Rail advisory group in motion for ATMS deployment

Industry group to facilitate generational shift on rail network

Rail advisory group in motion for ATMS deployment
Michael McCormack


Canberra is linking with Australia’s rail freight industry on an oversight group for the development and implementation of an incoming new train management system that is expected to have a major impact on the freight task.

The industry-led group will provide a single direct forum to investigate the introduction and roll-out of the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) developed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and technology partner Lockheed Martin.

In a statement, feeral transport minister Michael McCormack says the $50 million federal investment has seen the ATMS progress to a "crucial phase in development".

"Following extensive development and testing over the past 10 years, this Australian-developed train management technology is now operational between Port Augusta and Whyalla," McCormack says.

"It has been custom-engineered and tested under Australian conditions and has proven both its safety and capability required for a staged deployment across the wider national interstate rail network operated by ARTC.

"The system is in the final stage of being certified as the primary safe working system between Port Augusta and Whyalla with the next section for deployment to be between Tarcoola and Kalgoorlie from next year.

"I meet and consult with industry regularly and following discussions in March, the Australian Government has agreed to support the establishment of the group to explore opportunities to accelerate the deployment of ATMS."

The statement adds the group will provide a single direct forum for engagement and agreement on the approach, rollout, staging strategy and funding for ATMS.

The industry group is expected to provide advice to the Government in mid-2020 on options to deliver the broader rollout of ATMS.

Freight on Rail Group (FORG), the peak body for Australia’s nine major rail freight businesses, says the ATMS will enhance safety and efficiency for the sector.

ATMS was a talking point at last year's supply chain tech summit

"To help recover from the deep economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic, Australia must embrace and leverage new and improved technologies throughout its national supply chains," FORG chair Dean Dalla Valle says.

"ATMS will vastly improve rail safety by allowing freight trains to be remotely controlled during an emergency, including automatic braking, and boost efficiency of services on both dedicated freight lines and shared rail networks.

"Its home grown, state-of-the-art technology which our sector and the Australian people should be very proud of.

"ARTC has ensured industry was at the forefront of consultation over the ten years of development of the new technology and FORG will continue that collegiate-approach through this working group to help fast-track the roll-out of ATMS."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann adds government is working with industry to pursue economic recovery opportunities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Rail plays a critical role in the safe and efficient movement of freight across Australia," Cormann says.

"A well-developed rail network will help better connect our regions with our cities, our ports and beyond, ensuring that Australian businesses can sell as many products and services as possible into markets around the world while also making sure that domestically we are in the strongest possible position.

"Our Government looks forward to engaging with industry to drive improvements and further strengthen our rail sector."

The ATMS will:

  • replace trackside signalling with in-locomotive displays of authorities to drivers
  • provide precise location of trains both front and rear
  • provide new digital network control centres, each capable of controlling all traffic on the ARTC national network
  • provide a back up capability in the event of failure at one control centre
  • provide enforcement of authorities on each locomotive if a train is at risk of exceeding its authority
  • provide switch settings and automatic route clearances
  • provide information (voice and data) to all locomotives via the Telstra 3G National Network.


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