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pdf.png 2014 - March - Blakeley-Smith - Forty Years of 25 kV Electrification in Australia

Andrew Blakeley-Smith BSc (Hons), MIEAust, MIRSE

Director, Andrew Blakeley-Smith & Associates

The first 25kV system planning in Australia started in 1974 for Adelaide but the first system commenced revenue service in 1979 in Brisbane. 25kV system planning and implementation is one of the most interdisciplinary exercises around and many things have changed and lessons learnt in the past 40 years.

This paper looks at the basic elements and options: power supply, signalling & communications and rollingstock for 25kV and why it so often the preferred choice. Particular emphasis is given to the interdisciplinary relationship with signalling and communications, including immunization and earthing and bonding and how this has changed over the years. Finally, the proof of the design, the short circuit test, is discussed.

Size 1.87 MB
pdf.png 2014 - March - Bennett - The Long Block Commissioning Solution

Daniel Bennett BEng (Infomechatronics) Hons. MIEAust

Siemens Rail Automation

The Long Block is a novel solution to the constraints of commissioning a signalling system when confronted with limited railway closure times. This engineering solution allows trains to operate through either a single or double track block section that is established through a temporarily decommissioned station area. This allows important off-track activities such as equipment changeovers and recoveries to take place without putting excessive delays on essential passenger and freight services.

To make the Long Block solution portable, the required signalling equipment was housed within two box trailers. At the core of these trailers is a WESTRACE MkII object controller and a Thales AzLM axle counter. A third ‘Radio Repeater’ trailer was constructed to link the Long Block trailers together via radio.

The experience of commissioning the Long Block, whilst ultimately proven successful, was beset some initial failures relating to the communications system. The lessons learnt from this experience, which are discussed within, highlight the need for signalling engineers to become more familiar with the technical aspects understanding and establishing IP networks.

Size 1.37 MB
pdf.png 2014 - March - Altehage - Generating Consistent Infrastructure Data for Interlocking Applications

Klaus Altehage MSc, MIRSE

SelectRail (Australia) Pty Ltd

Railway infrastructure data is essential for different stages of an interlocking application; not only directly for planning and operation, but also for documentation, training and simulation systems. The same infrastructure data or at least a different view on the same data is also needed for timetable planning and disposition systems. The consistency and validity of such data is crucial. However, current practice still requires configuration of infrastructure in different ways for different (sub)systems, including the need to manually verify the consistency between different recipients. This is complicated by different infrastructure representations and technologies. Inconsistencies are often detected just when the different systems actually get integrated.

The Advanced Model-Based Environment for Railways (AMBER) is a solution to this problem, which is based on a single infrastructure model and its corresponding tools, which was successfully used for the development of PLC based interlocking applications.

Size 1.37 MB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Naweed & Aitken - Drive a mile in my seat: signal design from a systems perspective

Anjum Naweed BSc MSc PhD

Central Queensland University


Aitken & Partners

Train drivers navigate conventionally designed railways using a keen awareness of their routes and by calculating likelihood predictions of future states. These processes have traditionally followed a model of signal-to-signal based running, which comprises the awareness of their static (location-based) and dynamic (aspect-related) properties.

This paper reports findings from a study that examined the socio-cultural and technical ties between the signal and the driver in the context of SPAD risk management. It provides examples of how signal aspects are being interpreted on Australasian railways, how operational pressures are altering the driver-signal dynamic, and how the meaning of the caution aspect has evolved in today’s dynamic and productivity oriented rail environment.

The paper seeks to describe the train drivers’ experience of interpreting and responding to railway signals, so that the signal engineering community may better understand the implications of introducing new variables and schemes into their signal design language.

Size 4.28 MB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Moore - Signalling Concept Plan - RIP

Trevor Moore B Eng, MBA, FIRSE, FIEAust

Australian Rail Track Corporation

The Concept Signalling Plan is often used to allow scoping and costing of a project for approval at an early phase in a project program. While it is basically a cut down version of a Signal Arrangement Plan, the compromises in producing the Concept Signalling Plan often result in significant differences in the verified final Signal Arrangement Plan. These may lead to variations in scope, rework, cost increases and project delays. The only advantage of the Signal Concept Plan is that it can be produced with only a little effort, as there is still the need to produce the final Signal Arrangement Plan.

Considering the disadvantages that can flow from an incorrect signal concept plan, the advantages are vastly overshadowed. Producing the verified Signal Arrangement Plan in lieu of the signal concept plan allows the project to proceed on a firm basis and achieve the required outcomes with the minimum of rework.

