ONRSR driving a national approach to rail safety

The Australian rail industry will continue to see a more national approach to rail safety regulation, attendees heard at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference.

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) chief executive and National Rail Safety Regulator Sue McCarrey said that since the regulator become truly national at the end of 2019 with Victoria joining the program, the body has been working to align standards across states and territories.

Across ONRSR’s four priorities, track worker safety, contractor management, level crossing safety, and control assurance, efforts are being taken to standardise safety approaches with better outcomes for the rail industry.

“There are huge advantages to being truly national,” said McCarrey.

One area where this is currently occurring is in the development of a guideline for fatigue management. By looking at the issues from the perspective of the impact of fatigue on rail safety risk, ONRSR hopes to enable operators to follow one practice across different states.

McCarrey said that these efforts were recognised in the recent Productivity Commission report which identified that ONRSR was the leading Commonwealth transport regulator in delivering a nationally-harmonised approach.

With the national model now established, McCarrey said that ONRSR would look further into encouraging the uptake of more advanced technology, including in cab video and audio recordings.

The adoption of modern technology to improve track worker safety is another area where McCarrey said that a risk-based approach to safety is allowing for innovation in the industry. With technology now costing much less than it did five to 10 years ago, the obligation for rial organisations to ensure safety so far as reasonably practicable is enabling the adoption of new technology.

McCarrey said that ONRSR would also be looking at where it can further develop its own practices and encourage regulatory reform.

“We should constantly be looking at how we can improve,” said McCarrey.

Looking towards 2025, McCarrey said that with the rapid deployment of new technology, the best fit for regulation may need to adapt.

Cohesive approach to research and development needed to maximise rail investment

A new report will provide the rail industry with recommendations to ensure that research leads to a thriving technology and innovation culture within the rail industry.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has commissioned L.E.K. Consulting to benchmark the industry’s investment in and use of technology.

The report comes as one of the key sponsors of research in the rail industry closes down, the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). The ARA highlights that CRCs, including the previous Rail CRC and Rail Innovation CRCs have driven innovation, and without the Rail Manufacturing CRC there will be a “significant void”.

By sponsoring cross-sector research and collaboration between researchers and industry, CRCs have overcome one of the key deficiencies in Australian research and development (R&D), a lack of collaboration between industry and research. This lack was identified as the lowest in the OECD by the federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda Report.

Another challenge for innovation and technology adoption in the rail industry is the lack of alignment across the sector. The disparate aims of state and federal governments, purchasers, suppliers, and researchers has created a disconnect between planning, action, support, and adoption, the ARA write in their briefing note.

The ARA highlights that a cohesive business case is needed to support investment in rail technology and innovation.

As part of the research project, the L.E.K. report will benchmark investment, development and adoption of technology, outline the benefits, and challenges for the development and adoption of technology, review and identify solutions and make recommendations.

The potential of coherent investment in rail technology and innovation has the potential to improve productivity in the sector, creating jobs and economic growth. In addition, local investment in R&D can increase local capacity and maintain areas of competitive advantage.

The ARA highlights that the current investment pipeline represents an opportunity for investment in R&D, that can maximise efficiency in the delivery of rail infrastructure.

The report follows increasing calls at a federal level to support local suppliers and producers. Industry Minister Karen Andrews noted that there is the potential to support local supply chains.

“This is about embracing the incredible quality of Australian-made products – products that nations around the world associate with being top-notch.”

Shadow Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said that calls for locally produced goods should extend to infrastructure projects.

“Employing Australian workers and using Australian-made materials on Government-funded infrastructure projects creates more jobs all along the supply chain and ensures that Government investment remains in our community, rather than flowing to overseas companies.

“This should include building trains here and working with the States and Territories to smooth out production, lower costs and build skills and capability.”

Celebrating 20 years

Founded in March 2000 by Derel and Sue Wust, 4Tel is a family owned business that has grown exponentially in the past 20 years.

Originally starting out as a telecommunication consultancy, 4Tel has evolved to be a multifunctional software and hardware business, with multiple engagements in Australia and internationally. With over 20 years in the military, Derel has grown his vision into a business that employees over 50 staff.

Throughout the years, Derel, alongside the management team of Tony Crosby, Mark Wood, Graham Hjort, and with the recent addition of Joanne Wust as CEO, has expanded 4Tel into sectors such as heavy rail (above and below rail operators), light rail, ports, ferries, mines, coaches/buses, and government transport agencies. With the expansion into different sectors, 4Tel’s suite of software has expanded immensely.

With the commissioning of 4Trak in 2008, 4Tel’s began a goal of creating software that would reinvent the way companies track and receive live transport information. This software has enhanced productivity for major organisations across Australia and created a market need for a software that the industry now relies on. The network-wide situational awareness provided by 4Trak gives teams the ability to optimise operational decisions faster, with greater accuracy and simplified communication paths to remotely located assets and personnel. Knowing the real-time location of trains, vehicles, and staff in the rail corridor allows operations staff to monitor delays and issues for better management and customer service delivery. Using data collected from 4Trak, the business has continued to create and expand their software suite.

