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Train driver shift limits must be maintained

May 4, 2012News

The National Transport Commission would like to see Australian rail safety left to drift dangerously towards third world standards with a proposal to drop the 12 hour limit on shifts for NSW train drivers.

The shift limits were a crucial recommendation of the McInerny Inquiry into the Waterfall Train disaster.

An analysis of accident risk factors related to rail fatigue by researchers from Monash University and Sydney University describes removing the shift limits as “potentially dangerous”, pointing out that:

“…there is a clear evidence for i)increased fatigue for 12 hour shifts and (ii) increased accident risk for long work shifts. Working beyond 12 h is a known risk factor to fatigue/sleepiness and accident risk.”

The report also points out that the US Federal RailRoad, European Union, Transport Canada and the UK’s Office of Rail Regulation have all imposed work hour limits.

RTBU National Secretary, Bob Nanva has called strong for the NTC to abandon its ill conceived recommendation and prioritise rail safety – both for drivers and the traveling public.

You can watch an interview with Bob Nanva arguing strongly against these proposals here.

New national rail safety laws should be an opportunity to introduce the best possible safety standards but all the NTC seems to want to do engage in a race to the bottom. These proposals make a mockery of the whole concept of a safety regulator.