Harrybilt

Straddling both gauges: A dual hi-rail attachment

A local manufacturing solution to Australia’s dual-gauge headache from Harrybilt Engineering.

A perennial issue for the Australian rail industry has been the various gauges across the national network. A legacy of the pre- federation era when each state developed their own railway networks to transport produce to their respective ports, in the century since federation there have been a series of efforts to standardise gauges across Australia.

Despite these efforts, and the many hours of work and negotiation that have gone into standardisation programs, rail networks businesses and maintainers still have to contend with multiple gauges in different parts of the country. In some instances, this has meant the duplication of equipment, particularly plant that is required to run on rails. Having multiple hi-rail trucks, excavators, and other equipment can limit productivity and increase cost, particularly when working in sections where two grades interact.

Ballarat-based specialist engineering and manufacturing business Harrybilt Engineering has developed a solution to this headache, that overcomes Australia’s unique multiple- gauge system. The Hi Brid Rail System can be attached to wheeled excavators to allow the machinery to operate on standard- or narrow- gauge railways.

Designed by the family-owned rail specialists, Harrybilt Engineering’s Hi Brid Rail System on standard gauge operates the same as the Rail Guidance System, which allows the excavator’s tyres to safely move on the rail. For narrow gauge, the excavator’s tyres contact a drum, which drives the rail wheels in a friction drive set-up.

The dual-gauge solution was developed after hearing from the rail infrastructure industry that the capacity for machinery to switch between narrow- and standard-gauge networks would greatly increase their productivity. Working from this need, Harrybilt Engineering designed and manufactured the Hi Brid system to best suit the needs of the sector.

The system meets Australian standard AS7502 for road-rail vehicles and is fitted with four failsafe braked rail wheels for increased safety.

The rail system is managed from inside the driver’s cab via a programmable logic controller (PLC) system. Having all controls fitted inside the drivers’ cab allows for the safe and efficient operation of the Hi Brid System.

Released in 2019, the system was designed locally by Harrybilt Engineering’s specialist team of railway maintenance equipment engineers. The company has over 19 years of experience designing and manufacturing Hi Rail and Rail Guidance Systems for road rail vehicles, in addition to the 35 years of experience manufacturing equipment for the rail industry.

Knowing the needs of rail infrastructure maintenance businesses in Australia and the growing demand for specialist engineering capability and expertise, the company has recently doubled is production floor space to cater to the expanding local market. With this capability within the business, Harrybilt is able to customise its systems, including the Hi Brid Rail System to meet a customer’s requirement. The company has already fitted the system to three separate excavator models, and could, if needed deploy, its engineering capabilities to fit the system to equipment other than an excavator.

Combining versatility with solid engineering, the Harrybilt Hi Bird Rail System is designed to meet the unique, multiple-gauge needs of the Australian rail infrastructure sector.

Production of concrete segments for Cross River Rail underway

Pre-cast concrete segments for the Cross River Rail tunnels are now being made at a site in Wacol, south-west Brisbane.

The project will require a total of 25,000 segments to line the tunnels underneath the Brisbane River and CBD, from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills.

Wagners Precast was the successful tenderer for the manufacture of the concrete segments and will carry out the work from its site in Wacol.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this was a good example of the local businesses that would benefit from the Cross River Rail project.

“Hundreds of local businesses are benefitting from work related to the project. In this case here at Wacol we have a 100 per cent Queensland-owned company employing local workers to build the concrete walls that will line the 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels,” she said.

Six of the 27cm thick and 1.7 metre long segments will create one tunnel ring, of which over 4,000 are required for the Cross River Rail tunnels.

Once the segments are finished in Wacol, trucks will haul them six at a time to the work sites. At full production levels, the site will produce 140 segments a day, using 105,000 cubic metres of concrete over the course of the project.

State Development Minister Kate Jones said she was staggered by the magnitude of the project.

“If you lay the 25,000 segments they’ll produce for Cross River Rail end-to-end you’d reach from Wacol to the heart of Brisbane City with a few segments to spare.”

In addition to the economic benefits of Cross River Rail, said Palaszczuk, the project is also supporting training and apprentices. At Wacol, 570 training hours were delivered in May.

“Investing in major infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail means more jobs, more training opportunities and more support for the economy right when we need it most,” the Premier said.

“7,500 jobs for workers will be created throughout the life of the project along with 450 opportunities for trainees and apprentices.”

Jones said the project was having a real impact on Queensland’s economy each day.

“Cross River Rail is pumping over $4 million a day into the economy, and over $370m is already being spent with more than 400 businesses that make up the supply chain for the project.”

