Safety Alert: Speed limit on the Yarra River

24 December 2021

SA. No. 2021-01

Safety alerts are published by Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) under section 197 of the Transport Integration Act 2010 (Vic) to promote the safe operation of transport services. Safety alerts are intended to provide information only and must be read in connection with obligations under relevant legislation.

Subject

Five-knot speed limit applies to all vessels on the Yarra River (from Bolte Bridge to Dights Falls)

Issue

All vessel operators (including commercial ferries, rowers, and hire and drive vessels) are urgently reminded that a 5-knot speed restriction applies on the entirety of the Yarra River from Bolte Bridge to Dights Falls. Failure to abide by this speed restriction may result in appropriate regulatory action that may include the issuance of an Infringement Notice for the breach of a Waterway Rule.  Bridge pillars and other infrastructure on the Yarra River clearly mark this speed limit, and all operators are reminded to comply with this requirement that applies irrespective of whether the vessel in question is powered by an engine or human powered, as is the case with rowers.

In recent weeks, Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) has observed an increase in higher speed operations on the Yarra, which in some cases has led to collisions between vessels. Excessive speed, failing to keep a look out and taking corrective action if required, and not operating on the correct side of the River (on the right-hand side based on a forward direction of travel) have all contributed to an increase in collisions and near misses. Adherence with the speed limit will reduce the likelihood of collisions on the Yarra.  Additionally, operators should avoid stopping in the middle of the river and should take care when passing through bridge archways. MSV will shortly be publishing a Yarra River Bridge Archway Travel map that will clearly identify which archways a vessel should use when travelling on the Yarra River (in either direction).

The Yarra River, especially from Swan Street Bridge downstream to the King Street Bridge, has seen a number of incidents in recent months. This section of the river is the most congested with landings and berths for commercial ferry operates, extensive launching and retrieval facilities for rowers, and the location of Hire and Drive businesses. This area is also becoming increasingly busy with increases in the range of water based commercial activities and events.

MSV and Parks Victoria will continue patrolling the river over coming months to ensure vessel operators are complying with the 5-knot speed limit, and will be taking action against vessel operators for any breaches of the rules.

THIS ADVICE IS EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

CAMERON TOY
Director, Transport Safety