More quick myki top-ups for Melbourne

40 more Quick Top Up and Enquiry Machines (QTEMs) will be added to Melbourne’s train and tram network this month, bringing the total number to 90.

The QTEM allows passengers to top up their myki – Melbourne’s contactless public transport card – using contactless payments in as little as 15 seconds.

They are the most modern component of the myki network, which also includes 580 myki vending machines, 720 retail outlets and 83 premium stations on the metropolitan train network that also accept cash as payment.

40 QTEMs were also installed across the rail network in 2018.

“The installation of these fast, new machines is part of a wider program of works currently being rolled out to improve the overall travel experience for all Victorian public transport users,” public transport minister Melissa Horne said.

“Passengers can top up in as little as 15 seconds using these machines – reducing that last-minute dash to the platform.”

Smart plastics simplifying railway equipment maintenance

Advancements in railway technology are increasing reliability and enabling more punctual operation of trains with less room for failure. At Innotrans 2018, igus showcased its smart plastics to demonstrate how predictive maintenance enabled by intelligent cables and energy chains can help trains, trams and high-speed suburban rail vehicles operate more punctually.

Thousands of commuters depend on a punctual rail service. Defective trains, therefore, are often a hindrance leading to unhappy customers and economical losses.

“Digitisation can change this,” says Thorsten Mersch, Industry Manager Railway Technology at igus. Playing a major role in the digital transformation occurring in rail transportation, igus has developed intelligent cables and energy chains under the name of ‘smart plastics’, which are monitored in real time and come with a predictable service life.

Trains can be monitored in real time

Trains, trams and high-speed suburban vehicles are subjected to continuous wear and tear. For instance, the door in each of these vehicles is opened and closed hundreds of times every day. In the event a safe edge, which offers protection against people getting injured by closing doors, becomes defective, the door in question is usually immediately disabled. However, this causes longer boarding and alighting times throwing the timetable into disarray.

Transportation companies can resolve this issue by equipping the safe edges with CF.Q modules from the igus isense range available from Treotham. The modules monitor the condition of the cables and send the status data to the control centre of the operating company by means of the igus mobile Communication Module (icom). In the control centre, employees use dashboards to monitor the condition of the safe edges in all trains. The system manages all limits and provides an alert about the imminent failure of a safe edge. Thanks to this advance information, operators can plan preventive replacement centrally and carry it out during scheduled stops.

The principle of predictive maintenance also applies to other components such as energy chains and linear units that are used as part of a train’s interior equipment. Railway technology companies using smart plastics have a precise basis to plan their maintenance and servicing. Parts are only repaired or replaced when really necessary – and this happens well ahead of the occurrence of any failure or delay.

A reliable planning basis for maintenance

“The expectations of train manufacturers and operators when it comes to digitisation are just as high as those of industry,” says Thorsten Mersch.

At Innotrans 2018, Siemens Mobility presented, among other things, the new possibilities of high-performance plastics from igus, which enable intelligent monitoring, analysis and prediction of failures. The planned collaboration is based on the Siemens ‘Railigent’ application suite, which offers a wide range of digital services in the area of predictive maintenance, for example.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website or call 1300 65 75 64.

LINX to launch VR training platform

LINX Cargo Care Group will roll out a new Virtual Reality safety training platform in April, after collaborating with communication and technology company Curiious and Samsung Electronics Australia.

LINX CCG unveiled the new training platform on Thursday. The immersive training experience is part of the freight company’s commitment to sending its 4,000-strong workforce home safely every day from its 70-plus sites in Australia and New Zealand.

“Virtual reality training will enable us to immerse all our people in diverse situations and expose them to critical risks in our hazardous work environment,” LINX CCG boss Anthony Jones said.

“To put people into different situations where they have the chance to see how it would play out and to immerse them in a scenario, showing them real dangers and consequences, is invaluable.”

LINX CCG Executive General Manager for Health, Safety and Environment Peter Seaman agrees.

“The Gear VR platform enables us to delivery consistent safety training across all levels of the organisation,” he said. “Often some of the messages are lost in translation in safety training and delivered in different ways, whereas this Gear VR platform minimises room for miscommunication.”