DAS

“This is for our grandchildren”: Why KiwiRail’s C-DAS is about more than saving fuel

KiwiRail tells Rail Express how its adoption of driver advisory systems (DAS) from TTG Transportation Technology is delivering benefits now and over the long term.

When representatives from TTG Transportation Technology first contacted KiwiRail with their new system, the New Zealand rail operator couldn’t believe what they were hearing.

The Sydney-based manufacturer was introducing their driver advisory system (DAS), Energymiser to KiwiRail and were suggesting that the state-owned enterprise could save 10 per cent of their fuel bill. According to Soren Low, technology and customer innovation leader at KiwiRail, it would take a change of management for the offer to be taken up.

“We struggled at first to get any interest in installing Energymiser, but a couple of years later there was renewed interest and the group general manager at the time said ‘Let’s give it a crack and do a trial and see what happens, if nothing comes out of it that’s great, at least we can say we tried.’”

KiwiRail chose to test the system on a freight line that took wood pulp from the mill at Karioi in the middle of the North Island to the Port of Wellington.

“We did a trial over three or four months and what became really clear is that the numbers that came out of this trial were too good to be true,” said Low.

The initial figures promised by TTG were being delivered and led to the DAS modules being rolled out across the entire network.

“We used the trial to write a business case to justify the investment to roll out Energymiser across the business,” said Low.

A few years later, the onboard systems were in the cabs of KiwiRail’s fleet of 180 locomotives and 350 train drivers were trained how to use the system. Now, across KiwiRail’s 4,500km network the DAS technology delivered by TTG indicate to drivers when to increase speed, when to brake, and when to coast to enable the most efficient runs possible.

The DAS system enables KiwiRail to make the most of a 150-year-old narrow gauge network with many tight corners and steep inclines. Whether hauling bulk freight, logs for export, and dairy during the milking season, Energymiser is enabling KiwiRail to cut fuel costs and significantly reduce emissions.

CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRIVE
While the figures from the trial convinced KiwiRail’s management of the benefits of the DAS technology, there was another group who needed to come on board.

“When we first started talking about DAS to the driver union representatives, there wasn’t much support for it,” said Low. “There was a straight-out view that no technology can tell a driver how to drive a train better than they can. In time, the Rail & Maritime Transport Union representatives came on board, and really helped us sell it to our people. Being able to pull together a small team of committed drivers who believed in what we were doing really helped us test, tweak and deliver the system.”

Until the incorporation of Energymiser, KiwiRail drivers had been trained to travel at the maximum track speed. Now, the DAS onboard screen was telling drivers that they could travel below the track speed and coast on downhill sections and they would arrive at their destination at the scheduled time.

To communicate this change in practice, KiwiRail enlisted the help of a senior driver, Robin Simmons. Having someone with Simmons’s respect within the organisation helped to win over resistant drivers.

“Simmons really quickly bought into this,” said Low. “He really quickly said, ‘You know what, this is actually a really good thing.’ To this day, he is our DAS champion. He has been pretty much working full time on DAS. The training program that we built was very heavily influenced by Simmons and in the early days he did most of the training himself. The fact that he’s a locomotive engineer and train driver was really good in terms of his credibility.”

Another important factor said Low is to ensure that the information that is displayed in cab is not in conflict with conditions on the track. For example, during summer some parts of the KiwiRail network have speed restrictions due to heat. This function was not inbuilt into the Energymiser system initially, so KiwiRail and TTG updated the software.

“The DAS was saying you should be doing 70 km/h whereas the driver knew they should be doing 40 because they were in a heat restriction area and we try and avoid having those mixed messages in the cab,” said Low.

KiwiRail found drivers were in three camps; those that embraced the technology, those who used the DAS because they had to, and those who would prefer not to use the technology. Convincing the second and third camps and encouraging the first to become advocates for the system would take a different approach.

“In our training, we spend a day in the classroom with our drivers and most of it is really hearts and minds stuff. It’s about the bigger sustainability picture, it’s about why this is important, it’s about how organisations like KiwiRail need to cut costs, how we need to invest our money wisely and then a little bit of the training is actually the technical bit of how you use the tool,” said Low.

Acknowledging and incorporating these factors has led to the success of the system.

“The reality is if you can’t get the drivers on board then you are dead in the water.”

KiwiRail tested the system with driver Robin Simmons, who became an advocate for the technology.

ENCOURAGING CLEAN AND EFFICIENT OPERATIONS
Seven years on from the first contract signed between TTG and KiwiRail the system has enabled a 10 per cent reduction in fuel costs. However, even more important than the savings are the benefits that the system has brought to KiwiRail.

KiwiRail has three carbon reduction targets and by the end of June 2020 is aiming to reduce energy consumption by 73.5 GWh. This target was raised from 20 GWh, which was reached only eight months after the agreement between KiwiRail and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) in 2016. Fuel savings in locomotives are a major part of this effort and already 17 million litres of fuel have been saved since 2015.

