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New digital telecoms platform for Australia’s 8500km freight network.

Posted by SmartRail World Staff on Aug 27, 2015

Australia_Grain_Freight_TrainThe Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) announced this week it has signed a multi-million dollar, ten-year contract with Telstra to provide ongoing telecommunications to the national rail freight network. This announcement enables the national freight network to meet its evolving data intensive communications’ needs and provides a platform for future rail technology innovation. The deal comprises the security of supply, maintenance and enhancement to its Telstra-powered National Train Communications System (NTCS), which supports the ARTC’s 8,500km national rail freight network. The announcement follows ARTC officially ‘switching off’ its old, analogue telecommunications network in December 2014 to operate a single nationwide platform.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd. (ARTC) was created after the Commonwealth and State Governments agreed in 1997 to the formation of a ‘one stop shop’ for all operators seeking access to the National interstate rail network. It plays a critical role in the transport supply chain and in the overall economic development of Australia. Its network is used to move a range of commodities including general freight, coal, iron ore, other bulk minerals and agricultural products. Its network is also important in providing access for interstate and inter-city passenger services.

Alcatel-Lucent White Paper Supported by Australia’s leading telecommunications company, ARTC CEO John Fullerton said the NTCS was essential to ensuring future rail freight success, with a solid digital platform in place to exploit for safety, efficiency and capacity benefits.

“The Telstra-based NTCS will provide a platform for many of the new and exciting innovations being developed by ARTC. Using the Telstra NextG® network, applications such as safe travelling distance technology (proximity alerting), real-time locomotive tracking, sophisticated track and wayside monitoring technology, situational awareness systems and the next generation of train management – the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) – all become possible.”

“Today demonstrates the strong relationship between the ARTC and Telstra, which is helping drive further innovation, standardisation and interoperability within the national rail freight sector,” Mr Fullerton added.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd. (ARTC) track map (for more detail and maps see here)


The announcement follows ARTC officially ‘switching off’ its old, analogue telecommunications network in December 2014 to operate a single nationwide platform of rail telecoms. This includes freight trains operating on other rail networks that aren’t managed by ARTC, making it easier for train operators to do business across the country. It also means a single network for communications between train control, trains, trackside workers and wayside equipment.

The ARTC’s move to Telstra NextG® is the first time a rail access provider has moved from a private to a public telecommunications network for railway operations in Australia. The NTCS communications infrastructure uses Telstra NextG® coverage along its routes which includes more than 70 base stations built specifically for ARTC, supplemented by a Telstra Satellite solution powered by Iridium.

“Together, with the ARTC’s vision for rail innovation and Telstra’s agile communications network, we have co-created a mobile and cloud-based solution that will help move the national rail freight sector forward,” Telstra’s Chief Customer Officer, Global Enterprise and Services, Martijn Blanken, said.

“The communication network is built on our world class Telstra NextG® network and supported by our satellite offering, so ARTC has the peace of mind that we can provide redundancy for any black spots along the rail corridor. We have also transitioned ARTC into a private cloud environment, built on VCE Vblock, which will significantly reduce the resources it needs to host the applications the NTCS runs on.” Mr. Blanken concluded.

Lead Photo: Genesee and Wyoming Australia operated grain train at Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Locos are CLP17, GM class, 2x 22 class (ex NSW 422 class) then CFCLA hoppers. Thanks to Marcus Wong( Wongm) for the picture.

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Topics: Telecommunications

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