Digital, wireless train communication system to be introduced on Trans-Australian Railway

Planning is underway to introduce and test new technology that will supplant traditional signalling systems along a 1,280-kilometre section of track between Tarcoola in South Australia and West Kalgoorlie in Western Australia on the Trans-Australian Railway.

When implemented, the Advanced Train Management System will replace on-track signalling by using GPS and wireless technology for the real-time delivery of train information and location data, overseen by digital network control centres controlling all train traffic. Clearance authorities can also be enforced by the ATMS if individual trains are at risk of exceeding them.

“The Australian Government has committed $50 million to ARTC to support the roll-out of ATMS which will revolutionise the way we manage rail freight services by increasing capacity and improving operational flexibility, safety and reliability,” federal transport and infrastructure minister Darren Chester said.

“That means we can run more trains, more often and safer than ever before through highly innovative in-cab technology and modern telecommunications systems.”

Development and testing of the ATMS has been carried out over the last eight years on a rail network in South Australia owned by the Australian Rail Track Association, and the rollout between Tarcoola and West Kalgoorlie will mark the next phase in the trial of the technology.

The ARTC has been working with Lockhead Martin to introduce the ATMS in Australia, and ARTC CEO John Fullerton said that they are expecting that, by late 2018, the technology will be the accredited safeworking system between Port Augusta and Whyalla.

“Advanced trials of the system have been successfully taking place between Port Augusta and Whyalla since 2015, and additional on-track tests, using locomotives and an ATMS fitted road-rail vehicle, are planned for later this year,” Fullerton said.

“These on-track trials provide the opportunity for users of the system—network controllers and train drivers—to provide feedback on how it is working and exposes ATMS to real-world operations.”

Aging signalling infrastructure to be replaced in Melbourne’s east

Decades-old signalling infrastructure is to be replaced and power supplies upgraded between Richmond and Camberwell in Melbourne’s east, bringing sections of rail corridor in line with the standard of the wider network.

According to the government, some of the signalling infrastructure that exists along the corridor dates from the 1920s, and its replacement is expected to bring about reliability improvements to passenger services on the line.

State transport minister Jacinta Allan said a large work team would be delivering $42 million in works that will be carried out over six days along the corridor, ensuring the project is completed prior to further construction works soon to begin on Melbourne’s road and rail networks.

“We’ll have 200 workers delivering much needed upgrades around the clock to upgrade decades-old signalling infrastructure between Richmond and Camberwell,” Allan said.

Buses will replace trains on sections of the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein and Glen Waverley lines from 8.30pm on Thursday, 30 November until the last service on Tuesday, 5 December, and will include express, limited express and all-stops services.

Public Transport Victoria CEO Jeroen Weimar said that those travelling into the CBD from these lines ought to expect extra travel times of between 40 to 70 minutes.

“We understand this will be frustrating for passengers, but these works are a crucial part of ensuring we can deliver a reliable service in the long-term for passengers on one of the busiest corridors on our network,” Weimar said.

“I strongly encourage passengers to plan ahead and rethink their travel where possible to avoid disruption, more information is available at”

4Tel wins Newcastle Light Rail contracts

Newcastle company 4Tel has won two contracts to deliver signals, controls and communications for the Newcastle Light Rail project.

4Tel said Downer EDI had awarded it the two contracts on Monday, saying the contracts leveraged off 4Tel’s proven real-time control and information management solutions already used extensively in the Australian Rail Industry.

Managing director Derel Wust said the project was a great opportunity for 4Tel to be a part of the construction of a completely new transport network in our own backyard.

“As a developer of future technologies, Newcastle will greatly benefit from having a local world-class solution that will also be suitable for export growth opportunities,” Wust said.

“It is great to think we have provided our team an opportunity to be a part in revitalising their own city.”

4Tel opened its state-of-the-art headquarters at Warabrook, in Newcastle’s north-east, just over a year ago, at a ceremony officiated by state transport minister Andrew Constance.

“Now we are about to expand again,” Wust said, “providing more high-quality technical jobs to the Hunter region as we promised.”

