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pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Phay - Driver Video Assist System (DAVS) Migration Due to Digital Dividend

Yang-Lit Phay BEng(EE), GradIEAust, MIEEE

Signals Engineer, Public Transport Authority of Western Australia

Changes in regulations by the Australian Government in the use of RF spectrum will impact upon the Driver Video Assist System (DAVS) that is used on Perth's metropolitan train network. DAVS provides drivers live video footage of the platform that allows them to decide whether it is safe to close the train doors and depart from the platform.

Current DAVS uses analog television technology as its transmission method. A project has been initiated to investigate and implement an alternate transmission technology. A number of technologies have been identified including infrared (IR) and Wi-Fi are discussed here along with the trials that have been conducted thus far.

Size 329.35 KB
pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Heibel - Quantum Leaps in Train Protection and Control

Frank Heibel PhD MSc (Hon) CPEng MIEAust FIRSE

Doc Frank Pty Ltd

The signalling systems of the metropolitan rail networks in the major Australian cities face their most prominent technology upgrade for decades, the introduction of modern Automatic Train Control (ATC). Key drivers for this introduction are:

  • Increase signalling safety by introducing train protection or replacing existing train protection solutions that have become obsolete and insufficiently reliable;
  • Increase the capacity of railway lines without major infrastructure investment, e.g. for building additional tracks or lengthening station platforms to run longer trains;
  • Reduce cost for operation and maintenance of signalling field equipment by replacing it with in-cab signalling technology; and
  • Enhance efficiency of train operations by substituting the “human error element” with increased levels of automation.
  • For selecting the most suitable technology, railway operators have a fundamental choice between an overlaid ATC system over the existing signalling infrastructure with fixed block signalling, such as the European Train Control System (ETCS), or an independent solution introducing virtual or moving block signalling, such as Communications Based Train Control (CBTC).

This paper outlines some considerations for selection between those two types of ATC systems. Two topics specifically addressed are the implementation risk of those technologies and the much discussed subject of interoperability from a practical application viewpoint. The analysis uses case studies from current ATC introductions in Australia and aims to draw commonalities for providing some strategic guidance to the arguably most influential signalling technology decision for at least 20 years.

Size 753.1 KB
pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Gifford and McPeake - Split Detection and Emergency Power Operation

John Gifford FIRSE

ARTC Hunter Valley

Thomas McPeake AMIRSE


ARTC's Hunter Valley Rail Network in NSW is currently transporting 150MTPA of coal to the Newcastle Ports, with projected increases between 200 - 270MTPA over the next 5 years. The Network sees 1560m long coal trains travelling between 60 and 80kph at 8minute headways. How will ARTC undertake maintenance activities and avoid the loss of train paths and consequential train cancellation at around $1MIL loss to the coal industry per event Points and crossovers in particular are the Achilles heel in terms of reliability and difficulty in obtaining maintenance windows due to combined detection for each point end. Incorrect manual operation of powered points due to failure or to allow the movement of track maintenance machinery is a significant risk for ARTC. There has been a major derailment at Whittingham in March 2010 and many instances of damage to point switch blades due to a train or track maintenance vehicle trailing through the points following manual operation. This paper details the reasons why ARTC needed to investigate, develop and deploy Split Point Detection and Emergency Power Operation for crossovers to improve maintainability and reduce the impact of point failures. It covers the development, risks identified and mitigation measures, the design and the operating procedures for this innovative solution to a difficult operational problem.

Size 677.01 KB
pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Brearley - Innovation in Engineering Education - Update of the Railway Signal and Telecommunications Program Final

Les Brearley BE (Elect) Grad Dip (Bus) Hon FIRSE, RPEQ

Director, L & B RailConsult Pty Ltd

The Signal and Telecommunications Program was developed as a project through the Cooperative Research Centre for Railway Engineering and Technologies (Rail CRC) as a response to the industry need for structured education in railway signal and telecommunications engineering. The program was developed by the Rail CRC with the content provided by IRSE Australasian Section members. The  program took an innovative approach to engineering education with a combination of learning techniques including distance education, workplace activities, problem based learning, team based projects and workplace mentors. The initial offering in 2004 through Central Queensland University (CQUni) was for a Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate in Railway Signalling. Since then the program has been expanded to include a course on Railway Telecommunications, a Masters Degree and recently a course in Professional Competency.

