Work underway on level crossing near Parkes

Work is currently underway on improving a level crossing on the Newell Highway near Parkes.

The ARTC is working in collaboration with the NSW government on improvements, which are carried out as part of the NSW Level Crossing Improvement Program.

The works will continue until 6am, Thursday March 12.

4,000 vehicles, including 1,000 heavy vehicles, use the crossing each day at Tichborne, located between Parkes and Forbes.

Old equipment is now being decommissioned as new predictive track circuitry and safety systems are installed and tested. The existing lights will be upgraded to high intensity LED flashing lights and retro-reflective boom gates will be installed.

The improvement of the Tichborne level crossing is one of 1,400 public road level crossings around NSW, which are having their safety improved in the Level Crossing Improvement Program.

The $990,000 upgrade at Tichborne, funded by Transport for NSW, is being delivered by Wabtec on behalf of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

“Level crossings between trains and vehicles are a major road safety risk, and while these safety upgrades are important, it is also essential that motorists take care around all level crossings,” said ARTC general manager asset management Brian Green.

“We are asking motorists to take care and be patient while the works are taking place this week as the new equipment is being installed and tested,” he said.

Although incidents of train colliding with road vehicles at level crossings in NSW have been trending down to date, in 2018-19 there were five collisions between a vehicle and a train. In addition, while incidents have decreased from the previous year, fatalities increased, with three fatalities in 2018-19 after no fatalities in 2017-18.

Green noted that in most cases, errors by motorists have caused incidents.

“The majority of level crossing accidents are due to errors by motorists, so we ask all drivers to take care and don’t take risks at level crossings,” he said.

“Common risky behaviour can include ignoring warning lights and signs, speeding or being distracted by using mobile phones while driving.”

The next level crossing to be worked on will be the Welcome level crossing, also between Parkes and Forbes, work will be carried out later in March.

Rio Tinto AutoHaul trains establish WA as ‘global leader’ for rail technology

Mining major Rio Tinto has joined the Western Australia Government and technology partner Hitachi Rail STS to celebrate the successful rollout of its AutoHaul autonomous freight rail network.

The project, which has been in the making for over 10 years since the launch of Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future initiative in 2008, is formally considered the world’s first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network, and delivering its first iron ore in July 2018. The driverless train system has also been informally referred to by Rio Tinto itself as the “world’s largest robot”.

The 2.4 kilometre-long trains, which are monitored and controlled from Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth, deliver iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert across a 1,700-kilometre network. In total, the trains have now travelled over 4.5 million kilometres collectively since their first deployment last year.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Ivan Vella said that the project had attracted worldwide interest and cemented Western Australia as a heavy-haul rail leader.

“The success of AutoHaul would not have been possible without the expertise, collaboration and dedication of teams within Rio Tinto and our numerous partners,” said Vella.

WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston also congratulated Rio Tinto, Hitachi and other partners on the project (which includes companies such as New York Air Brake and Wabtec) for their dedication to delivering AutoHaul.

“AutoHaul has brought the rail freight industry in this country into the 21st century and is rightfully the subject of global interest,” Johnston said. “I’d also like to mention that the development of the world’s biggest robot is such a success because of the contribution from Western Australia’s skilled engineers and innovative workers.”