Making the call: tm stagetec’s centralised audio control system for Sydney Trains

In a world first, tm stagetec systems have implemented a centralised, real time audio control system that spans the entire NSW rail network.

At dawn on April 25, 2020, the Last Post played out at every train station in NSW. While regular Anzac Day services were called off due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on public gatherings, essential staff working for Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW paused to remember those who had died

in war as the Last Post played across the stations’ public address systems.

This was the first time that the bugle call was played at the same time across the Transport for NSW network and was made possible thanks to a centralised audio system that tm stagetec systems has recently installed for Sydney Trains.

In addition to the Last Post, 100,000 announcements are played every day across the system, which is orchestrated from the Rail Operations Centre (ROC) in Alexandria, which was opened in 2019. As Mark Lownds, general manager of tm stagetec systems explained, the centralised operations centre also brought together audio announcements that are played out around the network.

“As part of the project, Sydney Trains wanted to centralise a lot of the operation of the system and a big part of that was to put all of the controls of the audio systems into the operations centre.”

From the ROC in Alexandria, operational staff can make announcements to individual platforms anywhere in the system, as well as state-wide announcements. This is in addition to scheduling regular announcements.

Previously, just as rail operations were controlled from a number of separate centres, so were audio messages. tm stagetec systems had been involved in these legacy systems, so they were able to adapt to the new version.

“We’ve had part of this infrastructure in place for five years,” said Lownds. “Before the ROC, Sydney Trains had all these separate facilities, so we had little bits of systems here and there with different teams, but the difference here was to centralise it all and by doing that we use a lot less infrastructure but also get a higher availability. From a technical perspective that was quite good because it means a lot less physical equipment to get a better outcome.”

Planning for the ROC began in 2016, when the $296 million facility was first announced.

The complexity of the system was such that design choices were made down to the individual desks that rail operators would work at. Rail management, infrastructure control, security, and signalling were all brought together, meaning that effective communication between the centre and the entire Sydney network was key. To enable this to happen, tm stagetec systems were brought in early to effectively design the audio infrastructure highlighted Clive Dong, solutions architect.

“Even when they were doing the architectural and building design, we had the opportunity to talk about how we would integrate the systems and how we could ensure that it was going to work and meet all the requirements that Sydney Trains had,” said Dong.

Sydney Trains and tm stagetec systems held discussions over where to run fibre cables, making sure that there are redundant connections back into the rest of the system from the ROC, power back-ups, even down to locations for physical racks and equipment space. These early discussions meant that by the time the facility opened, Sydney Trains was able to streamline audio announcements to improve passenger communication.

“The ROC has separate power, separate fibre connections directly back to their core system at Central. Everything is fully redundant, and then they run dedicated fibre to each of their operational desks,” said Dong.

In addition to being able to schedule safety and generic announcements, such as no smoking announcements, Sydney Trains has recently used the system to communicate to customers the COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines as the transport operator has rolled out its “no dot, no spot” campaign.

“On top of that is the real time announcements for the train services, and then they can do special announcements for things like track work and when necessary they can do live announcements,” said Lownds. “If there’s something happening, and they want to make a live announcement to the station, they can do that centrally from the ROC as well.”

As part of the overall audio package, tm stagetec systems installed a small recording booth within the ROC so that the quality of announcements is maintained.

The ROC also has some role in directing train movements outside of Sydney Trains.

In this case, audio announcements needed to be heard beyond the Sydney metropolitan network. This presented a challenge as there were no dedicated fibre connections between the ROC and regional stations. tm stagetec systems enabled operators at the ROC to make announcements over the telephone line as well to service remote locations.

“We can play an announcement to the entire state at any station and any time, live,” said Dong.

Audio for the entire NSW network is controlled in real time from the ROC.

To control the system, tm stagetec systems used a web-based, graphical user interface (GUI) to make the system easy to use and flexible. Audio is distributed between the ROC and speakers on the Dante Domain Manager platform, an audio-over-IP platform developed by Australian digital audio networking technology leader, Audinate. According to Lownds, the system tm stagetec has installed is the largest Dante network in the world, larger than public address systems to hospitals, campuses, and stadiums. The system avoids the need for lengthy reams of analogue cables and is designed to be secure.

“We had to ensure that this was a very robust network because audio announcements to an entire network is something you don’t want somebody to get a hold of that shouldn’t,” said Lownds. “So, just in the ROC, we have two separate, discrete fibre runs to make sure that if there’s a problem with roadworks and a fibre gets cut then we can still get the system running. All the backend equipment is duplicated and fully redundant, so if there is a failure, the system will actually keep working, without interruption.”