This paper provides a brief background on the Program and what has been achieved to date explaining how innovation was definitely worth the risk. It then provides an update on the recently completed second five year review. It explains the need for an increased partnership approach with industry if the objectives of the program are to be achieved. It also explains the needs for the proposed changes that have come out of the five year review process including the proposed change from a three term student year to a two semester student year. It also explains how technology will be used to further enhance the students' learning experience.

Size 273.41 KB
pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Alvarez and Roman - ETCS L2 and CBTC over LTE – Convergence of the radio layer in advanced Train Control Systems

Mr. Rodrigo Alvarez MEng CEng MIET

Titan ICT Consultants

Mr. Juan Roman MEng

Titan ICT Consultants

A general trend in modern Train Control Systems is the use of increasingly similar hardware platforms to implement different applications. More and more, the on-board equipment needed to deploy a mass transit CBTC system is, if not effectively the same, at least equivalent to the equipment used for ETCS Level 2 rollouts. A similar process is taking place trackside, with Eurobalises being adopted for CBTC and Zone Controllers or Interlockings being revamped into RBCs. It is mostly at the application level where these systems really begin to differ, as if CBTC systems were about to become a series of customised ATO applications on top of what basically is a generic ETCS-like ATP system.

This integration tendency begs a question: what will happen with the radio layer? Today, nearly all ETCS Level 2 systems use GSM-R as their radio carrier technology, with a few anecdotal instances of TETRA usage. At the same time, nearly all CBTC systems use radio networks based on IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi). The main reason for this difference is historical – with GSM-R being developed by European authorities as part of the ERTMS specification, and Wi-Fi being chosen as a "cheap and dirty" unlicensed band solution for railways that are mostly underground.

This paper explores the forces that underpin the trend to move away from those radio layers. It also identifies LTE as a technology that seems to be, according to current market trends and to technical reasons, the obvious successor to GSM-R and the best alternative to replace Wi-Fi in safety critical applications. The paper finally presents some of the integration challenges that train control system engineers will face in the coming years in trying to make the transition from their current radio interfaces to the latest radio carrier technology around, and how enhanced capabilities of the radio layer may open the box for oncoming innovations in Train Control Systems.

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pdf.png 2013 - March - Wullems - How safe is safe enough? A Socio-technical View of Low-cost Level Crossing Safety

Christian Wullems BIT(Hons) PhD MIEEE MACS

Cooperative Research\ Centre for Rail Innovation

George Nikandros BE CPEng FIRSE MIEAust MACS (Snr)

Australian Safety Critical Systems Association

Peter Nelson-Furnell B.Bus(Transport)

Public Transport Victoria

Low-cost level crossings are often criticised as being unsafe. Does a SIL (safety integrity level) rating make the railway crossing any safer? This paper discusses how a supporting argument might be made for low- cost level crossing warning devices with lower levels of safety integrity and issues such as risk tolerability and derivation of tolerable hazard rates for system-level hazards. As part of the design of such systems according to fail-safe principles, the paper considers the assumptions around the pre-defined safe states of existing warning devices and how human factors issues around such states can give rise to additional hazards.

Size 3.74 MB
pdf.png 2013 - March - How - IRSE Presidential Address

Francis How MA (Cantab) CEng FIRSE MIEE

IRSE President

As his term of office as IRSE President nears completion, Francis will reflect on the Centenary Year. He will consider what has been achieved, and offer a personal perspective on what still remains to be done in terms of modernising the Institution and making it fit for the next 100 years. In particular he will briefly explore the need for greater focus on professional development, which has been a recurring theme in discussions with members and Local Sections around the world.

