Signalling Project Boosts Rail Efficiency

The abolition of a century old railway signalling system over a short section of the interstate main line railway track in the Melbourne suburbs has improved the efficiency of the interstate rail network and cut journey times for interstate freight and passenger rail services. It highlights the continuing progress being made in lifting the performance of the interstate rail network and in providing a one-stop shop for access to the network for rail operators.

The antiquated ‘electric staff’ system, which dates back to the steam era, was previously used to control trains over a seven (7) kilometre section of track between Tottenham and Newport. Interstate rail services on the Melbourne to Adelaide corridor traversing this section have had to run the gauntlet of this outdated system, adding up to half an hour to their schedules.

This ‘electric staff’ staff system has recently been replaced with conventional Centralised Train Control (CTC) signalling as part of a $3 million, Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) funded project to revamp railway safeworking systems over the interstate main line in Victoria. The project is part of ARTC’s mandate to establish a one-stop shop for rail operators over the interstate network between Brisbane and Perth.

The ARTC funded program has allowed for the consolidation of all Victorian safeworking and train control systems related to the interstate standard gauge mainline, to one location under ARTC control. With the completion of this project, all train movements over the ARTC’s 4431 kilometre network between Albury and Kalgoorlie (including the lines to Broken Hill and Alice Springs) are controlled from the ARTC Train Control Centre.

The consolidation of all ARTC safeworking functions at one location allows total integration of corridor management over the ARTC network leading to improvements in safety performance, network productivity and reduced costs for safeworking provision. The integration of corridor train management enables train transit managers to achieve greater reliability for the departure and arrival times of trains and provide flexibility in assessing and resolving unforeseen occurrences across the ARTC network.

The completion of this project reflects the Corporation’s strategy of signalling and telecommunications efficiency and will assist in moves towards nationwide uniformity of safeworking systems, eliminating duplication and variance between the previously state-managed jurisdictions.

ARTC Managing Director David Marchant said, “The completion of this project will further our aim of greater standardisation and harmonisation of railway safeworking systems in Australia. At the same time it allows us to increase the capacity and reliability of the interstate rail network under our control and reduce transit times for interstate freight.”

“With fully integrated corridor management, interstate and regional train operators will benefit from greater operational efficiencies and improved safety performance across the ARTC network. Effectively they now have a one-stop shop for both commercial and operational access to over four thousand kilometres of the interstate rail network.”

As part of the $3 million project a number of smaller projects were carried out over a twelve-month period to consolidate the Victorian safeworking and train control functions within the existing ARTC network. These included:

  • The progressive integration of all train control functions.
  • Integration of signal box functions to a central control point.
  • The transfer of various West Tower safeworking functions to the Train Control Centre.
  • The abolition of Electric Staff working between Newport and Brooklyn with CTC. The project has been achieved on time and under budget.

Australian Rail Track Corporation assumed responsibility for the interstate standard gauge track in Victoria in July 1998. Funding provided by ARTC and the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments on the Melbourne to Adelaide corridor has already improved reliability and reduced transit times. A $16 million ARTC and Commonwealth funded track upgrading project is currently in progress to improve the performance of the Melbourne and Albury standard gauge rail line. During the last year, temporary speed restrictions over ARTC’s Victorian jurisdiction have averaged below 1%, well below the 2% target recommended by the Australian Transport Council of Ministers for the interstate rail network across Australia. Maximum allowable speeds and axle loads are also being progressively raised across the Victorian interstate network.

As a result of these measures and other infrastructure upgrades over the last 12 months, transit times for freight and passenger rail services between Melbourne and Adelaide have been greatly reduced, by over two hours in some instances. All rail services on this important corridor have benefited from significant improvements in overall transit time reliability.

For Further Information Contact: David Marchant on 0419 733 201

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