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pdf.png 2011 - March - Nikandros - Signalling So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable

George Nikandros BE CPEng RPEQ FIRSE MIEAust MACS

Chairman aSCSa1

In Australia, both the model rail safety legislation and the model workplace health and safety legislation require the reduction of safety hazards and risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Railway signalling evolved both as a profession and as a technology because of accidents and the realisation that safety with respect to the movement of trains over a network needed improvement. But will the signalling systems in use or planned satisfy the "so-far-as-is- reasonably-practicable" test; a test that is determined by a Court with the benefit of hindsight and the influence of public opinion? Demonstrating compliance with rail industry signalling standards may not be a sufficient to demonstrate that the railway operation is safe so far as is reasonably practicable. This paper discusses the SIL concept and what is needed to strengthen the argument for so far as is reasonably practicable.


Size 234.74 KB
pdf.png 2011 - March - Morris - Track Maintenance Impacts of Train Detection Systems or Why Ballast Regulators Have Windows

Adam Morris BE(Hons), Dip PM, MIEAust, MAIPM

Abigroup Contractors

When considering railway signalling, track or structures, it is important to consider that each of these are merely sub-systems of the larger system we call the railway. The configuration of any one system can impact on any other and the often fraught relationship between track and signals is certainly no exception.

The various train detection systems all impact in different ways on the track and in particular track maintenance activities. The need to supply signalling support to track maintenance is often overlooked in considering the whole of life costs of train detection systems.

There can scarcely be a signal engineer or technician without a horror story of the damage wrought by clumsy, unprepared track crews, especially that dreaded combination of ballast tamper and regulator. But is it all their fault? Perway crews know that this equipment is deliberately put in the worst possible location or cunningly camouflaged just to annoy them.

This paper examines the impacts between the various types of train detection systems, including track circuits and axle counters and other ancillary track mounted or near-track equipment on track maintenance practices. It also includes a brief commentary on the case for the need to detect broken rails.

Size 229.28 KB
pdf.png 2011 - March - Moore - Understanding Signalling Overlaps

Trevor Moore B.Eng., MBA Technology Management, FIE (Aust), FIRSE

Australian Rail Track Corporation

signal at danger. This paper details the different types of overlaps, how they are determined and how they can be applied in a signalling design for a specific network. Network characteristics for Urban areas are typically different to those of Interurban areas and country areas often resulting in different application of overlaps.

The overlaps become an important part of the signal locking principles. This ensures the separation of trains in complex situations.

Size 112.91 KB
pdf.png 2011 - March - Cox - A Review of Axle Counter Application; Reset Restore Methods, Their History, Their Current Application and the Future


Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia Pty Ltd

Axle counters have many advantages as a train detection system but in comparison with track circuits they are complex.  Initial use for single sections, typically replacing absolute block or single line working systems proved very successful but as their benefits were realised they have been applied to more and more intensive applications. These intensive applications, which were previously the domain of track circuits, have seen a number of hazards arise that were not previously present with the use of track circuits. These hazards may have always have existed such as the loss of broken rail detection but are exacerbated by removing track circuits or may be specific to the use of axle counters such as reset and restoration. These hazards have been managed in many ways by different railway administrations; this paper will compare a selection of  applications, the technology and principles behind the mitigation of those hazards.

The paper will also consider the evolution of the design of the axle counter from single sections, to multiplesection finally to advanced forms that communicate using open communication networks across huge distances but at the same time are closely integrated with the interlocking and control system to provide enhanced diagnostic and operational information that can be used to improve system reliability and performance.

Size 598.29 KB
pdf.png 2011 - March - Clendon and Skilton - Axle Counters - The New Zealand Experience

James Clendon BE Hons. (Electrical and Electronic)



John Skilton BE Hons. (Electrical and Electronic)



In New Zealand axle counters are now the preferred method of train detection on electrified lines. This paper examines the historical use of axle counters on the New Zealand railway network and looks at some of the reasons why this decision has been made.

