Onus on industry to make rail attractive: Fullerton

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Legacy of technological and commercial antiquity still too fresh in the minds of rail freight users, ARTC boss says

Onus on industry to make rail attractive: Fullerton
Onus on industry to make rail attractive: Fullerton

July 29, 2013

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton says freight rail will once again be seen as a
place to invest, but it will require smart ideas and the commitment to apply them.

Fullerton last week told the CRC Rail Innovation Conference it is up to the industry to foster this sentiment and make rail more attractive and appealing.

"What we have today is a rail freight industry that has never been stronger," he says.

"The industry participants are strong and competitive, they have commercial resilience and investment capacity and we now have an industry that’s commercially and operationally mature."

However Fullerton says it’s no easy task to compete with the road industry, which "has not stood still either".

"The Australian road industry remains the most efficient and cost-effective in the world and is constantly innovating and striving to improve its productivity," he says.

Meanwhile the rail freight sector is only at the beginning of what it needs to do as a modern competitive transport mode in order to play a bigger role in the general freight sector.

"As much as rail has made a welcome comeback and is beginning to re-establish its credentials it is going to be technology and further innovation that will consolidate its foothold as the dominant freight carrier," Fullerton says

"Increasingly we are seeing technology and innovation leading to driverless trains, new steel for rail, heavier axle loads, increased safety and more efficient technology being deployed across our heavy haul bulk rail networks.

Fullerton also points to Advanced Train Management Systems (ATMS)
which he says have
the potential to be a game changer for customers and the rail industry.

"After completing a Proof of Concept process with Lockheed Martin, ARTC intends to test and trial
[its ATMS]
system between Whyalla, Port Augusta and Tarcoola in South Australia in early 2014," he says.

"Using GPS and special navigation technology, train drivers can see where they are on a digital display, where other trains are and how close they are allowed to get to each other.

Fullerton claims ATMS will eventually replace track-based signalling to let drivers know where it is safe for them to proceed or whether they need to stop or move to a passing loop for example.

"[ATMS] remove the prospect of human error making it far safer for track workers, train operators, passengers and the general public," he says.

Along with increasing safety,
Fullerton says ATMS will also increase
capacity and lower costs.

"It is this embrace of technology and innovation that will help us to dramatically increase the market share of the general freight sector, in particular the sector we call non-bulk containerised freight,"
he says.

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