National Operations Publications


Since its inception, RISSB has actively worked towards the national harmonisation of rail operations.

In 2006, RISSB commenced the Australian Network Rules & Procedures (ANRP) project, with the objective of creating a comprehensive suite of nationally applicable rules and procedures for rail operations within Australia. The work completed under the ANRP brought together the disparate rules from around Australia and combined them into a centralised rule book. This  book contained a mix of rules and procedures which provided the basis for rail transport operators to achieve safe operational outcomes.

In 2015, the RISSB Board commissioned a review of the ANRP, to bring further harmonisation within rail operations in Australia. As a result, RISSB developed and published the “Operational Concept for Australian Rail Network” which articulates the seven fundamental operating principles (FOP) that form the basis for the development all network rules.  Based this document, RISSB commenced a detailed review of the ANRP, with an intent extract the core rules which were nationally applicable to form the national rules framework .  The National Rules Framework was published in Feb 2020.

In the second half of 2020, RISSB commenced the Australian Harmonised Network Rules (AHNR) project. The goal of the project was to develop a set of rules based on the ANRP framework that the participating RTO’s can adopt verbatim into their network rulebook. RISSB published the first rule “AHNR 2007 Communications” which consolidated 3 ANRP rules in June 2021.

The following diagram illustrates the conceptual relationship between the suite of documents within the National Operations Publications and those within an RTO’s network rules.

Fundamental Operating Principles

The seven principles are:

  1. Rail traffic must maintain safe separation via an appropriate method of signalling.
  2. Before any rail traffic is allowed to start or continue moving, it must have an authority to move that clearly indicates the limit of that authority.
  3.  Rail traffic and other transport modes must be separated, or the interface managed.
  4. Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the infrastructure’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  5. Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the rail traffic’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  6. Rail traffic must only operate on compatible infrastructure.
  7.  Safe separation must be maintained between people and rail traffic.

The national operations publications framework includes the Operational Concept for the Australian Railway Network and supporting documents such as handbooks, guidelines and training materials.

Australian National Rules Framework

The Australian National Rules Framework (the ‘Framework’) provides the core rules structured to meet the requirements of the fundamental operating principles. The Framework highlights the minimum requirements the Australian Rail Transport Operators (RTO) must ensure is incorporated into their Safeworking Rules and Procedures.

When a rule is drawn down from these documents, the RTO will supplement it with detailed rules and procedures for their operations, ensuring they meet the intent of the National Rule. Each individual rule aligns with one of the seven fundamental operating principles (FOP) and highlights the relationship with the ANRP.

The Australian National Rules Frame documents can be downloaded from the following link.

Australian Harmonised National Rule

For many years RISSB has managed the Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP) which brought together the disparate ‘train operations’ and ‘work on track’ rules from around Australia into a centralised ‘rulebook’.

As a next stage in RISSB’s network rules program, RISSB is developing a set of rules based on the ANRP framework that the RTO’s can adopt verbatim and incorporate it into its network rules and procedures.  The program seeks to develop, and rollout a number of detailed rules for industry self-mandating.  A cross-industry ‘National Rules Industry Reference Group’ consisting of senior leaders from 14 RTO’s provide strategic guidance and direction for this project.

Subject matter experts from the above organisations form the working group for the review and the development of the Australian Harmonised Network Rules (AHNR).

The first harmonised rule “AHNR 2007 Communications” was developed based on ANRP rules 2007, 2008 & 2025 and released in June 2021.

National Guidance

The Code of Practice – Development and maintenance of network rules has been produced to assist rail transport operators with managing network rules.  Covering areas such as development, maintenance and changes to network rules, this Code aims to drive harmonisation across the Australian rail industry.

This Code is available at



The National Operations Publications


RISSB acknowledge the positive contribution of subject matter experts in the development of all products within the National Operations Publications. Their efforts ranged from membership of the development group through to individuals providing comment on the draft during the open review.


These RISSB products were developed using input from rail experts from across the rail industry and represents good practice for the industry.
The reliance upon or manner of use of this RISSB product is the sole responsibility of the user who is to assess whether it meets their organisation’s operational environment and risk profile.