Integrated and collaborative Transport response to NSW bushfires

Transport support and activities - Ongoing bushfire crisis

Overview of ROM work to date

  • Since July 2019, staff and volunteers from all areas of Transport have worked tirelessly and rallied with local government, emergency and fire crews to keep communities safe and informed, and have played a critical role in maintaining an active transport network during the continued bushfire crisis
  • Throughout this time, our people have shown great determination, professionalism and care for each other and for their communities under difficult circumstances

Supporting emergency operations

  • Since October 2019 multiple Emergency Operations Centres were activated to coordinate response activities, with updates provided through the Regional and Outer Metropolitan (ROM) Northern/Hunter region combined Incident Management Team – comprising bus, coach, rail and road teams
  • The NSW State Recovery Committee was activated in November and supported by ROM
  • Other sub-committees activated and supported were the:
  • Mid-North Coast Recovery Committee
  • Northern Recovery Committee
  • Waste Environment & Infrastructure Sub-committee
  • Severe ongoing fires in the Southern Region that started in November led to the activation of regional Emergency Operations Centres at Shoalhaven and Queanbeyan, and with updates provided via the Southern region Incident Management Team

Taking stock early on, doing things differently

  • As fires progressed throughout the State, a number of additional activities were undertaken behind the scenes to help support response efforts, including:
    • Pulling dedicated specialist resources offline from their daily roles to assist with coordination of response and recovery efforts, to help arrange additional resources and to lend expertise and support to teams on the ground
    • Assembling Joint Incident Management Teams to discuss, plan and stay abreast of activities happening on the ground in key regions as the situation unfolded
    • Keeping focused on the safety of our people and the safety of others during the catastrophic conditions. Teams developed and share a guide on how to manage fatigue, such as spotting the signs and knowing what steps to take to manage fatigue in themselves and others.
    • Developing revised procedures to clarify roles and responsibilities and help ensure we worked together as effectively as possible with local government, emergency services as well as with our own people internally including those in Operations, the regions, regional Maintenance Delivery, the TMC, the Transport Coordination Office and Work Health and Safety
    • One such example is a revised Transport Road Opening Procedure – which provides a guide on the authority, escalation and key considerations for when a roadway is to be re-opened (and how it is to be communicated) following a closure. Sometimes, even though immediate fire danger has passed, a road or the surrounding landscape or infrastructure may be comprised and therefore is not safe to open. The procedure ensures that the required assessments are applied, and the appropriate level of decision making is in place, to ensure a road can be safely reopened. The principle decision to re-open a road is based on the safety of our customers.
    • Updating other internal guides and documentation to support our people when responding to the crisis in a high pressure and time sensitive environment, such as the:
    • Incident Management Team (IMT) agenda - used by the IMT to help keep meetings as succinct as needed.
    • Transport Liaison Officer (TLO) briefing guide – providing an overview of the responsibilities and key information to assist the TLO and when they deploy to an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
    • Transport Operational Information System (TOIS) User Guide for reference by TLO’s who will be required to use TOIS.
    • Holding a debrief session in December with key leaders in ROM to assess and take stock of some early lessons identified to assist with the ongoing response and to guide recovery efforts and continuous improvement
    • Engaging proactively with industry, tourism, freight and Local Government – as well as emergency services – around road closures, road re-openings and to support highly impacted areas such as Bateman’s Bay and to help manage holiday traffic (refer case studies on page 8)
    • Issuing a cluster wide call out and rostering additional response support over the Christmas closedown and the summer, and updating all call lists.
    • Identifying and upskilling more staff across our regions to both act and to stand by as Transport Liaison Officers (TLOs) who are deployed to support an Emergency Operations Centre and are the go to between Transport and other agencies.

