Freight Rail, Signalling & Communications

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.”

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