Axle counters offer a number of advantages over track circuits including the ability to operate over large distances and under environmental conditions that are not suitable for track circuits. This paper also looks at some of the disadvantages of track circuits and the operational and technical mitigations that overcome these disadvantages.

Additionally this paper investigates some of the interfaces required to ensure that axle counters are able to provide an operationally robust method of train detection. These interfaces include those with vehicles operating on the railway and those with interlocking equipment and control systems.

Size 6.87 MB
pdf.png 2011 - March - Broderick & Lemon - Case Study : Application of CBTC on DLR

Eugene Broderick GradDipRailSig AMIRSE

Laing O’Rourke Australia

Stephen Lemon MSc MIEAust CPEng RPEQ MIRSE

Laing O’Rourke Australia

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London opened in 1987 with an ATP/ATO signalling and control system, with no mainline signals, and technology that included VDU-based train control, SSI interlockings, reed RT-type track circuits, and audio frequencies injected into the running rails and cable loops, to provide 'authority to proceed' and 'speed monitoring' functionality respectively.

As a result of the need to increase the capacity of the railway, both in terms of the geographical area covered and the throughput of trains, a new ATP/ATO system was introduced during the mid 1990s, based around moving-block  Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) technology. The signalling and control functionality of this CBTC system relied upon continuous data communication between the trains and centralised interlocking and control systems via a series of trackside loop cables, supported by an underlying system of axle counters.

The moving-block system was first implemented on a new extension to the railway, and subsequently as a replacement for the existing fixed block system on the entire railway, and it has been subject to a number of major and minor upgrades to the equipment and software since that time.

From the early days of the DLR, there were issues associated with the operation and maintenance of the signalling, control and communications systems, which were predominantly electronic and software-based, at a time when the experience of staff in the UK rail signalling industry was largely based around more prevalent mechanical and electrical systems.

With the transition to a more complex CBTC system, the technical and operational issues were compounded. In particular, the ongoing upgrades to the system required robust processes to manage the impact of changes, with a focus on strict configuration control, systems assurance and approval.

Size 1.75 MB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Zhang & Baulderstone - Rail Car Depot Infrastructure -The Dry Creek Experience

Paul Zhang BE (Elec), GradIEAust

Sinclair Knight Merz

David Baulderstone BE (EEE), GradIEAust

Sinclair Knight Merz

The former Adelaide Rail Car Depot has been relocated from Adelaide to a new site at Dry Creek to make way for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. This new depot not only provides improved train maintenance and train washing capabilities, but also infrastructure and train control systems to support the effective movement and control of suburban rollingstock throughout the depot.

This paper provides an overview of the project, as well as a technical review of the following topics:

Redevelopment of the Signalling System at Dry Creek, including

  • Upgrade of the Gawler Mainline (Dry Creek section) relay interlocking to a computer based interlocking system to accommodate additional signalling infrastructure
  • Interface redesign between Adelaide CTC and Dry Creek Mainline interlocking, ARTC and Dry Creek Mainline interlocking, Mainline interlocking and RCD
  • Define boundaries for CTC and Depot Control
  • Power Distribution Design at Dry Creek RCD
  • Transformer, generator and switchboard architecture
  • Underground conduit and pit network
  • Power monitoring
  • Dry Creek Project Design Challenges
  • Coordinating with multiple contractors
  • Introduction of new signalling equipment on Adelaide Broad Gauge Network, such as Westrace, M23A and 84M point machines
  • Interfacing Design

Size 6.56 MB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Williams - 2016 Train Services, The Transport Foundation of the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide

Mark Williams B.Eng (Civil), MEngSc

South Australian Government

Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure

The South Australian and Australian Governments are jointly investing $2.6 billion into Adelaide's public transport system between 2007/08 and 2018/19.

To meet Adelaide's population and land use targets there has been a fundamental change in South Australia's planning strategy outlined in the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, including significant increases in population density adjacent to train stations.