Work underway now and the task ahead

  • Operational and maintenance teams for roads and rail, have been on the ground since early September and continue to focus on the safety of motorists, road workers, emergency services and local communities
  • Crews are already carrying out repairs on some parts of the transport networks. However, as significant fires continue to burn across most of our state, impacting our people, our network and our customers – crews have been working hard to start assessing the impact caused to roads and the rail network throughout the state
  • Transport infrastructure is severely impacted across NSW and it may take several weeks, or in some instances months, to repair.
  • In addition to monitoring the road and rail infrastructure conditions, other activities include replacing directional signs, damaged guard rails and culverts, repairing boundary and fauna fencing, carrying out tree removal and repair work, caring for affected wildlife, replacing train overhead wiring and fibre optic cables, repairing rail track and the like
  • Temporary electronic message boards are used in multiple locations throughout the state and customers are being continually informed of train service impacts, bus impact as well as road closures and impacts through a variety of partners, social media and news channels in addition to constant updates via Live Traffic.
  • Replacement busses, coaches continue to run and additional staff are on hand to direct traffic and marshal customers to any diversions or alternative transport.

Case studies / good news stories / social posts from the past few weeks

Good news story

ROM Regional Maintenance Delivery staff installed around 80 new roadside signs to replace burnt signs along Putty Road over the Christmas shutdown period, which was closed several times late last year due to the fires. A large number of these signs had to be manufactured first (ie. they didn’t have the stock on hand for the large quantity required) so it was quite a feat at any time of the year, but even more so over the shutdown period.

Maintenance teams in action

  • Road maintenance teams down in Bomaderry and Ulladulla who have been working under catastrophic conditions for months.
  • Albion Park Bridges and Maintenance, and Russell Vale Asphalt crews provided traffic control and manned closure points
  • Jeff Williams and Nowra crew came in while on leave and did long hours, even though some of their homes were under threat from fires
  • Md Hassan, Melanie Musgrove and Zac Tasker all played an essential role in ensuring all the crews were rotated and rested
  • Dan McAuley for the support from the crews in Albion Park and Russell Vale, who came down and rotated with my crews and who brought down supplies when required. Thanks to Jamie Caldwell for the support both in the field and from the EOC.

NSW Maritime

NSW Maritime is working hand in hand with a number of water-based agencies including the Rural Fire Service and Marine Area Command to assist with the delivery of provisions and supplies, where safe to do so. NSW Maritime is also available to assist with evacuations by water in appropriate areas, if required. NSW Maritime officers will continue to work closely with agencies and communities to assist with provisions and manage waterways to ensure boaters are safe.

Transport support and activities - Ongoing bushfire crisis

Overview of ROM work to date

  • Since July 2019, staff and volunteers from all areas of Transport have worked tirelessly and rallied with local government, emergency and fire crews to keep communities safe and informed, and have played a critical role in maintaining an active transport network during the continued bushfire crisis
  • Throughout this time, our people have shown great determination, professionalism and care for each other and for their communities under difficult circumstances

Supporting emergency operations

  • Since October 2019 multiple Emergency Operations Centres were activated to coordinate response activities, with updates provided through the Regional and Outer Metropolitan (ROM) Northern/Hunter region combined Incident Management Team – comprising bus, coach, rail and road teams
  • The NSW State Recovery Committee was activated in November and supported by ROM
  • Other sub-committees activated and supported were the:
  • Mid-North Coast Recovery Committee
  • Northern Recovery Committee
  • Waste Environment & Infrastructure Sub-committee
  • Severe ongoing fires in the Southern Region that started in November led to the activation of regional Emergency Operations Centres at Shoalhaven and Queanbeyan, and with updates provided via the Southern region Incident Management Team

