AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Upgrades for East West corridor, but doubts over ATMS

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Australian Government has made an equity injection of $95m into Australian Rail Track Corporation that will allow for further investment in reliability and capacity upgrades on the Adelaide to Perth rail corridor. </span> <p>By Mark Carter</p><p>Minister for infrastructure and transport, Anthony Albanese, said the investment underpins a new 15 year agreement between Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC) and Brookfield Rail that will provide seamless access on the important East West corridor, along with other improvements between Adelaide and Tarcoola.</p><p>“This investment has been made possible by the Federal Labor Government’s equity injection of $95m into ARTC,” Albanese said. </p><p>“Our investment brings three key benefits – it will create additional capacity for interstate intermodal and express services, improve safety and support resources expansion.”</p><p>As part of the renewal of the its Wholesale Access Agreement for the interstate corridor between Kalgoorlie and Perth with Western Australian track owner Brookfield Rail, ARTC is contributing towards Brookfield current re-railing program between Koolyanobbing and Kalgoorlie. </p><p>The agreement will support the continued delivery of a common access framework and operating conditions for rail traffic on the East West rail corridor.<br />ARTC CEO John Fullerton said, “Not only does the Wholesale Agreement between ARTC and Brookfield Rail deliver on enhanced standards for the rail network, it also provides the basis for the parties to work together to grow interstate freight volumes on the network.”</p><p><strong>Safeworking upgrade creates doubts on ATMS</strong><br />In a surprise move, $35m from the investment package has been earmarked for new train control infrastructure and crossing loops between Coonamia (near Port Pirie) and Tarcoola on the Trans-Australian Railway (TAR). </p><p>Three new mining flows in South Australia are either underway or are soon to commence moving over the ARTC network between Tarcoola, Whyalla and Adelaide and these will place capacity pressures on the single line track.</p><p>Except for a short section near Port Augusta, safeworking between Coonamia and Tarcoola, a distance of about 480km, is managed by Train Order Working which is no longer capable of handling the increasing number of trains without avoiding transit time delays. </p><p>ARTC will roll out Centralised Train Control (CTC) on these sections by the middle of 2013 and plans for two new crossing loops will be finalised over the next 12 months, once the benefits of CTC implementation have been realised.</p><p>The decision to proceed with CTC has raised doubts over the future of ARTC’s Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) which it has been developing in partnership with Lockheed Martin since June 2008, and which was supposed to provide a new generation safeworking alternative for line segments such as this.</p><p>An ARTC spokesperson said that while initially a limited version of ATMS was considered because of the need to have increased capacity on the line in mid-2013, the company has decided that it was prudent to complete the proof of concept and establish a full rollout program for ATMS. </p><p>The proof of concept phase was originally scheduled for completion in October 2011, but according to the spokesperson the proof of concept phase is still ongoing. </p><p>“Introduction of CTC does not limit the introduction of a full ATMS system on the corridor in the future,” the spokesperson said.</p><p>“Development of ATMS is a significant technology project and one that ARTC is very much committed to. ARTC has made a significant investment in ATMS and the program remains a priority for the company.” </p><p>ARTC would not reveal how much had been spent to date on the development of ATMS, but when announced in 2008 the project was valued at $90m with ARTC entering into a contract for $73.2m with Lockheed Martin to design, develop, construct, integrate and test an ATMS prototype. <br />&nbsp</p>