Brian Spaull, Synergy Signalling - Assessing telecommunications requirements in new rail projects


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Brian Spaull, Signal Engineer, Synergy Signalling delivered the presentation at ARA’s Telecommunications & Train Control Conference 2014.

The ARA’s Telecommunications & Train Control Conference 2014 brought together passenger and freight rail operators, transport agencies, track owners, regulators and technology suppliers to assess telecommunications solutions and explored the capabilities of a shared future.

For more information about the event, please visit:

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Brian Spaull, Synergy Signalling - Assessing telecommunications requirements in new rail projects

  1. 1. Assessing Telecommunications requirements for rail projects Brian Spaull - Synergy Signalling P/L
  2. 2. Who is this bloke? • Brian Spaull, a 38 year veteran of the railway system • Commenced career as railway signalling apprentice and recently certified as knowing the difference between go and stop • Too many years to remember as a signalling maintainer before graduating to the dizzy heights of signal engineer • Established Synergy Signalling P/L, contracts as Testing and Commissioning Engineer/Manager for major NSW and interstate rail projects • Has seen the light and understands the traditional importance of telecommunications in rail and the opportunities going forward
  3. 3. Out the back in the comms room…. • Steve Preston, a survivor of 30 years in NSW railway comms • Commenced a communications apprenticeship for his adventure into maintenance, construction and management activities • Handed over his position managing the NSW communications team in 2004 for a “different” life of contract project work including Train control consolidation, ICE radio and more recently SSFL & MFN works • Family lineage unbroken to start of NSW rail operations in 1855 • Qualified to “Play” trains on the network • Active in the heritage rail sector
  4. 4. Looking back: The right way, the wrong way and the Railway • The traditional rail system was a network of attended mechanical signal boxes, run on bells & signals, voice was mostly optional and data manually collated with pen and paper! • Many railway communications and control systems were built and maintained in house, often copied, tailored or “butchered” for unique arrangements. • Systems evolved but use of new ways was fragmented and not always mandated. • Connection to outside the network was rare unless you knew the switchboard girl! • Railway communications networks epitomised equipment diversity
  5. 5. Moss Vale Signal Box comms: 2005 • CTC circuit panel for Unanderra branch • Radio heads for Mountain, WB and maintenance systems • Phones for Train Control and admin • Intercom to local Station Master • Yard & SPT Magneto circuit key box • Whistle out circuit for depot • Non recorded admin phone • PC for intranet and admin • 1 Signalman, 11 comms interfaces
  6. 6. Comms on the move…. • Traditionally the signalling discipline governed control system and telecommunications service groups in rail but the priorities have shifted - the long suppressed communications discipline has risen and the road ahead is uni-directional! • Signals have been replaced with on board authorities delivered electronically by vital communications links • Data & diagnostics are shrinking the workforce and expanding functionality • “Green field” rail projects increasing but new systems can often still not be employed without adaption or integration into “Brown field” situations. • External comms suppliers are now the norm and also maintain and/or manage the networks.
  7. 7. Assessing Rail Comms 101 - lessons learnt along the way • Existing rail systems and procedures require careful review • Stake holder consultation • Just because something looks redundant doesn't mean it is! • Adaption of old technology systems can significantly affect scope & budget. “Modern” systems like ATRICS can be just as challenging. • Expect the unexpected, know what you don’t know. • There are a lot who claim to know railway comms, watch out for the galahs!
  8. 8. MFN: The Enfield Task • Decommission Enfield Signal Box • Transfer of signalling control and comms to Junee • Interface to existing SSI interlocking for remote control by Phoenix • Decommissioning of SPT’s and redundant comms • Maintain interfaces with Sydney Trains and Pacific National operations • Decommission local control panel • Separation of assets from Sydney Trains • Provide capability for future staging roads
  9. 9. The Enfield Solution • Transfer of ED Interlocking control to Junee NCCS Sydney 2 NC • Implement interface to SSI I/L for remote control by Phoenix • Planned interlocking upgrade to Westlock • Kingfisher connected by Next G and PSTN connection • Junee controller VCS commissioned • CountryNet/ICE radio territory transferred • Separation of assets from Sydney Trains • Local protocols & procedures reviewed and updated
  10. 10. The road behind All donations to the Signalling and Communications museum will be gratefully accepted!
  11. 11. The road ahead • ATMS, ATP, ATO, ETCS L2 and other future systems will be hungry for reliable communications to support operations • Performance, reliability and availability of communications systems critical • Longevity of equipment/technology • Wireless systems are the new black but can they deliver? • Type Approval for communications equipment. • The old ways will finally be retired –
  12. 12. Type Approval – The Devil in the Detail!!
  13. 13. Questions?