Hitachi Rail innovation a game changer for testing Brisbane’s new digital signalling system

  • Innovative new solution will allow seamless switching between existing interlocking and new ETCS digital signalling radically reducing testing time on Queensland Rail’s network
  • The ‘Over and Back’ solution will save significant resources and maximise vital testing time by removing labour-intensive, manual switching between systems
  • Piloted by Hitachi Rail during the delivery of the new digital signalling system for South-East Queensland’s Cross River Rail project, the innovation has the potential to be applied in signalling projects around the world in the future.

Hitachi Rail’s ‘Over and Back’ testing solution will enable the fast and seamless switching between existing interlocking (a railway signalling system) and the soon to be introduced new digital signalling system (European Train Control System – ETCS L2) being introduced as part of South East Queensland’s Cross River Rail project. The solution will radically cut the time and costs associated with testing.

Traditionally, switching systems for testing can take as many as 10 people up to four hours to implement, as existing controls need to be manually disconnected on the track and to then connect the new system. The new solution, developed by a local team in Brisbane, enables the switch between systems to be made instantly via the central control unit located at Queensland Rail’s Rail Management Centre.

The significant resource and time savings attached to the ‘Over and Back’ solution will enable Hitachi Rail to maximise testing time, to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the system. In future, the solution could be rolled out around the world, with similar benefits for any Hitachi Rail project involving a transition between interlocking systems.

Roslyn Stuart, Senior Director Australia, said: “Our new ‘Over and Back’ solution could potentially transform the testing process for new signalling systems being installed on brownfield sites around the world. It is fitting that we will use the new solution for the first time on Queensland’s Cross River Rail project which will ultimately deliver more seamless, sustainable mobility for Queensland Rail and passengers alike.”

As part of this project, the European Train Control System Level 2 technology will monitor a train’s movement and the speed limit on the track, enabling trains to operate safely while running closer together. Queensland Rail also has the opportunity to benefit from the significant energy efficiencies associated with consistently running trains at an optimum speed, helping to reduce costs and electricity usage.

ETCS L2 is being delivered in Queensland, Australia by the Sequence Signalling and Systems alliance (including Hitachi Rail, Queensland Rail and Cross River Rail Delivery Authority) as part of the Cross River Rail Project.