In addition, the system is able to be monitored down to the speaker, in real time, to know if there are any faults.

The sophistication of the system also enables Sydney Trains to do more with their audio-based information. Working with tm stagetec systems, Sydney Trains is rolling out integration of the audio-over-IP network with audio frequency induction loops (AFILS). This means that the audio played out over the loudspeakers at a station is transformed into an electromagnetic field, which can be picked up by a hearing aid or listening device. Other areas that are being explored include mobile-based functionality so that staff on the ground have access to the audio network.

Across the entire network, the technology would only be useful if the sound that is being transmitted can be understood, and a key requirement of the project is meeting strict sound intelligibility standards measured as a speech transmission index (STI) from 0 to 1, with 1 being excellent intelligibility. Sydney Trains mandated a reading of 0.75, or excellent, without a train on the platform and 0.6 with a train. Now, the team has achieved that, with a delay of only five milliseconds between the announcement being made at the ROC and the audio being heard across the entire Transport for NSW network.

While Anzac Day commemorations may be held differently in 2021, the clarity of sound across the Sydney Trains network will be exactly the same.

apprentices

Apprentices sought to build and maintain major rail works

More apprentices are being sought than ever are being offered by Sydney Trains, as the organisation looks to fill 90 positions.

The apprenticeships cover seven disciplines, including telecommunications, signal fitting, signal electrical, substations, rail traction, plant mechanic, and high voltage cables.

Once the apprentices finish their training, they will receive a nationally recognised trade qualification.

Sydney Trains acting chief executive Suzanne Holden said that there was a great diversity of work to be done on the network.

“The Sydney Trains network is the largest passenger rail network in the country and there’s plenty of work to do. Apprentices will learn the skills so they can help maintain infrastructure like our overhead wires, escalators, bridges and tunnels, signalling system and the fleet.”

Sydney Trains currently employs over 200 apprentices, and 60 joined earlier in 2020. Apprentices come from all backgrounds and are at various stages of their career.

“We are proud to offer an industry leading apprenticeship program, with women accounting for almost a quarter of our total apprentices,” said Holden.

NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the program offered a way to start a promising career.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for thousands of people across NSW. This apprenticeship program is an opportunity for people who may have been affected to take up an apprenticeship and develop life-long skills in the rail industry,” he said.

“Sydney Trains maintains a huge network covering more than 1,500 kilometres and a variety of skills are required to keep the network moving. I really want to encourage anyone interested in learning and developing their trade skills to apply.”

In Queensland, on the Cross River Rail project, a new qualification has been developed for those apprentices that are working on the program.

Cross River Rail has partnered with TAFE Queensland to introduce a Certificate III Rail Infrastructure traineeship qualification. Delivered by TAFE Queensland, the qualification is hoped to benefit the entire rail industry by creating a supply of well trained and qualified workers.

Already, 150 apprentices have worked on the rail project, and as the largest infrastructure project in Queensland the project will provide training opportunities for 450 trainees and apprentices over the lifetime of the project.

The rail industry has identified a lack of skilled workers as a key impediment to the delivery of major infrastructure projects, with the current skills shortfall a major component of the National Rail Action Plan. Skills shortages in construction, particularly high voltage electrical work, train signalling are identified, as well as roles in operational and manufacturing contexts.

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.

Women

Women in Industry Awards announces finalists for 2020

The finalists for the Women in Industry awards have been announced.

The annual award, co-presented by Rail Express, highlights the contributions made by women to industries including transportation, logistics, manufacturing, mining, construction, and waste management.

This year saw the highest number of nominations, beating the 2019 record by 27 per cent. The growth of the awards was not only represented in the nominations themselves, but the number of individual businesses and organisations submitting nominees across varied industrial sectors.

The awards span multiple categories, including social leader of the year, rising star of the year, sponsored by Atlas Copco, business development success of the year, industry advocacy award, safety advocacy award, sponsored by BOC, mentor of the year, and individual excellence awards across the fields of transport, engineering, sponsored by BAE Systems Australia, mining, and manufacturing.

The most nominated category was the Rising Star Award, which received a record number of nominations this year.

Rail organisations represented in the awards include Transport for NSW, which included finalists Neolani Reardon (Safety Advocacy Award), and Camilla Drover (Excellence in Transport).