This paper examines the advantages of designing the Signal Arrangement Plan at an early phase in the project and deleting the requirement for the Concept Signalling Plan.

Size 422.99 KB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Malaviya & Sweeney - Economic Signalling Enhancement - Providing Capacity Improvement in a Mixed Traffic Environment

Akshaya Malaviya, MIRSE B.Tech. PG Dip Management

Engineering Manager, 
Australian Rail Track Corporation

David Sweeney, FIRSE Grad. Dip Eng.

Signalling Consultant, Calibre Global

Coal volumes on the Hunter Valley network are steadily increasing and have gone up by about 50% in the last six years. The volumes are expected to increase to 200+ mtpa (Million Tonnes Per Annum). Based on the coal volume forecasts, the Hunter Valley Corridor Capacity Strategy (the Strategy) identifies projects to be delivered to ensure the network capacity stays ahead of the demand.

The Strategy includes infrastructure upgrade projects involving track duplication/triplication and building of new crossing loops. The Heavy Haul Guidelines, in conjunction with the ARTC standards, form the basic framework for the Civil and Signalling designs on the projects delivered by ARTC in the Hunter Valley corridor.

Although track upgrade projects provide the desired capacity increases, recent investigations have established that signalling enhancements, in some situations, can also provide equivalent capacity increases at significantly lower costs.
Hunter Valley corridor is currently delivering the following economic signalling enhancement projects aimed at achieving capacity benefits:
    1.    Kooragang Island Arrival Roads Signalling Optimisation;
    2.    Hexham to Kooragang Re-signalling;
    3.    Coded track circuit enhancements;
    4.    Mount Thorley Signalling Enhancements; and
    5.    New crossing loops with signalling solution to achieve simultaneous entry functionality.

The coal trains originate from various mines located in the Hunter Valley region and travel up to the Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) ports near Newcastle. Whilst the single track section north of Muswellbrook is capacity constrained necessitating construction of new crossing loops, the Ports area is heavily congested due to convergence of entire coal traffic into that region and slow clearance of dump stations and the arrival roads leading up to these dump stations.

This paper first analyses the constraints in the Ports area leading to congestion and shows how these constraints have been overcome by using economic signalling enhancements. The paper then discusses how the crossing transit times at crossing loops can be optimised by using an economic signalling design referred to as Modified SIM entry. Lastly, the paper details the issues associated with the Coded Track Circuit designs and how they can be addressed.

Size 612.73 KB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Hillcoat & Clancy - Increasing capacity in the Hunter Network - Streamlining train control

Brett Hillcoat G.C.Mgmt, Dip Bus Prog

Parsons Brinckerhoff

Michael Clancy B.Ed

Australian Rail Track Corporation

The Hunter Valley Rail Network is a mixed traffic rail network in New South Wales that is managed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC). Since 2007, the Hunter Valley has seen significant growth in the demand for coal export via the port of Newcastle resulting in a significant increase in train services for coal transportation. Coal transport from pit to port has increased from 90MTPA to 150MTPA between 2007 and 2013. This growth has potential to increase to 200MTPA over the next several years, with notional prospective volumes currently indicating potential growth to 280MTPA. Non-coal traffic (passenger, freight services), which currently accounts for more than 50% of HV operations services, is also expected to grow.

To facilitate this growth, a number of projects (predominantly track infrastructure projects) have been implemented to provide the additional capacity required within the ARTC HV Network.

To manage the increase in trains servicing the growth in coal, ARTC HV Operations has instigated a number of measures, including some small Information technology integration projects, to facilitate automatic data transfer, additional human resources to reduce workload and assist in resolution of live run issues.

With an eye on future increases in coal demand and expected organic increases in other commodities, ARTC have been investigating options to increase operational efficiencies during future growth. A recent downturn in the market for coal has accelerated this desire for increased efficiencies, whilst also limiting forward capital and operating spend. This desire has led to the initiation of the ARTC Network Control Optimisation (ANCO) project.

The ANCO project involves the implementation and integration of a suite of systems and applications and processes designed to enhance and streamline network planning, control and management. The project aims to maximise the safe and efficient use of current infrastructure and resources to increase throughput, and to minimise the potential for further capital outlays and increased operational costs.

This paper will discuss how ARTC plans to use technology, systems and process improvements in a network control environment to address and manage issues and challenges associated with a growing, evolving, dynamic mixed rail network like the Hunter Valley.

