Industry involvement sought for ETCS and ATMS interoperability solution

Transport for NSW is seeking industry involvement on the design of an integration solution for next generation signalling systems.

With Sydney Trains in the process of rolling out European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 signalling as part of the Digital Systems program on sections of the T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) implementing its Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) across the interstate network, interoperability will be key for the effectiveness of these technologies in enabling more traffic to run through the Sydney network. Read more

Predictive maintenance

Bombardier launches predictive maintenance service for rail signalling

Global rail manufacturer and signalling and rollingstock provider Bombardier has launched a new predictive maintenance service designed for rail signalling infrastructure.

Named EBI Sense, the technology turns asset performance data into insights, enabling decision-making on maintenance to reduce disruptions and increase availability.

Richard Hunter, president, rail control solutions, Bombardier Transportation, said the service would utilises the latest technology, such as wireless sensors, and web-based interfaces.

“The launch of our innovative, cloud-native, predictive maintenance service for signalling is a transformative step towards realising the benefits of digitalisation for railway performance,” said Hunter.

The system is designed for widely distributed rail systems including trackside assets such as point machines and track circuits.

Based off the data collected, algorithms can predict equipment failure and schedule maintenance.

The subscription-based service is designed to be easy to use on a mobile app or web browser.

The system was developed in-house by Bombardier’s Sweden-based rail control solutions services team.

“Developed through a combination of technology and expertise combined with the latest exciting digital enablers, EBI Sense is a true reflection of our commitment to continuously innovate and add value for our customers across their system’s entire lifecycle,” said Hunter.

interlockings

Thales, Alstom selected as part of SNCF signal interlockings innovation program

Proposals from Thales and Alstom have been selected as part of an innovation partnership for next generation signal interlockings organised by French rail network owner SNCF Réseau.

The Argos program was launched in 2018 to develop new computer-controlled signal interlockings and has now announced three groups which will progress to the development phase. Along with Thales and Alstom, Hitachi Rail has also been selected.

The project aims to update old, existing interlocking boxes that are increasingly obsolete and in need of renewal with digital replacements.

The future interlocking boxes will be able to transmit information in real time, reducing failures and maintenance while improving traffic flows. Without the need for immediate relays, the physical footprint of the interlocking boxes will also be reduced, further reducing maintenance and installation costs.

“Our goal is to roll out an efficient, resilient, easily maintainable system that can be installed and tested with minimum impact on traffic,” said Anne-Sophie Naboulet-Larcher, technological strategy and contract award manager at SNCF Réseau.

In the Argos program, each participant will upgrade an existing installation and develop pre-series production interlockings. The first are scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2023.

The Thales proposal is working on the Lyon-Vienne corridor and has worked to reduce installation lead times by 30 per cent through new research and improving change management processes.

“We are proud that the first solution chosen by SNCF Réseau for developing its ‘high-performance network’ is that proposed by the Thales-ENGIE Solutions–Vossloh group for a new generation of computer-controlled interlockings making even greater use of digital technologies. It was 20 years ago that Thales began delivering computerised signalling systems and, over the years, it has built up a strong, trust-based relationship with SNCF Réseau, partnering it in the move towards converting the SNCF network to digital technologies,” said Yves Joannic, vice-president main line signalling, Thales.

The Alstom team has adapted the Smartlock interlocking technology for installation between Paris and Dijon. Reductions in total cost of ownership and deployment time have been part of the proposal.

“With railway systems becoming ever more complex, railway operators need a system that they can count on to guarantee the performance and availability of their system,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, president Alstom in France.

Alstom results

Alstom first to achieve certification for latest ETCS standards

Alstom is now the first company to be fully certified to the latest onboard and trackside European Train Control System (ETCS) standards.

Issued by independent railway certification and testing organisation Belgorail, the new certification allows for Alstom’s technology to be interoperable with Baseline 3 Maintenance Release 2 for the complete railway system.

“We are proud to have yet again set a new standard in rail. We are on track to gradually replacing all the existing incompatible systems throughout Europe and to optimising and boosting the international freight and passenger transport,” said Jean Francois-Beaudoin, SVP Alstom Digital Mobility.