Downer EDI is the managing contractor to build light rail in Newcastle on behalf of Transport for NSW.

Rail Manufacturing CRC on hunt for final round of projects

The Commonwealth Government sponsored Rail Manufacturing CRC is looking to create more partnerships between rail businesses and universities in its final open funding round. Rail Express spoke with Chief Executive Officer Dr Stuart Thomson about the CRC’s model, and what could be next for the organisation.

The proposal to form a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Australia’s rail manufacturing sector came from the ‘On Track to 2040’ program.

Subsequently, the Rail Manufacturing CRC was established in 2014 and will operate for a period of six years, funded by the Business Cooperative Research Centres Programme of the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Since commencing, the Rail Manufacturing CRC has held two funding rounds, and now embarks on its third and final round, with submissions due early next year.

“Our focus is set by industry,” Dr Thomson told Rail Express. “It’s very industry-led. Part of [On Track to 2040] was developing a 30-year strategy for the rail industry, and three specific research areas were identified, which we’ve committed to as our three key objectives.”

The CRC’s three research program themes are ‘power and propulsion’, ‘materials and manufacturing’, and ‘design, modelling and simulation’. Within each theme there are already several ongoing projects, which each see at least one industry member partnered with a university or research institution.

“When the Centre began, we had an initial number of members who joined the Centre,” Thomson explained. “Our membership ranged from the tier-one manufacturers, right through the SMEs, and now we have operators on board as well … because they are clients for a lot of our work.”

Companies already undertaking CRC-driven projects include Knorr-Bremse, Bombardier, UGL, OneSteel, Downer, CRRC, and Sydney Trains. Academic and research institutions include the University of Technology Sydney, the CSIRO, the University of Queensland, the University of Wollongong, CQ University, QUT, Deakin University, Swinburne, Monash University and RMIT.

To take part in research, companies are invited to approach the CRC with an idea for new R&D. The CRC will match their funding – with grants worth up to $1 million in this third round of funding – and help partner those companies up with the most suitable  universities and researchers.

“We’re set up to provide capacity for business who want to undertake research that, perhaps is either very high risk [technically], or requires extra skillsets, for organisations which typically may not have those people working inhouse.

“Australia has an excellent research history. It punches well above its weight globally. I think that’s underutilised at the moment within the rail industry, and our focus is really to ensure that rail makes the most of those skillsets and opportunities.”



The process

The CRC’s third round of funding is open to applications until early March 2018.

“We work with rail businesses to identify innovation opportunities and introduce them to identify the universities they could partner with,” Thomson explained. “Then we start to engage with the universities to find the right people, and develop a project brief.”

Thomson says the CRC will match any amount of funding, “whether it’s $50,000, or $1 million,” for the right project.

“The money is then used to fund activities and supply equipment for that project,” he explained. “Typically, the money goes to support labour costs within the university undertaking the project.

“Obviously, because it’s taxpayers’ money, there must be a benefit to Australia, so a lot of the support is for either projects that are specific to Australia, or would help the development of intellectual property and technologies that are going to have a distinct benefit to Australia.”

The CRC helps coordinate the intellectual property (IP) and technology ownership agreements between the industry participant and university in each project upfront, and Thomson says these deals are established early in each project’s development.

“Our model is very simple,” he explained. “We don’t take any ownership of any of the IP. The IP terms and conditions, and the commercialisation rights, will be negotiated between the parties – the university and the industry participant. That’s specified in the agreements, and is all done prior to the project starting. It’s very much a commercial contract.”

With over a dozen ongoing projects, there is no limit to how many – or how few – the CRC may take on in its third and final funding round.

“There’s no set number,” Thomson said. “It’s really about the quality of the projects. Where we feel that it’s answering a need, there’s a benefit for Australia, and there’s going to be a benefit to the industry, we will support those projects.”

The CRC has a prescribed lifetime of six years, and has just passed the halfway point. After the final round of projects are selected, they will be expected to commence in April 2018, and run for up to 18 months.

