NSW main south communications

 
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
I'm just wondering if train crews currently have anything to talk to Junee control with, other than 450.050 MHz 'WB' radio?

I realise that trains no longer have to call during approach to towns along the way, now that the signal boxes aren't in use, but what about communications during times of need?  I have been interested in radio for many years so have been wondering this for a while now, considering that ARTC's new Next-G radio system hasn't been mentioned in ages.

I do know that Junee control can talk to trains on the WB frequency, using the former signal box radios and their antennae I believe, but of course the range of this is quite limited.  I also believe that CountryNet is now no longer using many of the old 418/408 MHz towers that were originally put up along the track, and that satellite-only operation has probably taken over from terrestrial towers.  These towers were still in use as far as Goulburn until a year or two ago, but had not been by CountryNet radios south of Goulburn for many years.

Is there any other communication between train crews and controllers?  Maybe mobile phones are used when WB radio is out of range?  Any information would be of interest, including any info about the communications used on other rural lines.

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  X_Class Junior Train Controller

Location: Hunter Valley
CountryNet.

It just switches between satellite and terrestrial as required. Some systems fitted to locos are satellite only now.
  lsrailfan Chief Commissioner

Location: Somewhere you're not
On this subject- I did hear a while back that the Drivers radios were going to a Digital Network?- How far advanced is this process?

Kind Regards
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
On this subject- I did hear a while back that the Drivers radios were going to a Digital Network?- How far advanced is this process?

Kind Regards
"lsrailfan"


ARTC have been referring to a new communications system for a number of years now, which is supposed to be based on Telstra's mobile phone towers.  The idea is to have a common communications system across the standard guage network, rather than separate state-based systems like at present.  It was initially to be CDMA based, then Next-G once CDMA was phased out by Telstra.  I don't know if satellite technology was to be integrated with mobile phone technology but in any case it would be digital and encrypted, so no scanner reception.  Yes I hate the whole idea myself, having been a bit of a radio enthusiast for ages!

I don't know where ARTC are up to with this system now but would be interested to hear.  I have heard references to ICE radio being fitted to locomotives but am not sure if these radios are the same thing as would be used on the new system.
  lsrailfan Chief Commissioner

Location: Somewhere you're not
so no scanner reception. Yes I hate the whole idea myself, having been a bit of a radio enthusiast for ages!

Ah - But there are ways around it- Buy a Digital Scanner
Very Happy

On a serious note- It would be good to find out where they are up to- As these massive projects can get bogged down from time to time - Last I heard they were putting Tenders out for the project- I read it in a Railway Digest Issue I think

Kind Regards
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
Ah - But there are ways around it- Buy a Digital Scanner
Very Happy
"lsrailfan"


Er, I hate to spoil anyone's day, but even digital scanners can't decrypt encrypted radio or phone communications Sad  Anyone trying to do so will just hear noise, even if tuned exactly to the right frequency.  Also anything based on mobile phones will likely hop between a variety of frequencies during any conversation, even worse than trunking networks.  I have been told that nothing can break the encryption, and that also applies to encrypted police radio if anyone is wondering!
  OK2RUN Assistant Commissioner


I don't know where ARTC are up to with this system now but would be interested to hear.  I have heard references to ICE radio being fitted to locomotives but am not sure if these radios are the same thing as would be used on the new system.
"GregW67"

The ICE Radio is the same system that is currently being fitted to all mainline locomotives.
See here for images.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Google (a little) and ye shall find

From the ARTC 2010 Annual Report...

"Nation Train Communications System

As part of an $85 million communications upgrade, ARTC signed an agreement with Telstra in April 2007 that will see Telstra’s Next G™ network used to replace nine disparate communications systems across 10,000 km of the interstate rail network.

ARTC, in conjunction with the Australian Federal Government will fund the design and construction of 78 new installations (62 regional base stations and 16 sites providing for coverage in tunnels). These new NextG™ sites together with Telstra’s existing sites will provide a single network for communications between locomotives, train control, track workers and wayside equipment across ARTC’s entire interstate rail network. This seamless coverage will be backed up by a secondary communications platform provided by the Iridium Satellite network.

Additionally this project is funding the supply of 700 new communications In-Cabin Equipment (ICE) for train operators to install in their locomotives, which will operate across ARTC and adjacent controlled rail corridors, on the Telstra NextG™ network.

Development and testing of the locomotive ICE unit is progressing, and successful trials were conducted in the Hunter Valley with rail operators Pacific National and Queensland Rail during December 2009."

Not an inconsiderable project  Exclamation
  lukejoe23 Station Master

I believe in Hunter Coal all locomotives are getting fitted with ICE Radio. A few 90's and 82's have been done so far and I also believe Downer EDi have the contract to fit out all the 92 class with 1 (9208) completed already.
CountryNet is the technology of the past
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
Thanks for the info guys.  I always wondered if a mobile phone based system could produce as good a reception quality in hilly and vegetated areas compared to dedicated radio systems, but it must be able to do that to have been chosen I guess.  ARTC don't have to maintain the bases or other base equipment either, as it is all Telstra gear.
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
Telstra has installed additional bases along the routes which didn't already get coverage. I haven't heard if they will do anything about coverage in tunnels. The FreightRail/Countrynet system provided radiating cable through the tunnels in the areas covered by terrestrial bases.

