The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has announced a multi-million dollar, ten-year deal with Telstra, for the ASX-listed telecoms business to provide ongoing telecommunications to the national rail freight network.
Announced on Tuesday, August 25, the deal comprises the security of supply, maintenance and enhancement to the Telstra-powered National Train Communications System (NTCS).
ARTC boss John Fullerton said securing the NTCS was essential to ensuring future rail freight success, with a solid digital platform in place to exploit for safety, efficiency and capacity benefits.
“NTCS will provide a platform for many of the new and exciting innovations being developed by ARTC,” Fullerton said.
“Using the Telstra NextG network, applications such as safe travelling distance technology (proximity alerting), real-time locomotive tracking, sophisticated track and wayside monitoring technology, situational awareness system and the next generation of train management – the Advanced Train Management System – all become possible.”
Fullerton said the deal demonstrated the strong relationship between the two businesses.
The ARTC manages 8500km of the national rail freight network.
The ARTC switched off its old, analogue telecommunications network in December 2014, moving to a single, nationwide, digital platform, which includes freight trains operating on other rail networks that aren’t managed by ARTC – a factor the company says makes it easier for different operators to do business across the country.
The move to the NextG network is the first time a rail access provider has moved from a private to a public telecommunications network for railway operations in Australia, the ARTC says.
70 base stations have been built specifically for the ARTC to make up the NTCS communications infrastructure.
Telstra Global Enterprise and Services chief customer officer Martijn Blanken said the company was helping the ARTC develop the rail industry.
“Together, with the ARTC’s vision for rail innovation and Telstra’s agile communications network, we have co-created a mobile and cloud-based solution that will help move the national freight sector forward,” Blanken said.
“The communication network is built on our world class Telstra NextG network and supported by our satellite offering, so ARTC has the peace of mind that we can provide redundancy for any black spots along the rail corridor.
“We have also transitioned ARTC into a private cloud environment, built on VCE Vblock, which will significantly reduce the resources it needs to host the applications the NTCS runs on,” he added.