The Federal Government has invested $50 million to support the rail sector to develop and implement an Advanced Train Management System (ATMS). 

Leading Australian rail freight companies will establish an oversight group to provide a single, direct, industry-led forum to investigate the introduction and roll-out of the system.

The ATMS is being developed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and technology partner Lockheed Martin.

Following extensive development and testing over the past ten years, the Australian-developed train management technology is now operational between Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Custom-engineered and tested under Australian conditions, it has proven both its safety and capability required for a staged deployment across the wider national interstate rail network operated by ARTC.

The system is in the final stage of being certified as the primary safe working system between Port Augusta and Whyalla, with the next section for deployment to be between Tarcoola and Kalgoorlie from 2021.

The system will:

  • Replace trackside signalling with in-locomotive displays of authorities to drivers
  • Provide precise location of trains both front and rear
  • Provide new digital network control centres, each capable of controlling all traffic on the ARTC national network
  • Provide a backup capability in the event of failure at one control centre
  • Provide enforcement of authorities on each locomotive if a train is at risk of exceeding its authority
  • Provide switch settings and automatic route clearances
  • Provide information (voice and data) to all locomotives via the Telstra 3G National Network

ATMS is expected to deliver the following benefits:

  • Increased rail capacity through closer train operation
  • Improved reliability through better on-time performance
  • Improved efficiency and flexibility of the rail network
  • Increased safety through authority and speed limit enforcement
  • Additional protection for trackside workers
  • Operator savings through less fuel consumption, less wear of wheels and brakes, and fewer train crew hours
  • Reduced operation and maintenance cost for the trackside infrastructure

The nine major rail freight businesses in Australia have identified the ATMS as the priority train control project to advance industry as a whole.

The group will provide a single direct forum for engagement and agreement on the approach, roll-out, staging strategy and funding for ATMS. 

The industry group is expected to provide advice to the Federal Government in mid-2020 on options to deliver the broader rollout of ATMS.

Chair of Freight on Rail Group (FORG), the peak body for Australia’s nine major rail freight businesses, Dean Dalla Valle, said ATMS would generate a massive safety and efficiency boost for the sector.

“To help recover from the deep economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic, Australia must embrace and leverage new and improved technologies throughout its national supply chains,” Mr Dalla Valle said.

“ATMS will vastly improve rail safety by allowing freight trains to be remotely controlled during an emergency, including automatic braking, and boost efficiency of services on both dedicated freight lines and shared rail networks.

“Its home grown, state-of-the-art technology which our sector and the Australian people should be very proud of.

“ARTC has ensured industry was at the forefront of consultation over the ten years of development of the new technology and FORG will continue that collegiate-approach through this working group to help fast-track the roll-out of ATMS.”

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the ATMS was progressing to a crucial phase in development with $50 million in federal funding.

“I meet and consult with industry regularly and following discussions in March, the Australian Government has agreed to support the establishment of the group to explore opportunities to accelerate the deployment of ATMS,” Mr McCormack said.

Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, said the Federal Government was working with industry right across the country to pursue further measures to boost the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Rail plays a critical role in the safe and efficient movement of freight across Australia,” Minister Cormann said.

“Our continued investment in this very important sector is helping to strengthen our trading economy, creating many opportunities for more jobs.

“A well-developed rail network will help better connect our regions with our cities, our ports and beyond, ensuring that Australian businesses can sell as many products and services as possible into markets around the world while also making sure that domestically we are in the strongest possible position.

“Our government looks forward to engaging with industry to drive improvements and further strengthen our rail sector.

ATMS will enhance sector’s knowledge: ARA

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed the establishment of the industry oversight group.

ARA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the rollout of the ATMS would deliver safety and efficiency benefits to the rail industry.

“ATMS is a great example of Australian rail driving innovation to find new solutions that will make our industry better,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The creation of the oversight group will bring significant industry knowledge to the table to guide this important next phase of the project.”

The ARA has long supported the implementation of ATMS across the Inland Rail and ARTC network to support improved safety and productivity outcomes in the rail sector.

Ms Wilkie said it was important to acknowledge other train management systems operated within the Australian network, particularly across metropolitan networks.

She noted the National Transport Commission (NTC) was leading the National Rail Action Plan, which included a key focus on interoperability to ensure one overarching system for freight trains on the national network.

View more information on ATMS here.

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