“The success of the [CRC] will really be borne out by the outcomes of the projects, and we have a number of them ongoing,” Thomson said.

“The CRC has two missions: one is to develop projects with industry, and the second is to train the next tier of postgraduate researchers for the rail industry. We currently have over 20 PhD students, and so our current focus is keeping them within the rail industry, making sure they engage with the industry participants we’re dealing with and increase the knowledge within the industry.”

Longer term, the CRC will be seeking to establish a new proposal to take to the Commonwealth and will be seeking continued funding for the rail sector.

Thomson believes the continued development of Australia’s intellectual property will help it continue to thrive in the rail space.

“It’s clear that the next ten years is really going to be a golden era for rail. I think events like this become more and more important, given the amount of work that’s on, but also in helping the industry to shape its thoughts and strategies,” he said.

“Because we’ve got this period where the [work] pipeline is going to be full for an extended period of time, it creates both challenges and opportunities for the rail sector. Keeping and retaining qualified staff in the industry is just one example of this.

“Traditional manufacturing is one thing that will benefit over the next few years, but there’s also a period of time we’re reaching, where business can look to diversify what they’re doing to develop niche technologies,” he said.

“Through intellectual property – and the protection of that intellectual property – we can create new industries, that will hopefully create new export opportunities. So it’s an exciting time for rail, and AusRAIL helps play a major part in shaping how we’ll go forward in the future.”


Applications for Rail Manufacturing CRC’s third funding round close on March 9, 2018. Visit to find out more.

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

AusRAIL: Dalla Valle calls for nation-wide train control standard

Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle has called for the Inland Rail project to forge ahead and set the standard for train network control across Australia, saying it would enable freight rail to meet its future potential.

The PN head made his self-described “provocative” comments on the final afternoon of last week’s AusRAIL conference in Brisbane, where he joined a panel alongside Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy, BHP’s general manager of railroad operations Michael Bailey, Keolis Downer’s Gold Coast managing director Loretta Lynch, and Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins, and discussed the role of technology and digitisation in the ongoing transformation of the rail industry.

Dalla Valle, a former BHP senior executive who began his PN stint earlier in the year, began his comments by saying that he thought the pace of technological change within the rail industry was “underwhelming”, and currently lags behind what is being achieved in the mining sector.

One reason for this, he said, was that the mining industry generally has a shorter investment cycle, with the different stages of mine development generating a need for more technology. “That doesn’t necessarily happen in the rail business,” he said.

The mining industry, also, said Dalla Valle, sees operators running their own end-to-end processes, which is very different from freight rail operations in Australia.

“We [Pacific National] run over five differently-owned tracks to get from one side of the country to another, and interact with three to four other operations on the way through, and different systems all the way across,” he said.

The PN CEO then said that the signalling systems currently operating on the country’s freight routes had to be consigned to history, and that instead trains ought to be running with autonomous “self-control”, and providing “dynamic and connected” services which are continually learning and can adopt new technology quickly.

“I think Inland Rail is a great opportunity for Australia to a standard for train network control. Just pick one,” he implored.

“Someone needs to make the call. We should set ourselves a target that Inland Rail will be ‘signalless’ and say that we’re only going to set it up with a modern standard, and we are going to pick a modern standard and adopt that across the entire country.

“We need to set ourselves an audacious goal like that: be bold, be brave, and set aside some of the $8.4 billion and say this part of it is going to do that and get on with it. And then I’ll think we’ll see rail achieve what it’s meant to in this country.”

AusRAIL: Siemens commits $4.8m to Brisbane ETCS centre

German multinational Siemens has announced a $4.8 million investment into a European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling centre in Brisbane, to serve as a base for its engineers to deliver rail expertise nationwide and export knowledge to Southeast Asia.

Speaking at the company’s AusRAIL PLUS 2017 stand on Tuesday, Siemens Australia and New Zealand chief executive Jeff Connolly said the investment was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to rail signalling expertise in Australia.

