Sydney Metro to open on Sunday

Australia’s first driverless passenger rail service is just days away from opening, with a free day planned and thousands of visitors expected to ride the Sydney Metro Northwest on May 26.

Sydney’s new rail line will begin revenue service just after 11am on Sunday. Gates will be open for free travel all the way through until the last trains, which will leave Chatswood at 10.05pm and Tallawong at 9.35pm.

The opening will mean the debut of 13 new and upgraded platforms across 36 kilometres of metro railway, and a fleet of 22 new six-car, fully automated metro trains.

The Alstom Metraopolis trainsets include three double-doors per car on each side for improved passenger flows, large windows and ambient LED lighting. The manufacturer says they have been designed with the highest levels of customer safety in mind, with constant CCTV monitoring, emergency intercoms and the latest wayfinding aids for customer information and real-time travel information.

The trains are directed through Alstom’s Urbalis 400 Computer Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling system, adapted for the specific needs of the Sydney Metro project.

The technology was all delivered by Alstom under the project’s $3.7 billion OTS contract. Separately, Alstom will also maintain the system for 15 years, using predictive maintenance tools to monitor the network’s catenary, track and trains, while also detecting rail faults and monitoring points machines along the network.

As the Northwest portion of Sydney Metro opens between the northwest suburbs and Chatswood, construction for the Sydney Metro program’s next stage is well underway.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest will continue the new line on through northern Sydney, under the Sydney Harbour, through the CBD and beyond to Bankstown, in the southwest.

Achieving track maintenance efficiencies through better resource management

Maintenance is a necessary evil for any network operator. By harnessing modern intelligent software to optimise the time management of people and machines, major performance improvements can be made. Rail Express speaks with software provider DELMIA Quintiq about the latest it has to offer.


For every network owner and operator, important decisions must be made around exactly when and how sections of the network are possessed as part of a maintenance regime. Pros and cons are weighed, crucial decisions must be made, and then the work is followed through, hopefully without any costly errors or delays.

DELMIA Quintiq aims to ease the strain on track owners, and solve planning puzzles like this through a single powerful software platform. The global software provider, part of the European-headquartered Dassault Systèmes, has proven capabilities in complex below rail and rail infrastructure projects all over the world.

“Rail operators have long depended on whiteboards, Excel sheets, or simple gantt charts for their planning of their resources,” DELMIA Quintiq’s Cameron Collie says. “Yet planning track maintenance is a highly complex process that puts an enormous strain on planners, reducing the time they have to complete value-added tasks.”

Collie says DELMIA Quintiq aims to provide planners an integrated and adaptive planning solution to create an integrated railway maintenance program. The Dassault Systèmes planning platform removes the burden of complexity from planners by providing true decision support. The software planning engine takes into account the myriad of constraints and rules when creating a plan; such as rules of the route, matching employee availability and skills with machine capabilities to complete the maintenance work, and evaluating competing time slots. This ensures alignment and visibility to all stakeholders in a single, integrated view across all time horizons, thereby providing cross team collaboration, minimising the risk of overruns and removing the possibility of unsafe practices or paper mistakes.

The solution makes optimal use of the allotted time windows by scheduling activities within the windows, and ensures time is tightly managed, including – if safe conditions exist – suggesting possibilities for opportunistic maintenance work. The platform is designed to allow an operator to see all scenarios and decision consequences in real time, and take action proactively.

Ultimately, these factors combine to create major cost savings for an operator when it comes to network maintenance, and subsequent efficiency and performance improvements across the network.

Collie told Rail Express about some of the operational benefits of the type of integrated system the DELMIA Quintiq solution provides.

“We recently went live with one of Australia’s largest heavy haul operators to manage major maintenance events, as well as short-term plans for their maintenance crews,” Collie explains. “By empowering the maintenance team with visibility of operating objectives, they are able to optimally align work orders to outages, ensuring more up time with greater throughput.