By 2030, KiwiRail must reduce is carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels, in line with the Paris Agreement. Finally, as a state-owned enterprise, KiwiRail must achieve net zero carbon emissions, in line with New Zealand’s overall climate goals. Since the 2012 financial year, the company has reduced its carbon intensity of rail freight by 15 per cent.

To meet future goals, DAS has a role not only to ensure the efficient movement of freight but to provide a better service for KiwiRail’s customers, enabling more goods to be moved on rail rather than road. The KiwiRail network is predominantly single track, so making sure trains run to schedule is essential. This is where the connected DAS technology can contribute.

“The connected DAS, where you integrate the onboard systems back to the back end of train control can create a potential opportunity to tie those things together to take it to the next level,” said Low.

This can enable better scheduling to move freight quicker, without using more fuel.

“Our job is to provide excellent customer service outcomes,” said Low. “The first step is to analyse schedules to ask, ‘How do we take our existing journey time and look to cut up the journey into more fuel-efficient increments, what kind of fuel saving can we derive from that?’”

Getting to that point, however, requires buy-in from across the organisation, and this is where DAS’s fundamental benefits are important, concludes Low.

“This is not for us right now, it’s for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. It’s a long-term project, that’s why it’s so vitally important.”

Managing director of TTG Dale Coleman said TTG are extremely proud of its relationship with KiwiRail that embodies what success looks like. TTG and KiwiRail have combined world leading research into to technology that can be successfully implemented into an existing operating environment by a committed Kiwi Rail management and operations team.

Coleman also acknowledged the research excellence of the University of South Australia, which has been instrumental in the delivery of Australian knowhow in building a fully connected and integrated DAS deployed on more than 8,000 devices operating over 60,000 kilometres of track in more than 10 countries worldwide. The system delivers sustainability not only to KiwiRail but also other leading world class railways including SNCF, Arriva, First Group, Abellio, and Aurizon.

KTK Australia denies forced labour allegations

Allegations that slave labour was used in the production of components used in a number of Australian rollingstock fleets have been strongly denied by KTK Australia.

In a statement, KTK Australia said that such allegations “are based on no official documents, interviews or testimony”.

The allegations stem from a US Department of Commerce blacklist that included KTK Australia’s parent company, KTK Group. The US Department of Commerce said that KTK Group was implicated in human rights violations such as the forced labour of Muslim minority groups from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

KTK Australia disputed the basis for these implications.

“KTK Group has never employed workers who are members of the Uyghur ethnic minority,” said the KTK Australia statement.

KTK Australia’s website lists its components as in use on a number of Australian rollingstock fleets. These include NSW’s New Intercity Fleet (NIF), and Sydney Metro, the X’Trapolis and High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) in Victoria, and Queensland’s Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR).

Bombardier, which manufactures the NGR fleet, said that it was closely looking into the allegations.

“Bombardier Transportation is aware of the recent action by the United States Commerce Department in relation to KTK Group Co. We are actively monitoring this new dynamic – impacting the transportation industry – and any effect this could have on our own supply chain, projects and products,” said a Bombardier Transportation spokesman.

In Bombardier’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which all suppliers must agree to, forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking are explicitly prohibited. The code outlines:

Bombardier will not engage in the use of forced or enslaved labour or human trafficking, nor will it tolerate their use at any level in its supply chains. Suppliers must not demand any work or service from any person under the menace of any penalty. For example, Suppliers’ employees must be free to leave work or terminate their employment with reasonable notice, and they are not required to surrender any government issued identification, passports or work permits as a condition of employment.

Alstom, which manufactures the Sydney Metro and X’Trapolis fleet, also prohibits forced labour in its supply chain. Its Ethics and Sustainable Development Charter requires that suppliers commit to the “elimination of all forms of illegal, forced or compulsory labour”.

A Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson said that it was assured that there is no evidence of forced labour in the supply chains of its rollingstock.

“We have asked our manufacturers to take additional steps to ensure the integrity of their supply chains, and we continue to monitor the situation and will consider further steps based on the outcomes of ongoing supply chain investigations.”

A Transport for NSW spokesperson highlighted that suppliers must comply with Australian laws covering subcontracting and reporting requirements.

“Transport for NSW also has rights to access and audit the supplier’s records and the materials, goods, workmanship or work methodology employed at any place where the supplier’s activities are being carried out.”

The NSW spokesperson said that the components in use on the NIF were from the French arm of KTK.

In a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which is in part funded by the US State Department, KTK Group is named as one company that was involved in the transfer of Uyghurs out of Xinjiang. The report cites online news articles.

