New opportunities at expanded AusRAIL Live & on Demand

AusRAIL’s move online provides new, unique opportunities to hear from some of the top rail industry executives from across the globe, streamed direct to any home or office.

The organising committee have established an impressive line-up of international presenters for the event, including Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, who is currently overseeing Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

With trial running on the project’s Elizabeth line expected to start next year, this is a good time to hear about the complexity of this major rail project, and the plans to bring the line into passenger service by 2022.

LA Metro chief innovation officer Joshua Schank will join us to talk about innovation and experimental program and policy, providing a new perspective on ways to move the industry forward.

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is leading a range of projects that aim to provide faster, better options for passengers as part of a more responsive service that supports the creation of vibrant communities.

The presentation is expected to provide new insights into how the rail industry can continue to play an essential role in supporting our economies and communities for years to come.

Conference attendees will also hear from Grand Paris Express project director Nicholas Massart, who will tell us how that project is transforming Paris into a more sustainable city.

This front row seat to presentations on the projects that are shaping the future of the industry globally is an unmatched professional development opportunity.

There are also plenty of ideas, insights and lessons from 2020 that that are creating new opportunities for the industry right here in Australia and New Zealand.

Project updates on Inland Rail, Cross River Rail and more will be featured across the expanded three-day program.

We have also established a range of interactive panels featuring executives working in Australian and New Zealand rail organisations, so delegates can hear about the issues, concerns and opportunities that are preoccupying the minds of the industry’s leaders.

AusRAIL Live & On Demand will also provide more opportunities to hear from the operators, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers that are shaping the rail industry.

In total, 14 new streams have been added to allow delegates to tailor their conference experience and access more content than ever before.

New streams for contractors, suppliers, freight, and port operators and more will be complemented by dedicated streams on the critically important issues of technology, sustainability, and accessibility.

Perhaps most importantly, the live and on demand format of this year’s event means delegates will have up to six months to catch up on content and make the most of the many and varied streams on offer.

This will be a huge advantage for delegates, who can go back and reference presentations or specialist streams as they start new projects and initiatives in the new year, providing a rare professional development opportunity.

With delegates given early access to the platform, you can start your industry networking a full month before AusRAIL actually gets underway.

The ARA looks forward to seeing the rail industry come together again at AusRAIL Live & On Demand. To register, go to ausrail.com.

AusRAIL Live & On Demand program launched

The AusRAIL Live & On Demand program is now live, with new streams, international keynotes and a wide range of Australian and New Zealand industry leaders to form part of the expanded, three-day event.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the program gave people more access to content than ever before.

“We are really proud of the breadth of speakers and content to be featured at AusRAIL Live & On Demand,” she said.

“The online format will allow delegates to tailor their AusRAIL experience over the course of the three days and catch up on additional content on demand after the event.

“This is an amazing chance to extend the professional development opportunity that AusRAIL presents well into the new year.”

ARA members will have six months of continuing access to presentations on the event platform, while other attendees will have three months of continuing access.

The program makes the most of the ability to take part in livestreamed, interactive sessions, with Q&As and live chats to be part of the event’s features.

New streams include dedicated content for freight and ports, contractors, suppliers, passenger transport, and much more.

Key issues such as sustainability and accessibility will also be featured.

AusRAIL Live & On Demand will also feature an online exhibition, with exhibitors sharing live demos, videos, product information and the chance to meet with them via 1:1 video chats.

Wilkie said she looked forward to welcoming the rail industry to AusRAIL Live & On Demand.

“This is a unique chance to hear from local industry leaders and their global peers about the latest developments in the industry, all from the comfort of your home or office,” she said.

“The program really has something for everyone.”

AusRAIL Live & On Demand takes place from 1-3 December. Register at www.ausrail.com

AusRAIL 2020 goes virtual

The 2020 edition of AusRAIL will be delivered through a new, live and on demand web-based platform.

Registration is now open for the event, of which Rail Express is an official media partner, and will run from December 1-3, adding an additional day to the schedule.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said that the new format will enable greater access than ever before.

