Transport for NSW – Transport Electrical Safety


Working around electricity and gas is one of the top risks for Transport for NSW.  We have established the Transport Electrical Safety Committee (TESC) to engage senior executives and SMEs on strategic electrical safety issues.

The TESC provides a consistent, multi-modal and whole of life cycle approach to electrical safety across the transport cluster.  The committee aims to share best practices on electrical safety and to achieve the objectives of the Transport Asset Management Framework to create safe transport for employees customers, communities, and the people of NSW.

Incorporating safety performance measures into asset management can assist Transport for NSW and its agencies in managing their aging assets efficiently and improve system-wide safety.

Assessment criteria

Text Box: The objectives of Transport for NSW include provision of safe and reliable delivery of transport servicesTransport for NSW (Transport) leads the development of a safe, integrated and efficient transport network for the people of NSW and manages a complex and diverse asset portfolio.  Our asset, safety and risk management and assurance processes, including continuous improvement, are documented in the respective management systems.  These are aligned and integrated and are supported through organisational commitment and leadership.

Transport has undergone a transformational journey which saw all NSW transport related agencies and their service providers – covering heavy rail, light rail, metro, roads, maritime, ferries and active transport – come together.  The Transport cluster works to provide integrated services across all modes, driving a stronger focus on creating better places, and delivering customer and community outcomes.

Best practice asset and safety management principles

Transport is committed to implementing asset and safety management to support a connected Transport system and achieve better customer outcomes.  We promote a transparent and collaborative culture and seek to improve performance by:

  • undertaking strategic asset planning that delivers TfNSW’s outcomes, ensuring a more customer focused and connected transport future
  • adopting a total expenditure whole of lifecycle approach that delivers safe, fit for purpose, sustainable and reliable assets with clear visibility on all associated risks, costs and performance outcomes
  • complying with statutory and regulatory requirements such as WHS Act, Rail Safety National Law and the NSW Treasury’s Asset Management Policy
  • applying AS ISO 45001 (safety management), AS ISO55001 (asset management) and AS ISO 31000 (risk management) throughout the asset lifecycle
  • continuously improving the safety, asset and risk management processes, systems, resources and capability to improve the delivery and performance of transport assets and services to provide safe, effective and efficient services.

Transport currently manages an asset intensive portfolio of network assets with electrical safety a key factor across the majority of the portfolio.  

Transport’s network asset portfolio

Figure 1: Transport’s network asset portfolio

Transport’s assets have been acquired over several generations and Transport has an obligation to properly maintain and upgrade the assets to provide the level of service and benefits for the community of NSW.

Transport needs to assure itself that the assets remain fit for purpose, safe and sustainable over the asset life cycle. This is achieved through a coordinated approach to risk, cost and performance which is the foundation of the effective management of transport assets.

The management of such a complex and vast network of assets requires strategic leadership, governance, assurance, and clear articulation of business outcomes for people to work towards.

Transport has a coordinated approach to manage its large portfolio of assets which is defined in the:

  • Transport for NSW Asset Management Framework (AMF)
  • Safer Together Safety Management System (SMS). 
  • Transport Enterprise Risk Management (TERM) Framework

The AMF, SMS and TERM provide a set of connected and related tools and include policies, plans, strategies and business processes which work together to provide assurance that asset management activities will deliver a safe, integrated, modern transport system that puts the customer at the centre.

Duties and obligations

There are several Acts and Regulations that impose duties and obligations on Transport operators and maintainers with regards to electrical safety – for example:

WHS ActRail Safety National LawElectrical Network Safety Rules

Within the Transport cluster each agency is responsible for discharging its duties and obligations for electrical safety.  Different standards and working practices were historically adopted which resulted in inconsistent electrical safety practices and the risk that Transport and its duty holders are not discharging their duties and obligations.

Each agency has a diversified workforce, with different cultures and perceptions about electrical risks, skills, work practices and rules, all of which can have the unintended consequence of creating unsafe working environments.

The Transport Electrical Safety Committee (TESC)

Text Box: The Transport Electrical Safety Steering Committee will provide a consistent, multi-modal, and whole of life cycle approach to electrical safetyThe TESC is original and unique in that it brings together critical knowledge of electrical safety across several individual agencies across the NSW Transport cluster. 

It provides an opportunity to discuss and implement a holistic cluster-wide approach to electrical safety. This will assist Transport and the associated duty holders in discharging their duties and obligations in relation to electrical safety.

Establishment of the TESC provides Transport, and the associated duty holders, with confidence that the transport electrical assets are safe, fit for purpose and that Transport meets its regulatory, technical and safety duties and obligations.

Value creation from the TESC is achieved through development of a comprehensive program of electrical safety strategic initiatives.  These have been developed to close identified gaps in electrical safety systems and practices such as lack of standardised rules and requirements.