KTK Australia noted that the cited articles refer to non-Uyghur workers from Xinjiang constructing a playground in a city in Jiangsu province.

“KTK Group confirms that in 2018-19 it did employ a small number of workers from Xinjiang, who were not ethnically Uyghurs, all were properly employed and paid the same wage as all KTK other workers in the same positions,” the KTK Australia statement read.

The US Department of Commerce blacklist prohibits US companies from working with listed companies. KTK Group has no investments in the US and said the decision would not have a material impact on the business.

“KTK Group is a transparent company and we welcome any international customers to inspect our facilities and to audit our labour practices.”

Re-railing projects improving freight productivity and commuter reliability

Two re-railing projects being carried out by the Australian Rail Track Corporation are almost complete, ensuring a smoother ride for passengers and a more reliable freight network.

A $40 million project to re-railing the line between Goulburn and Sydney through the Southern Highlands is almost complete, while a $252m re-railing of the line between Adelaide and Tarcoola almost finalised.

Both projects used Australian-made steel from Whyalla in the manufacturing of the rails.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the benefits of the project from Goulburn to Sydney would be welcomed by businesses and passengers.

“The ARTC’s re-railing project has made improvements along the Southern Highlands line, meaning commuters and freight will have more reliable, better-quality journeys,” he said.

“This will provide a welcome productivity boost for our national supply chain at a time when it’s needed more than ever, particularly for the Australian businesses using the rail line to get their products to markets.”

The $28m Stage 2 of the project will be going to tender in the coming weeks.

The line from Goulburn to Sydney is part of the national freight route linking Melbourne and Brisbane, via Sydney.

The section of rail from Adelaide to Tarcoola is also an important link, tying the eastern states to Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said that works on these national links were vital.

“Safe and efficient freight networks are critical to the national economy and to all Australians, particularly as our hard-working freight operators continue to deliver our Australian goods to consumers and international markets,” he said.

On the Adelaide to Tarcoola section, all that remains of the project is the replacement of the old timber sleepers with concrete ones, with a final contract for this element of the project expected to be awarded this month.

Once complete, heavier interstate freight trains will be able to operate faster over the section of track. Moving from 47-kilogram per metre rail to 60-kilogram per metre rail will allow for 25 tonne axle load limits.

In total, for the 600 kilometres of track 70,000 tonnes of steel was needed, requiring 38,000 welds at the Port Augusta depot and almost 10,000 welds in the field. 3.5 million rail clips were required, along with 1.75 million rail pads. 440km of line was tamped, including 60 turnouts.

According to federal member for Grey Rowan Ramsey, the scale of the project from Adelaide to Tarcoola allowed Whyalla steel manufacturer Liberty to boost local steel manufacturing.

“The investments in staff and skills on this project ensured Liberty was able to secure further contracts with the ARTC to deliver steel rail to the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Program and the Goulburn to Sydney re-railing program.”

Major projects

Victoria launches online major projects portal

Victoria has launched an online portal to give suppliers a comprehensive overview of major projects in the state.

The Victorian Major Projects Pipeline went live today, July 24, and covers projects worth over $100 million. These include major rail projects including the Suburban Rail Loop, Metro Tunnel Project, Melbourne Airport Rail, the Level Crossing Removal program and others.

The projects range from those in the business case/planning phrase, to procurement, and delivery. Each project is categorised by region, sector, and procurement agency, with indication of cost, procurement start and delivery start. The projects can be organised in a list or timeline format.

Links to contact details and specific project information is available through the portal.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan hope that industry would use the portal to plan ahead.

“This portal will be an invaluable tool for industry going forward as we plan and prepare to deliver Victoria’s biggest ever infrastructure agenda.”

According to a statement from the Victorian government the portal will be updated quarterly with new project announcements and budgets.

Developed by the Office of Projects Victoria (OPV), which provides independent advice to improve project delivery and project benefits, the portal is in addition to other public information available on Victoria’s Big Build Website.

OPV CEO Kevin Doherty said the project was a collaborative effort.

“OPV has worked closely with key delivery agencies and the construction industry to develop this portal which will literally help build a bigger and better Victoria.”

rail industry

Get policy settings right and rail will help lead recovery

In the aftermath of COVID-19, there is a huge opportunity for the rail industry to support Australasia’s rebound, writes Caroline Wilkie, CEO of the ARA.

As COVID-19 struck, many industries wound down as travel restrictions and social distancing measures started to bite.

The much-discussed hibernation was a necessary reality for many, but for the rail industry the essential work of keeping our communities connected and economy moving ploughed on.

Public transport operators kept the trains running on time, and in many cases maintained their normal schedules to ensure those who needed to travel could maintain social distancing requirements.