“We want to be known as innovators and an agile organisation,” Jones continued. “Ultimately, it’s about how we look out for our people, so we can offer our customers services that are delivered safely, efficiently and competitively.

“If we can support our people to perform well and go home safely every day, then our customers will be the beneficiaries and receive the service they deserve.”

Bombardier’s obstacle detection system ready to help operators

Innovative obstacle detection technology can help make complex light rail networks safer and more efficient. Bombardier Transportation says its Obstacle Detection Assistance System presents significant opportunities for such improvements in cities like Melbourne.

Bombardier will feature at the ARA’s Light Rail Conference in Melbourne in March 2019, with an update on the work being done at its Vienna Centre of Excellence for light rail. The company’s Obstacle Detection Assistance System (ODAS) is one example of the kind of technology being developed at the Vienna Centre.

A joint development with the Austrian Institute of Technology, Bombardier’s ODAS uses an array of stereovision cameras focused on the area on in front of the light rail vehicle, and highly advanced software algorithms which evaluate the vehicle envelope in real time along the track.

As soon as the system detects a considerable risk in front of the vehicle, it can alert the driver using visual and
aural alerts.

Globally, collisions with third parties are the most common accident scenarios for light rail vehicles. This, along with the more stringent requirements often applied to rail operators, and the availability of safety systems technologies developed in other industries, led Bombardier to develop ODAS, with work beginning in 2013.

The system was tested and eventually implemented by the Frankfurt Transport Company on its 74 bi-directional FLEXITY
trams, but Bombardier has designed the system to be implementable on any tram fleet.

“Bombardier is ready, willing and able to bring this tram technology to cities like Melbourne and other tram networks across Australia,” a spokesperson told Rail Express.

“Light rail networks like the one in Melbourne, where there is significant road/rail share, are ideal places to adopt the system, which can significantly increase the active safety of a complete fleet of vehicles.”

ODAS is designed to be easy to upgrade, and switch in and out, thanks to its decentralised design featuring three separate components.

The first component is the camera unit. Three identical stereo cameras are housed within the unit, which is mounted onto the inside of the windscreen. The cameras provide the high-resolution imagery and depth perception needed to provide accurate visual data for analysis.

That analysis is carried out in the second component of ODAS, the control unit. The unit is responsible for picture processing and interpretation, as well as additional routines which can provide further functionality.

The third component of the system is called the sync box, and is responsible for energy supply to the cameras, managing inputs and outputs, and providing a watchdog function to the controller. The sync box also acts as the liaison between the system and the tram, taking in vehicle information and delivering hazard warnings when needed.

The high quality of visual and depth data, coupled with the advanced algorithms developed by Bombardier and the Austrian Institute of Technology, allow the system to establish whether any pedestrians or other obstacles are in front of the vehicle. It can then assess the nature of those obstacles – whether they are close enough to be within the structure envelope, whether the driver is already slowing down enough to respond to them, and therefore whether an alert needs to be issued.

Bombardier says the system can benefit operators threefold: through safety improvements, cost reductions, and advanced functionality.

ODAS improves safety by supporting the driver through critical situations, improving the active safety of the driver, passengers and other road users.

Cost reductions come through avoided accidents, and the subsequent increases in operational availability of vehicles in the fleet. The system is also designed to be simple and quick to retrofit, and to be selfcalibrating, further reducing cost.

Functionality benefits include the existing functionality of the unit – which was first homologated for passenger service in Germany in 2015 – along with the potential developments mapped out by Bombardier, including potentially allowing the system to apply moderate braking in certain scenarios, and eventually developing further sensor capabilities for longer distances, higher speed, and live inspection of infrastructure like the track or catenary.

As Bombardier continues to innovate and improve the performance and functionalities of its vehicles for operators, drivers and passengers, it says ODAS is the ideal next step to enhance existing and new light rail fleets across Australia.

Perth B-series train. Credit: Creative Commons / DBZ2313

New app launched by Transperth

The West Australian Government has launched an updated Transperth app for public use after a successful testing phase.

The Transperth app, available on Android and Apple devices, enables real-time tracking of buses, trains and ferry services. The addition of GPS tracking on buses is a major new addition in the update.