4Tel’s overall goal is to protect people and assets, and this has led to a suite of innovative software solutions. This includes, 4PTW (ETW and eTap), a trackwork safety application that improves the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of track maintenance activities. 4Port, a software application that enables operators to monitor and record large sets of data regarding truck movements and container lifts for stevedoring operations. 4PIDS, which is 4Tel’s implementation of passenger information displays. 4Site, an application that monitors the status of remote field equipment. 4ASW, a positive train control system that uses GPS location-based precision, suited to areas with vital field infrastructure. 4WPS a worksite protection solution using real-time location data of trains, Protection Officers, and track machines to create a virtual geo-worksite boundary to alert workers of approaching trains. 4Trip, a comprehensive train planning software solution for managing the development and release of service timetables, including the planning of work on track activities. 4ABS which utilises a MySQL or SQL database and webpages to display access and billing history data for better management of rail network access over an intranet or the internet. 4ASSETS which is used to manage the static information about devices and their maintenance history for better asset control. 4LRMS is a system that is equipped to manage and streamline key components of a modern metropolitan light rail network.

With John Holland Rail successfully obtaining the CRN tender in 2012, 4Tel have played a substantial role in implementing several control systems to further help maintain the 5,800km of track. Significantly, 4Tel has implemented Electronic Authorities into the CRN, which is the digitisation of the paper- based train order authorities. This simplified the system immensely and automated work so the train driver and controller could focus more on keeping people safe. Moving to safety, 4Tel’s proximity reminder system, that utilises the onboard ICE radio, warns a driver of a train or hi-rails of the approaching authority limit to prevent an out of authority event. This safety has been further tightened with the addition of the application ETW.

While these systems have been implemented, 4Tel have designed, constructed and commissioned the operations centre and technologies, all while providing 24/7 onsite technical support.

The next step for 4Tel will be delving into artificial intelligence. 4Tel’s Horus system is an Advanced Driver Advisory System (ADAS) using real-time sensors and software to assist a driver in the safe operation of a locomotive. Horus proves the functionality to apply software processes to conduct the computationally intensive algorithms for object detection, localisation, awareness, dynamics, and route monitoring. 4Tel’s Horus can be used by above rail operators to assist in safely moving their people and assets across the multiple open networks of Australia.

The system can uniquely incorporate all the train running information (run ID, braking profile, authority limits, speed, location, signal info, etc.), with the day of operational information from the network (speed limits, Conditions Affecting Network, work-on-track activities, etc.). In addition, the Horus machine vision and sensor technology detects abnormal items within the corridor, to alert the driver to an un-safe situation in real-time.

Three major contractors shortlisted for Sydney Metro upgrade

Sydney Metro has shortlisted three companies to supply customer access technology on the Bankstown line.

The shortlisted contractors will install mechanical gap fillers and platform screen doors as part of the Sydney Metro upgrade of the 10 stations between Marrickville and Bankstown.

The three shortlisted companies are Gilgen Door Systems AG, Hyundai Movex Co. Ltd, and Kyosan Electric Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

The next step of the procurement process will be to test the technology put forward by the three companies for Australian conditions.

Once the customer access technology is installed the stations will be fully accessible when metro rail services start in 2024.

All Sydney Metro stations will have platform screen doors which keep people and objects like prams away from the tracks, and also allow trains to get in and out of stations much faster. 

The new platforms will be level with the updated metro trains, not requiring passengers to step-up into the train.

Opal ticketing tech network hits 30 million journeys

Millions of commuters have been using contactless payments when taking trains, trams, buses, and ferries across the Opal network.

Acting Minister for Transport and Roads Paul Toole said a major milestone had been reached with more than 30 million journeys taken using debit or credit cards, or linked devices, since the first trial on the Manly Ferry in 2017.

1.5 million journeys are paid without an Opal card on average in a week.

“Rolling out contactless payments is an Australian-first innovation and is one of the biggest advancements in ticketing technology in generations,” Toole said.

Toole said the NSW Government is providing more innovative payment options for those using the Opal network as people continue to move away from cash, and, more recently, cards.

He said while new payment options were growing in popularity among commuters, there was still demand for pre-loaded Opal cards.

“It’s easier than ever to pay for public transport and through our innovative payment platforms we’re aiming to create more digital products including the digital Opal card which we plan to roll out in a trial phase in 2020,” Toole said.

“This follows the activation of contactless payments on all public transport modes on the Opal network, and introducing the same fare and travel benefits of an Adult Opal card last year. Transport for NSW continues to offer Opal cards.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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