“In addition to the traditional benefits of greater utilisation and efficiency of their teams to execute more work orders, the maintenance division now directly contributes to greater network access, which is a huge collaborative and commercial win to the business.”

The DELMIA Quintiq offering is a unique rail planning software, in addition to maintenance planning, the platform is used by local operators such as KiwiRail, Aurizon, Sydney Trains and Queensland Rail to manage their complex crew, fleet and dynamic timetable services.

Boosting efficiency for the Channel Tunnel

Overseas, the DELMIA Quintiq solution is being engaged to improve maintenance efficiency on one of the world’s most famous railway tunnels. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and with up to 400 trains running each day – equating to a departure through the tunnel roughly once every three minutes – the Channel Tunnel is considered the most heavily used railway tunnel in the world.

Connecting the United Kingdom with continental Europe, the tunnel is used to move passengers, freight, trucks and cars. But just like every other railway, the operation must halt for regular maintenance work.

Unsurprisingly, alignment and allocation of this work program is exceptionally complex and requires meticulous planning. Operator Eurotunnel maintains track, signalling, catenary, and fire extinguishing equipment along the 50-kilometre tunnel, along with all the equipment in the 250 technical rooms between the French and English terminals at either end.

More than 200 technicians are engaged during maintenance shutdowns, working between 60 and 70 sites. 15 work train modules are engaged during maintenance. The key objective of the Eurotunnel maintenance team is to complete all the on-corridor activities safely in the minimum time, to enable maximum network access for operations.

“One of the ways we’ll achieve greater availability of the tunnel for commercial services would be reducing from two nights of maintenance a week, down to one night of maintenance per week,” Eurotunnel’s Director of Public Affairs John Keefe said. “What we’re looking for from the Quintiq tool is the planning capacity to enable us to concentrate our maintenance activities into just one night, and give us that extra capacity.

“Finding the time to do the maintenance necessary to keep the service running at that frequency of departure is essential, and the Quintiq software is going to help us with the fine detail of the planning, and enable us to do a lot more, more efficiently, in the future.”

Find out more here.


Sydney Trains brings carriage occupancy indicators to stations

Commuters at certain Sydney rail stations will now be able to see how crowded trains are in advance thanks to the introduction of occupancy indicator screens.

The indicator screens will indicate carriages with seats, standing room only carriages and completely full carriages using a colour-coding system. Red indicates that a carriage is full, amber indicates standing room only and green means that seats are still available.

The data is determined by weight sensors on the carriages that can indicate how many commuters are in each carriage and where spaces are still available. The technology is now brand new, but it is the first time the data has been made available at stations. Commuters previously had to access the data through the Transport for NSW Trip Planner (which launched in May last year), or other travel apps such as TripView, TripGo and Transport for NSW’s Opal app.

“The carriage capacity indicator has been available on real-time apps for more than a year and it has proven to be a great way for customers to quickly find out where seats are available on a train,” said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

The station displays are currently usable at stops with Waratah trains, including the T1 North Shore and Western Lines. The system is one of several implementations being made at certain stations in preparation for the launch of Sydney Metro’s North West line on May 26.

The 36km North West line, which started construction in 2011, will run across 13 stations from Tallawong to Chatswood.

“When Metro opens in a week people are going to have to adjust to a whole new way of getting around Sydney, including transferring onto the existing rail network at Chatswood to get into the city,” Constance said.

“These capacity indicators will help passengers know where to go on the platform to get onto the train quickly and easily.”


Real time tracking pushed to SEQ commuters

The addition of more than 2,000 datapoints is now allowing for enhanced live tracking of trains for Queensland Rail’s passenger information smartphone app.

Queensland Rail on Monday April 8 turned on real-time information for train services across the South East, with data fed through to the MyTransLink app for commuters.

The improved tracking information is provided by 2,670 track check points across the network, up from the previous 447.