ETCS is widely used throughout Europe for mainline and high-speed systems. In addition, the technology has been adopted internationally, with ETCS being implemented on Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project and on the Sydney Trains network. Other countries such as India, Taiwan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia have also adopted the European standard.

ETCS uses a digital radio-based system of train control, removing the need for trackside signalling equipment. Movement authority is transmitted to the cab of the train via GSM-R or GPRS mobile data technology. Train location is determined by balises and sensors and the onboard computer determines the maximum possible speed based on train location and track data.

The deployment of ETCS is marked by sequential baselines, of which Baseline 3 is the latest. The baselines set standards for the interoperability of physical in-cab and trackside equipment and software. The latest standards incorporate specifications for the use of more advanced radio technology such as GPRS, with GSM-R technology to be phased out in the 2030s.

Alstom supplies ETCS equipment via its Atlas solution, which represents 70 per cent of the world’s onboard rail systems in service and 18,000km of tracks wordwide.

9,000 trains globally have been equipped with the Atlas onboard solution, and 1,100 vehicles will be equipped with the Baseline 3 Release 2 solution.

Alstom is the first manufacturer to apply ETCS Level 3 in Germany, which involves a higher level of communication integrity to move to ‘moving block’ spacing.

Contracts awarded for track and systems works on CRL

Two contracts have been awarded for the delivery of works for Auckland’s City Rail Link.

Known as C5 and C7, the contracts have been awarded to delivery consortium Link Alliance and are within the existing project budget.

C5 primarily involves the connection between the new line from Britomart, via Aotea and Karangahape, to the existing line at Mt Eden. Where the CRL meets the North Auckland Line at Mt Eden, the twin track split into two branches, eastbound and westbound, said Francois Dudouit, project director for the Link Alliance.

“This requires changing the vertical alignment of the NAL tracks and partially the horizontal alignment, meaning replacement of tracks and overhead line equipment (OHLE) on more than 1km of the North Auckland line,” he said.

“It also requires retaining walls to transition from the existing NAL track level to the CRL line – a 3.5 per cent slope. More than 1,000 piles, diaphragm and sheet pile walls will be needed to build these retaining structures and the two cross-over structures to connect to the NAL upmain.”

Road and pedestrian bridges at a number of level crossings will also be built, including at Normanby Road, Fenton Street, and Porters Avenue, to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

The C7 contract covers the Systems Integration, Testing and Commissioning components of the CRL project. These include trackslab, track, overhead line, signalling, control systems, communications systems, control room fit-out and building work, and trackside auxiliaries. Work also includes integrating the new line and systems with the legacy systems on the Auckland rail network.

Dudouit said that work to connect the various components of the project is already occurring.

“Integration of the C5 and C7 teams into the Link Alliance is well underway across multiple workstreams including civils, programme and cost control. Early works such as utility relocations and establishing single-line running are already taking place as part of an integrated programme to deliver the City Rail Link to Aucklanders in 2024.”

As these elements of the project require involvement from various stakeholder from the current network, such as the transport authority, Auckland Transport, close working relationships have been established.

“KiwiRail and Auckland Transport, and their supply partners, are formally engaged for the City Rail Link project through stakeholder partnership agreements. On a day-to-day basis, staff from both Auckland Transport and KiwiRail work in the Link Alliance offices to maximise collaboration opportunities, as part of an established interface and relationship management programme,” said Dudoit.

Realising growth through consistency

Omada Rail Systems have expanded their footprint and their capabilities.

Since establishing the company in 2016, directors Luke Craven, Mark Hadfield, and Christopher Miller have grown Omada Rail Systems into one of the top railway signalling engineering companies in Australia; providing high quality professional management and engineering services from project inception and feasibility, through to the testing, operations, and maintenance phases.

A growing footprint
Since the beginning of 2020, the company has expanded their team’s physical presence into New South Wales and South Australia. Now with more than 30 full time staff, this expansion adds to the existing teams in Queensland and Victoria.

This recent growth has been concentrated in Omada’s testing team. Speaking in an interview on Omada’s expansion, Hadfield said, “Employing experienced engineers in these locations has opened up opportunities for us to work on projects that have previously been too costly to take on. The reduction in costs associated with not having to fly our team interstate to these locations, allows us to provide our clients with a great value for money service.”