“This app is all about making public transport a more streamlined, efficient experience for all passengers,” transport and planning minister Rita Saffioti said.

The app was tested by roughly 4,000 regular transport users over the past two months. 473 of the 479 who were surveyed said they would use the new app upon wider release.

Significant evolution in overhead wire roll out and tensioning methodology

The concept of running dual overhead wire under final tension parameters has become an Australian reality, with the commissioning of the new Manco Rail WT2020 tensioning technology.

Manco rail specialises in providing custom built rail and road/rail equipment for rail electrification construction and rail maintenance contractors. Its WT2020 tensioning consist was recently hired by the CPB Contractors and Lendlease joint venture delivering the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project.

The unique new consist was used extensively throughout the project, with expectations of exceptional productivity and total reliability being fully achieved and maintained throughout its use, according to Manco Rail boss Bryan Black.

“While such tensioning is a recognised method in Europe, the uniqueness for this project and also globally, is that the two tensioning components are mounted on two 300HP Isuzu FVZ Road Rail vehicles locked together forming a single centrally controlled consist,” Black tells Rail Express.

“This is a significant variation to the European tensioning units which in the main, are wagon mounted and hauled generally by an electric or hydrostatic-diesel locomotives.”

Engineering design for the consist required a significant and in-depth interface between the RRV manufacturer, Manco Rail, and the tensioner supplier, OMAC of Italy.

“The electronic control systems posed the biggest challenge,” Black explains. “The RRV CAN bus and management needed to interface with the tensioner programmes to avoid any possibility of over or under tensioning which would clearly negate the benefits of such a consist.”

To obtain the required traction and power, special reduction boxes were installed in the two RRV power trains, enabling the optimum vehicle engine torques to be achieved within the desired track speed range of up to 6km/h. Without these, the required track speed of 6km/h would be achieved at little more than an idle, well below the HP and torque requirement.

“The next issue to address was to ensure that the RRV mass would be sufficient to ensure there was adequate weight to maintain traction on grade and when subject to a wet track surface.

Using special cross tread, ‘super-single’ drive wheels and the ability to adjust the down force via variable custom air suspension, constant loading is maintained and held during all travel functions and stopping without altering the wire tension.

Both of the RRV’s Engine Control Units (ECUs) are interfaced within a central control cabin, which also enables full operation from engine start/stop and failsafe braking. These values are fed into the two capstan PLCs where the operator, after setting the two desired tensioning parameters, has the option of preselecting either manual or automatic functions.

Manco Rail says the consist offers a field of tolerance of +/- 8% under static hold, or +/- 10% dynamically based on full scale values. Full tensioning data recording is also available for each drum roll out.

With a max pulling force of 40kN, either capstan can be operated separately with up to 20kN tension. The capstans and motorised reel stands are driven by a silenced 46kW diesel engine. Radiated engine noise is reduced by up to 90 percent at its 1800 rpm operational speed. Each motorised drum is synchronised to the opposing capstan and has a drum weight capacity of 2500kg with a drum diameter up to 2000mm.

“The radio-controlled mast incorporates two independently adjustable guide roller assemblies, providing a maximum height of up to 8 metres and a 20-degree tilt left and right from vertical,” Black continues. “Another unique feature incorporated in the motorised drum stands is the hydraulic width adjustment of the vertical upstands, allowing rapid drum installation and replacement.”

While there is no technical requirement to have an operator in either RRV cab, Work Safe preferences may desire, in addition to the operator in the central cabin, a second person in one of the RRV cabs. To provide maximum versatility, both tensioner modules are mounted on 20-foot ISO container twist lock centers. This would permit the tensioner to be wagon mounted should the need arise. In addition, the two RRV’s can operate on either standard or broad gauge.

Manco Rail currently offers the consist for either short- or long-term hire with both competent operators and full engineering support available.

Productive overhead wire recovery now a reality

Manco Rail believes the traditional way of dropping obsolete or faulty overhead catenary/contact wire and then having the labour-intensive task of cutting it into short lengths for manual handling, will shortly be a thing of the past.