“Previously, the data feeding to the app was only able to provide a train’s location if it was at a platform or at a mid-point between stations,” QR executive general manager for customer service and innovation Natalie Roach said.

The addition of extra data points allows for a smoother transition as a train progresses through its journey.

“We know quality, timely travel information is incredibly important for customers, particular if it means they can spend a few more minutes at home with the family or finishing up that last work email of the day.”

Roach said the operator is committed to actively listening to customer feedback, holding more than 100 commuter feedback events since April 2017.

“Earlier this week, we announced 32 extra weekly services and 14,000 seats would be added to the SEQ network from 13 May, in direct response to customer feedback,” she said.

“This adds to the extra 46,000 weekly seats added to network through the upgrade of 193 three-carriage trains to six-carriages in December, thanks to the ongoing rollout of the New Generation Rollingstock fleet, of which 51 new trains are now in-service.”

Queensland Rail is planning further timetable improvements in 2019, thanks to its traincrew recruitment campaign, the largest in the organisation’s history.

Major contracts announced for Cross River Rail

A trio of consortia have been selected to deliver the major contracts for the Queensland Government’s $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.

The state on Thursday announced preferred bidders for contracts to deliver the tunnel and stations, the rail systems, and the European Train Control System (ETCS) for the new $10.2-kilometre rail line.

The Tunnel, Stations and Development (TSD) contract, a PPP, has been awarded to the PULSE consortium: CIMIC Group companies Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors and UGL, alongside DIF, BAM and Ghella.

The Rail, Integration and Systems (RIS) contract will be delivered by the UNITY Alliance: CPB Contractors, UGL, AECOM and Jacobs, with partners HASSEL, RCS Australia, Acmena, Martinus Rail and Wired Overhead Solutions.

The ETCS will be delivered by Hitachi Rail STS.

Work is expected to begin under the major contracts in late 2019.

“I congratulate the proponents on advancing to this stage,” deputy premier and state treasurer Jackie Trad said, making sure to thank those bidders who were not successful for their efforts.

“Across the three works packages, there have been hundreds of people working tirelessly behind the scenes to develop the comprehensive bids and I thank them all for their hard work.”

Trad also took the opportunity to criticise the Federal Coalition for not contributing to the project.

“We have fully-funded this $5.4 billion project because we were sick of waiting on the LNP in Canberra to come to the table,” she said. “As one of Australia’s fastest growing regions, we have to build the infrastructure we need now to ensure we keep pace with this growth.”

Despite previously being approved at the federal level, this version of Cross River Rail was not successful when it went before Infrastructure Australia, the national independent advisor. Infrastructure Australia said last year the Cross River Rail plan failed to pass its cost benefit analysis, and cited doubts over the projected passenger growth in the state’s business case.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday said the project was a necessity for the people of South East Queensland.

“This megaproject is a defining moment for Queensland and vital as our population booms,” the premier said. “As well as improving connectivity across the entire southeast, it will create new precincts at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street, Roma Street and Exhibition, helping Brisbane evolve as a world-class city.”

Cross River Rail will deliver a new 10.2-kilometre rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills, including a 5.9-kilometre twin tunnel under the Brisbane River and the CBD.

It is designed to “unlock the bottleneck” at the core of the region’s transport network.

Providing real-time advice to make drivers and networks more efficient

An Australian-developed driver advisory system aims to improve the efficiency and capacity of railways without the need for expensive track or rollingstock upgrades.


The Energymiser system, from Australian firm TTG Transportation Technology, uniquely combines both energy efficient driving advice with schedule optimisation. It has helped operators on five continents reduce energy costs and emissions by up to 15 per cent, and improve on-time arrivals by 10 per cent, and reduces operating risks by enhanced situational awareness.

“Energymiser does three key things, it keeps trains on time, it reduces energy use, and via its real time junction and line scheduling capability, it reduces network delays,” TTG Group Managing Director Dale Coleman tells Rail Express. “The timekeeping aspect is particularly important on congested rail networks, where small delays to trains can propagate throughout the network and cause congestion. Energymiser can replan dynamically to minimise the impact of disruptions.”

