Project Background

Sydney trains operate over a highly complex network with multiple generations of rollingstock and operating systems, many of which are reaching the end of their operational and technological life. With Transport for NSW, they are embarking on a technology revolution with the trial introduction of communications based moving block train operations. While the potential benefits in terms of increased network capacity, operating flexibility and cost savings are high, the safe and efficient migration from the current systems, procedures and infrastructure dependencies is far from simple, despite claims from system vendors and the examples often referenced from greenfield implementations.

Of critical importance to its introduction is the capacity of wireless data communication while maintaining safety critical voice channels. This has proven to be a major obstacle due to limitations in the aging technology and radio spectrum availability, combined with rapid advances and changes within the telecommunications industry.


How Innova Helped

Key to resolving requirements and risks associated with new technologies is to link technology expertise with current operational and infrastructure knowledge. Innova believe that the best source of such local knowledge can come from experienced and motivated practitioners who understand the risks and limitations of the local environment. Too often, this key information is neglected in favour of simplified technology promotional advice.

Innova applied a combination of our expert technology and wide operational and safety experience to undertake extensive consultation across Sydney Trains most experienced personnel. In doing so, practical options and risks were identified focussed not just on the required project outcome, but the path required to migrate to a safe and effective result.

Achieved Outcomes

A series of consultation workshops and resulting risk register involving:

  • Status and potential issues with Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink’s wide variety of existing and future rollingstock types.
  • Existing train radio systems, their current use, inter-compatibility and capacity issues.
  • Current train control systems and information dependencies, including interfaces with regional and freight networks.
  • Current and future signalling systems, complexities and potential inter-working issues.
  • Crew safety and operating concerns and suggestions.
  • Infrastructure and systems maintenance, support and security.
  • Opportunities to support enhanced on-board customer services.
  • Safety case and accreditation issues.
  • Development of Business Requirements for future technology migration of the train radio system towards FRMCS and 5G.
  • Radio spectrum assessment.
  • Necessary training and rulebook variations, especially for locations where possible inter-working might be required between different control systems.
  • Lessons Learnt presentation and workshops to Sydney Trains and TfNSW executives on similar initiatives undertaken in Melbourne, Australia.


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