ONRSR driving a national approach to rail safety

The Australian rail industry will continue to see a more national approach to rail safety regulation, attendees heard at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference.

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) chief executive and National Rail Safety Regulator Sue McCarrey said that since the regulator become truly national at the end of 2019 with Victoria joining the program, the body has been working to align standards across states and territories.

Across ONRSR’s four priorities, track worker safety, contractor management, level crossing safety, and control assurance, efforts are being taken to standardise safety approaches with better outcomes for the rail industry.

“There are huge advantages to being truly national,” said McCarrey.

One area where this is currently occurring is in the development of a guideline for fatigue management. By looking at the issues from the perspective of the impact of fatigue on rail safety risk, ONRSR hopes to enable operators to follow one practice across different states.

McCarrey said that these efforts were recognised in the recent Productivity Commission report which identified that ONRSR was the leading Commonwealth transport regulator in delivering a nationally-harmonised approach.

With the national model now established, McCarrey said that ONRSR would look further into encouraging the uptake of more advanced technology, including in cab video and audio recordings.

The adoption of modern technology to improve track worker safety is another area where McCarrey said that a risk-based approach to safety is allowing for innovation in the industry. With technology now costing much less than it did five to 10 years ago, the obligation for rial organisations to ensure safety so far as reasonably practicable is enabling the adoption of new technology.

McCarrey said that ONRSR would also be looking at where it can further develop its own practices and encourage regulatory reform.

“We should constantly be looking at how we can improve,” said McCarrey.

Looking towards 2025, McCarrey said that with the rapid deployment of new technology, the best fit for regulation may need to adapt.

Harnessing the rail boom to improve safety outcomes

There is a concerted effort underway across the rail industry in Australia to leverage the current investment in the rail sector to improve safety outcomes.

Speakers at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety & Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference 2020 highlighted that with the many major projects occurring concurrently around Australia, there is the opportunity to reset and improve when it comes to safety.

John Langron, rail safety manager Sydney Metro outlined how this is happening in practice on Australia’s largest public transport project. With construction underway on the CBD and South West portion of the project, new safety practices and methods are being implemented and normalised to improve overall safety culture.

While Langron noted that on such a high visibility project there is an expectation that the project will provide safer outcomes, the size of the project is also an opportunity. In the construction phase, Sydney Metro has implemented processes that are “a step above a normal maintenance job” said Langron.

These include daily preliminary checks before starting work, including drug and alcohol testing and verification of workers’ qualifications.

On major worksites such as at Central Station, large concrete barriers have been erected to separate work sites and the live rail environment, which also reduce dust and noise pollution for passengers on the adjacent platforms.

Ways of working have shifted too. Sydney Metro has instituted a prohibition on lookout protection working and conducted on-track works under local possession authorities (LPA). Through forward planning and collaboration with Sydney Trains, this has ensured that works are done on time at a higher level of safety.

Changing safety culture however takes more that physical and administrative controls. As Langron pointed out, with a new project a new culture can be established with the formation of the organisation. There is an “Opportunity for creating the culture that Sydney Metro wants” said Langron.

The culture from the top then sets the standard for within the organisation and the principle contracts and rail transport operators that Sydney Metro interacts with. Having had this experience of working alongside Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains has now shifted to doing more routine maintenance tasks during night time when no trains are running, according to Langron.

RISSB releases take-up survey results

Annual survey shows over 90 per cent of the rail industry is making use of RISSB products and services.

RISSB released its take-up survey results in July showing that more than 90 per cent of respondents use RISSB publications.

Comprising an online survey and face-to- face interviews, this independent survey was undertaken between May and July 2020.

A total of 44 rail organisations (including 19 companies/organisations who are currently not RISSB members) completed an online survey and eight one-on-one interviews were held with senior executives from the rail industry.

The results also show that In broad terms, RISSB’s external stakeholders believe that RISSB has improved in the past 12 months, that its credibility has continued to increase, and that RISSB publications are extremely influential in the rail industry with more than 93 per cent of survey respondents stating that their organisation has been influenced in some way by a RISSB publication.

For the first time ever, the survey also asked respondents to not only comment on the use of RISSB publications in their organisation, but also consider the use of RISSB services (conferences, forums, programs and events) by employees. All organisations surveyed indicated that their organisation utilised RISSB services and more than 90 per cent of respondents indicated that RISSB services influence their company or organisation’s internal documents, systems, practices or procedures.