The value proposition of the TESC is based on the following core principles:

Innovation Providing innovation and engineering solutions to electrical safety to deliver improved safety and asset management outcomes for the organisation, our customers and the community
Cross fertilization Importing and sharing knowledge and ideas from different agencies and industry partners together with consideration of new and different technologies
Electrical safety best practice Working within Transport and with our industry partners to evolve and build better awareness of electrical safety best practice
Expert advice and guidance Identify experts and senior leaders who have developed experience in electrical safety to collectively work on complex problems

The TESC brings a focus to improve safe practices for those that work on or near transport electricity assets and supports:

  • Identification of best practices, together with opportunities for improvement in practice to manage electrical safety risk across Transport
  • Identification and integration of electrical safety assurance interfaces across the Transport cluster
  • Opportunity for innovation, novel engineering solutions and efficacy of technical assurance
  • Development options to improve safe practices, including development of multi-modal processes
  • Sharing information on electrical risks, incidents, lessons learnt and industry best practice between agencies in the transport cluster
  • Text Box: Transport adopts a risk management approach to managing safety, service and other risks to Transport and our stakeholders and customersIdentifying opportunities for alignment and to collaborate on initiatives and issues with potential to impact multiple transport agencies


The Energy Networks & Systems (EN&S) team within the Asset Management Branch of Transport for NSW provide strategic initiative leadership for energy related transport assets and systems.  This strategic initiative has been lead by EN&S in collaboration with agencies from across Transport and support from our industry partners.

To date, the TESC has made significant progress in delivering a number of initial electrical safety strategic initiatives including:

  1. Establishing a multimodal annual Transport Electrical Safety forum
  2. Facilitating a master classes on electrical safety to help increase awareness and education on hazards and risks associated with electrical energy in the rail corridor
  3. Sharing rail possession (shutdowns) and feeder outage times with the Street Opening Coordination Council to enable the safe planning of construction work on sites that cover both road and rail assets
  4. Sharing lessons learnt, recommendations and establishing common strategic initiatives including the provision of expert advice.

The industry based electrical safety forum was held to engage with the industry to better refine the outcomes from these strategic initiatives.  This also served to uplift industry knowledge of transport electrical safety and provided an opportunity for collaboration with industry partners to help raise awareness of electrical safety.

A key objective of the TESC is to share information on new technology, electrical risks, incidents, lessons learned and industry best practice.  Some of the more recent topics discussed with industry include:

Electric Vehicle Fire SafetyWorking Near Live ServicesArc Flash Incidents – lessons learnedPublic Electrical Safety

Through engagement and collaboration with industry several additional initiatives and focus areas were identified that Transport will adopt to achieve outcomes which further benefit both Transport and industry. 

The benefits realised from the committee work has resulted in the following outcomes

  1. The introduction of e-learning modules covering construction work around electrical assets.
  2. Promote and encourage reporting of electrical incidents and sharing of findings with the industry to increase knowledge and awareness on the hazards associated with electrical energy.
  3. Cultural change driven through visible safety leadership and industry networking
  4. Research and understand emerging technologies and potential impacts on electrical safety
  5. Development of standards that covers safety aspects of emerging technologies

General comments

System safety across the asset lifecycle

Transport needs to assure itself that the assets remain fit for purpose, safe and sustainable over the asset life cycle.

Figure 2: Asset lifecycle phases

While safety decisions are made at all stages of the life cycle, the decisions made in the Plan Phase have the greatest potential for impacting the safety risk profile of the network.

Implementation of system safety in the Plan Phase has required a degree of interpretation of traditional system safety practice from other domains. Further, decisions made in the plan phase are also taken at a time when the cost of implementing them is at its lowest.

This has important implications for ensuring the safety of the transport network so far as is reasonably practicable (SFAIRP) as when balancing safety against costs and other risk types due to the potential magnitude of the impact of such decisions.

In the Plan Phase safety needs to be considered in combination with other types of risks and opportunities. For example, the option defined may not be the safest as other opportunities are to be sought such as increased capacity or urban regeneration with greater community integration with the transport network.

Significant value can be created by the TESC through collaborative research and developing an understanding of emerging technologies, together with any potential impacts on electrical safety, early in the Plan Phase of the asset lifecycle.

Text Box: Working around electricity has been identified as one of the most critical safety risks under the Transport Safer Together SMSSafer Together Safety Management System

The TfNSW Safer Together Safety Management System (SMS) provides all employees with guidance to better manage and report safety – no matter their workplace or role within Transport.  The SMS contains the:

  • Transport Safety Management Framework
  • Transport Safety and Wellbeing Charter
  • TfNSW Safety and Wellbeing Policy
  • Transport Health and Safety Requirements
  • TfNSW Health and Safety Standards, Procedures, Safety Tools and Guidance materials.

Figure 3: Transport safety management framework architecture

The safety standards are the minimum high-level requirements that help our people understand and deliver safer outcomes across TfNSW operations. The procedures describe how a standard will be put into action, outlining roles and responsibilities. Underneath the procedures are the forms, templates, guidance materials and tools we need to complete our work safely.

The TESC seeks to provide relevant consistency and alignment across Transport for electrical safety standards, procedures, tools and guidelines.

Transport Enterprise Risk Management (TERM)

The TERM Framework is aligned with the principles and guidelines specified in AS ISO31000 Risk Management.  It provides a mandatory, systematic and integrated framework designed to set the minimum requirements for managing risk across Transport. The Framework also provides the strategy, architecture, process and protocols for managing risk within Transport.

The risk management process is central to the TERM Framework and is applied by the TESC for electrical safety risk based decision making.

Figure 4: TERM Framework

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top