ARTC Launches $90m Advanced Train Management Development

ARTC today announced an investment of $90m to improve capacity, safety and efficiency on the interstate rail network through the development of an Advanced Train Management System (ATMS), commencing with a prototype trial between Adelaide and Port Augusta.

The ATMS will enable the removal of physical ‘on track’ constraints on improving the capacity on the interstate rail network.

The present rail network operates using trackside signals for trains, many of which can be 20 to 50 kms apart. Only one train can be within a signal area at any one time.

The proven ATMS system would replace ‘on track’ signals, managing trains using a sophisticated computer program and a Global Positioning System (GPS). This secures the distance between trains with an added safety margin for braking and protection from trains entering into another train’s space.

The new system is able to verify and cross verify a train’s position, speed and braking distance and being able to check these parameters against any other trains operating on the network.

The system relies on advanced communications equipment which ARTC is rolling out with Telstra from Brisbane to Perth.

ARTC CEO David Marchant said the benefits of this system to the interstate rail network are significant.

“Capacity will be substantially increased by enabling more trains to operate on the existing rail infrastructure. This has the potential to more than double the capacity of the network using existing rail corridors.”

“It will significantly improve safety through being able to cross verify and check the position of trains and enable intervention if trains move closer to each other than is provided for,” he said.

“This intervention can be in the form of the computer network control centre ‘reaching into the cab’ and actually applying the brakes to the train. These safety enhancements are significant in the event that anything goes wrong with the drivers or the train operations.”

The Proof of Concept program is the development of the Advanced Train Management computer programs and communications systems to demonstrate in the Australian environment how the system would work.

This will enable rail safety regulators and train operators to be able to see the system demonstrated in a live environment and to prove its capability in the Australian environment.

ARTC today entered a contract for $74.8m with Lockheed Martin for the company to design, develop, construct and test an ATMS prototype system on 120kms of the interstate rail network between Adelaide and Port Augusta.

Denise Saiki, Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin’s Manassas, VA-based business said, “This state-of-the-art system will safely improve the performance and capacity of ARTC’s rail network and continue Australia’s leadership in advanced railway technologies. We are committed to working with ARTC in providing this innovative train control system.”

In addition to this, ARTC entered into contracts with Lloyd’s Register Rail who will undertake the independent verification of the computer programs and algorithms of the systems to verify their accuracy independent of the development.

“ATMS potentially ushers in a new era for freight transport in Australia. It will provide the ARTC with enhanced visibility into its rail network operations, reduce its life cycle cost of maintaining trackside signalling systems, and increase the ARTC’s capacity to move freight across its network,” Mr Marchant said.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will provide all elements of the ATMS, including components installed in ARTC facilities; locomotive onboard processors; displays to provide warning to train operators and authorities; and automated switching devices alongside tracks to safely route trains along dispatched routes. The ATMS communications capability will be enabled by the ongoing ARTC upgrade carried out by leading Australian telecommunications and information services company, Telstra, using its Next G™ network. This upgrade was started in April 2007.

The prototype system which will be proven in SA will be managed by a project team based in Adelaide. In addition to this Lockheed Martin has subcontracted Ansaldo STS Pty Ltd. of Brisbane, Queensland to provide the dispatch and trackside controls for the ATMS and will leverage more than 100 employees at its Melbourne, Victoria subsidiary in key roles for in-country installation, test and acceptance. The company also anticipates sourcing services and products from Australia’s information technology and railroad supply chains.

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