“Our live and on demand platform will give delegates more access to program content than ever before, while creating dedicated exhibition and networking spaces that reimagine the exhibition hall for the online environment.”

While the program is yet to be announced, speakers from Australia, New Zealand and around the world will deliver live-streamed presentations that can be access in real-time or on demand. Delegates will be able to easily connect with fellow attendees through the platform, and not have to wade through crowds.

A AI-powered matchmaking service will identify delegates with shared interests and create direct connections. Exhibitors and sponsors have access to analytics tools to deliver on engagement.

The exhibition component of the event will also be delivered virtually, and the platform caters for a wide range of interactivity, including demonstrations, videos, and product information, as well as online networking.

Wilkie said the essential role of AusRAIL in connecting the rail industry will continue.

“After such a year of change it is more important than ever that the industry comes together to discuss the latest innovations and our plans for the future,” Wilkie said.

“AusRAIL Live & On Demand will bring together the rail community to mark the achievements of the industry, share learnings from the response to COVID-19 and highlight the opportunities ahead as the world prepares for a new normal in 2021.”

In 2020, as in previous years, Rail Express will bring you news and insights from AusRAIL and will be distributed to all delegates.

Bumper year for ARA

Danny Broad shared some parting thoughts to the rail industry about the importance of smart rail technology and the need for young blood.

Outgoing Australasian Railway Association CEO Danny Broad hosted his last AusRAIL as CEO before handing over the reins to incoming CEO Caroline Wilkie.

Broad was elected ARA chair at the 2019 ARA Annual General Meeting (AGM), taking over from Bob Herbert – who will continue his contribution to the rail industry as Chairman of the ARA’s harm prevention charity, TrackSAFE Foundation.

“I thank Bob for his strategic leadership and achievements as chairman of the ARA, specifically the development of a new constitution, leading to improved governance and democracy within the ARA,” Broad said.

As part of his outgoing address, Herbert addressed some of the issues he considered significant to the rail industry.

“Rail is a victim of our federation. There is no one sovereign government calling all the shots for rail like there is for industries like defence or shipbuilding. Make no mistake, this holds rail back, with nine governments to deal with on key national issues,” Herbert said.

“It has stopped rail throughout its history, from the time the first rail tracks were carried. The cause lies in the way our political imperatives play out, it brings a natural cautiousness in decision making. Governments are always in different stages of the election process and rail is disadvantaged as a consequence.”

As an example, Herbert cites the operation of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC).

“This is the forum where transport ministers across the jurisdictions come together twice a year and are supported by a body of senior bureaucrats. Unfortunately, outcomes from this process can only be described as last common denominator.”

As such, he explained how trying to achieve a National Rail Plan is “still illusory”.

“The bureaucrats so often have differing priorities to industry, and they become entrenched within government departments. In some cases, meeting with industry seems to be anathema to them, so progress is at a snail’s pace and this is extremely frustrating for industry.”

In August 2018, members of the ARA met with the council so that companies could present their challenges to the council.

“These were telling representations from our members on challenges relating to skills, resources, and standards,” Herbert said. As a result, the council decided to develop the Rail Action Plan through the National Transport Commission.

“We’ve seen the first cut of this plan and so far, I regret to say, it falls a short of what we would like. So, there’s a lot more argy bargy to be doing with the National Transport Commission.”

However, he warned industry against relying on government to deliver “what we can deliver ourselves”.

As part of his own AusRAIL address, Broad recapped some of the ARA’s activities in what he called “an exciting and demanding year in all sectors of rail”.

The ARA, Broad said, spent 2019 advocating to governments about some of the biggest issues facing the industry.

“We have focused on advocating to governments on how best to address the skills shortage, resulting in the development in the National Rail Action Plan, by the National Transport Commission.”

The ARA has been calling on state, territory and federal governments to commit to a unified pipeline for major rail projects, to allow the private sector to better prepare itself with adequate skills and equipment to ensure contracts are executed as efficiently as possible.

As part of this, the organisation recommended the federal government resource the Australia & New Zealand Infrastructure Pipeline in its 2019-20 Budget Submission.

The ARA lodged seventeen submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries on behalf of the sector over the last year.