Although there is much interest in the various technical aspects of the investment, that range in a scale factor of a million from the longest bridge in South Australia at 1.2 kilometres to dipped weld correction of 1.2 millimetres, unless the investments deliver a substantial increase in public transport use in Adelaide, and are a catalyst in the development of higher densities within the Adelaide urban area, the public transport investments will be rightly judged by the community as a failure.

At the core of the train service improvements is the aim of providing a weekday 15 minute 7am to 7pm interval service to most railway stations, with key interchanges having a peak service interval of less than 10 minutes.

This paper describes the process that was followed to develop an affordable, feasible plan for the development of train services that is predicted to result in a substantial increase in public transport patronage.

Size 10.1 MB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Szacsvay - The Elephant and the Flea - Living with Traction Return

Paul Szacsvay BE (Elec) M Admin FIRSE

Rail Corporation NSW

Traction supply and distribution systems, electromagnetic interference from AC traction supply systems, electrolysis from stray DC traction currents, and interference between in-rail traction currents and track circuits have all been well documented in published literature. Traction current return systems and the issues involved with them have not been so well served.

Focussing mainly on practices relevant to Australasian railway systems, this paper gives an overview of the configuration of typical DC and AC traction supply and return systems, the requirements for their safe and reliable operation, and their interaction with track circuits and other infrastructure on and near to the railway.

It concludes with a brief discussion of the potential benefits of adopting train detection systems which are not dependent on electrical contact with the running rails. In addition, since a really detailed study of the issues relating to traction return is beyond the scope of a paper of this length, a reading list of useful reference books and articles is provided for those seeking to explore any of the topics in more depth.

Size 474.3 KB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Sundareswaran - Sulphide Junction - Practical Issues in Rail Regeneration

Kaniyur Sundareswaran M.S., FIRSE, CEng., FIETE, MIEAust, CPEng.,

Aurecon (NovoRail Alliance)

Sulphide Junction Signalling System was successfully commissioned on 27th February 2011.

The system existing at the start of the project was a 28 year old relay interlocking system comprising of a distributed interlocking architecture performing the core interlocking functions within the Relay Room. The higher aspects and train stop controls are managed locally within the distributed locations.

Remote controlled from Broadmeadow using SCADA 2000 links, the system has an Emergency Local Control Panel installed in the Traffic Room of the Relay Room building.

As part of providing improved access to the EDI Downer workshop (Waratah Trains assembly and testing), a heart transplant of the relay interlocking to Microlok in the relay room was planned, mainly to overcome the restrictions placed by "no more than 2 day possession" rules. The external distributed interlocking was left as is, with minimal modifications to accommodate additions/changes, to keep costs down.

The aerial photograph below shows the Sulphide Junction Rail Corridor and the access to EDI Downer workshops.

Size 730.63 KB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Ross - Rail regeneration - what are the risks?

Alan Ross MSc, BSc, Grad Dip OSH, CMIOSH

Principal, A & K Ross Associates Pty Ltd (AKRA)

Rail regeneration in Australia is gaining some much-needed momentum, at long last. There are improvement schemes and upgrades all over the country, from the mining railways of WA to Regional Rail Link in Victoria, not forgetting the Adelaide Electrification Project.

Many of these projects have in common that they are undertaken in a live rail environment alongside an operating railway. It is not possible to shut down operating railways for extended (or even short) periods. It is also not uncommon for signalling systems to be shut down at certain times in projects to facilitate installation and commissioning of new equipment. The railway runs with a degraded mode of safe working, whilst trains continue to operate 'normally'. Such situations also arise in unplanned situations. Finally, the question of protecting track workers: have systems for protection kept up with other railway developments?

The risks associated with such a scenario are obvious and have resulted in a number of serious incidents. This paper will describe some of the incidents, highlight some of the lessons learned and consider ways in which the introduced risks can be eliminated or significantly mitigated. With the statutory obligation on rail operators to eliminate risks or, where that is not reasonably practicable, to reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable, what is the role of the Regulator and are they up to the task?

