Friday 25th Sep, 2020

Funding approved for first stage of ATMS implementation

Photo: Creative Commons

Australia’s rail and logistics industries have welcomed the Federal Government’s approval of the $15.5 million first tranche of funding towards the implementation of the Advanced Train Management System project.

Deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss announced the funding approval on Tuesday morning.

Viewed as the next development in rail communication and management, the Australian Rail Track Corporation says the implementation of ATMS will see modern technology to significantly upgrade capabilities of the Australian rail industry.

According to the ARTC, the ATMS will:

  1. Replace trackside signalling with in-locomotive displays of authorities to drivers
  2. Provide precise location of trains both front and rear
  3. Provide new digital network control centres, each capable of controlling all traffic on the ARTC national network
  4. Provide a back up capability in the event of failure at one control centre
  5. Provide enforcement of authorities on each locomotive if a train is at risk of exceeding its authority
  6. Provide switch settings and automatic route clearances
  7. Provide information (voice and data) to all locomotives via the Telstra 3G National Network.

“ATMS uses GPS navigation, broadband communications and state-of-the-art computer technology to locate and route trains in real time, allowing trains to operate more safely and closer together,” Truss said on Tuesday.

“ATMS will further improve the reliability of our national rail network, increasing on-time performance and safety. It will also increase capacity for the movement of freight across the nation, boosting the productivity of our industries.”

Truss said the Australian Government has committed $50 million to start the roll out of ATMS across Australia, with trains operating between Whyalla and Port Augusta in South Australia set to be the first to implement ATMS as part of stage one of the project.

ARTC chief executive and managing director John Fullerton said ATMS will transform the industry.

“ATMS will be gradually scaled up in a live but safe operational environment so the system’s full capabilities can be tested,” Fullerton said.

“Initial trials commenced in January 2015 and so far two locomotives that travel between Port Augusta and Whyalla have been fitted with in-cab ATMS equipment.

“Planning is already underway for the next set of trials which will involve further consultation with the end users of the system, rail operators. These trials are expected to commence later this year.

“The system is custom-engineered technology and will transform the way freight rail infrastructure is managed and monitored across the country.”

The first stage of implementation is being jointly delivered by ARTC and Lockheed Martin Australia.

Australasian Railway Association chief executive officer Bryan Nye welcomed the news.

“ATMS is designed to improve rail network capacity and reliability, through a communication based train management system that allows network controllers and the train drivers to operate in closer proximity than ever before and to be assured that they are doing it safely,” Nye said.

“ATMS is the cornerstone technology that will boost improved communications and digitalisation in the rail industry.”

Nye said the system would allow the industry to get the most out of existing infrastructure, reducing the need to construct new or upgraded track infrastructure.

“It is incredibly important as it allows for a safer, more cost and time efficient and ultimately more productive system that will benefit not only the Australian rail industry but also the nation’s economy given the forecasted increasing freight task,” he added.

Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff also welcomed the news, saying it meant 21st Century technologies would be harnessed to maximise freight efficiency.

“Economic analysis undertaken by ALC shows productivity boosting initiatives, such as the ATMS project, will deliver broader economic benefits in the billions of dollars.”

According to an ALC report released in July 2014, a 1% improvement in efficiency in the rail sector can generate $2 billion in gains for the economy every year.

“Future-focused technology, like ATMS, enhances the capacity for industry to transport products around Australia’s rail system more efficiently and safely,” Kilgariff said.

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