A commonly-used train safety feature is the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS), first developed by British Rail.
TPWS automatically applies the brakes of any train that has passed a red signal, or that is travelling too fast on the approach to a red signal, speed restriction or buffer stop. It is designed to reduce the consequences of a signal passed at danger by stopping a train that passes through a red signal (within the signal’s safety overlap and before it can come into conflict with any other train).
Vital components of this system are sensors on the tracks, or so-called train stops, which are devices used to trigger the braking system on trains in the event of emergencies.
But while they serve as a benefit, they can also be an obstruction for machines which need to carry out maintenance work on the lines.
After listening to feedback from its rail industry customers, the Ballarat-based Harrybilt Engineering team thought that producing a feature to lift a rail machine clear of train stops when travelling would be a huge benefit and increase productivity.
And the idea is now reality. According to Harrybilt Engineering finance and marketing manager Beth Martino, the company has developed a customised rail system that solves the problem of working around train stops.
“The RGS Hi Ride System is a standard gauge set-up, and uses a friction drive mode to travel over train stops and some train platforms,” she said.
“It is AS7502 compliant, using integrated disk service brakes and fail-safe tread brakes on the rail wheels.
“The system employs direct drive rail guidance for superior stability, boasts pulling and stopping performance with a revised load chart and a compliant twist mechanism for each configuration.”
The travel lift is high enough to clear most train stops for wheeled excavators.
The Hi Ride is already being used by one client, and more are expected in production.
And as Martino says, the development of the system is a testament to Harrybilt’s philosophy of providing highly-specialised and customised solutions to local and national customers. It excels in smart innovative design solutions and technology for rail infrastructure projects.
Everything is built in the Ballarat workshop, with a doubling of floor space required two years ago because business was expanding so rapidly.
Martino said the Hi Ride — like its wide range of rail maintenance attachments — could well be incorporated into the company’s turnkey solution packages, where everything is provided for the client from scratch. This includes buying machinery, installing the rail system, building the rail maintenance attachments, as well as supporting registration for any networks around Australia.
“The turnkey solution is registered for networks around Australia and ensures any machine is rail ready when it leaves the workshop,” she said.
“We can handle the purchase of the machine and installation of the rail system. Importantly, we manage all aspects of the rail machine rather than a customer having to go through different companies. We can manage the whole thing.”
Martino reiterated that it been encouraging to see the market was undaunted by the pandemic.
“We have noticed in the last couple of years, that the market has been expanding for us and our customers have kept coming back,” she said.
“It has been great to see their businesses growing as well.
While customers are mostly based in Australia, Harrybilt also does business in New Zealand and Indonesia.
Secrets to success
Martino said acting on response and comments from clients was a key reason for the company’s success.
“The development of the Hi Ride system is a prime example of us listening to our customers’ feedback,” she said.
“We are happy to work with them to make customised products.”
Another example of this was the Hi Brid Rail System, which allows a wheeled excavator to run on both standard and narrow gauges.
“We seek to keep in touch with the industry and adapt according to its needs,” Martino said.
She said with the surge in rail projects around Australia, the outlook for business growth was positive.
“Lots of our customers are buying not just one machine from us with attachments, they are buying a few,” she said.
“Everyone seems to be getting ready to make sure they have enough product to keep up with the rail maintenance demands all over Australia.”