“We need intelligent rail infrastructure capable of coping with future needs,” Connolly said. “The best way to do this is to build local skills in globally proven rail standards and technology such as ETCS. This ETCS rail signalling centre is in Queensland, for Australia to the world.”

The ETCS Signalling Technology Centre has started with 10 people and Siemens plans to grow the team to around 17 people over the next 12 months. Subject to demand, the company says the workforce could grow to as many as 30 to 40 employees.

Connolly said he believes the industry can get rail right in Australia with a “strategic and aligned approach”.

“If we invest in proven global technologies rather than reinventing the wheel, choose to right technology partners and invest in developing technological skills of our people, then we create opportunities for future growth and make our local and national rail networks more competitive,” he said.

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a strong demand for our rail expertise from neighbouring South Asian countries – proving that when given the right platform, Australian ingenuity can excel on the world stage.

“The Queensland team has already played a significant role in ETCS implementations in Australia and Asia Pacific and are well positioned to sustain this growth.”

ARA chief executive Danny Broad welcomed the announcement, saying the commitment was a “major vote of confidence in Australia’s rail industry”.

Hot off the presses: Read your digital edition of the AusRAIL PLUS 2017 Magazine

Rail Express is proud to release the digital edition of the official magazine of AusRAIL PLUS 2017, along with the Australasian Rail Directory 2018.

The AusRAIL PLUS 2017 issue of Rail Express includes an exclusive interview with Pacific National boss Dean Dalla Valle, a Queensland election preview, a sit down with the Federal Government’s Rail Manufacturing CRC, and much, much more.

The magazine coincides with the release of the annual Australasian Rail Directory, which provides a comprehensive index of every large, medium and small business working in, supplying, or servicing the rail industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Click here to read Rail Express, AusRAIL PLUS 2017

Click here to read the Australasian Rail Directory 2018

Instructions: simply use your mouse to drag the pages just like you were reading a magazine. Alternatively, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. To zoom in on a page, use the magnifying glass icon on the bottom centre menu. To download the magazine as a PDF, click the downward arrow icon in the bottom centre menu.

Australian company awarded TasRail planning software contract

Biarri Rail has been awarded a contract to deliver new planning and scheduling software for TasRail, including programs that will reportedly create efficiencies in train scheduling.

An Australian-based leader in the development of planning and scheduling software, Biarri Rail, will soon undertake the design of a Boss MP cloud-based system for Tasmania’s major rail operator.

The reported aim of the new software is to provide TasRail with improved train design planning, locomotive selection, rollingstock utilisation, rostering and train pathing.

Freight data provided by a customer (such as freight tonnage) will be able to be entered into the system, which will then determine various efficiency measures that can be taken by TasRail, providing the operator with an estimation of the number of days the trains need to be run, the amount the wagons, the time of day, and the preferable organisation of the driver and crew roster.

According to Bob Parton, TasRail’s freight services general manager, this would mean a marked improvement on the existing system, where “planning is currently undertaken utilising excel spreadsheets and across a number of departments”.

Parton said that the new system would enable better use of TasRail’s railway assets and its organisation of planning activities.

“This will result in more effective and efficient planning to meet our customers’ needs and ensure we continue to deliver freight in a safe, timely and competitive manner,” Parton said.

Biarri’s tender won out over five other mainland-Australian and overseas companies. While the Request for Tender was in step with TasRail’s “Buy Local” policy, no Tasmanian firms submitted a tender for the new software development.

Tom Forbes, Biarri Rail’s CEO, said that they would be providing an innovative solution which would provide measurable outcomes.

“Boss MP is a new concept in planning and scheduling software, bringing together man and machine through a great user experience and powerful algorithms to help manage the complexity associated with railway planning,” Forbes said.

“Ultimately, this helps railways save money, improve asset utilisation and drive efficiency.”

The software will be introduced to TasRail’s operations in three separate stages, while the complete system is expected to be finalised in early 2019.

SA rail works submitted to parliament committee

Over $200 million worth of rail infrastructure projects from the South Australian government’s 2017-18 budget have been submitted for consideration by the Parliamentary Public Works Committee.

