IRSC 2019 Wrap Up

I have just returned from a tremendous few days at the 29th International Railway Safety Council Conference in Perth.  Feedback tells us the event was a major success from both an educational and networking perspective.

This conference was jointly organised by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (Julie Bullas), and the Australian Transport Bureau (Nat Nagy). I would like to recognise and thank the local organising committee for their efforts.

More than 220 attendees from 20 countries enjoyed a diverse program including: three stakeholder group meetings, over 25 presentations, an impressive social program and two fantastic technical tours including Speno Rail Maintenance Australia’s maintenance facility and a full day visit to Roy Hill’s and Port Hedland Ports’ operations in the Pilbara, over 1,600 kilometres from Perth.   

I’m sure that those who attended will agree that the quality of presentations from international and local speakers was exceptionally high.  Topics as diverse as the digital transformation of the rail sector, risk analysis methodology, rail safety and the fourth industrial revolution, and system integration requirements, helped deepen delegate’s understanding of rail safety in a digital age.

While attendees walked away challenged with new ideas on how innovation and technology is changing the future or rail safety, I can say I too walked away with new ideas as well as enriched networks and a profound sense of belonging to an international rail community. And as much as the conference was about connecting with new people, it was heartening to see so many of our members at this event. Thank you for your attendance. 

The IRSC provides an international forum for an in-depth exchange of experience and lessons for improving rail safety. So to continue and expand the sharing of this knowledge, the presentations and papers from the 29th IRSC will be made available on the IRSC and RISSB websites,, and in the near future. RISSB will also be working with presenters to create webinars. I encourage you to look at them.

I'd also like to acknowledge the winner of the IRSC 2019 Best Presenter Award, Allan Spence of Network Rail who challenged our thinking on “How realistic is the picture provided by your assurance regime?” as well as Rodrigo Alvarez and Fersy Ramon Philip Castillo from Rail Systems Australia who won the Best Paper Award for their co-authored paper “The Sixth Sensor: How IoT Smart Sensors Can Address Operational Challenges Introduced by Increasing Automation in Railways.” Well done!

On a final note, I’d like to congratulate our first Horizons Program participants for completing the program, in particular, the winning group of the pitching competition. Ryan Holt (ARTC) and Michael Holmes (Sydney Metro) presented the group's idea to conference delegates.

Deborah Spring
RISSB - Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer