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23.1 Introduction to managing the risks of working near the rail corridor

This section offers guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) on how to manage the risks associated with working near the railway corridor and ways to make sure the work you are doing does not introduce new risks for workers, road users, and rail users.

The rail corridor is the area 5m either side of a railway track.

Examples of activities where workers may be working near the rail corridor include:

  • road construction or maintenance
  • footpath installation or repair
  • vegetation maintenance
  • road marking
  • temporary traffic management (TTM) layout, or road sign installation
  • maintenance of utilities.

Sometimes an activity may not be near the rail corridor, but still have a flow-on effect to the rail corridor – for example, traffic management measures may result in vehicles queuing near or over a level crossing.

Every risk assessment should include consideration of any nearby railway lines and the railway corridor surrounding it.

Any work within the rail corridor requires a permit to enter from the access provider

If your work is likely to include working within the rail corridor (within 5m of the track), or there is a chance workers may need to enter the corridor at any time for any reason, you should first get permission from the access provider. In most instances, the access provider will be KiwiRail. However, some lines operated by heritage and tourist attractions have their own permitting systems. For more information, see: Kiwirail's Permit to Enter(external link)

23.2 What could go wrong when working near the railway corridor

Examples of what could go wrong include:

  • TTM signs, barriers or directions blocking workers or road users’ view of oncoming trains or warning signals at level crossings.
  • TTM signs, barriers or directions making it difficult for workers or road users to safely navigate over a level crossing.
  • TTM signs, barriers or directions creating confusion or distraction for road users when approaching a level crossing.
  • Mobile plant, such as cranes, hitting overhead line equipment within the rail corridor.
  • Unintentionally striking rail infrastructure (including underground infrastructure).
  • Nearby activities causing loose material to fall on to the railway track (for example, tree trimmings or loose soil).
  • Workers tripping or falling on the uneven ground near or inside the rail corridor.
  • Workers or plant being struck by a passing train.

23.3 Manage the risks to workers while working near the rail corridor

The first step is to make sure workers are aware of the rail corridor and its boundaries. They then need to know what steps to take to make sure any work near the rail corridor does not put them or others at risk.

When working near the rail corridor

  • Make sure the work activity and any TTM set-up do not affect the safe operation of the rail corridor.
  • Notify the rail operator (usually that will be KiwiRail) of all work activity, and any associated temporary traffic management plans (TMPs) within 10m of the track. If the work is within the rail corridor a Permit to Enter(external link) is required.
  • Make sure workers understand that they should not go within the boundaries of the rail corridor without prior permission or without suitable supervision.
  • Limit who can access the rail corridor to those that need to be there.
  • Keep all plant at least 4m away from overhead line equipment (if you need to get closer, a Permit to Enter(external link) will be required).

When working within 100m of a railway level crossing

  • All TMPs should be notified to KiwiRail for approval to make sure it does not impact the safe operation of the level crossing. Any changes to a TMP should be approved also.
  • All TMPs that encroach within 5m of the level crossing will require a Permit to Enter(external link).
  • For certain activities, the access provider will require a Rail Protection Officer (RPO) to be present on site as a rail safety observer. This will be confirmed during the Permit to Enter(external link)

23.4 More information on working near the rail corridor