Sonja Malcolm, senior manager – capability & development from Sydney Metro was nominated for the Industry Advocacy Award, while Nadine Yousef, associate director at Sydney Trains received a nomination for the Safety Advocacy Award.

Lidija Dumbaloska, professional head of electrical engineering at Sydney Trains, received a nomination for Excellence in Engineering.

Judging will now begin before the winners are announced online in late August.

A full list of nominees are below.

Social Leader of the Year
Finalists
Alanna Vial – BlueScope
Althea Papinczak – Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC)
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Gemma Murphy – QBE Insurance
Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia
Jane Tiller – Monash University
Sarah McSwiney – Boeing Aerostructures Australia

Rising Star of the Year
Proudly sponsored by Atlas Copco
Finalists
Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)
Helen Vu – BOC
Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA
Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia
Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia
Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac
Nima Sherpa – BHP
Rose Lindner – MMG
Vera Milutinovic – Inenco

Business Development Success of the Year
Finalists
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems

Industry Advocacy Award
Finalists
Elizabeth Molyneux – AGL Energy
Hayley Jarick – Supply Chain Sustainability School
Jacquelene Brotherton – Transport Women Australia Limited
Jodie Sainsbury – Kickass Women
Joy Marrocco – AGL
Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council
Shay Chalmers – Strategic Engineering
Sonja Malcolm – Sydney Metro

Safety Advocacy Award
Proudly sponsored by BOC Ltd
Finalists
Annastasia Denigan – Cement Australia
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Maddy Holloway – CITIC Pacific Mining
Nadine Yousef – Sydney Trains
Natalia Trewin – WesTrac Pty Ltd
Noelani Reardon – Transport for NSW
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd
Tracey MacDonald – BAE Systems Australia

Mentor of the Year
Finalists
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks

Excellence in Manufacturing
Finalists
Josie Costanzo – Brickworks Building Products
Marina Melik – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Rebecca Parnell – Artisan Food Company Pty Ltd
Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems
Samantha McDonald – Bluescope

Excellence in Mining
Finalists
Carlie Hayward – BHP
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Jacqueline Madsen – Caterpillar
Kim Parascos – iVolve Industrial Technology
Rose Lindner – MMG
Sarah Withell – BHP
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd

Excellence in Engineering
Proudly sponsored by BAE Systems Australia
Finalists
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Jane MacMaster – Engineers Australia
Jo Withford – Department of Transport
Lesley DeGaris – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Lidija Dumbaloska – Sydney Trains
Mandy Petrides – Bosch Australia

Excellence in Transport
Finalists
Agnes Lesson – Elgas
Camilla Drover – Transport for NSW
Danelle Kempton – Dananni Haulage
Jane Gillespie – Arup
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited

Waratah

First of next set of Waratah trains arrive

The first delivery of the second order of Waratah Series 2 trains have arrived at the Port of Newcastle.

The trains are the first of 17 new Waratah Series 2 trains to expand the Sydney Trains fleet. The increase in trains is part of the More Trains, More Services program.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the need to have more trains was due to rising patronage.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen a rapid growth in the number customers travelling on the rail network which is why it is important we invest in new infrastructure, including new trains,” he said.

Once the full fleet is operational on the Sydney network it will take the number of Waratah Series 2 trains to 41. The extra order was announced in February 2019.

Once the trains arrived at the dock, they were able to be placed immediately on rail lines adjacent to the ship. The rest of the 15 trains will be handled in this way over the next eight months, said Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody.

“Newcastle has a key advantage in being able to unload this type of rolling stock cargo directly onto rail lines immediately next to the ship, without the need for any unnecessary truck movements.”

A Newcastle Stevedores spokesperson said that the team enjoys the challenge of this style of cargo.

“We are delighted to facilitate the discharge and initial consolidation of the second stage of the project. The unique nature of West Basin, with direct under hook access to network connected rail, lends itself perfectly to rolling stock imports.”

The trains will undergo testing and completion works in Cardiff and will then be hauled by locomotive to the Auburn Maintenance Centre. Testing there will ready the trains for the Sydney network.

“Most of the testing will take place at night and across the weekend to minimise the impact on customers,” said Constance.

The trains are manufactured in a joint venture between Chinese manufacturer CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles and Downer Rail. The vehicles are assembled in Changchun before testing and commissioning is conducted in Cardiff, near Newcastle.

Capacity increase on NSW transport network from July 1

NSW has moved to increase the capacity on its public transport network.

