Queensland Rail has completed a $21.8 million project to upgrade the city of Bundaberg’s rail signalling system and seven level crossings. Here, Infrastructure speaks to Queensland Rail Signalling Delivery Manager, Yuliya Piper, about the process involved in the multi-million dollar project, including the benefits of unlinking the new system.
The 12-month project replaced the region’s signalling system with a more reliable system designed to effectively facilitate safe train movements and be easier to maintain.
Bundaberg’s previous rail signalling system was linked, meaning that when there was a fault, all rail crossings in the area were activated as a safety precaution, with the potential to cause widespread traffic impacts.
The brand new signals isolate unplanned incidents on train lines, unlike the old system which would leave local traffic at a standstill by shutting all of the city’s boom gates.
The project was delivered by Queensland Rail staff as well as Siemens Mobility, Bundaberg Refrigeration and Electrical, DIX Manufacturing, Forgacs Constructions, AUSCO, TPS and other local and Brisbane-based contractors.
Yuliya, can you please provide a technical rundown of how the new signalling technology works and what improvements have been made?
The new Bundaberg signalling system has replaced the three previous operating systems at Bundaberg, Bundaberg North and Gooburrum, with one modern signalling interlocking system.
The system includes a new power equipment room with a backup uninterrupted power supply as well as a distributed signalling system, ensuring dual redundancy for power, network and location critical modules.
This allows the continuous operation of the system when a fault occurs, with automatic alarms sent to Queensland Rail’s Regional Control Centre.
The modules are “hot-swappable” meaning faulty modules can be replaced while in operation, with no interruption to the working system.
Unlike the old system, which was first commissioned in 1983, both vital and non-vital logic are combined, minimising cross-boundary complications and allowing for a much faster processing time.
Additionally, all 12km of existing underground power, multicore and fibre-optic cables were upgraded to provide spare capacity as well as fibre optic communication and signalling system vital redundancy.
In line with industry best practices, a brand new four-conduit cable route was installed to house the new cables, providing the opportunity for cost-effective maintenance and repairs.
Bundaberg’s old rail signalling system was linked, how much of an issue was this causing to the community and how is the new system different?
The previous system controlled six out of seven level crossings from one centralised point, powered by one power supply with a backup generator.
As a result, when a fault occurred, all crossings would be activated.
The level crossings at Maynard Road, Thabeban Road, Verdant Siding Road, Perry Street, Hanbury Street, Bourbong Street and Walker Street were upgraded to the latest technology as part of the project.
They now have isolated power supplies, with a diverse backup. Additionally, delinking from the interlocking means when a fault occurs, only the associated crossing is activated, reducing the risk of disruption to the public.
What results has the region seen since the project was completed?
The project implementation was delivered in 12 stages to minimise disruption to the public and train operations.
The Power Equipment Room (PER) was replaced during the first stage commissioning in March 2018, and since the final commissioning in September 2019, there has not been a single failure recorded in the area.
What sort of asset management will be involved in the new system going forward? Will it be easier to maintain than the old system?
With the remote monitoring and double redundancy, the system has a proven record of being highly-reliable and easy to maintain.
Now that the system has been added to Queensland Rail Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS), the routine remote scheduled diagnostic will be carried out periodically.
The added benefit is being able to change the application logic software in-house.
Is this signalling technology being used elsewhere?
This new signalling technology is currently in operation in two areas of South East Queensland including Wulkuraka and Banyo.