As commuters slept one night last week, a coastal track in Brisbane’s north-east played host to crucial testing of the future of Queensland’s train travel.
A train equipped with new rail control technology – set to be part of Cross River Rail and then the broader Queensland Rail network – was successfully tested on the Shorncliffe line.
The European Train Control System is used on rail networks around the world, including extensively across Europe and the United Kingdom.
It relays information between the train and the rail control centre via a radio system, trackside technology and onboard equipment.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the system was “more efficient, reliable and safer”.
“This technology allows a continuous flow of information of the train – its direction, its speed, all those sorts of things – to the control centre, so we can run more trains more often and more tightly together, and it’s much safer than the current signalling system,” he said.
“To the untrained eye, a slow-moving train [at Shorncliffe] in the middle of the night might not look like much. But for the dedicated team implementing this world-class digital signalling technology, the testing provides them with a wealth of information.”
Cross River Rail Delivery Authority chief executive Graeme Newton said the technology would be crucial for running trains in the project’s twin underground tunnels.
“There is a range of technology beside the track and within the track, and then also on the trains. It allows the train to know its position precisely,” he said.
“When you’re in the tunnel, you can’t have the lights [signals] that you see on the side of the tracks; what you need is this digital technology, which allows the trains to know their exact location.”
Bailey said the new signalling system was part of the build up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
He added that the technology was needed to enable trains to line up with planned platform screen doors when stopping at Cross River Rail stations – another safety feature.
The $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project will overhaul public transport in the south-east, with twin tunnels running trains from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills.
It promises to deliver an extra 18,000 seats on Brisbane trains, take 14,000 drivers off the roads, cut travel times on existing south-east Queensland train lines, and create more than 7700 jobs.
There will be four new underground stations, eight existing train stations will be upgraded, and three new stations will be built on the Gold Coast to improve the intercity connection.