AusRAIL, Market Sectors

ARTC switches off analogue comms

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) recently switched off the last two of seven out-dated regional radio systems previously used on its network, completing a seven year project. </span> <p>“The ‘switch off’ of the old radio systems in NSW and Victoria means freight trains operating on ARTC’s national freight rail network now use a single, safer, digital radio system,” ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said.<br /><br />“In saying goodbye to analogue radio we can clearly see one the reasons why ARTC was established – to drive a co-ordinated and planned approach to investment across the national rail freight network to make it simpler and easier for customers to use.<br /><br />“The implementation of the digital, 3G-based National Train Communications System (NTCS) project, in close cooperation with Telstra, provides a single, digital backbone to ARTC communications, a true national communications network interoperable with systems across the nation.”<br /><br />Funded by the Australian government, the ARTC’s NTCS project started in 2007, and uses Telstra’s ‘NextG’ mobile network, which is designed to provide 100% coverage with the assistance of satellite communications.<br /><br />While the physical network including mobile communications towers and satellites has been in place since June 2010, the retrofitting and testing of ICE (In-cab Communications Equipment) units across the national locomotive fleet and multiple operators has now been completed.&nbsp<br /><br />Currently 900 trains with ICE units operate across the country. 704 units were supplied by ARTC as part of the NTCS project.<br /><br />“Despite this being a complex task with multiple stakeholders, it is a testament to the cooperation and close working relationship of the rail industry that we see the final step taken to solely switch to digital,” Fullerton said.<br /><br />“This is another sign of the national freight network’s ongoing modernisation and standardisation – making it far easier to use as a mode and reinforcing our competitiveness and reliability.<br /><br />“Not only does ICE provide a single interface for train drivers right across the interstate network, ARTC saves costs by no longer needing to operate multiple communications platforms.”<br /><br />NTCS is designed to give seamless coverage across the entire Interstate and Hunter Valley Rail Networks. Reliability is ensured through dual redundant communications media – NextG as the primary media and Iridium satellite as the secondary media.</p>