The added work of additional cleaning and maintenance to keep their customers COVID safe was quickly implemented and continues as we return to a more normal way of life.

Throughout all the changes we’ve seen since this crisis began, dedicated teams that support the safe operation of our train network have been a saving grace for those that still needed to get to work, to care for family or simply buy essential supplies.

The rail freight industry also became an important part of keeping supply chains open as international borders closed.

The big swings in demand for household basics like toilet paper called for fast and reliable delivery to replenish supermarket shelves, and Australia’s freight operators helped meet that challenge throughout the worst of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the suppliers that maintain and operate the industry’s rollingstock, track and technology kept the network operating smoothly by continuing their essential work.

The outstanding efforts of the rail industry in difficult times has been of great benefit to the community and we thank the many people who have gone above and beyond in their roles to meet the challenges of this time.

But as the industry kept on moving, rail suppliers, contractors and freight operators were still feeling the impact of COVID-19.

A recent Australasian Railway Association (ARA) survey of 58 of its members found constraints on international shipments and falling customer spending were the biggest challenges they were experiencing in the face of the pandemic.

Concerned about the financial impact on their business, they worried the pipeline of government projects would slow – and some had already seen evidence of just that.

About half had deferred investments, putting workplace expansions and capital expenditure on hold as they repositioned their businesses to get through these unprecedented times.

But the industry showed its commitment to the long term, with only a relatively small number of respondents taking the tough decision to stand down staff or roll out redundancies.

Despite the challenges, the survey respondents were already planning for recovery and preparing their businesses for the growth that will eventually come.

Our members told us maintaining the current project pipeline was the single most important thing governments could do, followed by funding stimulus projects.

The ARA has acted on this feedback and has been engaging with federal and state governments on potential stimulus projects to support the rail industry.

ARA members also called for improved local content policies and procurement processes as more and more businesses considered a shift to using more local suppliers.

In fact, a staggering three quarters of those looking to make changes to their supply chain said they would seek more suppliers in Australia or their home state.

This is a huge opportunity for the rail industry and for Australian jobs.

The ARA’s tendering framework, released in May, supports the need for a nationally consistent procurement approach.

Making such a change was already considered vitally important before COVID-19, but now, taking that step could help the industry realise its ambition to support even more local content.

Strong local content policies and more uniform national standards would give suppliers the economies of scale they need to build sustainable businesses here in Australia and help the industry boost the resilience of its supply chains.

The success of the National Cabinet has shown that collaboration between the states can work to achieve consistent approaches.

That is exactly what we need right now.

The good news is the industry is ready for that recovery and expect it will come quickly when the time is right.

About a third of survey respondents told us they could be back to normal operations within a month once the impact of COVID-19 was over.

Most others said it would take them less than a year.

So as the many essential workers in the rail industry keep working through this most unusual year, there are signs of optimism for recovery on the other side of this event.

Getting the policy settings right to speed that process will be key to supporting a strong rebound for the benefit of all Australians.

shunting vehicle

Electric shunting vehicles cut noise, emissions

Working with Sydney Trains, Freightquip has provided a shunting solution that is low noise and zero emissions.

When Sydney Trains was looking to replace two shunting vehicles, in use at the Hornsby and Mortdale depots, it needed a solution that was low noise, low emission and had the ability to complete the same shunting task as previously. To fulfil this requirement, the transport agency turned to local freight handling equipment supplier Freightquip.

Neil McDonell, general manager rail at Freightquip, said that after winning a competitive tender process, Freightquip worked with Sydney Trains to get the right fit.

“The relationship started with developing the specification for the machine, so we spent a lot of time with Sydney Trains, after the tender process, refining the specification and from there developing that into a technical specification that went into the contract that we went and built,” said McDonell.

Sydney Trains had a number of requirements that Freightquip had to fulfil, the first being able to move trains weighing many tonnes.

“The big thing for them is having a machine that could achieve the shunting task, but then also having very low noise emissions because of the locations of the depots,” said McDonell.

Both the Hornsby and Mortdale depots are located in residential areas and are surrounded by houses. This required Sydney Trains to minimise any emissions, both noise and exhaust.

“They’re surrounded by residents, so they have very stringent guidelines imposed on them that they have to meet. It was a mammoth effort to be able to give them something that achieved those levels of emissions,” said McDonell.

The solution that McDonell and Freightquip turned to was the Zephir LOK E, a fully electric rail vehicle placer.

“Zephir produce the largest electric shunter in the world and we as the Australian agents are able to offer that,” said McDonell.

The LOK E is an evolution of Zephir’s range of rail towing vehicles. Founded in the late 1960s, the company has been an early innovator in designing equipment that can complete the same task with zero emissions.