Taking stock early on, doing things differently

  • As fires progressed throughout the State, a number of additional activities were undertaken behind the scenes to help support response efforts, including:
    • Pulling dedicated specialist resources offline from their daily roles to assist with coordination of response and recovery efforts, to help arrange additional resources and to lend expertise and support to teams on the ground
    • Assembling Joint Incident Management Teams to discuss, plan and stay abreast of activities happening on the ground in key regions as the situation unfolded
    • Keeping focused on the safety of our people and the safety of others during the catastrophic conditions. Teams developed and share a guide on how to manage fatigue, such as spotting the signs and knowing what steps to take to manage fatigue in themselves and others.
    • Developing revised procedures to clarify roles and responsibilities and help ensure we worked together as effectively as possible with local government, emergency services as well as with our own people internally including those in Operations, the regions, regional Maintenance Delivery, the TMC, the Transport Coordination Office and Work Health and Safety
    • One such example is a revised Transport Road Opening Procedure – which provides a guide on the authority, escalation and key considerations for when a roadway is to be re-opened (and how it is to be communicated) following a closure. Sometimes, even though immediate fire danger has passed, a road or the surrounding landscape or infrastructure may be comprised and therefore is not safe to open. The procedure ensures that the required assessments are applied, and the appropriate level of decision making is in place, to ensure a road can be safely reopened. The principle decision to re-open a road is based on the safety of our customers.
    • Updating other internal guides and documentation to support our people when responding to the crisis in a high pressure and time sensitive environment, such as the:
    • Incident Management Team (IMT) agenda - used by the IMT to help keep meetings as succinct as needed.
    • Transport Liaison Officer (TLO) briefing guide – providing an overview of the responsibilities and key information to assist the TLO and when they deploy to an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
    • Transport Operational Information System (TOIS) User Guide for reference by TLO’s who will be required to use TOIS.
    • Holding a debrief session in December with key leaders in ROM to assess and take stock of some early lessons identified to assist with the ongoing response and to guide recovery efforts and continuous improvement
    • Engaging proactively with industry, tourism, freight and Local Government – as well as emergency services – around road closures, road re-openings and to support highly impacted areas such as Bateman’s Bay and to help manage holiday traffic (refer case studies on page 8)
    • Issuing a cluster wide call out and rostering additional response support over the Christmas closedown and the summer, and updating all call lists.
    • Identifying and upskilling more staff across our regions to both act and to stand by as Transport Liaison Officers (TLOs) who are deployed to support an Emergency Operations Centre and are the go to between Transport and other agencies.

Work underway now and the task ahead

  • Operational and maintenance teams for roads and rail, have been on the ground since early September and continue to focus on the safety of motorists, road workers, emergency services and local communities
  • Crews are already carrying out repairs on some parts of the transport networks. However, as significant fires continue to burn across most of our state, impacting our people, our network and our customers – crews have been working hard to start assessing the impact caused to roads and the rail network throughout the state
  • Transport infrastructure is severely impacted across NSW and it may take several weeks, or in some instances months, to repair.
  • In addition to monitoring the road and rail infrastructure conditions, other activities include replacing directional signs, damaged guard rails and culverts, repairing boundary and fauna fencing, carrying out tree removal and repair work, caring for affected wildlife, replacing train overhead wiring and fibre optic cables, repairing rail track and the like
  • Temporary electronic message boards are used in multiple locations throughout the state and customers are being continually informed of train service impacts, bus impact as well as road closures and impacts through a variety of partners, social media and news channels in addition to constant updates via Live Traffic.
  • Replacement busses, coaches continue to run and additional staff are on hand to direct traffic and marshal customers to any diversions or alternative transport.

Case studies / good news stories / social posts from the past few weeks

Good news story

ROM Regional Maintenance Delivery staff installed around 80 new roadside signs to replace burnt signs along Putty Road over the Christmas shutdown period, which was closed several times late last year due to the fires. A large number of these signs had to be manufactured first (ie. they didn’t have the stock on hand for the large quantity required) so it was quite a feat at any time of the year, but even more so over the shutdown period.

Maintenance teams in action

  • Road maintenance teams down in Bomaderry and Ulladulla who have been working under catastrophic conditions for months.
  • Albion Park Bridges and Maintenance, and Russell Vale Asphalt crews provided traffic control and manned closure points
  • Jeff Williams and Nowra crew came in while on leave and did long hours, even though some of their homes were under threat from fires
  • Md Hassan, Melanie Musgrove and Zac Tasker all played an essential role in ensuring all the crews were rotated and rested
  • Dan McAuley for the support from the crews in Albion Park and Russell Vale, who came down and rotated with my crews and who brought down supplies when required. Thanks to Jamie Caldwell for the support both in the field and from the EOC.

NSW Maritime

NSW Maritime is working hand in hand with a number of water-based agencies including the Rural Fire Service and Marine Area Command to assist with the delivery of provisions and supplies, where safe to do so. NSW Maritime is also available to assist with evacuations by water in appropriate areas, if required. NSW Maritime officers will continue to work closely with agencies and communities to assist with provisions and manage waterways to ensure boaters are safe.

Page last updated: 24 January 2020, 16:37