The Energymiser Driver Advisory System (DAS) can be retrofitted into any cab or carried as a portable device by a train’s driver. Connected via GPS and the mobile data network, the DAS advises the driver to help run the train precisely to an optimised timetable. The DAS communicates with a central server housing trip logs, timetables, temporary speed restriction information, track data and train characteristics. Web-based reports can then be generated for performance analysis, benchmarking and administrative purposes.

With over 4,000 units deployed on diesel and electric passenger, freight, heavy haul and very high speed trains, Coleman says Energymiser has become a world leading solution for rail operators, used on trains travelling up to 320km/h, and on trains up to 2.5 kilometres long, weighing up to 22,000 tonnes.

“Energymiser has been deployed or has been trialled around the world on many types of railways, including bulk railways in Mauritania and Queensland, freight railways in New Zealand and the UK, and passenger railways across the UK, Ireland, France and Spain, and in trials in China, India and Europe,” he says.

A civil engineer by trade, Coleman has over 48 years’ experience in the rail, engineering and mining sectors. Over the last 35 years he has worked in technical and management roles across the rail sector, specialising in both project management and consulting and in the development of railway operational planning and asset management software.

He says Energymiser was designed to configure precisely to a customer’s requirements. The system can integrate with existing traffic management systems including TMS, ETCS and ATO, as well as on train integration into TCMS. Energymiser is the only DAS product that has been fully integrated into ATO.

In terms of service options, Energymiser’s DAS-Lite system provides realtime advice and punctuality relative to the last timing point, based on limited route data. Then there’s Energymiser DAS, which given detailed route data can provide enhanced real-time advice to further reduce emissions and energy consumption, operation and maintenance costs, while improving on-time running, rail capacity and safety. Finally, the Connected DAS, or C-DAS, can receive real-time timetable updates from Traffic Management Systems to respond to incidents on network, improving recovery time and reducing congestion.

“Our recent focus has been on using C-DAS to smooth the flow of trains on congested rail networks such as the busy passenger networks in the UK,” Coleman says. “Random delays to trains can sometimes result in interference between trains, particularly at junctions. If a train encounters a restrictive signal, delay increases. We are using Energymiser to monitor the progress of trains in real time.

“Central scheduling systems detect when trains will interfere with each other and calculate small adjustments to the individual train schedules to resolve any conflicts. The adjusted schedules are sent back to the trains, and the on-board Energymiser units calculate updated driving profiles and advise the driver how to drive to the new plan.”

Meanwhile in Spain, Energymiser is integrated into the train control systems on high speed passenger trains to provide efficient automatic train operation between stops. And in France, Coleman says TTG is investigating how small changes to the schedules of many trains can reduce the peak electricity demand of the rail networks, and are working very closely with SNCF on the next generation of digital train operation optimisation.

“The future is focused on automation, digitalisation and energy-efficiency, to provide real-time coordination of trains on busy networks, to reduce costs and improve efficiency, and we are proud of the role our products are playing,” Coleman concludes.


Bombardier CBTC to ease congestion in Melbourne

Rail Express spoke with Bombardier Transportation’s Head of Rail Control Systems for Asia Pacific, Gregory Enjalbert, about the cutting-edge signalling technology the company is providing for the biggest public transport project in Victorian history.

The principal benefit of the $11 billion Metro Tunnel currently under construction beneath Melbourne’s bustling CBD is to create capacity on the network by removing three lines out of the congested City Loop.

To achieve this, the Metro Tunnel project will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne and Pakenham in the south-east. The project scope includes twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels, five new underground stations and high capacity signalling. To maximise the efficiencies of this new route, an advanced communications-based train control (CBTC) system will be installed on the line and in the new tunnel.