“Twenty years ago, Zephir started making small electric shunt vehicles, then as the need and demand rose from customers who wanted electric, zero emissions, and the low noise vehicles, but couldn’t sacrifice the towing capability of the machine. That led then the next evolution,” said McDonell.

“Starting with the smallest model, Zephir then grew the technology and grew their understanding so that now, the largest diesel machine they produce, they can also produce as an electric machine.”

While the new electric vehicle would have no exhaust emissions, Freightquip still had to meet Sydney Trains’ noise requirement of 45 decibels or less, seven metres in front of the machine, which was below what was standard for the LOK E. Here, Freightquip drew on past experience to come up with the solution in partnership with Zephir.

“We had done work previously with a diesel machine in a similar but different environment, where we had to reduce the noise levels of the diesel machine,” said McDonell. “We were able to take that knowledge and apply it to an electric machine, which comes with very low noise emissions anyway but still has things like hydraulic pumps and compressors that we had to factor in.”

To insulate the noise of the onboard pumps and compressors, Freightquip adapted the existing insulation while changing the concept design to direct the noise. The rear grill was also replaced to reduce the noise levels.

This particular design process was the outcome of consultation that Freightquip conducted with Sydney Trains and the staff onsite.

“We spent a lot of time with the client, understanding what the end user needs, those who are actually going to operate it in the depots. We had meetings with the depot personnel themselves and they were part of the then final specification and options selection process,” said McDonell.

Beyond the noise requirements, Freightquip also designed the stabling sites for the rail vehicle placers and identified and overcame and track infrastructure issues. These were done early on so that any concerns were resolved prior to the vehicles coming on site. In addition, the product design was altered to ensure that the vehicle met Australian specifications for safety and compliance.

With the vehicles now installed, Freightquip will provide ongoing support.

“We supply all the technical support,” said McDonell. “We do the full lifecycle support from scheduled servicing on these machines in accordance with the manufacturer’s service schedules, we support these machines with parts, right through to the end of the lifecycle of the machine.”

With the innovation that Zephir has conducted to provide the machines, the electric versions of each of the models are cost competitive with the diesel version. Reduced lifecycle cost from a 70 per cent reduction in moving parts and simpler maintenance, in addition to the reduced cost of powering the vehicle, have made the electric versions the product of choice.

Visit Freightquip at their homepage.

smart signal

Delivering a next generation smart signal

Required to develop a unique solution for a challenging requirement, Aldridge have implemented a smart signal built for the future.

Across the vast majority of most train networks, most signals have the sophistication of a light bulb – the signal is either on, or off. The increasing sophistication of new lines, and their requirements to deliver more in a smaller package, has required a new kind of smart signal.

Sydney-based rail signalling experts, Aldridge have developed a new smart signal which can provide a much greater amount of information in a tight environment. Already in use in some of the most advanced systems in the Asia-Pacific region, David Aldridge, managing director of Aldridge, explains what makes these signals smart.

“In a conventional signal, you might have an A or B on it, and then if you need to put a C on there you can’t do it; you need to build a whole new signal. This one you can reprogram to show an A, B, C, D, or whatever, that’s the difference – their ability to be able to generate all characters.”

The new signal can decode up to 10 110VAC selection inputs and generate a comprehensive range of alphanumeric characters and symbols on displays up to three digits wide. This solution was developed in house, as company engineer Craig Sharwood highlights.

“I can change a lot of the behaviour of the display that previously would be locked in hardware and any change would require a major change to circuit boards and documentation. Here I can just change the code that controls the signal and change an A to a B or a 1 to a 5.”

The flexibility of the signal does not end at the display, however, as it can be configured with any number of interlocking systems and has already been installed in divergent projects.

“The structure of the signal is such that I can adapt it to be compatible with whatever interface I have to connect the signal to,” said Sharwood. “it gives us some flexibility to make it talk and in whatever format that the customer would like.”

A PROVEN SOLUTION
The smart signals were first developed to be used on two projects in Southeast Asia, the MRT Purple Line in Bangkok and the KVMRT system in Kuala Lumpur. For both systems, Aldridge had to comply with the customer’s demand for a new kind of signal.

“The customer’s challenge required our signal to display numerous character combinations using encoded 110VAC signalling over a limited umber of control lines.

Our solution enabled this customer to achieve the desired signal display functionality at lower cost, by reducing cable harness conductor count and interface overheads,” said Sharwood.

With the technology proven on these projects, when the call came for a similar signal for the Sydney Metro Northwest project, Aldridge was able to supply their solution.

“We’d already designed the product for the two other projects in Asia,” said Aldridge.

“We had the technology running and then we reproduced it here using the same technology.”

Although the core technology was the same, the signal had been improved as a result of previous versions, giving the product an edge over other solutions, said Sharwood.

