THE OFFICE of the National Rail Safety Regulator has appointed Natalie Pelham as its new chief executive.

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.

Federal minister for infrastructure and transport Catherine King said rail transport is an important part of the Australian economy and way of life.

“Rail connects communities and is a major carrier of goods in Australia, being responsible for around 49% of our total domestic freight,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

South Australian minister for infrastructure and transport Tom Koutsantonis said Dr Pelham would be a strong leader for ONRSR and “a wonderful advocate and activist” for rail safety.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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 came together under the national banner.

In that time the Australian rail industry has seen 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.

Dr Pelham will start with ONRSR in early November.