One of the key issues for a number of its submissions to government in 2019 included advocating for fairer rules for freight rail operators.

“As far as possible, domestic rail freight markets should operate on an even footing with other modal choices. This requires an environment with equitable regulatory settings to enable competitive neutrality between competing modes of transport,” says the ARA’s annual report 2019.

The ARA also called for an extension of the Inland Rail line, the largest freight rail project in Australia.

“The current project has the Inland Rail line ceasing at Acacia Ridge. The ARA calls for a commensurate project to ensure a freight rail line continues all the way to the Port of Brisbane. Research undertaken by Deloitte shows that building a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane could achieve a 30 per cent rail modal share, which would remove 2.4 million truck movements from the local road network,” according to the annual report.

Among other issues, the ARA also calls for a “pragmatic approach to fast rail that recognises the need to plan for an invest in elements such as modernised signalling systems, passing loops, track duplication, and other critical requirements to increase infrastructure capacity and speed of passenger services”.

“We have been progressing the smart rail and technology agendas, working with industry and governments on improving accessibility, advocating for rail and supporting rail careers through programs such as the women in rail pilot mentoring program and the formation of the young leaders advisory board, a potential attraction and retention campaign and the future leaders program to name just a few,” Broad said.

“I’m very proud of where the ARA is now, and feel it is the right time to pass on the reigns to our new CEO,” Broad concluded.

The entire transport sector is undergoing a technology revolution: GS1 senior manager

The Australasian railway industry continues to undergo significant change and businesses are being encouraged to maximise the opportunities from new and emerging technologies. The industry is preparing changes to digitalise management of rail assets, efficiency around the network and moving customers and freight in cities that are becoming more congested.

In 2018, Smart Rail Route Map was introduced as an industry driven initiative by the Australasian Railway Association to promote standardisation, integration and harmonisation over the next 30 years. During a panel discussion at AusRail last year, Professor Douglas Creighton from Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation said there has been tremendous feedback since the release of the final version.

“This is the bridge between vision and action and it’s time to connect the dots,” Creighton said.

Bonnie Ryan, senior manager of freight, logistics and industrial sectors at GS1 Australia, in the AusRail panel discussion, spoke about the industry having a drive to digitalise.

“The entire transport sector is undergoing a technology revolution,” she said. “GS1 Australia works with over 20 sectors, and they’re all at various stages of the shift to digitalisation.” She stresses the importance on the first step which is to “digitise data”.

Ryan adds not all data is equal, people can be sceptical about where it comes from and if it’s accurate so the only way to trust data is to have good governance and framework so that you can measure data quality. Ryan expresses the crucial role that the accuracy/validity of the data plays in the process of driving technology innovation.

“In the GS1 world we talk about data that is generated from the source, so if you’re providing traceability data, for example, it must come directly from the manufacturer.

“That’s the only way you can truly trust it.”

Project i-TRACE was named i-Trace for the purpose and context of traceability.

“The word ‘enable’ gets used over and over again, but i-Trace is implemented as an enabler for our systems and is a very important part of the future of the business.” said Ryan.

“Project i-TRACE is an initiative of the industry gradually coming together,” she said.

Furthermore, Stephen Baker, Head Product Innovation at Siemens said Project i-Trace has been an enabler for enhancing more than just supply chain management. Additionally, Ryan suggests that “having good governance and knowing where the data is coming from before allowing it to flow into your organisation is really important and the major focus is on visibility and traceability”.

Moreover, “there are hurdles to overcome for the industry to move forward, not just the technical skills but the way and approach to new technology,” Ryan said.

Ryan proceeds to explain that; although there are some fantastic data management tools in the front end for organisations to utilise in their day to day systems, there are still too many manual processes in the back end. As result, “we are constantly working with the industry to deliver efficiencies and deliver those benefits that will ultimately roll out better network performance and asset management practices”.

AusRAIL: McCormack highlights rail spending, King calls for skills focus

Minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Michael McCormack and shadow minister Catherine King have highlighted their parties’ distinct transport commitments at AusRAIL Plus 2019.