Size 5.91 MB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Allan - The Application of Distributed Architectures on Vital Interlocking Systems

Dwayne Allan B Eng (Hons), PGradCert (Railway Signalling), AMIRSE, MIEAust, CPEng

Siemens Ltd.

Distributed control systems have their heritage in manufacturing, process or other forms of dynamic systems in which the control of sub-systems is distributed throughout the system but controlled by one or more programmable logic controllers (PLC's) in a central location. This philosophy is often applied in process environments with equivalent SIL requirements to railway signalling systems.

This paper will outline the use of distributed architectures in a railway signalling context, in particular the system flexibility and resultant changes in system design and requisite cost implications for railway authorities when used as vital interlocking systems. Sample system layouts using traditional and distributed architectures will be reviewed as well as the benefits and limitations of the each system application.

The advancements in PLC technology its application in safety-critical systems will be reviewed. The open data communications functionality and the streamlined programming techniques used as part of industrial automation applications will be outlined. How these advancements and techniques are used in a railway signalling interlocking application will also be discussed. In particular, the use of function blocks and function calls to create a library of signalling principles will be addressed.

An overview of the significant benefits of applying industrial automation philosophies to railway signaling projects will be provided. The impact of these benefits on the Total cost of Ownership of distributed architecture systems using industrial automation technology will also be discussed.

Size 5.03 MB
pdf.png 2011 - July - Burrows & Stringer - Folding Signal Posts - Myth or Practical Solution

Stephen Burrows CEng MICE

Adelaide Rail Leader, Aurecon

Peter Stringer FIRSE

Signalling Accreditation Manager, Aurecon

Since time immemorial, signalling systems have made use of stiff, upright, highly robust and immovable signal posts for good practical engineering reasons. They should be able to withstand environmental conditions like rain, wind and snow without excessive deflection and still remain upright to support that vital signal arm or head with the associated aspect.

Back in the good old days, signal engineers didn't even bother with the mechanical or civil engineer to help with the signal post or foundation design! More recently, the mechanical and civil engineers have got involved and we now have good foundations and strong posts that satisfy the various railways' specifications.

Times have also changed with regards to Operational Health and Safety (OH&S). Legislation hasn't always been so onerous and signalling personnel were routinely permitted to work two metres above the ground without a safety harness. It was nothing to expect a maintainer to climb a 12.5m tall lattice post to maintain or repair a piece of mechanical equipment such as pulleys or cranks or replace a light bulb which had expired.

So in today's safety conscious environment and with the widespread introduction of 25kV overhead line equipment above the track, is it really desirable to have maintenance staff working at heights and in close proximity to lethal electrified equipment? Somewhat surprisingly, the answer to this question is "yes" and the vast majority of new signals continue to be installed on conventional straight posts.

Several alternative solutions are available which allow all maintenance activities to be undertaken at ground level using folding, hinged or sliding posts. These solutions also provide significant safety benefits yet the signalling industry is slow to embrace them. Is there genuine justification for this reluctance to change or is the signalling industry simply intolerant to change?

Size 7.04 MB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - Nick Thompson - Implemenation of a metro signalling system

Size 3.96 MB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - McCarthy - Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel Project : Preferred Station Locations

Adele McCarthy Deputy Project Leader, Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel Project

Victorian Department of Transport

The Victorian Government has a plan to move Melbourne's rail system from a suburban commuter network to a modern metro system. As the benefits of short-term actions on the rail network – such as new trains, new timetables, new stabling, improved maintenance and line extensions to South Morang and Sunbury – begin to take effect, planning work has begun on the first stage of the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel project.