SOME OF THE KEY FINDINGS ARE:

  • There is an extremely high level of take-up of RISSB products in the rail industry with over 90 per cent indicating they use RISSB products in some way.
  • There is a growing trend in government procurement processes for RISSB standards to be used by the successful bidder.
  • The Australian National Rules and Procedures and the National Rules Framework are two of RISSB’s more valuable and influential publications.
  • 100 per cent of those surveyed indicated their companies/organisations utilise RISSB services.
  • The stand-out service provided by RISSB is its safety conference and it is an important industry learning and networking event.
  • Over 93 per cent of industry is aware of RISSB’s training programs and they are well used across industry with around 80 per cent of organisations surveyed indicating they had attended a RISSB training program.
  • The specialist forums offered by RISSB are well regarded with over 100 per cent awareness and 95 per cent responding that the forums benefitted their organisation.
  • The Horizons Program is actively promoting the next generation of rail industry leaders and has a wide of level of support within the industry.
  • RISSB’s The Whistle Board weekly newsletter is widely read within the industry and is easy to read.

A survey summary report is available to download from RISSB’s website: www.rissb.com.au/publications/.

Virtual site tour part of RISSB’s Rail Safety Conference

Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) has confirmed that delegates to October’s Rail Safety Conference will get a unique view into progress being made on the new metro platforms underneath Sydney’s Central Station.

Delegates will be able to see the work currently underway for Sydney Metro at the station and for the new underground pedestrian concourse, Central Walk.

With the station’s new landmark roof taking shape, the virtual site tour will also provide a vision of what the redesigned Central Station will look like when Central Walk opens in 2022 and when metro services commence in 2024.

Delegates will join principal contractor Laing O’Rourke as they dive into the construction site, showing progress for Central Walk, then the tour will go deeper into the new metro station box, currently at 18 metres underground and on the way to the depth of 30 metres.

While construction has benefited from lower commuter numbers passing through Central Station during the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative construction measures and techniques have been used to reduce the impact of major construction occurring at the busiest station in Australia.

During the tour, techniques to ensure safety on a complex project such as this will be shared with the audience. Laing O’Rourke will also be showcasing its use of artificial intelligence computer vision safety system during day one of the conference program.

The virtual site tour is one of a number of online interactive experiences that will be part of the two-day event. Nine streams covering issues most important to the rail industry, including track worker safety, level crossings, investigations, and data and information, will be a highlight of the two-day program. Six keynote presentations from local and international rail safety leaders will set the tone for the days’ discussions.

To find out more and book tickets, follow the link: https://www.informa.com.au/event/conference/rissb-rail-safety-conference/

RISSB releases its 2020/2021 work plan

RISSB’s projects in the next year expand the organisation’s role.

The Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) has released its 2020/2021 industry-driven work plan, which includes close to 30 publications and 16 major projects that will be delivered over a two-year horizon.

This work plan is a result of RISSB’s overhauled project planning process and heralds a new era for RISSB. In addition to delivering standards, guidelines, codes of practice and rules, RISSB now has a new major projects portfolio set up to address industry- wide issues focusing on business imperatives. This holistic approach demonstrates that RISSB is future-focused and is equipped to address industry’s current and future challenges, now.

Input from stakeholders directly informs the development of our priorities and the vital publications that we make available to industry. The work plan was developed after significant consultation with CEOs, other senior industry executives, and RISSB’s standing committees helped us determine the priorities that will create a safer and more productive industry.

Throughout the year, RISSB will be managing the development of a total of 29 publications comprising reviews, resubmissions from the previous year’s priority planning process (PPP), AS 1085 series of documents still transitioning from Standards Australia, and projects put forward and endorsed by Standing Committees.

A list of our Australian Code of Practice (ACOP) projects is available in the table below.