“We have refined it over several iterations with other clients, so it’s given it maturity as a product. It’s not just a drawing board situation, it’s something that’s in service.”

While the product had been updated, the size of the kinetic envelope on the Sydney Metro lines presented a new obstacle for Aldridge to overcome.

“One of the challenges was the actual size that they gave us which we had to bring the product down to, to miniaturise it,” said Aldridge.

“A normal signal here in Australia, or basically anywhere in the world, is 300mm in width and these had to brought down to 270mm.”

In bringing down the size of the signal, Aldridge also developed the system to be modular, so that it could continue to fit into the diverse requirements of each future rail project. For Sydney Metro, the signals combine a points position indicator, which indicates left, straight ahead or right, with a red horizontal bar for stop, and a separate main route indicator number. The two displays are electrically isolated, and the arrangement can be modified for the variation required.

“Every company has their own interlocking system – they’re all a little different – and then they also have different group requirements for reporting back to the controller from the signal, what happens in fail mode, and all those little parameters,” said Aldridge.

Being able to approach each project on its own terms with an applied solution that can be modified to fit has allowed Aldridge to step in on projects when other have pulled out at the last minute.

Four typical examples of how the smart signals could be configured, showing the route number and points direction.

DESIGNED TO BE SAFE FOR FUTURE APPLICATIONS
Currently, the signal is used as a non-vital signal on the Sydney Metro network. Aldridge has delivered 153 signals, including 55 smart running, 26 smart shunting, and 72 buffer stop signals, across the Sydney Metro project so far. Although automated, the system requires signals for manual operations, including shunting, that must be fully operational when the Metro is running.

As part of the safety measures in the signals, the two separate indicators can be monitored independently, while also performing their own self testing in a loop configuration.

“The most recent model is a higher safety integrity level (SIL) level than the original, so it monitors its own power supply and it monitors its outputs. It has a status output to say basically ‘I’m ok or not ok,’ so it’s not a signal that can be used for controlling, generating a stop, but it has sufficient reliability and controls built in to make it more than adequate for this non vital application,” said Sharwood.

While the current signal is not being used to convey a movement authority, the fundamentals of the system are such that further deployments could use the signal in what Sharwood terms a hybrid manner.

“The Aldridge smart signal has the potential to displace a lot of normal signals. Rather than just displaying characters in the array, on the same array it could be displaying signalling information.

“At the moment we’ve kept it separate, the smart signal is displaying digits and characters and we still have more conventional bar signals, but it’s possible with the right approach that we could have characters and arrows, bars, all sorts of different types of signalling, embedded in the display.”

THE ALDRIDGE DIFFERENCE
The development of the innovative smart signal required a different set of skills than what is normally required of a signal engineer, however just as mandatory was the existing expertise Aldridge had in hardwired signals.

“We have leveraged some components that we know are good and the rail industry feels comfortable using and re-using. We’ve used a small number of components that we know are basically the stalwarts of the industry and our product range and added the technology and added the smarts to succeed and satisfy customer requirements,” said Sharwood.

While the 5mm LED lights and other componentry may have resembled existing signals, there was a considerable amount of new thinking involved in the design.

“These signals bear almost no resemblance to any predecessor signals so in a lot of ways we had to start from scratch and basically design something completely new,” said Sharwood.

Pulling this exercise off however required belief from the top down.

“A lot of industries like rail get stuck with the things they know and the things that work over and over and suddenly that isn’t enough” said Sharwood.

“At some stage we have to go, ‘Ok, I have to make a big leap into modern technology.’ That’s what Aldridge did in this case.”

This approach is where Aldridge has been able to distinguish itself in its ability to find the right solution, with 70 years of experience and 30 within the rail industry.

“In general, we lead the customer a little bit in terms of what could possibly happen,” said Sharwood.

“They look to us to say, ‘How do we actually use this signal?’ Even down to the point of what size fuses should be used, what earthing should we have.

“Sometimes we assist the customer on their side of the fence to help them integrate into their network, and into their systems,” said Sharwood.

KLP

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers ensure stable gauge and reduced noise levels

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers offer a clever combination of high bending stiffness and low thermal expansion coefficient of steel, coupled with the dampening characteristics of polymer. This delivers affordable, reliable sleepers to track owners looking for a low-maintenance and easily installable solutions for bridges, turnouts, and track.

Stable gauge, despite high lateral loads
Trains running at speed going through turns cause high loads within sleepers. Weak materials will stretch too much resulting in gauge widening. The steel-reinforced KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper delivers the longitudinal strength and dimensional stability to maintain the required gauge, even in overload situations. The sleepers can be engineered to emulate the stiffness and dynamic behaviour of the sleeper it replaces to provide comparable stiffness. They are thus well suited for interspersing with existing timber sleepers.

