Safety was our priority at the earliest stages of the Carmichael Rail Network’s design and development, and our safety-first mindset continues into daily operations.
Each and every day, we are committed to the highest safety standards and to ensuring our people live our robust safety culture.
At Bowen Rail Company, safety means complying with all relevant rail safety legislation, embracing safety innovations, ensuring a safe working environment and helping to keep the community safe when they work, live or drive near the rail network.
Among Australia’s safest train fleets
Safety was at the heart of the fleet design process for our next-generation locomotives.
The fleet includes 14 Progress Rail EMD® GT46C-ACe Gen III locomotives and 536 wagons, built in the Caterpillar Company’s Progress Rail Business in the USA.
The locomotives feature new safety technology to improve braking and advanced IT systems to enable the trains to be remotely tracked from Bowen Rail Company’s operations centre. Each train was individually assessed, tested and certified to run on the Carmichael Rail Network.
Static testing checked every feature from headlights to communications systems and active testing included running the trains both empty and loaded along the route.
Safety is our key value
At the Bowen Rail Company, safety is a key value as part of our culture to A.S.P.I.R.E.
We value Accountability, Safety, People, Integrity, Respect and Excellence. As part of this, safety includes the wellbeing of our employees.
Our new greenfield rail network
Our trains operate on the new 200km railway between Bravus Mining and Resources’ Carmichael Mine and Aurizon’s existing Newlands rail line to the Port of Abbot Point. Safety was a key priority during the construction of the Carmichael Rail Network. There are 58 “at grade” crossings, many of which assist landowners to safely access their land. There were also upgrades to local roads to ensure traffic can use overpasses to move safely over the rail line.
The Bowen Rail Company is committed to the continuous improvement of its safety performance and ongoing positive safety culture.
Australian-first accreditation from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator
We underwent a rigorous two-and-a-half-year journey to achieve accreditation as a Rail Transport Operator.
We were the first rollingstock operator in Queensland to achieve its accreditation from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR). The comprehensive ONRSR process required us to demonstrate we had the competence and capacity to adequately manage safety risks in line with all relevant rail safety legislation.
A key plank of the accreditation process involved the creation of a Safety Management System, which rail operators use to guide their day-to-day operations, from rollingstock construction to worker competence to emergency procedures and fatigue management. We also appointed an independent safety assessor to review and assure almost every element of its safety policies.
Full ONRSR accreditation was successfully achieved in October 2021. We regularly report to ONRSR on our safety performance.
Our driver training for safety
We make sure all of our drivers are appropriately qualified to operate the rollingstock.
This extensive training process includes learning about every aspect of the locomotive and its operation to detailed route familiarisation.
Rail traffic crew are required to maintain competencies in a variety of areas to ensure their ongoing safety and that of the network and must be fit for duty.
Innovation in train braking
The installation of spring tension park brakes on Bowen Rail Company trains has significantly improved safety for its train crew. The new park brakes enable train crew to apply a handbrake to the entire train from the cab, rather than having to manually wind on 20 to 30 handbrakes along the length of the train. This innovation reduces the common risk of slip, trip and fall incidents for freight train drivers and also the likelihood of manual handling errors.
The vast majority of train crew injuries typically occur in and around the locomotive and in Bowen Rail Company’s first year of operations there were no lost time injuries recorded. The train fleet is also equipped with electronic pneumatic brake control which activates the brakes at the same time across the entire freight train which improves stability and safety. Conventional air brakes on most other freight trains in Australia come on first at the front and then systematically engage along the length of the train, increasing stopping time.
Maintaining our safety systems
The Carmichael Rail Network was built to the highest safety standards and is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it is kept in world-class condition.
Regular, preventative maintenance is undertaken on the train line and the train fleet to ensure they continue to operate safely and with high performance. Rockhampton-based Rhomberg Rail carries out regular maintenance of the Carmichael Rail Network and Provisioning Yard. The maintenance regime involves routine inspections of the rail line to check for faults and the repair of any problems identified.
On peak maintenance days, a crew of up to 20 skilled workers are required along with expert machinery and plant like rail grinding machines.
Rail safety in the community
We are committed to keeping our employees, contractors and the community safe on both the Carmichael Rail Network and Aurizon’s Newlands System. Rail networks can be dangerous places when accessed illegally. Tragically, each year there are on average 89 fatalities and 60 people injured on Australia’s rail networks, according to the TrackSAFE Foundation.
Rail organisations risk heavy fines for not following safety regulations and laws. Trespassing onto tracks, infrastructure or rollingstock is illegal and comes with considerable risks to both the individuals involved and rail employees. Trains cannot stop quickly and are heavy, long and cannot swerve. A fully-laden freight train can take 1.5km to stop when travelling at top speed, even after the emergency brake has been applied.
Level crossing safety
Each year in Queensland there are hundreds of near misses between trains, cars and pedestrians. While each public level crossing in Queensland is assessed for safety and has a form of protection like flashing lights or boom gates, drivers and pedestrians need to be aware of the risks around an operating rail line. Drivers must stop when they encounter a level crossing where there is a stop sign, red flashing lights or a lowered boom arm. It is imperative to slow down when approaching a level crossing, never queue across the crossing and be aware of the surroundings.