“It’s been a strong and positive year for rail. Since I last spoke to you, much has happened in two key areas over the past year. With a focus on freight, we are on track to deliver the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, which is a world class infrastructure project,” McCormack said.

“With a focus on commuters, in the past year the government has made a significant commitment to faster rail and we are investing heavily in metropolitan rail with our state government partners, through projects such as the Sydney Metro Greater Western in NSW and Metronet in Perth, Western Australia. Over the year, we also saw the 20-year National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and National Action Plan agreed by all governments.”

McCormack highlighted Inland Rail’s latest milestone.

“The first section of greenfield track, the North West connection, opened in August with the first trains already running on this track. This new link is scheduled to join up with the newly upgraded Parkes to Narramine line by mid next year.

“Almost 900 people worked on this section and local businesses are benefitting, in concrete, transport, fencing, earth moving, drainage, electrical and other suppliers to the tune of $41.2 million in local contracts, so we’re well on track with Inland Rail.”

In terms of passenger rail, McCormack highlighted government’s Faster Rail Plan which will be overseen by a new National Faster Rail Agency. There are business cases already underway.

“We’ve committed $2 billion to help deliver faster rail between Geelong and Melbourne, and we’re getting on with our $5 billion commitment to deliver the Melbourne Airport Rail Link,” McCormack said.

In response, King called on the government to use its current infrastructure spend to leverage better investments in training and new technology.

“Strong investment gives government as seat at the table in planning our cities and regions,” King said.

As part of this King says the opposition intends to identify and respond to the impacts of these investments on the workforce.

“With rapid change in technology deployed in transport networks, what is often overlooked is the impact of this change on the workforce. The pace of change can often be confronting. Technology can be our ally in achieving greater productivity, and it does not always have to come at a cost to jobs.

“Transitioning jobs in industries like transport doesn’t just happen, it has to be planned.

What’s why last month, Labour leader Anthony Albanese announced Labour in government will establish Jobs and Skills Australia.King described the party’s vision of a workforce forecasting and research under a similar model to Infrastructure Australia.

The body would assess the skills requirements for services where “government is the major funder and where demand is expected to change”, such as transport. It would undertake workforce and skills analysis, and conduct capacity studies. It would be expected to review the adequacy of the training and vocational system.

“This will include the manufacture, operation and maintenance of our public transport network,” said King.

The latest in next gen communications solutions

In the era of exponential population growth increasing congestion, railway emergency management systems and overall rail communication networks need to work smarter to enable on-time train services.

 


With rail passenger numbers growing globally, resolving incidents quickly is crucial to guaranteeing on time services.

Rail passenger numbers in Sydney are set to double by 2024. To prepare, Sydney Trains decided to undergo modernisation in order to enable more efficient response times and keep passengers moving. So the operator set itself on a path to centralising 14 control centres into one streamlined Rail Operations Centre (ROC).

This signalled a move away from individual controllers at local train stations to bigger control centres. Operators at the Sydney Trains ROC deployed Frequentis’ Incident and Crisis Management (ICM) solution in late 2018 to support the move and enhance incident resolution.

The ICM is a railway emergency management system (REM) enabling workflow-based incident management, a common operational picture and mobile collaboration. It uses a resolution workflow based on the time, location and classification of the occurrence to instantly identify and connect internal and external stakeholders, whilst also logging every activity to satisfy legal requirements.

The cost-effective tool can be deployed within a short timeframe. “Being able to respond and recover from incidents faster will ensure that we can cater for the projected capacity increases and meet the customer demand of the future,” ROC program director, Geoff Howard, said.

Frequentis Australasia head of delivery, Ruth Trojan explained how the ICM works: “The ICM guides the user through the necessary steps to be performed in an incident situation, depending on the type of the incident and stakeholders involved in resolving it. The ICM solution tool enables different groups to work on the same incident together, adding and editing information simultaneously. Furthermore, the ICM mobile application gives staff at stations and on trains real-time information about what´s happening.

“All these features and functions speed up the workflow and lead to less errors. The ICM also documents all steps undertaken during incident resolution for post-incident and safety analysis.”