In May, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) rolled out a “no dot, no spot” campaign to indicate where it would be safe for commuters to sit or stand while travelling on public transport. This led to cuts to capacity, with 32 people permitted in a train carriage.

From July 1 more dots will be added to trains, light rail vehicles, and metro carriages and capacity will increase to about half of full capacity, said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The health advice has now allowed us to increase capacity on the public transport network from 1 July.”

The NSW government is continuing to advise passengers to travel outside of peak periods or avoid public transport where possible, however Berejiklian said that the increase in capacity would be of particular benefit to those who work in the Sydney CBD.

Berejiklian said that the response of TfNSW has been “world class” due to the combination of technology and behavioural tactics.

“I don’t know anywhere else in the world that has those indicators for customers but also the apps and the on demand services that let people know what is happening on their service in real time,” said Berejiklian.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that with the new configuration would allow 68 people on a Waratah train, 40 on a light rail vehicle, and 65 on a metro carriage.

Patronage has risen from 580,000 people to 870,000 in the past month, and with the configuration from July 1 there will be capacity for up to 1.3 million passengers.

Capacity will also increase on the regional network, with regional NSW TrainLink services now able to take up to 34 people per carriage.

Constance said that people should walk or cycle for short trips and that marshals would continue to direct people on trains and platforms. Trains are being cleaned three or four times per day.

Constance also thanked commuters for their kindness and understanding while the COVID-safe measures have been in place.

GS1

Project i-TRACE: Have you departed Station 5?

2020 is the year to get moving on the digitalisation of rail asset management and implementing GS1 global data standards under the auspices of Project i-TRACE.

Project i-TRACE encompasses a range of digitalisation initiatives including the standardised identification and marking of parts, components and assets in the Australian rail industry.

Rail and network operators, suppliers, manufacturers and contractors should now all be on board to ensure international best practice in supply chain management; the first phase of which is the joint initiative of the ARA and GS1 Australia, involving 11 steps, identified as stations in a visual representation of phase 1 of the Project i-TRACE journey.

“By now, everyone should have departed Station 5, otherwise they are behind schedule,” said Bonnie Ryan, director of freight, logistics and industrial sectors at GS1 Australia.

Towards achieving a national approach, at a minimum suppliers should have attended a workshop, established a business case, obtained executive sponsorship, joined GS1 and received their unique global company prefix to enable GS1 identifiers to be assigned to materials.

Station 6 encourages the attendance of a Project i-TRACE training session while Station 7 involves the actual assignment of compliant identification numbers to products/materials/assets, adding these to internal systems and informing customers of same so they can also add to their systems facilitating the beginning of data alignment between suppliers and their customers. Support is provided for Project iTRACE training through GS1.

Many suppliers have already arrived at Station 8, which is where additional data elements can be added, such as serial numbers and production dates that can be embedded in data carriers such as barcodes.

Having assigned GS1 codes and associated data elements to materials, the next step is to physically mark and/or tag objects so that they can be electronically scanned. Choosing a data capture technology is an important and crucial element (Station 9) and vital to enabling data to be captured at the point of use, whether in a depot or out on the network.

GS1’s Ryan said that Project i-TRACE provides a critical foundation for the industry to digitalise common operational processes.

“In a couple of years, i-TRACE will no longer be a project but will be a normal part of business.

“Knowing that we are all working towards end-to-end traceability as a common goal is rewarding. The benefits are many and include improved maintenance and repair operations, reducing costs by automating operational procedures and improving traceability,” Ryan said.

Early adopters achieve success
One of Australia’s largest rail networks, Sydney Trains, has been very active driving improvements in their business.

The suburban passenger rail organisation is on track to having all the parts in its Rail Equipment Centre marked with an i-TRACE compliant label. It has also been actively involved in the Project i-TRACE Material Master Data work group, focussing on the efficient exchange of Material Master Data across the rail sector; a process which is currently very manual or non-existent.

Thermit Australia, a supplier of aluminothermic welding and glued insulated joints, began the journey of implementing GS1 standards in 2018. It worked with Victoria’s regional rail network, V/Line, to help standardise the identification (codification) and barcode labelling of stock to help fast track the management of inventory at V/Line’s main warehouse in Lara and the company’s additional 33 inventory depots across Victoria.

For assistance on Project i-TRACE contact GS1 on: itrace@gs1au.org

Extra services added to cope with COVID-19 demand

Transport for NSW has added an extra 3,300 weekly bus and train services around the network to allow for passengers to travel safely as patronage returns to the network.