The mass of rail projects underway across Australia has created huge demand for testers, however, this resource in the industry is a sparse commodity. Attempting to meet this demand, Omada’s directors made the decision to bring Ian Arnold into the company as Testing Engineering Manager to develop and lead the Omada test team. A highly experienced Tester in Charge (TIC) and well-known in the industry, Arnold quickly got to work in building an effective team of testers.

Julie Pennington, the first person to be employed by Omada in New South Wales, was brought in as an experienced TIC. In South Australia, Matthew Hooper has joined Omada, a tester with more than 17 years of experience in leading teams on large projects. The arrival of these new engineers has added a new dimension to Omada’s services, combining high quality design and management services with onsite testing and commissioning work. Now with multiple TIC’s, principal testers, functional testers and test assistants across Australia, Omada has built a diverse testing team, capable of meeting project requirements with minimal risk.

“The additions we made to our team were carefully selected to ensure we significantly increased our testing and commissioning capabilities. Not only have we expanded into new locations, but we have now positioned our company to be able to deliver full projects, rather than just packages of work,” said Hadfield, “The diverse experience of our staff provides us with the unique ability to solve any potential problem our clients may throw our way.”

Sustainability focus
Omada is fast becoming known in the industry as one of the most reliable and effective engineering options. Hadfield backed this claim by saying, “We have received excellent feedback from a number of our clients on recently completed projects. In particular, Ian Arnold was singled out by a client for being particularly effective, pulling everything together to get a commissioning over the line, safely and on-time.”

To establish a name as one of the industry’s most trustworthy providers, quality and reliability are vital.

“We have built a reputation for quality services and on-time project deliveries, which has been a major factor in allowing us to meet new clients, develop stronger relationships with our existing clients, and form industry partnerships,” said Hadfield.

Utilising their industry contacts, Omada’s directors have formed strong working relationships with rail construction companies around Australia, adding to their growing list of capabilities.

It is clear from the growth that Omada has shown recently, that there is a strong focus from the directors on business development. By increasing capabilities and capacity for work, Omada’s directors also set out to diversify their workforce. In March this year, Omada began a graduate program and welcomed two young graduate engineers into the company. Since then, these graduates have been able to work under mentorship on designs and work on site as test assistants, gaining valuable experience for future projects.

Despite increasing their team’s size and working on a greater number of projects, the quality of service that the team provides has not decreased. Omada’s directors have made this possible by ensuring that new team members are committed to adopting Omada’s values, methodologies and processes, backed up by a highly effective mentorship system.

For more information on Omada Rail Systems’ capabilities and project work head to their website: omadarail.com

infrastructure

Infrastructure spend misses rail projects in Queensland, South Australia

In a pre-budget infrastructure announcement, the federal government has committed funding to rail projects in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, but only provided funding for roads in other states, with Queensland’s only rail project a level crossing removal.

As part of a $7.5 billion spend on infrastructure, new federal funding alongside state contributions has been committed for further regional rail upgrades in Victoria, high capacity signalling in Western Australia, and planning for faster rail between Sydney and Newcastle. The funding announcement covers those projects put forward by state governments and not projects solely funded by the federal government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that local businesses would benefit.

“We will draw on local businesses to stimulate local economies through these projects,” he said.

In Victoria, rail projects received the bulk of the funding allocated to that state, with funding for new projects including stage three of the Shepparton Line upgrade and stage two of the Warrnambool line upgrade. Further planning for the Western Rail Plan, improving passenger rail services from northern Victoria, and a business case for improving connectivity to the Port of Melbourne also scored funding.

In NSW, rail projects to receive funding included $15 million for planning for Sydney to Newcastle Faster Rail. A faster rail business case has already been completed for the line and is being reviewed by the National Faster Rail Agency.

$150 million has been allocated for grade separating road interfaces with Inland Rail, along with a number of intermodal hubs, including at Ettamogah, near Albury, and the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri. Commuter carparks in Sydney also received additional funding.

In Western Australia, federal funding of $102.3 million has been allocated for the High Capacity Signalling element of the Metronet project. Infrastructure Australia has added the project to its Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project, signalling its national significance.

