2009 and the Rail Safety Regulations 2010.


Following a rail occurrence, a number of investigations may be undertaken by various organisations, including the Rail Safety Unit.  Other investigating organisations may include;

  • Tasmania Police
  • Workplace Standards
  • the Coroner, and
  • the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Each organisation will have different objectives for carrying out their investigations.

Rail Safety Unit Investigations

The Rail Safety Units primary objective is to determine if there has been a breach of the law it is responsible for administering (the Rail Safety Act 2009).  A Rail Safety Unit investigation of this nature is commonly referred to as a compliance inspection.

These may include:

  • derailments of rolling stock
  • collisions (including a level crossing collision between rolling stock and a road vehicle)
  • a failure of any part of a train
  • a fire or explosion
  • a failure or breach of a practice or procedure.

In case of a breach of the law, the Rail Safety Act 2009 enables the Regulator to take punitive actions as may be necessary including

  • warnings
  • improvement notices
  • prohibition notices
  • suspension or cancellation of accreditation
  • prosecutions

Derailment Investigation Pacific National Colebrook - 11 December 2008, (PDF)

West Coast Wilderness Railway Rail Incident Inspection Report - 5 March 2012, (PDF)

Operator Investigations

An accredited rail operator must investigate and prepare a report into any railway occurence when required by the Rail Safety Regulator.

Independent Safety Investigations

Investigations undertaken to determine what caused a rail occurrence may be undertaken by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).  The ATSB conducts 'no-blame' investigations in order to identify issues that may require review, monitoring or further consideration.  These investigations are conducted independently of the Rail Safety Unit.