The projects include the $31.4 million relocation of Adelaide metropolitan rail Operations Control Centre from its existing premises near SAMHRI to Dry Creek, the $16.4 million Port Adelaide rail spur, and the $174.3 million Oaklands Crossing.

“South Australia is experiencing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure boom as we deliver the rail, roads, schools and hospitals our state needs,” transport and infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said.

The minister also stressed that the investments would open-up job opportunities for South Australians and support local businesses.

“By setting strict requirements for local content, and putting more apprentices and trainees into work, we’re making sure South Australians reap the benefits of our investments,” he said.

The Port Adelaide rail spur project will reinstate train service to the centre of Port Adelaide for the first time in almost 30 years, linking the Port’s commercial centre and the Dock One residential precinct to the Adelaide CBD.

“It’s exciting to see our plans coming along for returning train services to Port Adelaide for the first time in almost 30 years,” Labor Member for Port Adelaide Susan Close said.

“This is a significant project in the ongoing renewal of Port Adelaide and with more and more people choosing to live and work here it’s important they have access to fast and reliable public transport.”

The Port Dock Railway Line Project will see the construction of new dual mainline connections from the Outer Harbor Line to the Port Spur, as well as track upgrades and the building of supporting infrastructure on the spur line.

A new Port Adelaide Railway Station is also to be built as part of the project, while a new railway signalling system to control the junction and spur line is to be installed.

The relocation of the Adelaide metropolitan rail operations control centre to the Dry Creek depot means that the existing North Terrace centre will be demolished and the site made available for the development of a new medical research facility.

Under the Oaklands Crossing Grade Separation Project, the rail line will be constructed under Morphett Road, along with modifications to road junctions along Morphett Road and Diagonal Road located either side of the rail crossing.

“The Oaklands Crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the southern suburbs and everyone who travels through the area, whether it’s to access local shops and businesses or the aquatic centre, school or medical facilities knows how much of a difference the underpass will make,” Labor Member for Elder Annabel Digance said.

A new 160-metres-long Oaklands Park Railway Station is also to be built that to cater for longer trains and to support the passenger growth on the Seaford line, while on Morphett Road a grade separation of the Marino Rocks Greenway pedestrian and cycling shared use path will be carried out.

“I have long campaigned for this upgrade and it is great to reach another milestone in the project which will have a big impact on the lives of local residents,” Digance said.

TfNSW claims Opal has saved commuters $120m

NSW’s transfer discount for Adult Opal card users has saved commuters $120 million over the past year, according to the state government.

Approximately 5.1 million passengers who transfer between different modes of public transport using their Opal card have reportedly benefitted from the discount ($2 for Adult cards, $1 for concession) since it came into effect 12 months ago.

“Anything the NSW Government can do to ease cost of living pressures is important and we have always said we want as many people to move across trains, buses and ferries without being penalised. This anniversary Opal data shows we have achieved both of those aims,” NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

The premier said the benefits of the rebate had been experienced by over half of all Opal card users over the past year, especially in areas like Greater Parramatta, Western Sydney and South West Sydney.

“The NSW Government is committed to putting commuters first. Since Opal’s introduction in 2012, average Opal fares have not risen above CPI. While we’ve made plenty of improvements to public transport and are investing record amounts, we want to keep fares affordable,” she said.

Transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance said the transfer rebate encouraged more people to use public transport and leave their cars at home.

Multi-mode travellers have become big winners with Opal, in fact, since the transfer discount was introduced there are many areas where it’s now actually cheaper to catch the bus to the station and then jump on the train – a reduced fare and you don’t have to battle for parking,” Constance said.

However, according to Labor’s transport spokesperson Jodi McKay the cost of travel had been increased by 12.5 per cent on average, after the government last year scrapped the scheme in which commuters received 1 free trip per 8 paid trips in a week.

“People are paying more for public transport, not less,” McKay was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Passengers now only receive a 50 per cent discount on all fares after their eighth paid journey for the week.