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This page contains a list of all categories accidents and incidents fall into. The category will influence the type of information you need to provide to the Transport Agency.

Under each heading is a description of the category, some examples, and some guidance for completing the ‘Accident/incident description’ field of the notification form.

Alcohol or drugs involvement

In post-accident or incident cases where a rail safety worker returns a positive result to an alcohol or drugs test which exceeds approved levels, or the rail safety worker refuses to be tested, some additional information is required.

If the test results are acquired within three days, when submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should also include:

  • details of the test(s), and
  • the position/job role of the affected person.
  • Collision

    A collision is when a train or rail vehicle strikes or is struck by another train, rail vehicle, road vehicle, person, rail infrastructure or other obstruction. This category includes collisions with:

    • open rail vehicle doors
    • a load protruding from a rail vehicle
    • bridges, platforms, overhead traction or signalling equipment
    • buffer stops
    • objects on or foul of track
    • animals, and
    • on roadways crossing tramways, where tramways operate on roadways shared with road vehicles.

    Notes:

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • a description of the nature of the collision
    • a description of the direction of travel of the train, vehicles and persons involved in the collision
    • the best available detail of the chain of events leading to and resulting from the collision, including relevant signal indications or settings, train orders in force, points settings, train control instructions or line side hand signals or other relevant communications.
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  • Communications system failure

    This category involves any deficiency or failure of a communications system (voice or data) that prevents the timely transmission of safety critical information, including

    • deficiencies of radio and telephone equipment that prevent transmissions of warnings
    • failure of a communication system that prevents transmission of alarms from train monitoring and wayside detectors, and
    • failure of a communication system that prevents transmissions of information during emergencies.

    Note: Communications equipment failures that have no critical effect on the safe operation of a railway (eg where procedures provide for the continuance of safe operations) are not included.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include details of the nature of the failure, including the train operations being carried out.

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  • Dangerous goods

    This category involves any occurrence involving dangerous goods that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations, people and/or premises, including:

    Notes:

    • Where the escape of dangerous goods results in a fire or explosion, see Fire or Explosion.
    • Where dangerous goods and/or security sensitive dangerous goods are stolen without endangering railway operations and/or premises, see Railway security.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the circumstances of the incident, including the chain of events from the loading of the dangerous goods (if on train) to the discovery of their spill/release
    • the dangerous goods type
    • details of any other containers involved in the occurrence, and
    • any fire service incident number (if known).
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  • Derailment

    A derailment is an incident where one or more rail vehicle wheels leave the rail or track during railway operations.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • a general description of the derailment including the direction of travel
    • the number of derailed wagons and where they were situated in the consist, and
    • the best available detail of the chain of events leading to and resulting from the derailment, including any related precursor events already identified (eg natural events that have occurred in the area).
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  • Electrical infrastructure irregularity

    This category involves irregularities in electrical systems or components that result in an electrical accident that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations, people and or/premises, including:

    • the fixed electrical equipment of an electrified system
    • defects in electrical supply or overhead wiring sufficient to cause an electrical fault
    • de-wirement or entanglements of overhead traction equipment (aka downed overhead)
    • failure of overhead line equipment
    • wiring, other than overhead traction equipment, and
    • any other irregularity that causes electric shock.

    Note: This category does not include:

    • a tram trolley pole leaving the wire, unless it occurs at a speed that damages overhead infrastructure
    • irregularities detected and corrected under normal maintenance
    • simple electrical failures like short circuits or tripping of circuit breakers, unless they result in another occurrence such as fire
    • occurrences in a depot that do not affect the running line, and
    • loss of power from the utility.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include details of the nature of the irregularity, the equipment which has failed or is damaged and the circumstances of its discovery.

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  • Explosion

    An explosion affecting rail infrastructure or a rail vehicle or that has the potential to affect the safety of railway operations, people and /or premises.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include details of the nature of the incident, including where the explosion occurred.

