Cost reductions through telecommunications

Rapidly increasing demand for rail services requires the use of technology to ensure current and future infrastructure is used efficiently and that operating costs are reduced. The leading technology in achieving this efficiency is information and communications, with wireless telecommunications allowing information to be easily transitioned between the office and the field. The increasing presence of wireless telecommunications is opening up opportunities to strip costs out of rail operations through automating many basic functions that involve the accessing, provision and processing of information. The current predominant use of wireless telecommunications is voice to manage the many issues and incidents that occur on a daily basis. However, through the use of wireless data and applications there can be significant reductions in the cost of many daily rail operations. Significant numbers of rail entities have already embarked on the use of wireless data to support communications based high capacity signalling systems that greatly increase the efficiency of existing rail infrastructure and assets and defer the significant costs associated with constructing additional infrastructure in existing corridors. Yet, it is not always necessary to spend millions of dollars to achieve reductions in operational costs once reliable data communication capabilities are established. While there are a myriad of initiatives that can leverage telecommunications, this paper considers just two examples, which may be known to the reader, but are still to be adopted into rail operating environments. Maintaining the safety of resources working on the rail lines is paramount for all rail operators. However, the current manual labour intensive systems used to ensure safety can mean that the time and resources on site is disproportionate to the time and resources required for the actual task. The system maintaining safety could be transferred to a smart telecommunications based application that would significantly reduce the time on site while maintaining safety. As new rolling stock is brought into service, the ability to extract and analyse large amounts of information from data loggers and other sources, which can provide powerful measurement tools, allowing a tailored proactive approach to operational and maintenance activities. To date, the gathering of information about rolling stock condition has been limited to locomotive units rather than the more passive carriages and wagons. Though, of the things that are more likely to interrupt the progression of a train, the locomotive unit is in the minority. Any monitoring of carriages and wagons has typically been of the condition of the freight itself rather than the condition of the rolling stock. Small, low power, self building, self healing communication based sensory nodes could allow management of the whole train at all times rather than only a part of the train or only in specific isolated locations. Wireless telecommunications, intelligent applications and the increasing processing capability to support higher levels of automation can be leveraged by the Australian Rail Industry to turn constrained reactionary activities into planned, informed, predictive and automated activities and processes that will positively impact the industry’s efficiency and reduce its cost.

Media Info

  • Pagination: 6p. ; PDF
  • Monograph Title: AusRAIL PLUS 2013, driving the costs out of rail, 26-28 November 2013, Canberra, ACT, Australia

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01532225
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Jul 29 2014 12:02PM