Type Title
Guideline Achieving compliance at railway station platforms with DSAPT
Under consideration Firmware, software and configuration management for operational rail assets
Standard LED Locomotive Headlights, LED Ditchlights
Standard Safety Critical Comms
Standard Light Rail Interfaces with Roads (Signals and Signage)
Guideline Australian Rail Industry Management System Framework
Guideline Fatigue Risk Management
Form SPAD Investigations Proforma
AS 7460 Operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Drones) on the Railway Network
AS 7519 Bogie Structures
AS 7520 Body Structural Requirements
AS 7522 Access & Egress
AS 7533 Driving Cabs
AS 7640 Rail Management
AS 7651 Axle Counters
AS  7658 Level Crossing
AS 7664 Railway Signalling Cable Routes, Cable Pits & Foundations
AS 7703 Signalling Power Supplies
Code of Practice Wheel Defect Manual
AS 7474 System Safety Assurance for the Rail Industry
Guideline Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM) Guideline for the Australian Rail Industry
AS 7450 Interoperability
AS 7636 Structures
AS 7638 Earthworks
AS 7639 Track Structure & Support Systems
AS 7642 Turnouts and Special Trackworks
AS 7666 TPC Interoperability
Guideline Wheel Rail Profile Development
AS 1085.17 Railway track materials – steel sleepers

 

Taking into consideration the impact of COVID-19 on the rail industry, improved workflows, revised Development Group membership requirements, and streamlined internal processes will ensure ongoing Development Group commitments are optimised during what continues to be a challenging time for all.

Our new Major Projects portfolio will enable RISSB to address key challenges facing the industry, focus on activities that directly address the needs of its stakeholders, and deliver step change improvements for the benefit of the Australian rail industry through a number of workstreams: Track Worker Safety, National Rules, National Vehicle Register, Train Control Interoperability, Noise, Technology Benefit Realisation and the National Rail Action Plan.

The table below shows all 16 major projects.

Type Title
Report Exploration of Technological Solutions (RISSB / ONRSR joint project)
Action Plan Action Plan from Technology Study
Guideline Good Practice for Planning Works in the Rail Corridor
Standard Digital Engineering
Guideline Achieving a Positive Safety Culture in the Rail Corridor
 Training Explore the Viability of Nationally Recognised Protection Officer Training
Rule National Communications Rule
Plan Produce a Pipeline of Harmonized and Rationalized National Rules
Glossary Glossary of Terms
Standard Railway Rulebooks
Register National Vehicle Register
Report Interoperability Technology Solutions and Funding Models
Report The Case (SFAIRP) for (taking away/reducing etc) Horns in Built Up Areas
Code of Practice Industry Code of Practice on Horns
Report Current Good Practice in Wheel Squeal
Website Wed-based Technology Sharing Platform
Various National Rail Action Plan

Including:

  • Energy Storage
  • Heating, Ventilation and Airconditioning (HVAC)
  • Noise (especially in tunnels although its scope is likely to be expanded)

Capping off what has already been a successful year for RISSB, in 2019/2020 RISSB delivered an impressive 21 standards, codes of practice, and guidelines bringing the total number of publications RISSB has in its catalogue to more than 220. In addition to these projects, RISSB also published The National Rules Framework, and the seminal study into Rail’s Current Innovations and Trends and the Assessment of Interoperability Issues from the Proposed Introduction of New Train Control Systems; these are noteworthy achievements in themselves.

If you would like to see a list of publications delivered by RISSB in 2019/2020 and our 2020 /2021 work plan, visit rissb.com.au/work-program/.

cyber attacks

Protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attacks

As Australia’s rail sector has not been immune from the risk of cyber attacks, industry bodies are joining with government agencies to mitigate the ongoing threat.

In November 2016, The San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency was hit by a cyber-attack. The HDDCryptor malware spread across over 2,000 computers, meaning that the Agency’s network was opened up free for the public.

While the agency’s ability to provide transport across its fleet of light rail vehicles, streetcars, trolley and hybrid buses was not compromised, ticket machines, payment services, and emails were affected.

The hackers demanded a ransom of 100 bitcoin, equivalent to $102,644 at the time. This type of attack, shutting down a network’s computer systems and demanding a payout, is known as ransomware, and can be caused by a person simply clicking on an infected link in an email or downloading an infected file. The networked nature of large transport authorities means that this can quickly spread throughout an organisation.

While San Francisco did not pay off the hacker and was able to restore its systems by the next Monday, the hack was one of the most visible instances of how cyber threats are coming to the rail transportation sector.

Earlier that year, cyber criminals struck the rail network in NSW, targeting regional train services provider NSW TrainLink. Hackers were able to infiltrate the booking service and capture customer credit and personal data.