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  • Fire

    the safety of railway operations, people and/or railway premises, including:

    • fires associated with a rail vehicle failure or defect
    • where smoke/fumes penetrate passenger accommodation, necessitating evacuation of the passengers from the vehicle(s) concerned where there is no evidence of actual fire
    • line side fires, including fires on properties adjacent to the railway
    • severe electrical arcing or fusing where there is evidence of fire damage
    • dangerous goods fires, and
    • fires that lead to railway operations being disrupted or closed as a precautionary measure.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the specific area of the train, railway premises, railway infrastructure or other area where the fire occurred (eg terminal, station or passenger coach), and
    • an indication as to whether the fire was associated with the operation or movement of a rail vehicle (ie bearing friction fires) or other action (ie rubbish fires in passenger carriages).
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  • Level crossing occurrence

    This category involves collisions of trains or rail vehicles at public or private level crossings, and other occurrences that endanger or have the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations or level crossing operations, including:

    • cases of road vehicles causing damage to barriers or other equipment at level crossings
    • cases of road vehicles getting stuck (or “grounding out”)
    • near collision incidents with road vehicles or people at a level crossing
    • any case of a train running onto a level crossing when not authorised to do so
    • any failure of equipment at a level crossing which could endanger users of the road or path crossing the railway. This includes ‘wrong-side’ failures of equipment, whether or not any train or crossing user is involved at the time of failure
    • incidents which occur during periods of unusual operation (eg when an automatic crossing is operated manually), and
    • level crossing occurrences with tramways where trams operate over their exclusive right of way.

    Notes:

    • For suspected or attempted suicides at level crossings, see Suspected suicide or attempted suicide
    • Where the occurrence is caused by infrastructure irregularities such as broken rails, welds and bonds that result in the unnecessary operation of crossing protection equipment, see Track and civil infrastructure irregularity
    • For a collision between a tram and a road vehicle, where the tram operates on a roadway, see Collision.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • detail of the level crossing occurrence (eg collision with vehicle or person, near collision with vehicle or person, equipment failure, equipment damage or interference)
    • detail of the actions taken by the drivers of the train and actions taken, or observed to have been taken, by the road vehicle or pedestrian, including directions of travel
    • the level crossing control type
    • the nature of the damage or malfunction in the equipment
    • an indication as to whether a pedestrian conveyance (eg buggie, wheelchair) was involved
    • in the case of a near collision, a clear indication of whether the train driver applied the emergency brake, would have applied the emergency brake if there was time or did not consider it necessary to apply the emergency brake.
    Note: We also encourage you to submit a Rail Level Crossing Complaint form [PDF, 129 KB] to the Police when there is a road vehicle involved, so they can take the appropriate action.
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  • Load irregularity

    This category involves situations where a load endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations, persons and/or premises or causes damage, including:

    • open or incorrectly secured doors, hatches or fastenings that could result in the loss of load or a collision
    • loads that are placed or have moved out of gauge in relation to approved dimensions for the load
    • a load that has spilled from a rail vehicle
    • uneven distribution of a load on a rail vehicle or in the consist of trains
    • chains, ropes, tarpaulins etc. dragging or hanging dangerously, and
    • overloading resulting in coupling misalignment.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the circumstances of the irregularity, describing the chain of events from loading to discovery, and
    • the type of load or container.
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  • Movement authority exceeded

    Movement authority exceeded occurs when a train exceeds the limits of authorised movements and there is no signal system in place (ie not a SPAD incident), including at locations such as stop boards and limit boards.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the nature of the authority exceeded incident
    • the distance (in metres) which the front of the train travels beyond its limit, and
    • the type of action, or absence of action, taken by the driver (see the table in Signal passed at danger (SPAD))
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  • Rail vehicle irregularity

    This category involves any rail vehicle irregularity that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations and/or people, including:

    • wheel, axle or bearing failures while a rail vehicle is in service
    • braking system failures
    • faulty passenger train doors that haven’t been or can’t be isolated
    • faulty fire detection equipment
    • dragging or loose rail vehicle equipment or components
    • severe electrical arcing or fusing
    • vehicle structural defects
    • faulty design, construction or operation of a rail vehicle
    • locomotive remote controlling equipment irregularities, and
    • an irregularity that causes electric shock.