The services include an extra 250 train services on the Sydney Trains network and 3,100 buses across Sydney.

Already, some bus routes have reached their reduced capacity during peak periods, leading to commuters having to wait for the next bus. Capacity has been limited to ensure physical distancing can be maintained on the transport network.

The services began on June 1, in response to the increase in peak hour travel since restrictions were eased over the past fornight.

The extra trains and buses are in addition to 800 wekly bus and light rail services that were added during May.

According to Transport for NSW, the increase in services will provide 59,000 extra spaces on trains and 37,000 extra spaces and buses each week.

The NSW government is continuing to advise commuters to use alternative travel arrangements, such as driving, walking, or cycling, or work from home, where possible.

In Victoria, passenger groups are asking for more services outside of the peak periods.

Public Transport Users Association spokesperson Daniel Bowen said that unless frequency outside of the peak was increased, the benefits of staggering work times wouldn’t be realised on the transport network.

“It makes sense to encourage staggered working hours, with people travelling at different times – but this won’t help if public transport frequency and capacity is not boosted to enable it.”

Bowen said that in comparison to Sydney and Perth, Melbourne’s off peak capacity of trains every 20 minutes severely limits the network’s capacity outside of peak periods, particularly with the current limits in place.

“The public transport network is key to Melbourne’s economic recovery from this crisis. But it must be run in a way that ensures passengers and staff are as safe as possible.”

Fundamentally, capacity must be managed, and the key to this is encouraging staggered travel, which is only possible by providing sufficient services throughout the day,” said Bowen.

team

New team to track occupancy and facilitate social distancing on Sydney Trains

Sydney Trains has a new team who will be monitoring CCTV and passenger data to reduce crowding on the network.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance announced the new team, which will encourage physical distancing on the transport network.

“This dedicated team of 80 people will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Sydney Trains network. Every day teams will monitor 11,000 CCTV cameras and utilise new real time app technology to monitor patronage numbers and help facilitate physical distancing across the rail network,” he said.

Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples said that the new team is in addition to preventative measures on platforms and in carriages.

“Last week we launched the ‘No Dot, No Spot’ campaign to help customers physically distance and there has been an extra 132,000 hours of cleaning since March, with regular deep cleans and hand sanitiser units being rolled at 163 staffed stations,” said Staples.

The NSW government has been encouraging commuters to stay off public transport unless they must use it, and has announced pop-up carparks and cycle lanes to facilitate alternative travel arrangements.

Although patronage levels remain low, there have been some increases as restrictions begin to lift. Trains are limited to carrying 32 per cent of their regular capacity.

Sydney Trains chief customer officer Suzanne Holden said that the new team would trial innovative approaches based on data collected around the network.

“I could not be more proud to lead a team of people who have spent long hours innovating and finding solutions to transport problems we have never experienced in our lifetimes. New features we have created for loading data technology and this new pilot program is setting the standard for the rest of the country.”

Full schedule of services resume on Main Western Line

Services on the Main Western line have returned to full capacity after work crews completed repairs to line the line following bushfires and flooding.

Over 150,000 man hours have been put in since the Gospers Mountain Bushfires hit the railway in December. Flooding following heavy rains in February also washed away sections of track.

Some freight services and diesel-powered passenger services had resumed in mid-January, however due to the damage to signalling equipment and overhead powerlines, regular Intercity commuter services were cancelled.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said that the repairs had covered great lengths to get services back up and running.

“We know just what a vital transport link this line is for both passenger and freight services – and our crews have put in a superhuman effort to repair the devastation caused by the summer bushfires and flash flooding soon after,” said Toole.

“More than 200 employees worked to replace more than 50 kilometres of fibre optic cables and 37km of high voltage power lines damaged in the fires.”

Other equipment that had to be replaced included 75 power poles, a signal control hut, a substation, thousands of small pieces of safe working systems. The high-voltage power supply also had to be rebuilt and 540 trees removed from the corridor.

“It’s been a huge task but it’s great to know services on the Blue Mountains Line are now back on track – and ready to support essential travel for those returning to work and school and from June 1, those looking to enjoy a break in the bush,” said Toole. 

Acting chief executive of Sydney Trains Stewart Mills acknowledge the hard work of those who contributed to getting services back up and running.

“I’d like to thank every person who has worked so hard to rebuild, test and commission infrastructure critical to the safe operation of passenger and freight trains between Mount Victoria and Lithgow.”