Industry group to facilitate generational shift on rail network

The Liberal and Nationals Government will work with Australia’s leading rail freight companies to establish an oversight group for the development and implementation of a state-of-the-art train management system.

The industry-led group will provide a single direct forum to investigate the introduction and roll-out of the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) developed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and technology partner Lockheed Martin.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said a $50 million Federal Government investment has seen the ATMS progress to a crucial phase in development.

“Following extensive development and testing over the past 10 years, this Australian-developed train management technology is now operational between Port Augusta and Whyalla,” Mr McCormack said.

“It has been custom-engineered and tested under Australian conditions and 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 next year.

“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.”

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 Government in mid-2020 on options to deliver the broader rollout of ATMS.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the 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.”

Chair of Freight on Rail Group (FORG), the peak body for Australia’s nine major rail freight businesses, Dean Dalla Valle, said ATMS will 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.”

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