    This category excludes:

    • any irregularity detected and corrected during a normal maintenance programme, and
    • failure of a locomotive or multiple unit train that does not affect the safety of railway operations.

    Note: If the irregularity involves on-track equipment for automatic train protection or warning system equipment, see Train warning and enforcement systems irregularity.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the nature of the irregularity, the rail vehicle component which has failed or is damaged, and
    • the circumstances of the irregularity’s discovery.
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  • Railway security

    This category involves any unlawful activity on railway property that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations, people and or/premises, including:

    • train surfing
    • near collisions with trespassers
    • objects being projected at trains
    • assaults on railway premises
    • theft of safety related materials or equipment
    • theft of dangerous goods and/or security-sensitive goods, and
    • acts of vandalism or sabotage.

    Note: This category does not include trespassing stock or people where no near-collision occurred.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the circumstances of the breach, the behaviour of perpetrators and any actions taken by staff
    • a description of where the activity occurred, generally one of:
      • on a train
      • on a platform
      • other location, with a description
    • an indication as to whether the breach was associated with or caused a near miss
    • in the case of a projectile, a description of the object thrown or otherwise cast (eg slingshot, firearm etc) at trains and advice on whether the train was struck, and
    • in the case of theft, a description of the safety-related (or other) materials or equipment and the implications of this theft.
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  • Runaway rail vehicle

    This category involves the uncontrolled movement of an unattended train or rail vehicle that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations.

    Note: This includes train partings.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include:

    • details of the circumstances of the runaway
    • the extent of runaway, and
    • the actions taken to manage the incident.
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  • Safe working rule or procedure breach

    This category involves any breach of an operational safe working system or procedure that endangers or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations and/or persons, including:

    • near collisions (For a near collision that occurs at a level crossing, see Level crossing occurrence or for a near collision involving trespassing persons or vehicles, see Railway security)
    • human failures (intentional and unintentional acts) in the application of safe working procedures
    • failure to communicate or act on vital information to protect trains and personnel
    • failure to comply with a hand signal
    • irregularities in the management of train separation (eg a near miss), and
    • any significant breach of a rail operator’s or access provider’s rule.

    Notes:

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the circumstances of the rule breach or deficiency
    • identification of the appropriate track work or safe working procedure or rule, and
    • where associated with a train control system, a description of the type of system in force.
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  • Signal passed at danger (SPAD)

    A SPAD is where a train passes, without authority, a signal displaying a stop indication, including:

    • signals blacked out, and
    • track warrant overruns on the National Rail System.

    A category "A" SPAD (or SPAD A) is where the stop signal indication (and any associated preceding indication) was displayed correctly and in sufficient time for the train to be stopped safely.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • detail of the nature of the SPAD, including SPAD type (refer to the Australasian SPAD classifications(external link))
    • the distance (in metres) which the front of the train travels beyond the signal, and
    • the type of action, or absence of action, taken by the driver, as per the table below.

    Action

    Description

    Signal restored as train approached

    Where a proceed signal changes to stop in the face of the driver giving insufficient time for the train to brake to a stop prior to passing the signal.

    Driver misjudged

    Where the driver has attempted to stop the train but failed to stop the train before passing the signal for whatever reason.

    Completely missed while running

    Where no attempt has been made to bring a train to a stand before the stop signal and the train has proceeded into the next section or block without the necessary authority.
    The driver has not realised that the train has passed a stop signal until a more serious event results; the driver is stopped by train control over the radio, at the next signal or stopped by other external intervention.

    Starting against signal

    Where a stationary train starts and proceeds beyond a signal at danger without authority. The driver may or may not realise that the train has run past the signal.

    Automatic intervention

    Where the train was brought to a stop pass a signal through intervention from an automatic train protection system.