The funding for WA also includes the first investigation into faster rail in the state, with $4m for an investigation of the Perth to Bunbury corridor.

$5m has also been allocated to the Kenwick Intermodal Terminal. WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the funding would grow the amount of work in the state.

“We already have a pipeline of $6.5 billion of major road and rail works underway across Western Australia over the next two years – this will extend the pipeline of work and will continue to help the State economy through and past COVID-19.”

Besides the $50m in funding for the Beams Road overpass, the $1.3bn allocated to Queensland will be spent on roads. No funding will be spent on rail in South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, and the Northern Territory.

Administrator of Queensland-based rail group Rail Back on Track Robert Dow listed 11 rail projects needing funding in the state, including improvements to the Sunshine Coast line, Ipswich rail extensions, and Salisbury to Beaudesert commuter rail.

“This is simply not sustainable,” said Dow. “We need a proper balance between rail and roads.”

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King said that funding must follow through on the announcement.

“It is essential that these latest funding promises are delivered now, not years down the line.”

Vancouver

Thales to deploy CBTC signalling for Vancouver SkyTrain extension

Thales’s Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technology, SelTrac, will be deployed on the Millennium Line extension in Vancouver.

The signalling contract is part of the Vancouver Broadway Subway Project, which extends the SkyTrain Millennium line along the Broadway corridor.

The CA$2.83 billion ($3bn) project takes Vancouver’s iconic, fully automated SkyTrain underground beneath Broadway, as part of the redevelopment of the corridor through central Vancouver. The project is being carried out by the Broadway Subway Constructors General Partnership, a consortium led by Acciona and Ghella.

The project includes six stations and an interchange with the Canada Line at Arbutus Street and bus services to the University of British Columbia.

Dominique Gaiardo, vice president and managing director for Thales’ Urban Rail Signalling business, said the project would improve accessibility along the corridor.

“This exciting project will improve the livability and access across the vital economic and employment hub of the Broadway Corridor. Thales will continue to build local expertise and provide strong support to the city and is proud to contribute to the mass transit capacity expansion in Vancouver with the innovative SelTrac CBTC system.”

Thales and Vancouver have a significant history together, as the city was the first location for the deployment of the SelTrac system. The SelTrac signalling infrastructure supported the world’s first driverless CBTC system on the Vancouver SkyTrain Expo line. Thales has also provided signalling to the Millennium and Canada lines.

Drawing on the expertise developed in these projects and elsewhere, Thales has an urban rail signalling competence centre located in Burnaby, B.C, which will provide specialised rail signalling experts and local experience to the Broadway project.

Fibre optic network in WA rail easements takes next step forward

A project to install fibre optic cables along nearly 5,000km of rail easements has taken a major step forward to construction.

The project, called WA SuperNet is now seeking private sector funding and engagement with Infrastructure WA and Infrastructure Australia to cover the project’s $160 million cost.

Once completed, fibre optic cables will run alongside 4,700km of Arc Infrastructure’s rail track throughout WA’s grain belt.

In addition to providing connectivity for rural businesses and communities, the fibre optic cables will future proof the freight rail network, allowing for communications and the future installation of in-cab signalling, when required. Further developments such as real-time video feeds could also be supported with the fibre optic network.

Fibre optic connections are already in use on the South West main line to support rail communication between Perth and Bunbury.

Arc Infrastructure have supported the project so far with $10m in capital contributions. CEO Murray Cook is a board member of WA SuperNet and said the company was getting behind improving regional connectivity.

“Arc Infrastructure has submitted the WA SuperNet Grainbelt Digital Enhancement Project as part of Infrastructure WA’s Discussion Paper consultation process. We are fully supportive of the focus on regional digital connectivity in IWA’s Discussion Paper and look forward to supporting the development of the 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy,” said Cook.

WA SuperNet will now begin discussions with telecommunication operators to establish partnerships to develop the infrastructure.

WA SuperNet Chairman Tim Shanahan said the installation of the technology would improve the rollout of connected technologies.

“We believe that fibre optic cable is the solution and is a proven technology that will future proof the Grainbelt of Western Australia and WA SuperNet has gathered significant support for this solution,” he said.