Using a Telstra mobile based system also means any 'on or about the track' contractor will have coverage to call Control to find out workings. The Countrynet terrestrial bases have a second system which in the original design was to provide coverage for those doing 'right of way' work and would switch to become train radio bases if there was a failure. The designers envisaged loan mobiles which to be used by contractors and mobiles fitted to FreightRail maintenance vehicles. This would have given all access to Control. Politics overtook the plans though.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Google (a little) and ye shall find

From the ARTC 2010 Annual Report...

"Nation Train Communications System

As part of an $85 million communications upgrade, ARTC signed an agreement with Telstra in April 2007 that will see Telstra’s Next G™ network used to replace nine disparate communications systems across 10,000 km of the interstate rail network...."
"cootanee"


Also from the same report...

"A successful coverage survey of the Telstra NextG™ network as a result of the NTCS project completing the Telstra NextG™ installations across the rail Corridors has allowed the closure of the UHF CountryNet radio network in the New South Wales ARTC and CRN rail Corridors (Hunter Valley excluded). The Optus Satellite network will provide the communications (with NextG™ and WB radio providing the backup) until the new In-Cabin Equipment (ICE units) has been deployed."
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
I just noticed the name "base2.com.au" on the screen of the ICE radio in one of OK2RUN's photos, and Base 2 Technical Support on the phone number list on one of the screens.  I looked them up but the website I ended up at hadn't been updated since August 2001 so not sure what I did wrong there...anyone know anything about them?
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Thanks for the info guys.  I always wondered if a mobile phone based system could produce as good a reception quality in hilly and vegetated areas compared to dedicated radio systems, but it must be able to do that to have been chosen I guess.  ARTC don't have to maintain the bases or other base equipment either, as it is all Telstra gear.
"GregW67"


As a mobile system is a radio system it doesn't make any difference - the bendability of the signal depends on the frequency. Bottom line is you test for coverage and put up base stations where needed.

From extensive country travel Next-G sh*ts over the competition. After all it needed to replace CDMA which country folk relied on.

One might recall that ARTC radio system was originally planned around Telstra CDMA.

Agreement Signed for New Rail Communications System

"Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC) today signed an Agreement with Telstra committing the parties to work towards the provisioning CDMA coverage across the Interstate rail network and the Hunter Valley.

On completion, the Interstate and Hunter Valley Rail Networks will have a common media (Telstra CDMA technology) from Brisbane to Perth via Melbourne, Broken Hill and the Hunter Valley, replacing the many disparate media...
...
CDMA will be capable of meeting the data centric requirements of ATMS, the next generation train control technology."

http://www.artc.com.au/library/news_230605.pdf
  AK2383 Locomotive Fireman

Next G coverage on the NSW rail corridor is very good to exceptional. It is near 100% with an external antenna and reasonably good on a hand-held. There is coverage in long and/or remote tunnels, such as Ulan.
The Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is now covered - 100% (or very close to it!) with external antenna, maybe 90% coverage with hand-held unit. The desert isn't so remote any more.

The terrestrial CountryNet radio system has/wil be shut down completely and use 100% satellite for now...

AK2383.

Telstra has installed additional bases along the routes which didn't already get coverage. I haven't heard if they will do anything about coverage in tunnels. The FreightRail/Countrynet system provided radiating cable through the tunnels in the areas covered by terrestrial bases.

Using a Telstra mobile based system also means any 'on or about the track' contractor will have coverage to call Control to find out workings. The Countrynet terrestrial bases have a second system which in the original design was to provide coverage for those doing 'right of way' work and would switch to become train radio bases if there was a failure. The designers envisaged loan mobiles which to be used by contractors and mobiles fitted to FreightRail maintenance vehicles. This would have given all access to Control. Politics overtook the plans though.
"GrahamH"
  GregW67 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney Australia
Thanks for the info guys.  I guess I am a bit biased towards old fashioned radio communication.  I realise mobiles are basically 850 MHz two way radios but I was unsure of their ability to achieve results equal to a dedicated trackside radio system.  Obviously Next G does have good coverage in various remote areas from what you have said.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Thanks for the info guys.  I guess I am a bit biased towards old fashioned radio communication.  I realise mobiles are basically 850 MHz two way radios but I was unsure of their ability to achieve results equal to a dedicated trackside radio system.  Obviously Next G does have good coverage in various remote areas from what you have said.
"GregW67"


For a body like ARTC which has to pay its way in the world, they just don't have the funds to tie up providing an in-house capability. It's cheaper to leverage off another.

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