Digitalisation key to future of rail

As Transport for NSW (TfNSW) begins work on its new digital systems facility in Chullora, delegates at the Train Control Management Systems conference heard how the installation of digital systems can lead to a rail system fit for the future.

The conference, held on February 20 was opened with a presentation from Joern Schlichting, head of the ETCS programme at Deutsche Bahn, who described how through digitalisation, Germany was building a “fundamentally new rail system”.

In implementing the ETCS programme, Deutsche Bahn will respond to two major challenges the industry is facing, and which are shared by operators in Australia. These are the need to enable the rail network to carry larger volumes of people on existing tracks and overcome the issue of high numbers of staff reaching retirement age. Rather than an end outcome, said Schlichting, “ETCS is a tool in order to think about completely new redesign of the railway system”.

As part of the ETCS migration strategy in Germany, a wholescale digitalisation of the rail network will be undertaken. These include digital interlockings and railway vehicles, and will ultimately provide a platform for the future integration of other technologies, such as automatic operations, and the ability for trains to recognise obstacles and the environment on their own.

“ETCS is not a technology, it is a language,” said Schlichting.

While these technological changes will allow for more frequent and efficient services, the migration to digital platforms is also thought to attract a new generation of rail workers, as many involved in train control reach retirement age.

These are concerns shared by the Australian rail industry, as it adopts ETCS. In NSW, TfNSW is upgrading its infrastructure to ETCS level 2 as part of its Digital Systems project. In Queensland, ETCS will be integrated into the Cross River Rail project.

The future of train control systems: Reliability, throughput and passenger experience

IQPC Australia is proud to present the 9th annual Train Control Management Systems Summit (TCMS) held in Sydney from February 19 to 21 at the Novotel Sydney Central. Over the years TCMS, Australia’s largest and longest running train control event, has emerged as the annual meeting place for leaders in the rail industry.

Developed in collaboration with the TCMS 2020 Advisory Board, comprising Transport for NSW, the ARTC, Aurizon, as well as global leader Deutsche Bahn, In 2020 TCMS is back with an agenda that has been carefully curated to deliver professionals and organisations comprehensive insights into how to increase throughput, optimise network operations, and deliver superior passenger experiences.

With populations in our urban hubs rapidly growing, pressures are mounting on transport operators to meet current and future capacity needs. As such many Australian states have announced billions in transport infrastructure investment.

While populations are growing, simultaneously customer expectations are changing. Today customers demand flexibility, real-time travel information, omni-channel ticketing options, and transparency from their rail operators. Train Control Systems, while not being strictly ‘customer facing,’ are moving beyond their traditional functions and have an important role to play in the delivery of these superior experiences.

Speaking ahead of the summit Nikolai Prince, director of rail service planning at Transport for NSW said; “Certainly the biggest challenge we’re facing across NSW has been the unprecedented population growth over the last three to four years. To combat the challenge we’re working to develop a detailed understanding of how customers move around the rail network by leveraging data and harnessing this to inform decision making.”

Nikolai is one of over 16 train control, network optimisation, and digital rail experts speaking at this year’s event, which also brings together CEOs, executive directors and heads of ETCS from the likes of Sydney Trains, Pacific National, The ARTC, Public Transport WA, and Rio Tinto.

To learn more about the event, be sure to grab a copy of the event guide for more info.