Environment and Sustainability, Freight Rail, Signalling & Communications, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Operations & Maintenance, Track & Civil Construction

Inland Rail signalling sites to be solar-powered

solar-powered

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is looking to increase the use of environmentally friendly solar-powered signalling systems to provide electricity when Inland Rail becomes operational.

Following a successful trial of an innovative signalling system at Coolleearlee, NSW, ARTC has approved its use at the remaining 82 signalling sites across the Inland Rail program between Albury in NSW and Gowrie in Queensland.

The solar-powered systems will eliminate the need to use the local power infrastructure, or to acquire easements to transmit power to the proposed rail corridor, which impact the mains power services to adjacent landholders on the Inland Rail network.

ARTC Inland Rail Interim Chief Executive Rebecca Pickering said the project was committed to working in partnership with its stakeholders, private sector suppliers, and communities to deliver long-term value, while keeping sustainability at the forefront of everything it does.

“Using solar power rather than mains power for the signalling system will deliver an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution to reliably power the signalling system, reducing the impact to local communities, the environment and the cost of Inland Rail,” she said.

“Using solar power also saved ARTC around $300,000 in costs, mostly savings from not building a new transmission line to connect to the electricity network and a reduction in trackside infrastructure associated with mains equipment, and over $10,000 per year in operational electricity cost savings.

“We also use remote monitoring technology on these solar powered signalling installations, which adds further savings by reducing the requirement for maintenance visits.

“We always aim to minimise disruption to local communities, so using solar rather than mains power is a great result for the local community too.”

Inland Rail Project Manager Communication and Wayside Monitoring, Matt Brown, said the solar system was designed with battery back-up that provides for 10 days of back-up operation and delivered a system which runs 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The signalling system at Coolleearlee, around 50km from Moree, is currently being used to support the crossing-loop that will operate in the area, allowing trains going in opposing directions to pass each other, allowing a more efficient rail service,” he said.

“Delivering power to rural signalling systems can be a real challenge so the successful completion of this solar powered system in Coolleearlee is a great outcome.”