The REM has been in use in Sydney Trains ROC since December 2018, with the mobile application and web portal deployed to Sydney Trains Customer Service teams by June 2019.

“A step-by-step modernisation of Sydney’s rail network has incorporated many different operational functions and systems into a single location, including implementing the ICM from Frequentis,” Howard said. “Senior executives praise the efficiencies the Frequentis solution brings to their incident management and operators comment that they ‘don’t need their notepads any longer’.”

The benefits of this are plentiful, but when streamlining multiple operation centres, an initial concern is often the loss of local knowledge. Frequentis says, however, that their ICM solution ensures that this is not the case.

It does this by capturing information centrally, including contact numbers for local contractors and emergency services. Based on the underlying responsibility model, staff have all the information relevant for a specific location available and can record, manage and access incidents efficiently and safely from a mobile device, web portal or desktop client.

“All our products increase the safety of rail operations because they support the user in his decision making and in his communication in “normal” operation as well as in incident situations,” Frequentis AG head of public transport solutions, Markus Myslivec, said.

“Our products follow a clear roadmap, driven by customer needs and standardisation and in addition, they have a rich feature set, tailored to customer needs.”

Another Frequentis solution tailored for the new era of control centres is their operations communications manager (OCM) which unifies communications within a single AudioHub media-device with a longlasting life cycle.

When asked about the future of railway communications and the move to the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), Myslivec said, “Frequentis has already evolved its fixed terminal system for rail voice communication, FTS 3020, to become a multi-bearer solution, meaning that it allows communication over not only GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railways), but also TETRA and LTE, therefore providing a Bearer Independent Communication (BIC) solution and unifying operator experience at the same time. It is a web-based smart terminal, the Operations Communication Manager (OCM) provides a flexible, easy to configure and rapid to deploy human machine interface (HMI). “The FTS/OCM are the “sixth sense of the operator”, they ensure highly-reliable communication and information functions to support the operator in his decision and communication process in his daily business.”

As the FRMCS starts to develop as the successor to GSM-R, it becomes important for railway network operators to take advantage of alternative bearers. The Frequentis FTS/ OCM solution will provide railway Mission Critical Services to mobile and fixed line users via one single system with one single core network but various access networks.

The clear separation of applications – services – transport follows a bearer independent communication approach and will lead to easier migration from existing systems and easier integration of legacy and new applications. Several benefits come with FRMCS, for example: the usage of standardised interfaces ensures interoperability. As FRMCS will most likely be based on 5G technologies and architecture, it will also bring broadband communication to allow, for example, live video feeds during an incident situation, subject to the availability of appropriate spectrum.

 

Visit Frequentis at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 166.

AusRAIL: Loram outlines next steps after Aurizon deal

Rail maintenance outfit Loram tells Rail Express about its plans for the Australian market now its acquisition of Aurizon’s grinding business is complete.

Loram Maintenance of Way finalised its deal to buy Aurizon’s rail grinding business late in October. The purchase effectively increased Loram’s number of rail grinding service customers by four in Australia, with the notable addition of all mainline and turnout rail grinding for Aurizon Network.

Tom L. Smith, Loram Australia’s director of business development, spoke with Rail Express at the company’s stand at AusRAIL PLUS in Sydney, about the next steps for the business.

“The top priorities following the transition are to build upon the success of our customers’ rail grinding programs while building Loram’s brand as a contract service provider,” Smith said. “We will be listening to our customers’ toughest maintenance challenges in order to provide innovative solutions.”

Smith says customers should initially expect little to no change – the intent being a frictionless transition which he says is so far being successfully executed.

In the longer term, however, Smith is keen to see Loram’s newer and cutting edge technologies applied more in the Australian market.

“Loram is very proud of providing more rail grinding kilometres per year worldwide on service contracts than all other suppliers combined,” he said. “That success is based upon unmatched reliability, continuously advancing machine technology, and through innovative rail grinding management programs.

“In Australia, as with our customers around the world, track maintenance windows are decreasing and we need to optimize production to provide the best return on investment.

“Optimised grind programs look to maximize the efficiency of using Loram’s leading production and specialty grinding platforms to be used when and where they are needed, efficiently removing the correct amount of steel off the rail.”

