National Operations Publications


Since its inception, RISSB has actively worked towards the national harmonisation of rail operations. Over many years we have produced several important documents/tools which we now manage on behalf of the railway. These are listed below and discussed further on this page:

  • Operational Concept for the Australian Rail Network – containing the seven fundamental operating principles (FOP)
  • Australian National Rules Framework
  • Australian Harmonised National Rule/s
  • The Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP)
  • The CoP on the Development and Maintenance of Network Rules

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.

National Rules Framework

The National Rules Framework (the ‘Framework’) provides the core rules structured to meet the requirements of the fundamental operating principles. The Framework provides the minimum requirements to be incorporated into the Rail Transport Operator’s (RTO) Safeworking Rules and Procedures.

When an RTO develops their own network rule they ensure that they meet the intent of the National Rule Framework. Each individual network rule should align with one of the seven fundamental operating principles (FOP) and highlight the relationship with the ANRP.

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

Australian Network Rules and Procedures

RISSB developed a suite of Australian Network Rules and Procedures in 2009 and was last updated in 2015.  They were developed cognisant of the differing technologies employed across the Australian Rail Network at that time. As a consequence, they contain options that Rail Infrastructure Managers (RIM) can draw upon to suit their particular technologies and merge them with their network specific rules and procedures to form their own network rule book. These Rules and Procedures have remained applicable across all networks in Australia. 

As the technologies merge, the number of available options will continue to reduce facilitating further harmonisation. 

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 the 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 work.

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 for Development of Network Rules

A Code of Practice on the Development and Maintenance of Network Rules is currently available here:


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.


This RISSB product was 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.