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  • Signalling and other movement authority systems irregularity

    This category involves any failure in the signalling system or equipment that endangers, or has the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations, including:

    • wrong-side failures of vital signalling, points operating and train detection equipment
    • malfunction of point detection circuits
    • failure of control systems and equipment, including on-board systems and equipment (eg ETCS)
    • failures of token based systems and equipment, and
    • failures of equipment and aids of manual or electronic train authority systems.

    Notes:

    • A ‘wrong-side failure’ is considered to have the potential to endanger the safety of railway operations if it was not detected by other parts of the signalling system AND had at least one of the following consequences
      • it caused a signal to display an aspect less restrictive than the  proper one or it prevented a signal from displaying a more restrictive aspect
      • it resulted in incorrect operation of the interlocking
      • the presence or location of trains is not detected
      • the train crew obtained an erroneous authority due to malfunctioning of the applicable control system or components thereof

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • identification of the equipment or system that fails and the circumstances of that failure, and
    • a description of the type of train control system in force.
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  • Suspected or attempted suicide

    Any confirmed, suspected or attempted suicide, including people:

    • struck by a train
    • jumping from railway structure, or
    • jumping from a structure onto railway property.

    Note: Any incident reported under this category is based on reasonable judgement from the information available. It does not pre-empt or rely on coronial decisions.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include details of the nature of the incident, including the behaviour of the person which supports the determination of attempted suicide.

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  • Track and civil infrastructure irregularity

    This category involves any irregularity in the track or civil infrastructure that endangers, or has the potential to endanger, the safety of railway operations, persons and/or premises, including:

    • broken rail, being a fracture of the rail in a running line including a broken joint or weld, or detachment of a piece from the rail which necessitates an immediate stoppage of traffic or the immediate imposition of a speed restriction lower than that already in force
    • misalignment of track (such as a buckle) on a running line involving either horizontal or vertical misalignment which results in an immediate stoppage of traffic or the immediate imposition of a speed restriction lower than that already in force
    • spread track, being any spread of track, in a running line, beyond approved gauge tolerances that results in an immediate stoppage of traffic or other restrictions
    • track obstructions, being any object or damage that blocks or interferes with the track and civil infrastructure
    • failure of, or damage to, rail infrastructure, such as a tunnel, bridge, viaduct, culvert, station, or other structure or any part thereof
    • damage to bridges and barriers by road vehicles, and
    • damage to infrastructure caused by interference.

    Notes:

    • Irregularities detected and corrected under normal inspection and maintenance are not incidents.
    • For signalling and electrical infrastructure irregularities, see Signalling and other movement authority systems irregularity.
    • Where the irregularity involves damage to any railway equipment at a level crossing (eg level crossing barriers, signalling equipment), see Level crossing occurrence.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the nature of the irregularity, the component which has failed or is damaged
    • the method or manner in which the irregularity was detected, and
    • in the case of an obstruction, the type of obstruction.
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  • Train warning and enforcement systems irregularity

    Any failure of installed train monitoring, warning and enforcement systems to detect and act on alarm situations, including:

    • failures of installed systems such as ETCS, train stops, and vigilance systems to stop trains in potentially dangerous situations
    • failure, bypassing or non-availability of rail vehicle location technology that could have placed people or infrastructure at risk
    • isolation of the above systems or parts of such systems to enable train operations to continue in cases where the equipment malfunctions
    • failure of equipment such as acoustic bearing detectors to detect defects on the passing train
    • failure of out of gauge detectors and weighbridges to detect load irregularities
    • failure of dragging equipment detectors
    • failure of track flood warning, rock slide detection and other installed infrastructure monitoring systems to detect unsafe conditions, and
    • failure of personal and fixed gas detectors.

    Notes:

    • This category does not include failures that have no critical effect on the safe operation of the railway (eg where procedures provide for the continuance of safe operations).
    • If the irregularity involves a failure of the communications system link, see Communications system failure.

    When submitting a Rail incident/accident notification form, the ‘Accident/incident description’ field should include, where applicable:

    • details of the nature of the irregularity, including the train operations being carried out and the resulting consequences (if any), and
    • a description of the type of warning or enforcement system in place at the time of the incident.
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