Size 3.09 MB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - McCarthy - Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel Project : Preferred Station Locations

Adele McCarthy Deputy Project Leader, Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel Project

Victorian Department of Transport

The Victorian Government has a plan to move Melbourne's rail system from a suburban commuter network to a modern metro system. As the benefits of short-term actions on the rail network – such as new trains, new timetables, new stabling, improved maintenance and line extensions to South Morang and Sunbury – begin to take effect, planning work has begun on the first stage of the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel project.

Size 3.09 MB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - Lawrie - Next Generation Signalling Capacity

Michael Lawrie MIRSE, GradDip Signalling, Bach Elec/Elect, Bach Bus

Department of Transport Victoria

Next Generation Signalling is a generic term that is being used in Victoria to describe a new signalling system. It is used is to enable deliberation about the concepts and principles, not about the technology or the supplier systems. It has been adopted to remove any ambiguity that arises when industry specific terms are used.

Capacity is a key driver for a deployment of a Next Generation Signalling system. The existing signalling system imposes constraints on the capacity that can be delivered by the infrastructure. The Next Generation Signalling system seeks to address these constraints and enable a higher capacity railway whilst maintaining the high level of safety that the railway enjoys.

This paper describes the constraints the existing signalling system imposes on the capacity of the railway and explores how the Next Generation Signalling principles can address these constraints and enable operations at a higher capacity than that traditionally available.

Whilst the existing signalling system has served the railway well for almost a hundred years, Next Generation Signalling will offer Victoria significant benefits to capacity and bring Victorian signalling into the modern world.

Size 231.96 KB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - Grady - Signalling Maintenance and Operations Experiences in a Fully Automated Modern Medtro System

Norm Grady Comp IRSE, FIE (Aust)

Manager, Network Planning & Development – Metro Trains Melbourne

The purpose of this paper is to recount the author's experiences in the operation and maintenance of fully automated relatively modern guided transit systems in Singapore and compare those experiences with the Melbourne system.

Size 2.06 MB
pdf.png 2010 - Oct - Barber - Metro Rail Solutions : Capability Development to Local Australian Needs

Matthew Barber Lead Systems Engineer

BE (Hons), BSci Siemens Ltd.

Increasing operational demands for higher performance and technological improvements have led to the development of increasingly complex metro rail solutions. The complexity and the challenge of implementing such solutions require significant attention to the methodologies applied to the development of these complex solutions. This is essential to ensure that the desired function and performance requirements are delivered. In Australia, railways have developed with special needs not necessarily aligned with their European counterparts. The geographic imperative of European railways has led to increased co-operation in the development of railway technologies and a resulting level of standardisation across solution deployments. This standardisation leads to cost-savings for European rail operators through reduced development and schedule risk, increased competition from suppliers and improved return on investment for railways investing in capability enhancements. Australian railway operators are able to see similar positive impacts by adopting technologies developed for their European counterparts and modifying them for the local Australian needs. Through the application of formal system engineering processes "commercial off the shelf" products can be tailored and deployed as Australian metro rail solutions. This provides the mixture of the benefits of reduced development risk, whilst aligning Australian metro rail solutions with the capability development framework employed in Europe. In turn, this positions Australian metro rail solutions for further cost effective capability enhancements into the future.

Size 843.69 KB
pdf.png 2010 - March - Symons - Design Acceptance - What About the People?

Peter Symons F.I.R.S.E.

Engineering and Design Manager, Novo Rail

Most safety management activities for say, signalling and control systems concentrate on measuring conformance to processes against standards and procedures plus demonstration through risk assessments, V&V activities, arguments and evidence that the system as designed is safe and meets the requirements.

During these processes there is usually some emphasis on the human contribution e.g. Human factors as affecting operations and maintenance. However, to achieve an accepted design against a set of requirements can be problematic due to the behaviours of some of the actors, both in the transmitting and in the receiving sides of the process.

This paper will describe the approach by the Novo Rail alliance to improve the processes relating to the delegation of Engineering Authority and achieving a better Design Acceptance process to support its extensive program of works.

Size 418.4 KB

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