Following informal discussions with OHW senior linesmen, Manco Rail design engineers elected to set about presenting some engineering concepts aimed at significantly reducing the labour content and introduce a high degree of automation.

Within the ultimate design mandate, Manco engineers elected to incorporate other possible tasks that such a unit could accomplish, to maximise utilisation.

The end result was the Manco OHRF (Overhead Recovery and Feed), a multifunction short wheel base unit, based on a vehicle having a GVM of between 12,000kg to 14,000kg.

“Featuring two dual directional and independent motorised drum carriers, the Manco OHRF can recover both catenary and contact wire or twin contact wire simultaneously,” Black says. “Alternatively, the unit can be used to roll out new wire while recovering the obsolete wire.” With a wire recovery capability of up to 6 km/h, Manco Rail says the productivity gains over previous methods have been described as “nothing short of incredible”.

While a significant workforce of up to 12 can typically take close to 12 hours to drop, cut and place wire in bins for collection, the Manco OHRF – excluding the time for dropping wire – can recover a drum in as little as 30 to 40 minutes.

“The best methodology is to recover the dropped wire by progressing down track collecting the laid wire from its dropped position,” Black explains.

“All controls are radio remote operated including the hydraulically adjustable guidance mast that incorporates vertical extension and 20 degree left and right offset from centre. The fairlead rollers are hydraulically powered to assist in maximising cable laying during recovery operations.”

The first full operational tests where carried in December of 2018 at the Melbourne level crossing project where 46 drums of contact and catenary wire was recovered during this short period, representing a significant cost and time reduction over previous methods.

The base RRV incorporates dual front rail wheel hydrostatic drive, failsafe brakes on all wheels and is manufactured in accordance with AS7502, the new RRV standard introduced in July 2016.

Designed for quick on tracking at road crossings, the unit is available in multigauge configuration for both short- or longterm hire.

Contact: rblack@mancoeng.com.au, bryan@manco.co.nz

Graffiti costs slashed with new technologies

Graffiti costs rail operators and local governments tens of millions of dollars each year, not only in clean-up costs, but also through thousands of man hours spent on policing and security which rarely yields material results.

David Black, GM and deployment specialist for technology firm Rapid Apprehension Systems (RAS), insists there is a better way forward for cities and infrastructure stuck in the rut of simply removing graffiti and hoping to catch offenders with security and police patrols.

The active life cycle for a typical graffiti offender is four years. On average, the actions of that individual will cost a city or operator $12,000 every year. RAS estimates just 3 per cent of average ‘top 20’ offenders in a given jurisdiction will be stopped without an excessive waste of police resources.

These factors are amplified in the transport space. Speaking from more than 15 years of experience taking on graffiti vandals, Black says vandals who target the transit network are typically hardened, malicious, and well established.

“Cutting their teeth within their local city for many years, they tend to gravitate to rail and road assets, as they look for bigger targets that deliver a ‘rush’ that other targets no longer give them,” Black explains.

“For many offenders, attacking long stretches of sound barriers across road and rail networks is a favoured pastime, as they realise in many cases their work will remain for many months, or even years.”

Black explains that RAS has grown over time in its role as an expert advisor on graffiti, working with cities to build a database of more than 800,000 pieces of graffiti, and developing a strategy of social media tracking on offenders, which has resulted in dozens of live apprehensions.

“About ten years ago we started to have the idea of developing a range of portable equipment which we could actually deploy live-to-site to detect offenders as they off end. The first unit started off the size of a bread box, and over the year’s they’ve shrunk and become faster with extended abilities in zero light scenarios.”

So far RAS’s technology of sensors, cameras and other devices has helped catch more than 300 offenders in the act.

“It’s simply a matter of shifting thinking of how to approach such an issue where existing methods are failing to deliver solid cost-effective results,” Black says. “It’s all about taking the fight to the offenders. Our tools slash the need for thousands of wasted man hours patrolling, sitting off a site, or laying in wait. The equipment does the leg work saving thousands and delivering results.”

A city or operator’s typical network surveillance regime will rely on CCTV.

