Signalling & Communications

ARTC and Lockheed Martin drive progress

A partnership between ARTC and Lockheed Martin Australia delivers “next generation” rail freight technology

A custom-engineered technology for Australian rail freight network conditions is aimed at delivering safety, operational and commercial benefits for above and below rail operators.

That is the view of Australian Rail Track Corporation chief executive and managing director Mark Campbell and Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Joe North.

The Advanced Train Management System is a communications-based train control system that tracks trains using GPS and mobile telecommunication technologies.

It is now operational and the primary system operating trains safely between Port Augusta and Whyalla in a remote corner of South Australia.

“Initial computer software design and trackside procurement work is already funded and underway for the second stage of the project’s rollout,” Campbell said.

“The world-famous Trans Australian Railway between Tarcoola and Kalgoorlie, and then Port Augusta to Tarcoola will see more comprehensive project works in 2021 as part of ATMS’s next phase of deployment.

“We have been working closely with the rail safety regulator on this project, to update the existing, basic safety systems that are in place on the line. ATMS will make the Tarcoola to Kalgoorlie line safer and more reliable,” he said.

ATMS digitally connects drivers in the cab to ARTC’s network control centre via smart system boxes in the train cab, satellite feed and telecommunications.

ATMS provides a simple train control and network operating system, that is easier and more efficient for operators and train control.

A simple system, so that operators can focus on the task at hand.

The ATMS project team has worked closely with rail companies on its operation, and the design and use of the driver interface in the locomotive cab.

“The ATMS is a strategic project to provide significantly upgraded capabilities to both ARTC and the rail industry of Australia,” North said.

“Lockheed Martin Australia has been proud to be the technology partner to ARTC and the Australian Government in developing this system and a range of innovations that no other train control system can offer currently,” he said.

“ATMS equipped trains have the ability to travel closer together with enhanced safety and do not have to be restricted to long sections of separation between trains defined by where traditional signal posts and track circuitry are based.

“This means train passing and crossings will happen more effectively and efficiently – safety is increased through authority and speed limit enforcement.”

ATMS operated final phase commissioning trials on the Port Augusta – Whyalla line from December 2019, which provided familiarity to the system for the rail operator (Pacific National) and Interstate operations, and an excellent training platform for network controllers and rail traffic crews. These were formally completed in August 2020 allowing the system to enter into live operations.

More than 90 drivers have been trained in ATMS at Pacific National’s Port Augusta depot, as well as network controllers at ARTC’s Network Control Centre in Adelaide.

“ATMS brings a range of safety, productivity, capacity and situational awareness benefits to rail operations. The most exciting is its automatic safety intervention capability,” Campbell said.

North said the system would also allow for the ‘fleeting’ of multiple trains across the same section of track travelling in the same direction, saving having to add expensive infrastructure on the ground.

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