Sydney Trains, Sydney Australia

GT helps Sydney Trains to expand its award winning Mechanised Track Patrol program

Business Challenge
Sydney Trains (formerly RailCorp New South Wales) is a government owned rail utility responsible for the delivery of rail services throughout New South Wales. Sydney Trains is also responsible for monitoring track condition and undertaking track maintenance.

Track patrols are routine inspections of the rail network that are traditionally carried out on foot. On busy railway networks track patrollers are sometimes required to take possession of the track to safely carry out inspections, which reduces network availability for train operations. Furthermore, inspections on foot present OH&S risks to patrolling staff.

These issues led Sydney Trains to develop a technology solution known as Mechanised Track Patrol (MTP). MTP is a complete end-to-end maintenance solution that uses digital imagery of the track and rail corridor to allow inspections to occur in a controlled office environment. The aim of MTP is to reduce the frequency of track patrols carried out on foot. With one MTP vehicle in successful operation since 2004 Sydney Trains decided to develop a second MTP vehicle and turned to Geomatic Technologies (GT) for help.

Services Overview
As Sydney Trains’ technology partner for the first MTP vehicle, GT was asked to install its award winning GT AIMS (Asset Inspection Mapping System) technology on the second inspection car platform. GT AIMS is the technology platform that controls the multiple camera systems on the first MTP vehicle, as well as the third party inspection systems that integrate with MTP.

Sydney Trains selected a 620/720 diesel powered railcar for the new MTP vehicle. These 2-car units entered service in the 1960s and were recently retired from the network. The Sydney Trains conversion of the 620/720 railcars included the fitting of new diesel-powered generators to boost power for on-board equipment, lighting and air conditioning. GT provided detailed plans and reports to Sydney Trains’ railcar contractor for the specification of cabling requirements and equipment installation.

The design work conducted by GT focused on minimising the length of cabling needed in order to address potential interference from generators and other power supplies. Cables were shielded to prevent any physical damage. The 620/720 car is numbered ML070 and equipped with the following system components:
–  Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate position recording. A shaft encoder fitted to a  wheel axle records vehicle running distance to deal with areas of little or no GPS coverage.
–  Cameras in weather proof mountings with GT designed rain deflector lenses to capture  imagery of the track and rail easement in all weather conditions.
–  Rail level cameras and lighting to capture imagery of both sides of each rail.
–  Patroller POI or Point of Interest trigger for automated flagging of faults along with voice  recording for defect identification.

Outcomes
–  GT’s design work resulted in optimal cable lengths, minimising costs and maximising cable  performance.
–  The flexibility in the deployment of GT AIMS was demonstrated with GT AIMS now operating  on a refurbished passenger railcar as an alternative to a purpose built vehicle.