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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
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

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