Loram’s latest machine – the RG419 – has recently been delivered and commissioned in Australia. The 120-stone machine uses Loram’s proprietary Rail Pro grind management system and will start delivering kilometres interstate in 2020.

 

Contact: www.loram.com.au

 

 

 

AusRAIL: Bumper year for ARA

Outgoing Australasian Railway Association CEO Danny Broad opened AusRAIL Plus 2019 on Tuesday, his last year at the helm of the ARA before he hands over the reins to incoming CEO Caroline Wilkie.

Broad recapped what he called “an exciting and demanding year in all sector of rail” thanks to the “strong transport infrastructure policies” of federal and state NSW governments.

The ARA, says Broad, has spent the last twelve months advocating to governments about one of the biggest issues facing the industry.

“We have focussed on advocating to governments on how best to address the skills shortage, resulting in the development in the National Rail Action Plan, by the National Transport Commission.”

The ARA has also been calling on state, territory and federal governments to commit to a unified pipeline for major rail projects, to allow the private sector to better prepare itself with adequate skills and equipment to ensure contracts are executed as efficiently as possible.

The organisation recommended the federal government resource the Australia & New Zealand Infrastructure Pipeline in its 2019-20 Budget Submission as part of this.

They have also lodged seventeen submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries on behalf of the sector over the last year.

“As far as possible, domestic rail freight markets should operate on an even footing with other modal choices. This requires an environment with equitable regulatory settings to enable competitive neutrality between competing modes of transport,” says the ARA’s annual report 2019. This was the focuss of a number of its submissions to government in 2019.

The ARA called for an extension of the Inland Rail line, the largest freight rail project in Australia.

“The current project has the Inland Rail line ceasing at Acacia Ridge. The ARA calls for a commensurate project to ensure a freight rail line continues all the way to the Port of Brisbane. Research undertaken by Deloitte shows that building a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane could achieve a 30% rail modal share, which would remove 2.4 million truck movements from the local road network,” according to the annual report.

“We have been progressing the smart rail and technology agendas, working with industry and governments on improving accessibility, advocating for rail and supporting rail careers through programs such as the women in rail pilot mentoring program and the formation of the young leaders advisory board, a potential attraction and retention campaign and the future leaders program to name just a few,” Broad said.

“I’m very proud of where the ARA is now, and feel it is the right time to pass on the reigns to our new CEO,” Broad concluded.

Waratah

AusRAIL: Staying agile in the changing rail industry

Tim Young explains how Downer is helping realise the benefits of passenger rail growth.


A Deloitte Access Economics report found each passenger journey made by rail instead of road generates benefits to society of between $3.88 and $10.64 by reducing congestion, accident and carbon costs. In September, 1.2 million trips were taken on Sydney’s trains and trams each day.

There is no better time to realise the societal benefits of rail travel. But the transport and infrastructure sector is changing, and the challenge for rail operators, maintainers and manufacturers is keeping pace with the evolving industry and expectations of an evergrowing customer base. That’s an opportunity – and challenge – the industry is keenly aware of, Downer’s Rollingstock Services executive general manager Tim Young says.

“We’re seeing a huge shift in what passengers expect from their transport providers, and in turn, what our customers expect from us,” Young tells Rail Express. “From technology to sustainability, urban services is changing across Australia, and being agile in these circumstances is key to the industry’s success. It is the passengers that we really need to start to focus on and service better. As we know, passengers don’t measure averages, they measure variation, and the old adage, that you’re only as good as your last game, could never be truer than today.”

Partnering for success

“At Downer, we talk about relationships creating success – and that’s a commitment we take seriously across our business. It means partnering with our customers, suppliers and academia to address challenges across our industry, recognising that we can do much more together than alone,” Young says.

One partnership Young says has proved immensely successful is Downer’s work with the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). Launched in 2014, the initiative works to foster, sponsor and direct collaborative research and commercialisation partnerships in rail manufacturing.

By bridging the gap between industry and academia, Downer has been able to develop innovative solutions to complex problems and tap into a nation-wide network of expertise.

