Rail Safety National Law maintenance

The Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) aims for a seamless and coordinated national approach to rail safety regulation in Australia. We undertake periodic reviews of the Rail Safety National Law, including a targeted review of the Rail Safety National Law that is currently underway. You can read more about the targeted review here

Separate to the targeted review of the RSNL we are currently consulting on a proposed amendment to the Rail Safety National Law National Regulations 2012 (the National Regulations) related to drug testing in NSW. 


In December 2009 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish a national rail safety regulator and develop a rail safety national law that the rail safety regulator would administer.

We developed the RSNL, based on the National Transport Commission Model Rail Safety Bill (2007) and Model Regulations (Model Law). The RSNL also addressed areas where states and territories had varied from the model bill and regulations.

Following an extensive consultation period with industry, governments and unions, a final version of the National Law was submitted to and approved by the transport ministers in November 2011.

The RSNL was first enacted in South Australia in 2012. All other states and territories have either adopted the RSNL or passed legislation that models it. For the current laws and regulations, visit the South Australia Legislation website.

Minor amendment relating to drug testing

Under the RSNL rail transport operators (RTOs) are required to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that rail safety workers are not impaired by drugs or alcohol.

For RTOs accredited in respect of railway operations carried out within NSW (NSW RTOs) there are specific requirements for drug and alcohol testing. 

NSW RTOs are required to test a minimum of 25 per cent of their rail safety workers annually and must only use urine to test for the presence of drugs. NSW RTOs are not prevented from using other testing methods, however they do not form part of the 25 per cent minimum requirement.

This creates national inconsistency in drug testing methods between NSW RTOs and RTOs in other jurisdictions that are not subject to the same requirements. 

The proposed amendment will: 

  • remove the NSW RTO specific requirement to only use urine samples when testing for the presence of drugs while retaining the requirement that a minimum of 25 per cent of rail safety workers submit to random drug and alcohol testing annually; and 
  • better align the requirements applicable to NSW RTOs with the requirements applicable to RTOs based in other jurisdictions. 

What to submit: We are seeking your feedback on the draft amendmentRead the explanatory document to help inform your response.

When to submit: Submissions close on 23 May 2024

How to submit: To have your say, click here.

Contact us

Project manager Cane Goldsworthy
Contact email enquiries@ntc.gov.au