Size 1.95 MB
pdf.png 2013 - March - Frauenfelder - TrackSAFE: Working together to save lives

Naomi Frauenfelder

TrackSAFE Foundation Manager

trackSAFE is a not for profit foundation, established by the Australian rail industry in 2012.

trackSAFE aims to reduce suicide and suicide attempts on our rail network; reduce rail trespass; improve level crossing safety through education and awareness.

It aims to provide world's best practice support for rail industry employees who experience trauma through exposure to one of the above incidents.

Size 1.19 MB
pdf.png 2013 - March - Forbes - Solar Power for Railway Signalling and Communications

Michael Forbes B Tech (Elect) MIRSE MIE(Aust)

Australian Rail Track Corporation

This paper looks at how solar photovoltaic power systems work, design considerations for stand-alone DC systems, application as used by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and other railways, including operation in conjunction with Wind generators, and remote monitoring.

Size 3.61 MB
pdf.png 2013 - March - Baker - Keeping your eyes on the road

Philip Baker MIRSE

Aurecon Australia Pty Ltd

This paper will examine the challenges for signalling designers that follow from the move of signalling and control systems from the trackside to the cab. A case study will be drawn from the Llanbadarn incident where the train driver’s workload was such that he was perhaps distracted by looking at the ERTMS screen rather than out of the window. The signalling designer had not incorporated a level crossing warning into the ERTMS system so the train entered a level crossing where the booms were not down. Lessons learned and discussion about how we can avoid a similar situation.

Size 1.47 MB
pdf.png 2013 - March - Aitken - Communication in Emergency: Success or Failure?


Aitken & Partners

Emergency implies urgency. Not just urgency but abnormality. We have no difficulty dealing with what is normal, routine. However, when an emergency arises our systems are often found wanting.
Communication systems are not just collections of technology but are interactions between people, with technology interposed. The systems are inherently complex and over time they change: through changes in people, in organisations and in technology. The change may be subtle, an unnoticed drift from safe operation. Sometimes the change is only evident when an urgent, abnormal situation arises.

Incidents from around the world form the basis of this paper. In each of these incidents the communication system has failed those who depended on it in a time or emergency. In few of these incidents did the technology require repair: rather, a defect in the complex system of communication was exposed.

Myth and legend are inadequate substitutes for thorough training, system analysis and testing. Too often the consequence has been fatalities. This paper seeks to address some of the causes and suggest solutions.

Size 326.32 KB
pdf.png 2013 - June - Szacsvay - Washington Metro Train Crash

Paul Szacsvay FIRSE

Interfleet Technology

At 4:58 pm on Monday, June 22nd, 2009, in the middle of the afternoon rush hour, approaching Fort Totten station, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail train 112 ran into the rear of train 214 at close to line speed.

The impact caused the rear car of train 214 to telescope into the lead car of train 112, resulting in the death of nine people on board train112, including the train operator (driver). 52 people were transported to local hospitals, and a further 28 people with minor injuries were treated at the site and allowed to home.

Initial investigations by the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) focussed on human error and the possibility that the operator of train 112 may have been using her mobile phone at the time of the crash. As the investigation progressed it became clear that the crash was wholly attributable to the unsafe failure of a track circuit to detect train 214, and that this failure mode was far from being a one-off incident. The accident was largely attributable to failures of the signalling equipment and by the signalling discipline.

This paper describes the history of an unsafe failure mode dating back over 20 years, and the equally long chain of events and actions which not only failed to prevent the accident, but also made it almost inevitable that something like this would eventually happen.

Each individual incident, response and subsequent action or failure to act has parallels in the author's experience, and undoubtedly the reader will be able to relate the issues to their own experience. Far from being impossible in our own rail environment, it is evident that similar events could well have combined in our own working environment to produce equally dire outcomes. It may be only a matter of  good fortune that we are now in a position to draw lessons from others' misfortunes, rather than our own.