The high-capacity system will enable trains to safely run closer together and enable more than half a million additional passengers a week across Melbourne’s train network to use the rail system during peak periods. In December 2017, the Victorian Government selected a team of Bombardier Transportation, CPB Contractors and Metro Trains Melbourne (current rail operator) to partner in an Alliance with Rail Projects Victoria ¬– forming the Rail Systems Alliance (RSA).

The Alliance will deliver a signalling and rail control solution and system integration for the Metro Tunnel Project, under a $1.1 billion contract. Roughly $310 million of work belongs to Bombardier, primarily to deliver its Bombardier CITYFLO 650 CBTC system.

Rail Express sat down with Bombardier’s Head of Rail Control Solutions for Asia Pacific, Gregory Enjalbert, to discuss how CITYFLO will transform Melbourne’s network into a “turn up and go” rail operation.

“Our globally-proven CITYFLO solution, already in use in cities like Madrid, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, is designed to be installed on new lines, or onto existing services with minimal disruption. The solution covers the full range of operating modes and is designed for moving block, advanced metro operations and automated people movers,” Enjalbert said. “I think the key point for this project is to create a corridor where you will have more reliable and more frequent transportation, that can carry a lot more people.

“Our CITYFLO 650 solution reduces the headway between trains, whilst maintaining safety, meaning trains can run closer together – so operators can increase their capacity.”

The Metro Tunnel Project will be Melbourne’s first foray into CBTC. It will be Australia’s first brownfield CBTC implementation with a targeted completion in 2025. CBTC is a method of signalling where the position of a train is established by direct communication between the train and track. Traditionally, as a train passes signals on a network, that train is considered to be occupying a fixed stretch of railway at a time, and no other train is allowed to enter that block. CBTC allows for what is known as a ‘moving block’, where the area of track reserved for the train is constantly moving. This facilitates a shorter headway – the minimum allowable, safe distance between two trains moving in the same direction along a railway – and thus allows for increased capacity.

Enjalbert, who is based in Bangkok and spoke with Rail Express on the sidelines of the InnoTrans Conference and Exhibition in Berlin late last year, says the shorter headways facilitated by CITYFLO 650 not only allow for more frequent services, but also for a more efficient maintenance operation.

“By reducing the headway between trains, CITYFLO essentially provides extra time, and therefore gives the operator more flexibility,” Enjalbert explained. “There is more time for maintenance, so operators can increase the availability of their systems.

“One of the bottlenecks in traditional systems is in the timing for maintenance. By having more flexibility, we can give the customer – in this case Metro Trains Melbourne – more opportunity to maintain the trains.”

The system also gives the operator more flexibility in terms of how the trains are to be operated.

“How many trains do you want to have? How fast will they go? How will they accelerate and decelerate? CITYFLO can help our customers manage this safely and accurately,” Enjalbert said.

The contract, much like the other aspects of the Metro Tunnel Project, has also placed an important emphasis on local jobs, including new apprenticeship and training opportunities. There’s also been a major focus on collaboration.

“The interesting thing about the RSA is the term, ‘Alliance’,” Enjalbert said. “It has been a very collaborative approach from the beginning in terms of bringing the key rail players together, everyone putting their best solutions and technologies on the table and allowing Rail Projects Victoria to make an explored and educated decision on who their partners will be to deliver this mega project. This whole process, which has taken a couple of years in totality, has been great in terms of getting to know our partners very well and developing the solution progressively, to a level where the customer was very comfortable with the technology. We could also build up our resources during this time, with regular workshops and other activities.

“We’ve built a larger project team – more than 220 people work across the Alliance, based in our Melbourne office – and we have this interaction of 2½ years to start working from. The Alliance has established good leadership and a strong and diverse pipeline of skilled people, which includes young cadets through our partnerships with local universities.”

Melbourne Metro train. Photo: Creative Commons / Marcus Wong

Android phone payments a reality in Melbourne

Victoria will roll out Android phone payments on the myki contactless ticketing system to the wider network after a series of successful trials.

