The Federal Government is providing an additional $220 million for the next phase of the Advanced Train Management Systems (ATMS) – a modern train signalling management system aiming to boost safety and reliability in the freight rail network and create hundreds of jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, and Minister for Finance, Simon Birmingham, announced the funding for the next major planning phase of the ATMS following its successful deployment and commissioning on the freight rail line between Port Augusta and Whyalla.

“After more than a decade of intense development, testing and design, a cutting-edge train management system has gone live in South Australia after commissioning trials were completed late last year,” Mr McCormack said.

“We now look to the next phase of ATMS which will focus on planning and designing its implementation from Melbourne to Perth and linking the east-west freight corridor to Inland Rail through Parkes using ATMS as the new signalling platform.

“ATMS is recognised by Infrastructure Australia as a priority initiative that benefits the entire freight and logistics industry and is supported by Australia’s nine major freight rail businesses.

“The freight rail industry has an outstanding safety record in Australia and ATMS will strengthen and deliver high standards of safety and further reduce the risk of train-to-train and overspeed accidents.

“The freight rail industry and the Australian Government have worked closely to explore the opportunities to accelerate ATMS implementation across the interstate rail network and I thank the rail industry and the Freight on Rail Group for their ongoing cooperation.

“When completed, the national rollout of ATMS will reduce the number of train control rules across the National Rail Freight Network from 18 to one representing a significant step towards skills interoperability for train drivers and network controllers.”

Mr Birmingham said the Federal Government’s continued investment in advanced train technology would support the more efficient and safer movement of rail freight across Australia.

“This cutting-edge technology is going to be a game-changer in the way rail freight will be moved across Australia’s rail network and that’s why we’re backing it through this major $220 million investment,” Mr Birmingham said.

“This technology is going to be developed right here in South Australia and it’s precisely projects like this that continue to transform our state into a powerhouse in high tech manufacturing and innovation.

“Through this investment there will be a significant scaling up of capacity at ARTC’s project operations centre at Mile End which will be a major job maker for our state with up to 300 direct highly skilled jobs and a further 700 indirect local jobs expected to be created.”

ARTC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Campbell, said ATMS is a modern, communications-based, safe-working system designed for Australian conditions by ARTC and technology partner Lockheed Martin.

“ATMS revolutionises how trains operate on the national interstate rail network and provides a quantum leap forward in safety, capacity and productivity for freight rail operations,” Mr Campbell said.

“Work is now underway to accelerate the next phase of ATMS deployment as the primary safe work system for 3,464km of track between Melbourne to Perth.”

Chair of Freight on Rail Group (FORG) and the ATMS Oversight Implementation Group, Dean Dalla Valle, said ATMS will deliver a significant and long-lasting safety and productivity boost for the sector. 

“This ground-breaking technology will also help unlock latent capital of existing rail freight infrastructure and rollingstock by significantly lifting productivity of future services,” Mr Dalle Valle said. 

FORG was tasked by the Federal Government to work closely with ARTC to develop a business case to help fast track ATMS implementation on the nation’s interstate rail network.

The initial $70 million investment for the development and now deployment of ATMS was jointly funded by the Federal Government committing $50 million and ARTC committing the remaining $20 million.

Damien White, Group Executive Safety, Engineering and Technology, at the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will be speaking more about ATMS in his presentation at the Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Virtual Conference on 15 April, as part of the 2021 Critical Infrastructure Summit. You can register for free at https://www.critical-infrastructure.com.au/tickets/.

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