“The problem with CCTV is you need to have an offender doing what he’s doing, practically 10 feet from the camera, so you can get a good shot for identification – if you know him – or to circulate and hopefully catch him down the track. The success rate is pretty small.

“Our angle is to get teams on site when the offenders are still there.

RAS has worked with dozens of clients, performing more than 80 whole-of-city, rail network field audits, harvesting data and providing analysis to enable the deployment of its smart technology. Once a database has been built and RAS has helped established a top 50 wanted offender list, the company can best determine prime locations for each to be apprehended live on site.

“Whether a client has their own law enforcement analysts, our field work delivers a solid base line to know exactly who the worst offenders are and where we can trigger multiple live apprehensions.”

Micro thermal systems

RAS says its patented range of micro thermal systems has evolved over the past decade to a point where end users are able to deploy them to tackle a range of issues and trigger live attendance arrests of their worst serial offenders or crews.

The technology has been developed with a focus on size, cost, return on investment, range and successful apprehensions.

“Whether it’s a remote section of noise wall, a rail siding or other asset location, the new micro thermal set is unbeatable for what it delivers,” he says.

“We use our equipment in the field every day for all crime types including arson, graffiti, illegal dumping, drug cropping and a host of other issues,” Black says.

Unlike traditional portable cameras, RAS’s micro thermal system needs no ambient or infrared light source. Once triggered, the deployed units have the ability to highlight an unquestionable human figure clearly at 150 metres, and provide live images and video grabs in under 30 seconds to a handset or a traditional control room.

The camera can be triggered by a number of different devices which can be surreptitiously positioned alongside the targeted site.

RAS’s new Cyclops sensors are designed to be small and covert, and allow a linear trigger for the camera with a range of up to 200 metres with one set, or up to 800 metres using pairing sensors. This allows a temporary or semi-permanent deployment at a rail siding as an example where access land or fence lines are breached. A literal forcefield can be set up surrounding a stabled train set to allow for activation of the Micro thermal units.

“All of our new systems are even smaller than previous models, are subterranean for easy burial and disguise and can be deployed rapidly.

“Our sensor options triggering the Micro thermal can be 170 metres from the camera allowing valuable minutes for local law enforcement or others to be aware even before offenders have reached their target. This design allows the portable equipment to be 50 or 100 metres from the offenders ensuring the gear is undiscovered while doing its job successfully.”

A more practical solution for operators and cities

The nature of RAS’s methodology means network operators can engage determinedly with their graffiti challenge – but can also welcome adjacent local law enforcement into the fold.

“Adjacent cities are commonly affected by the same shared offenders to the network operators leading to expanded prosecutions,” Black explains. “We have witnessed many successful arrests and prosecutions for hundreds of incidents across multiple victim groups where cohesive collaborations are in play.”

Whether a client wishes to work on a self deployment model or if they wish to utilise RAS’s expansive tracking and deployment services, Black says the outcomes are clear.

“Being designers and makers of the systems we can offer tailoring for specific sites or needs,” he says. “Training is also possible on the technology and operation through to field deployment types, hide designs and monitoring.”

When considering the annual clean-up bill of graffiti and the on-costs for any network operator, outstanding results are often found by thinking outside traditional methods and technologies, Black says.

“Complementing existing technologies in place, our systems will deliver results at the next level in the most remote and darkest locations, facilitating live apprehensions of your worst offenders.”

For a no obligation discussion, contact the team at www.rasystems.com.au/railexpress

Saffioti orders review of Huawei deal: Report

WA will reportedly review a $136 million rail communications deal awarded to a Huawei joint venture in 2018, after the United States accused Huawei of stealing American technology in charges levelled this week.

According to a report from The West Australian on Wednesday, state transport minister Rita Saffioti told the paper a review was needed to ensure Huawei is capable of delivering its end of the contract. “The Public Transport Authority is currently seeking advice from the contractor regarding any potential impacts of these risks on the delivery of the project,” Saffioti was quoted.

A joint venture of Huawei and UGL was awarded the $136 million contract to build and maintain digital radio systems for voice and data across Perth’s rail network in July 2018. The project is due for completion in 2021.