A select group of 4,000 users were granted the ability to use contactless Android smartphone payment technology on the myki public transport ticketing system in January, after an earlier trial with an even smaller group of testers began in July last year.

Now the state has announced all Android users will be able to use the technology from March 28.

The technology uses Google Pay on the Android operating system, and allows passengers to travel using a full fare, concession, child or senior classification.

The app also facilitates instant topping up of a myki balance, and the ability to see recent travel history.

The existing physical myki card will continue to remain in use across the network. Discussions and assessments are underway to get other smartphone platforms integrated into myki, the government said.

“Mobile myki will make topping up and touching on quicker, and travelling easier,” public transport minister Melissa Horne said.

More quick myki top-ups for Melbourne

40 more Quick Top Up and Enquiry Machines (QTEMs) will be added to Melbourne’s train and tram network this month, bringing the total number to 90.

The QTEM allows passengers to top up their myki – Melbourne’s contactless public transport card – using contactless payments in as little as 15 seconds.

They are the most modern component of the myki network, which also includes 580 myki vending machines, 720 retail outlets and 83 premium stations on the metropolitan train network that also accept cash as payment.

40 QTEMs were also installed across the rail network in 2018.

“The installation of these fast, new machines is part of a wider program of works currently being rolled out to improve the overall travel experience for all Victorian public transport users,” public transport minister Melissa Horne said.

“Passengers can top up in as little as 15 seconds using these machines – reducing that last-minute dash to the platform.”

Smart plastics simplifying railway equipment maintenance

Advancements in railway technology are increasing reliability and enabling more punctual operation of trains with less room for failure. At Innotrans 2018, igus showcased its smart plastics to demonstrate how predictive maintenance enabled by intelligent cables and energy chains can help trains, trams and high-speed suburban rail vehicles operate more punctually.

Thousands of commuters depend on a punctual rail service. Defective trains, therefore, are often a hindrance leading to unhappy customers and economical losses.

“Digitisation can change this,” says Thorsten Mersch, Industry Manager Railway Technology at igus. Playing a major role in the digital transformation occurring in rail transportation, igus has developed intelligent cables and energy chains under the name of ‘smart plastics’, which are monitored in real time and come with a predictable service life.

Trains can be monitored in real time

Trains, trams and high-speed suburban vehicles are subjected to continuous wear and tear. For instance, the door in each of these vehicles is opened and closed hundreds of times every day. In the event a safe edge, which offers protection against people getting injured by closing doors, becomes defective, the door in question is usually immediately disabled. However, this causes longer boarding and alighting times throwing the timetable into disarray.

Transportation companies can resolve this issue by equipping the safe edges with CF.Q modules from the igus isense range available from Treotham. The modules monitor the condition of the cables and send the status data to the control centre of the operating company by means of the igus mobile Communication Module (icom). In the control centre, employees use dashboards to monitor the condition of the safe edges in all trains. The system manages all limits and provides an alert about the imminent failure of a safe edge. Thanks to this advance information, operators can plan preventive replacement centrally and carry it out during scheduled stops.

The principle of predictive maintenance also applies to other components such as energy chains and linear units that are used as part of a train’s interior equipment. Railway technology companies using smart plastics have a precise basis to plan their maintenance and servicing. Parts are only repaired or replaced when really necessary – and this happens well ahead of the occurrence of any failure or delay.

A reliable planning basis for maintenance

“The expectations of train manufacturers and operators when it comes to digitisation are just as high as those of industry,” says Thorsten Mersch.

At Innotrans 2018, Siemens Mobility presented, among other things, the new possibilities of high-performance plastics from igus, which enable intelligent monitoring, analysis and prediction of failures. The planned collaboration is based on the Siemens ‘Railigent’ application suite, which offers a wide range of digital services in the area of predictive maintenance, for example.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website or call 1300 65 75 64.