“We’re investigating diverse issues ranging from data analytics to virtual reality, exploring how they can help us improve various aspects from engineering design, to maintenance, to operations. We’ve got some really smart people working with us thanks to these partnerships, bringing their expertise to the table to help us develop real, industry focussed solutions to improve the lives of everyday Australians,” Young explained.

The Rail Manufacturing CRC has actively worked with Downer on a wide range of innovative projects over the last five years, including predictive maintenance, passenger dwell time management, and battery systems. “Downer has committed to engaging with the Rail Manufacturing CRC to support the creation and adoption of new domestic rail technologies, including Dwell Track and TrainDNA. This is in addition to generously providing support to several PhD students working in leading research on miniature robots for rollingstock maintenance, and virtual and augmented training for rail,” Rail Manufacturing CRC CEO Dr Stuart Thomson said. “Not only will this research drive innovative improvements to Australia’s rail sector, it also highlights the value that Downer places in collaboration, and the resulting benefits that this provides to their organisation’s competitiveness on a global stage.”

Integrating operations

With passengers expecting a seamless transport experience, closer partnerships are just part of the answer. Organisations must also look into how technology and knowledge can be integrated for better maintenance and operations outcomes.

In May 2019, Downer launched their Integrated Operations Centre (IOC), a hub of cutting-edge technology, co-located staff and integrated systems.

The IOC brings together critical functions such as planning, engineering, mobile response and materials supply personnel to enhance operational asset management. Young says the IOC is another piece of the puzzle to improving the passenger experience.

“With the growing pains of the heavy rail networks and potential capacity gap along the east coast of Australia, we see the IOC as an opportunity to aid in the passenger experience and bridge the capacity gap through enhanced fleet management, stimulating greater reliability, capacity, availability and immediacy of response. In addition, it will unlock value to operators in the form of enhanced driver education, timetable development and passenger satisfaction,” he says. “Not only that, it provides an opportunity for us to work more closely with our customers to enhance operations, through better sharing of data, recprical information flows and real-time reporting.

“Understanding passenger experience is key, and they too can help in this process,” Young adds. “For example, the IOC also monitors social media, enabling real time monitoring of asset condition and passenger sentiment. On several occasions this has resulted in us sending a technician to the train to rectify an issue whilst it remains in revenue service.

“In the future, I think we can expect to see this kind of integration and innovation take hold across the transport industry – embracing the full ecosystem of operations, improving the passenger experience while enabling ease and speed through the rail network.”

A commitment to sustainability

Young also emphasises the increasing importance of sustainability and environmental concerns to business outcomes. “The drive towards a more sustainable future continues to gather pace, and it’s something investors are becoming more passionate about and the industry must address, while delivering an efficient, reliable and cost-effective service,” he says. “An emphasis on sustainability is core to achieving our goal of Zero Harm, and for several years Downer has focussed on developing solutions to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and repurpose trade waste across our business.”

Earlier this year, Downer delivered the first Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) in the Southern Hemisphere for a rollingstock asset – the Waratah Series 2 train – and was recognised as an industry leader at the 2019 Australasian Rail Industry Awards.

“The EPD shows the environmental impact, resource use and carbon footprint of our trains across their 30-year lifecycle and can also help predict the future performance and environmental impact of the train even at the end of the vehicle’s life. It’s something that our customers are increasingly asking for and demonstrates Downer’s commitment to environmental responsibility across the life cycle of our assets,” Young says. “With an improved understanding of our rollingstock’s full carbon footprint, we are leveraging this to shift our thinking to investigate what we can do to improve both our end of life management and through life management options during . maintenance and overhauls, to reduce the carbon impact as opportunities arise.

“For example, we’re currently investigating opportunities in cradle to cradle asset recovery in Victoria, where we’ve been working with local suppliers to understand how we can recycle laminated glass and what re-use potential there is for it within our business.

“Thought leadership is fundamental to our success, and we need to continue to collaborate and innovate across the value chain. It’s these alliances and arrangements between academia, suppliers and industry that will unlock even greater value for the rail sector.”

 

Visit Downer at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 175.