Size 1.16 MB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Greaves & Allison - End of the line for linewires at the end of the line

Adam Greaves BE (UTS), AMIRSE

Sydney Trains

Andrew Allison BE (UWS), AMIRSE

Sydney Trains

Microlok II computer-based interlockings with coded track circuits have replaced the last two electric train staff sections on the Transport for NSW network, Kiama – Berry and Berry – Bomaderry. Features include interface to a mechanical interlocking at Bomaderry and automatic working through Berry when unattended. While it will take time to confirm the anticipated reliability improvements, improved capacity has already been realised with time savings from elimination of the manual staff exchange. Motorists also benefit with reduced waiting times at level crossings in the vicinity of Berry station. The following describes the project from the design team perspective.

Size 1.64 MB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Baker et al - Signalling Design for Freight and Passenger Railways - A Tutorial and Discussion Paper

Philip Baker MIRSE

Aurecon Australia

Kaniyur Sundareswaran FIRSE, CPEng

Aurecon Australia

Trina Chan MIET, CEng (ECUK)

Aurecon Australia

This is a discussion paper using Transport for NSW’s Auburn Junction Project, which is part of the Lidcombe to Granville Corridor Upgrade program of works being delivered by Novo Rail ( a partnership between Transport Projects division of Transport for NSW and Laing O’Rourke, RCR Infrastructure ODG and Aurecon), as a case study to examine some of the challenges and issues that can be faced when mixing freight and passenger trains on the same lines. The first part will discuss the difference in operational characteristics of freight and passenger trains, such as train lengths, braking characteristics and curves, and required train movements.
The paper will then move on to look at some of the solutions that have been implemented in New South Wales including examples of where freight and passenger trains have been completely separated. But is this the best solution?

The third part of this paper will look at examples of how these issues were resolved at Auburn Junction. Some of the implemented solutions include use of differential line speeds, increase in signal aspects, and use of modelling to prove attainable freight speeds for signal spacing purposes. But with each of these solutions there are compromises that have to be made, which can make it difficult to satisfy all stakeholders involved and provide the operational flexibility required in such a busy corridor.

Finally we will explore some of the traps and pitfalls involved in mixing freight and passenger trains based on our experience of implementing those solutions. The decision on what solution to implement is ultimately a complex one, dependent on value for money, operational requirements, land availability and so on. Perhaps through this tutorial, new innovative solutions will be postulated that would eliminate some of the difficulties with mixed traffic railway lines.

Size 718.29 KB
pdf.png 2014 - July - Aitken - In all normal and reasonably foreseeable abnormal situations


Aitken & Partners

“New rolling stock or electrical/electronic equipment to be used in rolling stock modifications must be designed, built and maintained with regard to EMC in order that they operate safely throughout their operational life. This applies to all normal and reasonably foreseeable abnormal situations, including failures.”

Such a statement is easily made but compliance is not readily demonstrated, particularly when there is little or no definition of what might make something electromagnetically compatible (EMC). Signalling systems are generally poorly defined from an EMC viewpoint, so foreseeing abnormal situations can require considerable insight into the design and failure modes of the signalling systems.
This paper discusses what is normal and then considers some of the failure modes and vulnerable areas in train detection systems; the threats posed by traction systems

Size 3.33 MB
pdf.png 2013 - Oct - Topham - The International Engineering Safety Management Guidance

Gareth Topham C Eng, B Eng, MSc, MIRSE, MIET, MSaRS

Rio Tinto

Decisions on rail safety are traditionally based on established practice and experienced judgment, supported by tests and trials as judged necessary. However, the past is not always a useful guide when conditions are changing and practice needs to keep pace with technology.

The Yellow Book was developed in the UK to provide a pragmatic set of guidance to applying engineering safety management in line with the internationally adopted CENELEC Standards (50126/8/9). The Yellow Book is no longer supported and a new international Engineering Safety Management publication has been developed to fill this gap.

The primary purpose of the new international Engineering Safety Management (iESM) is to help people who lead and undertake railway engineering make sure that their work contributes efficiently to improved safety and helps new railways and changes to be accepted more efficiently.

The new iESM Handbook should help:

• Tackle the pressures from increased complexity of railway systems;
• Address decreased public and passenger tolerance for avoidable accidents;
• Focus spending on preventing incidents and smooth the way for acceptance of new technology or novel applications.

Size 275.76 KB
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.

Size 896.48 KB
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

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