National Rail Safety Regulator appoints new Chief Executive

The search for Australia’s next National Rail Safety Regulator is over, with Dr. Natalie Pelham appointed Chief Executive of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR).

Dr. Pelham will take on the role from Sue McCarrey who left ONRSR in December last year. Dr. Pelham will be leaving her current role in New South Wales’ Office of Transport Safety Investigations, where she has been Chief Investigator since January 2021.

Dr. Pelham will be the third National Rail Safety Regulator appointed in Australia following the formation of ONRSR in 2013, when the seven state and territory regulatory bodies were brought together under the national banner.

In that time the Australian rail industry has benefitted from a range of national reforms including a consolidated accreditation process and a risk-based national work program of audits and inspections.

ONRSR has also overseen significant improvements to the quality and availability of rail safety data now being harnessed to drive improved decision making by industry and governments alike.

Dr. Pelham will start with ONRSR in early November.

Quotes attributable to Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King:

“Rail connects communities and is a major carrier of goods in Australia, being responsible for around 49 per cent of our total domestic freight – making it an important part of our economy and way of life.

“ONRSR plays an important role enforcing and promoting safe railway operations, to ensure that all those working on and using railways get home safely after each shift or trip.

“The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring a safe and productive rail industry in Australia. I welcome Dr. Pelham to this vital role and look forward to continuing to work with ONRSR as they continue to promote and improve national rail safety.”

Quotes attributable to South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Tom Koutsantonis:

“Dr. Pelham has more than 25 years in the public service leading significant safety regulation, policy, strategy and reform at both state and national levels.

“Dr. Pelham will be a very strong leader for ONRSR and most importantly a wonderful advocate and activist for rail safety.

“Her experience across the regulatory spectrum gives her the ideal skillset and under her leadership ONRSR will continue to deliver for the people of Australia.

“I look forward to working with her and progressing an exciting national rail safety agenda.

“A great deal has been achieved over the first decade of national rail regulation and there is great potential for us to drive further safety and efficiency reforms for the rail industry.”