Published: 10 March 2022

Legislative Council, Thursday 10 March 2022


With regard to the cycle pathway along the North West Coast I understand TasRail has standards related to fence heights where they are a common fence with neighbouring properties.

I ask the Leader to provide:

1. a copy of these standards; and

2. any other evidence of when these standards have been amended to adjust the heights whilst maintaining a safe separation between trains and users of the cycle/walking pathways.

The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure has sought advice from TasRail and can advise as follows:

• Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) requires the identification and control of safety risks at railway crossings and other interfaces.

• In the case of the Coastal Pathway Project between Sulphur Creek and Penguin, and in accordance with the RSNL, TasRail (as the Rail Infrastructure Manager) and the Central Coast Council (as the owner of this section of the Coastal Pathway) were legally obliged to undertake a joint safety risk assessment of the pathway, it runs in close proximity to the operational rail corridor.

• TasRail, the Council and the Pathway Project Manager completed the risk assessment and worked together to agree risk

management solutions that minimized the amount of fencing required, and also provided for two new, safe and fit-for-purpose railway crossings to improve access to the beach by the public.

• The fencing solution and the new crossing access points were subsequently agreed with the Council and the Pathway Project Manager before the Development Application (DA) was lodged in July 2021. The design plans submitted with the DA were publicly advertised as required by the planning process, and they clearly showed the fencing locations and specifications that had been agreed by the parties.

• The fencing agreement included a 1.2-metre-high fence at a small number of specific locations where the path is located right beside the railway. Where the path starts to deviate away from the railway, the fence reduces to a height of 600mm. At other locations where the path was deemed to be of sufficient distance from the rail land or where the existing ground conditions provided a natural barrier, fences were not mandatory and have not been provided unless there is a steep drop off.

• The objective of the fencing is to minimise the risk of harm by the physical separation of people/ bikes from trains and rail activities such as tamping, track maintenance etc. It also serves the purpose of directing the public to only cross railway tracks at authorised rail crossings that are protected with appropriate safety controls in accordance with Australian Standards of the day.

• Similar fencing currently exists at other bike path locations across Tasmania including Burnie, Devonport and Hobart/Glenorchy.

In other rail jurisdictions across mainland Australia, you will likely find much more stringent fencing requirements including 2.1m high separation fencing complete with 300mm of barbed wire at the top.

• In summary, TasRail determines the type and specification of safety fencing through a joint risk assessment conducted with the proposed asset owner or developer – as it is required by law.

• The assessment takes into account the specific location and activity as well as the surrounding conditions, rather than a pre- determined Standard.

• Trespass in the rail corridor continues to be an issue throughout the State for TasRail – with a 15 per cent increase in reported incidents in 2020-21. The majority were reported in the North and North West.

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