Queensland Budget to Expand State-of-the-Art Train Signalling

Minister for Transport and Main Roads and Minister for Digital Services The Honourable Bart Mellish
  • State Government set to expand the rollout of the European Train Control System to more of the South East Queensland rail network
  • Extra funding set aside in the upcoming State Budget
  • The signalling system is widely used around the world, and will enable more train services to run closer together
  • This rolling program of works is a key part of modernising South East Queensland's rail system and is critical for the future of the inner city network, including Cross River Rail
  • ETCS will be a vital part of the rail network, including Sunshine Coast Direct when it comes online, supporting the region's rapid population growth by allowing more services to run more often

Transport Minister Bart Mellish has today announced a major expansion of the world-class signalling system that is currently being installed on South East Queensland's rail network.

As part of the rolling program, additional funding has been earmarked in the upcoming budget to extend the European Train Control System (ETCS) south to Moorooka.

ETCS will also be fundamental in the planned expansion of rail services direct to the Sunshine Coast.

The system will revolutionise rail travel for the South East, by digitising components of the rail network and trains, helping deliver more frequent and reliable train services. ETCS does this by constantly relaying the speed and position of trains on the network back to the control centre.

The system then calculates the optimum speed each train can travel at, increasing the number of trains that can run closer together, more often.

While existing rail signalling in South East Queensland is safe, it is older technology and is reaching its capacity.

Additional funding in the Budget will also enhance cyber security, operational readiness and testing to increase the resilience of the system against unauthorised third-party access.

The ETCS program will be rolled out across the SEQ network over the next decade, increasing capacity, safety and reliability.

ETCS will also help reduce train service disruptions by replacing ageing and obsolete rail assets. For example, if there is a breakdown, ETCS will automatically help calculate the best alternative route for trains, eliminating or severely reducing delays.

Modern ETCS technology already operates in cities around the world meaning it is a tried-and-true signalling technology that meets the highest standards of safety.

The ETCS is also continually reviewed to ensure it has the best cybersecurity possible.

The technology will put the rail network on par with the most modern and advanced train systems globally and enable the State Government to achieve the outcomes set out in its SEQ Rail Connect plan.

The first tranche of funding was announced in 2016.

As part of ongoing investments to modernise and improve reliability across the Queensland Rail network, the government will continue to expand the ETCS program as required to deliver a world class rail network for the South East.

Additional funding of $554 million toward ETCS will enable:

  • Completing installation of ETCS equipment further south from the Cross River Rail tunnel to Moorooka.
  • Enhanced cyber security, operational readiness and testing to increase the resilience of the system against unauthorised third-party access.
  • Supporting the successful integration of Cross River Rail with the rail corridor and general rail traffic
  • Replacing ageing and obsolete rail assets to help ensure ETCS operates effectively alongside conventional signalling.
  • Investigating the preferred deployment strategy for ETCS beyond the Cross River Rail project.
  • Continuing to source key signalling materials, while managing the impacts of global supply chain factors.

This takes the governments investment in ETCS to a total of $1.318.3 billion over the next four years.

This new investment will build on the work already completed toward the delivery of the ETCS, which is currently being tested and installed on the Shorncliffe line.

As stated by Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish:

"The rail revolution is happening in South East Queensland and the ETCS is a cornerstone of the future train network.

"Introducing world-class digital signalling will make the whole rail network more efficient and more reliable for Queenslanders while achieving the highest safety standards.

"Just like air traffic controllers use hi-tech systems to keep planes moving in and out of airports safely and efficiently, ETCS tells trains whether they need to speed up or slow down to move between stations as efficiently as possible without compromising safety.

"As part of our commitment to safety, our on-going investment in ETCS will also help ensure the cyber security of the rail network as well.

"The threat of virtual attacks has increased in recent years and we are responding with a dedicated investment to help safeguard the rail system.

"Like infrastructure projects right across the country, ETCS has not been immune to external pressures such as supply chain constraints, particularly given the specialised parts needed for hi-tech signalling.

"The additional funding and expanded scope that comes with it will ensure the work continues to make our rail network here in South East Queensland right up there with the best in the world.

"The upgrade program to the ETCS system is a giant leap forward for rail technology in Queensland and ultimately delivers a better, safer and more reliable transport experience for commuters."

Fast facts - What is ETCS?

  • ETCS is an advanced digital signalling system that relays information between trains and central Rail Management Centre via a radio system, trackside technology and onboard equipment.
  • The technology calculates safe braking distance, alerts the driver if the train is travelling too fast and automatically applies brakes if the train doesn't reduce speed.
  • It is being introduced to the SEQ rail network as part of the Cross River Rail project by the Sequence Signalling & Systems Alliance, which consists of Hitachi Rail, Queensland Rail and Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.
  • ETCS hardware will operate on both the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains and the future Queensland Train Manufacturing Program (QTMP) fleet. ETCS equipment is also being fitted trackside and in the Rail Management Centre.
  • ETCS will improve the daily train commute for Queenslanders by calculating the safe, maximum running speeds so each train can move through the network efficiently.
  • ETCS will provide a more accurate position of each train on the network, including in Cross River Rail's tunnels. This will enable the NGRs and the future QTMP trains to be scheduled to travel closer to each other while maintaining the highest standards of safety.
  • Safety will be further enhanced with the delivery of the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system onboard the NGR fleet and QTMP fleet. ATP is a digital system that will complement ETCS by alerting the driver if the train is travelling too fast and automatically applies brakes if the train doesn't reduce speed.
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