The RSR is mandated to oversee the safety of railway transport, promote safe railway operations, to ensure continuous safety improvements and to promote the use rail as a mode of transport.  In accordance with this mandate, safety permits are issued to operators based on a Safety Management System (SMS) and SMS Report that meets the requirements as provided for in the relevant legislation and applicable standards. Rail operations are by design, asset-intensive undertakings and the operators are inevitably responsible for the management of extensive networks and assets that directly impact on the provision of a safe and reliable rail system. This includes the procurement and execution of large new works and rolling stock programmes.

During the different life cycles of railway operations, changes to the SMS and railway systems (new works and technology developments) are often necessary. In some situations, change will involve an entirely new asset and operation. These situations present opportunities for innovative designs that offer the ability to make significant changes in safety and asset performance. 

Changes to the SMS, asset base and operating conditions must be communicated to the RSR as these changes may have an impact on the risk profile of the operator. Where changes involve new or modified assets, plant, equipment, control systems, telecoms, or information technology systems, the project under consideration must be subject to processes that consider the entire life cycle of the project, including:

  •  concept and feasibility
  •  definition of requirements
  •  design
  •  implementation
  •  installation and commissioning
  •  operations and maintenance
  •  modification; and
  •  decommissioning and disposal.

To deliver projects safety, the client, the suppliers, and regulators ensure that:

  • safety is designed and built into the railway’s systems and technological products;
  • safety is preserved when these systems are maintained and changed; and
  • these systems and products are operated safely after handover of the project.

The intent of the RSR review is to establish if the operators have applied their minds adequately to:

  • define the impact of the scope of the intended action from a life cycle and systemic view;
  • identify the safety risks associated with the intended action;
  • propose appropriate mitigating actions; and
  • improve the state of safety.

The following outcomes are expected from RSR’s regulatory safety assessments on new projects and technology developments:

  • Risks associated with new works are clearly defined and controlled during all the life cycle phases.
  • Effected changes are clearly documented and has internal sign off from the appropriately authorised independent person or persons within the rail operator.
  • Informed by the past occurrence data and causes, the RSR assessments will ensure that new works address known safety risks, e.g., station precinct protection measures being addressed whenever stations are upgraded to address ticket evasion, rail reserve encroachment and trespassing.
  •  Assurance that new technologies are introduced safely and are compatible with existing technologies.

When operators submit their new works and technology development projects, they must take note of the following terms and conditions:

  • The objective of the new works or technology review is not to authorise the integrity of the design, construction or manufacturing process or methodologies, operating procedure and/or proposed processes.
  • An approval or a no-objection report means a written consent by the RSR to proceed with a requested activity, while the operator remains responsible to meet all applicable legislation, regulations, standards, directives, guidance notices and safety requirements for all the applicable life cycle phases of proposed new works and technology developments.
  • The May 2018 SMS Determination stipulates that an independent safety validation must be undertaken where the proposed change relates to a major project and must be undertaken by an appropriately experienced and/or qualified Independent Safety Assessor or Independent Competent Person, who is independent from the envisaged change.

For more information, please contact the RSR at: OR Xoliswa Majoka @

© RSR - Railway Safety Regulator 2024 - All Rights Reserved.