Stable gauge, despite high thermal variances
Temperature variation cause excessive widening or narrowing of the gauge if the wrong materials are selected. Whereas polymer has a high thermal expansion coefficient, the strong steel reinforcement in KLP sleepers contains these contractions and expansions, resulting in thermal expansion comparable to concrete and steel.

Deutsche Bahn performed various in-track gauge measurements in Augsburg on KLP sleepers. The measurements were taken in different seasons, with temperatures ranging between -10°C and +51°C. The maximum measured expansion was 2mm based on a gauge of 1435mm. After testing, the inspection showed the system was still correctly tensioned and no effect on the rail fastenings were observed. No cracks and no other defects such as bending were found on the KLP sleepers, and the results contributed to Type Approval by Deutsche Bahn. Steel-reinforced polymer construction

 

Stable gauge, through lateral stability in the ballast
Independent laboratory tests for the French rail authorities confirm that the KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper Type 101 ensures durable and stable binding with ballast. The combination of its stiffness, geometry and polymer interface prevents longitudinal and/or lateral movement ensuring the track geometry is maintained.

The unique shape of the KLP 100-series sleeper provides additional lateral & horizontal stability due to the profile base, the scalloped shape and ballast coverage. The weight of the sleepers is lower than conventional rectangular sleepers and provides advantages where weight is an issue e.g. when cranes are used to lift pre-assembled sections of track into position or on bridges where the reduced mass of the track reduces the structural demands. KLP 100-series

 

Stable gauge, low maintenance turnouts

The low thermal expansion is particularly beneficial for turnouts. The switch mechanism in turnouts is precisely adjusted to the track gauge. If the track gauge changes, the switch tongue no longer connects properly to the rail which can cause damage to the tongue. Low thermal expansion results in less inspection and maintenance of the turnout. KLP handles like timber: easy to install.

 

Quieter bridges
The chosen polymers in KLP products absorb and dampen vibrations and impacts, thereby reducing noise. Measurements on a steel girder bridge confirmed a 3-5dB noise reduction after replacing wooden sleepers with KLP sleepers.

Dependable bending stiffness on bridges with offset loads
Steel reinforcement in KLP Hybrid Polymer Transoms provides the bending strength required in bridges with offsets between the rail and the girders. The most suitable combination of rebar size and polymer type provide the required bending stiffness for given axle load, stiffness requirements and climate conditions.

Height adjustable bridge transoms
Height difference in bridge support I-beams can be compensated by milling the transom, to achieve a level track. KLP transom types 203 and 401 have a 25mm milling zone that can be milled to compensate for height variations in bridges without affecting the strength of the transom. They are available in multiple gross heights: 150, 180, 210, 240, and 270mm.

As an alternative to milling, KLP Shims, made from the same polymer as the bridge transoms, can be used to either compensate for height variations, or achieve a desired camber in curved tracks. KLP Shims are available in thicknesses of 2mm, 5mm, and 10mm. Type 301 uses insert blocks and offers the solution for bridges with canted conditions, with a total height range of 130 – 240 mm per mm. Using a combination of the various solutions offers a potential stepless height range from 130 – 270mm.

Low-profile solutions
For track owners with shallow ballast beds or the need to lower their track, low profile KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers can be an attractive option. Despite their height of only 130mm, the strength of steel reinforcement combined with the dampening characteristics of polymer delivers the required dynamic stiffness of the sleepers they replace. These sleepers can handle 25 tonne axle loads.

Quality control
The reliable function of hybrid sleepers is very dependent on consistent quality of the raw materials used, together with reliable manufacturing processes and effective quality control. KLP are made from recycled polymers. If the raw material used in the manufacture is not properly controlled, recycled polymers can vary hugely in consistency and performance. Effective processes are required to prevent the risk of inconsistent quality of raw materials. The principles of ISO standards 9001 (Quality), 14001 (Environment) and 45001 (Safety) are embedded in our corporate culture.

Manufacturer Lankhorst sources raw materials from reliable suppliers with proven quality control processes who deliver to Lankhorst’s exacting quality requirements. A sample from each batch of raw materials delivered to the factory is analysed. Properties verified include the melting point, impact, moisture, and density. Prior to producing the sleeper, a laboratory sample is made of the composite polymer. Tests such as stiffness, strength, stretch, and impact are performed on this sample, making sure that the final product will be fit for purpose. Sleepers are checked for weight and dimensions. Verification of materials.

 

Approvals have been obtained in several countries for the sleepers. Extensive testing on various parameters like thermal expansion test, bending and cyclic test, vibration abrasive test, electrical resistance test, lateral resistance test confirmed compliance to requirement. Test results are available on request via info@linkap.com.au.