On Monday the US Department of Justice unsealed a 13-count indictment alleging a pair of Huawei entities stole American technology, engaged in wire fraud and obstructed justice. The indictment followed the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada, at the request of the United States, on December 1, 2018.

“The charges unsealed today clearly allege that Huawei intentionally conspired to steal the intellectual property of an American company in an attempt to undermine the free and fair global marketplace,” FBI director Christopher Wray said. “This indictment shines a bright light on Huawei’s flagrant abuse of the law – especially its efforts to steal valuable intellectual property from T-Mobile to gain unfair advantage in the global marketplace.”

The charges allege Huawei of stealing a phone-testing robot known as ‘Tappy’ from US telecommunications giant T-Mobile. The indictment alleges Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements by taking photos and measurements of ‘Tappy’ and, in one alleged instance, stealing a piece of the robot so it could be replicated.

In an official statement, Huawei Australia said it was disappointed to learn of the charges. “The Company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion.”

Huawei’s local chairman John Lord also expressed disappointment and “frustration” to the Australian Financial Review this week, saying Huawei had been swept up in anti-China sentiment in the US.

When Huawei won the Perth rail communications deal in July last year, Lord said it reinforced the company’s long-term investment focus in the Australian market. “We thank the PTA for the trust they have placed in Huawei,” Lord said in July 2018. “We are modernising the Australian transportation sector through digital technologies developed for the global market.”

Melbourne Tram. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Victorians to test myki ticketing on smart phones

Roughly 4,000 commuters are being sought to test Melbourne’s myki ticketing system on their smart phones.

Victorian public transport minister Melissa Horne on Sunday said a first phase trial with a limited, industry-based test group of users had been successful, and now the technology could be rolled out to a larger group of testers.

The rollout will allow commuters to use their smartphone as their contactless payment device, rather than a standard contactless myki card.

“It’s so exciting to see this cutting-edge technology make the next step – with thousands of passengers getting a chance to trial mobile myki,” Horne said.

“This is a great opportunity for passengers to help us shape the next generation of transport ticketing. We’re building a smarter, more reliable public transport network for Victoria.”

The myki ticketing system facilitates more than 700 million transactions each year.

Interested commuters can register their interest at Public Transport Victoria’s website.

Musk estimates $1bn for Blue Mountains tunnel

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk says his Boring Company transport loop system could deliver a 50-kilometre underground transit system beneath the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for roughly US$1 billion.

Asked by Independent NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham on Wednesday, the Tesla founder tweeted his back-of-the-envelope costings for a tunnel Buckingham said would “open up the west of our state” and help a city which is “choking with traffic”.

“About $15M/km for a two way high speed transit, so probably around $750M plus maybe $50M/station,” Musk said on Wednesday night.

Buckingham, an Independent since quitting the Greens in December 2018, sits in the NSW Upper House and resides on the state’s Mid North Coast.

“Sounds like a bargain,” Buckingham said of Musk’s figures. “Could be a game changer to go under the Blue Mountains with a modern link between Sydney and the west. I’ll raise it with the Premier @GladysB other colleagues, the community, and get back to you.”

Buckingham subsequently tweeted a potential route for the tunnel, running from Penrith to just south of Lithgow.

 


Graphic: Twitter / Jeremy Buckingham MP

 

The Boring Company, founded by Musk in 2016, recently debuted its 1.8-kilometre Boring Test Tunnel, featuring retractable wheels Musk says turn a car “into a rail-guided train and back again”.

 


Photo: The Boring Company

 

The test tunnel is capable of moving vehicles at roughly 120km/h, according to Musk’s statements to the media, but he has said he wants to see speeds of up to 250km/h, at a rate of 4,000 vehicles per hour.

“A variety of vehicles, like normal roads, from a small car to a densely seated bus,” Musk detailed on December 20. “If all vehicles were densely seated buses, throughput in excess of 100,000 people per hour per lane is possible, but better to offer a range of vehicles and let people decide what makes them happy.”

Musk made headlines in 2017 when he offered to help solve South Australia’s energy woes by building a 100MW energy storage facility within 100 days, or it would be free. Tesla subsequently delivered the battery at a reported cost of $90 million.