Size 913.73 KB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Strike and Crivelli - Using Axle Counters for Block Control The ARTC Experience

Michael Strike Managing Director

Selectrail (Australia) Pty Ltd

Jarrod Crivelli Project Engineer

Selectrail (Australia) Pty Ltd

Utilisation of axle counters over the last two decades has been expanding to encompass many signalling and non-signalling applications. Their uses range from simple triggering devices for wayside equipment such as hot box detectors and weighing systems, to more complex train detection systems for train signalling.

The use of high quality fail safe (SIL4) axle counters for occupancy detection have been widely applied in Australia for short track sections where communications are reliable and visual cues provide an extra level of safety confidence. Life cycle costs can be substantially lower with axle counters when compared to other technologies and with advancements in technology; capital costs can also be reduced.

Longer block sections introduce an extra degree of design and procedural complexity. In the past, it has been difficult to appreciate the benefits of axle counters in these longer sections. The experience of the Australian Rail Track Corporation with small scale applications has allowed development of good operating procedures and the confidence to expand their use to block sections on the Spencer Junction to Tarcoola Line in South Australia.


Size 260.18 KB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Skilton - Cost Effective Signalling - Sweating the Asset in New Zealand

John Skilton BE Hons. (Electrical and Electronic)


Generations of signalling engineers have been subjected to accusations that signalling is too expensive. This paper examines some of the techniques applied in New Zealand to provide cost effective signalling and train control systems. Case studies for the use of common SCADA platforms for train control and the use traffic light based level crossing systems in yard areas are provided. The paper concludes with a brief look at some trends in the signalling arena that may impact on the cost of train control systems in the future.

Size 1.93 MB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Nankervis - Managing Competency of Signalling Telecommunications Engineers and Maintainers

Phillip Nankervis Master of Professional Education and Training – Distance and Open Education

HRD Integrated Services

Rail signalling staff competency is critical to ensure that not only are staff able to perform the role they are employed but also in accordance with legislation, industry standard, licensing and regulation. Both national regulators and AROs today require competency based schemes be implemented to identify current competence to perform rail signalling related work. The national competency framework provides a well-developed system for identifying and managing competency recognising industry skills against AQF levels. These systems are complex to implement and costly to maintain. This paper introduces the current requirements for identifying competency for maintainers; it discusses the engineering levels and the barriers moving forward.

As rail signalling workers progress through their careers employers and regulators will need to collaborate and manage competencies following changes in signalling technologies, legislative and enterprise work practices. Changes in competency requirements will result in complex competency record keeping, administrative labour and the ongoing costs.


Size 131.17 KB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Hunter - Keeping the Cost of Projects Low - Benefits from Using Systems Engineering

Hugh Hunter MSc MBCS MIRSE Senior Consultant

Frazer-Nash Consultancy

We often read press statements slating a range of engineering projects for wasting taxpayer money. These are normally the results of failed or problematic projects which are cancelled, or projects which are having major issues and are suffering from features such as schedule overruns, project budget overruns or late variations to the scope.

These problems are often caused by:

• Ambiguity in the initial scope and requirements; and/or
• Requirements analysis not being performed at the project initiation phase; and/or
• The system requirements not having been agreed and signed off before the work begins; and/or
• Risk analysis having not been fully addressed; and/or
• Verification and validation of the system not being complete.

Systems engineering provides processes that are used to address these project problems.

A systems engineering approach is not often fully embraced in many rail projects. This is in stark contrast to most other engineering domains, which have now been through the discussion of the benefits of systems engineering and have embraced it, enjoying the benefits that it brings to their projects

This paper introduces the topic of systems engineering, addresses its benefits and shows that a systems engineering approach to projects can be used to reduce system development costs.

