A project to install fibre optic cables along nearly 5,000km of rail easements has taken a major step forward to construction.
The project, called WA SuperNet is now seeking private sector funding and engagement with Infrastructure WA and Infrastructure Australia to cover the project’s $160 million cost.
Once completed, fibre optic cables will run alongside 4,700km of Arc Infrastructure’s rail track throughout WA’s grain belt.
In addition to providing connectivity for rural businesses and communities, the fibre optic cables will future proof the freight rail network, allowing for communications and the future installation of in-cab signalling, when required. Further developments such as real-time video feeds could also be supported with the fibre optic network.
Fibre optic connections are already in use on the South West main line to support rail communication between Perth and Bunbury.
Arc Infrastructure have supported the project so far with $10m in capital contributions. CEO Murray Cook is a board member of WA SuperNet and said the company was getting behind improving regional connectivity.
“Arc Infrastructure has submitted the WA SuperNet Grainbelt Digital Enhancement Project as part of Infrastructure WA’s Discussion Paper consultation process. We are fully supportive of the focus on regional digital connectivity in IWA’s Discussion Paper and look forward to supporting the development of the 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy,” said Cook.
WA SuperNet will now begin discussions with telecommunication operators to establish partnerships to develop the infrastructure.
WA SuperNet Chairman Tim Shanahan said the installation of the technology would improve the rollout of connected technologies.
“We believe that fibre optic cable is the solution and is a proven technology that will future proof the Grainbelt of Western Australia and WA SuperNet has gathered significant support for this solution,” he said.