Unlike the San Francisco hack, this breach targeted a rail organisation’s repository of customer details, including things like bank details and personal information. The opportunistic attack exposed how people using the same passwords for multiple accounts can make a system vulnerable, and in this case, with rail operators having data on large numbers of people, others could be seen as a honeypot for potential attackers.

Western Australia’s Public Transport Authority was also targeted in an attempted attack in 2016, leading the rail agency to shut down its own website and websites for specific services such as Transperth to prevent further intrusions.

More recently, the number of cyber- attacks has been increasing. In May 2020, Swiss rail manufacturer Stadler reported that hackers had targeted the company hoping to extort a large amount of money and threatening the publication of data to hurt Stadler and its employees. Although not impacting production lines, the hack came a week after Australian logistics operator Toll also suffered a ransomware attack, the second that company had suffered in 2020.

A spokesperson for the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) reiterated comments made by Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds that malicious cyber activity against Australia is increasing in frequency, scale, and sophistication.

“Rail, and the transport sector more broadly, is part of Australian critical infrastructure and provides essential services to Australians,” the spokesperson said.

Ransomware attacks are becoming more common for organisations across the rail sector. As these few examples demonstrate, the reliance of all parts of the rail industry on digital systems means that cyber-attacks are not targeting any one sector of the industry. Furthermore, as large, often widely distributed organisations that deal with personal and safety critical information, the rail sector has many facets of the organisation that are involved with cyber security, not only in operational roles.

“A cyber incident involving critical infrastructure can seriously impact the safety, social or economic wellbeing of Australians, due to the significant disruption it can cause if the systems are damaged or unavailable for extended periods of time,” said the ACSC spokesperson.

This is not to suggest that the rail sector has been blind to the risk posed by cyber- attacks. In the UK, in 2016, the Department for Transport published the Rail Cyber Security: reducing the risk of cyber attack guidelines. In the document, the increasing threat of cyber-attacks in the rail industry is clearly stated.

“Railway systems are becoming vulnerable to cyber-attack due to the move away from bespoke stand-alone systems to open-platform, standardised equipment built using Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) components and increasing use of networked control and automation systems that can be accessed remotely via public and private networks.”

These vulnerabilities leave the rail sector open to impacts of cyber-attacks, from threats to safety, disruptions of the network, economic loss, and reputational damage. The guidelines outline how rail organisations should respond, from the level of governance, through to design, the integration of legacy and third-party systems, and staff training.

As the spokesperson for the ACSC outlined, as rail reaps the benefits of digitalisation, there are also challenges.

“The rail sector is continually modernising through the adoption of new operational technologies. However, with this, comes potential cyber security vulnerabilities,” said the spokesperson.

“The increased adoption of inter-connected technologies has the potential to increase the cyber threat ‘attack surface’.”

In the case of passenger networks, bespoke systems such as electronic signage, ticketing systems, electronic passenger gates, building management and public address systems are areas of concern. In the freight sector, the interconnectedness of the industry and its automation contributes to the vulnerabilities the sector faces.

The exposure of the rail sector was highlighted in a 2016 Victorian Auditor- General report into the security of critical infrastructure control systems for trains. After a 2010 report identified weaknesses, the 2016 report found little improvement since then.

The reasons for the lack of progress were poor governance arrangement, limited security frameworks for control systems, limited security controls for identifying, preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber security events, and a poor transfer of accountability and risk during machinery-of- government changes.

In the Auditor-General report, 10 recommendations were made, all of which were accepted by Public Transport Victoria and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, which has since been broken up into the Department of Transport and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

Since the Victorian Auditor General’s report, moves have been made to standardise and improve the Australian rail industry’s cyber security response. In 2018 the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) published its Australian Rail Network Cyber Security Strategy. Identifying similar threats, the document outlined the vision for the industry of the elimination of cyber risk, resulting in zero cyber-attacks on the Australian rail network. To do this, the strategy follows the principles of understand, protect, detect, and respond.

In addition, also in 2018, RISSB published AS 7770 – Rail Cyber Security, the Australian standard for managing cyber security risk on the Australian railway network.

To improve the response of the rail sector to the cyber security threat, ACSC provides sector-specific resources and materials.

“The ACSC is working with all critical infrastructure sectors to help them increase their cyber defences as well as transport sector entities through the ACSC Partnership Program.”

The ongoing adoption of industry standards as well as the implementation of sector-wide strategies will ensure that the rail industry continues to be prepared to deal with cyber attacks as the threats morph and change.