Size 1.62 MB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Finders - Flinders - A Point of Principle

Richard Flinders MIRSE Product Line Manager

Siemens Rail Automation

Some time ago the Australasian Committee decided that at least one paper a year would be presented to the Technical Meetings which covered basic principles. They were to be presentations that took a basic signalling/telecommunication subject and went through the principles of use and operation. They were to be aimed at younger members and those who had recently joined the profession. However it is to be hoped that maybe they also passed on some new information to older members as well. This paper is part of that series and looks at point operation (also known as switches, layouts and turnouts) and discusses some of the methods of moving points both mechanically and electrically. It also describes the various means of detecting that the points have moved to the required position and that they have been prevented from moving as a train passes over them. By necessity, some Civil Engineer's terms will have to be used in this paper!

Size 3.06 MB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Atchison - Upgrading the TasRail Train Control System

Brenton Atchison BSc (Hons), PhD

Siemens Rail Automation

Dirk Klokman BE, MBA

Siemens Rail Automation

David Baker DipPM

This paper describes a current project to upgrade the TasRail Train Control system. Commencing in October 2012, the project is part of a larger infrastructure renewal program for the TasRail network.

The current TasRail Train Control operations are based on Track Warrant Control using verbal radio communications to grant authorities to trains and track vehicles. The upgraded Train Control System is based on North American Positive Train Control (PTC), and combines a graphical Train Control Centre with electronic communication to onboard computers equipped with display and GPS location. The solution allows for communication and monitoring of electronic track warrants and provides an example of applying current technology to support improved safety and capacity for a Train Control system in a cost-effective fashion.

Size 860.21 KB
pdf.png 2013 - July - Hjort - Reducing Train Control Costs - The NSW Country Regional Network Experience

Graham Hjort BE(Hons), Grad Dip (Rail Sig)

4Tel Pty Ltd

Operation and maintenance of the Country Regional Network (CRN) was transferred to John Holland on 15 January 2012, with train control functions shifting to a newly created CRN control centre at Mayfield.

The centre was fitted out specifically for train operations with all supporting train control technology. 4Tel was contracted to deliver all train control technology, including: train control systems (train order and Rail Vehicle Detection), telemetry systems, voice and train communication systems, supporting systems for operations and maintenance, and data networks for all system and operational connectivity. All design, procurement, installation, configuration, testing and commissioning was done within a 12 month mobilisation period to enable operations to commence on 15 January 2012.

4Tel provides ongoing support for the CRN control centre systems including the provision of a 24/7 technical support desk working directly with the network control staff. All systems have been configured with system health monitoring and logging, in addition to alarm management provided via 4Site.

After 18 months of operation, the benefit of 24/7 onsite maintenance and supporting structure is now being realised. System availability exceeds all targets and industry benchmarks. With callout reductions and improved health monitoring, the costs for support of train control and signalling infrastructure is now being reduced.

Size 569.64 KB
pdf.png 2012- March - Russell & Cilia - The South Morang Rail Extension Project Journey

Jeff Russell

Signalling and Power Installation Manager John Holland Rail

John Cilia

Project Manager CPPM MAIPM AMIRSE UGL Limited

In the past two years, Melbourne has experienced an unprecedented growth in public transport patronage of almost 27%. A rapidly expanding population, increased CBD-based employment and rising petrol costs mean that more people than ever are using Melbourne’s trains.

The Epping and Hurstbridge lines together carry around 60,000 of Melbourne’s rail passengers each day, with significant growth expected to continue.

The South Morang Rail Extension Project will increase network capacity, improve system reliability and introduce extra services to meet the rapidly growing demand for public transport in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The South Morang Rail Extension Project is the first major rail extension to the metropolitan network since the city loop circa 1980. Built on the old rail reserve that runs through to Whittlesea, this multi-discipline project provides the residents of Thomastown, Epping, South Morang and surrounding suburbs with improved and accessible public transport amenities and ultimately safer and more reliable train travel opportunities.

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the project in general, and to provide a more detailed account of the signalling technology adopted and the delivery method implemented.

Size 2.19 MB

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