As part of a $635 million investment into smart rail technology, Queensland trains are being fitted with new signalling technology that significantly improves safety and supports more efficient services.

Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the first Queensland Rail trains to be fitted with new European Train Control System (ETCS) technology had arrived at a specialised facility in Redbank.

The project is expected to support up to 30 jobs once work ramps up on the contract later in 2021.

“Delivering better rail services for commuters and investing in rail to support more jobs and skills development is part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’ve backed a $1 billion pipeline of rail manufacturing work to support Queensland communities, including building trains in Maryborough for Cross River Rail.

“We’re also investing $635 million in ETCS technology to make our rail network work smarter and build future capacity for more services.

“Fitting out the first two trains with ETCS technology marks a significant milestone for Cross River Rail and south east Queensland’s public transport network.

“This new world-class signalling system enables increased capacity on the rail network.

“It means services are more reliable, safer and allows the wider rail network to run more efficiently.”

The train fit-outs at Redbank involve the installation of new technology to the trains, including axle sensors that detect the train’s speed and two new touchscreens added to the drivers’ cabin.

Signalling equipment is also being installed on the Shorncliffe line, so the new technology can be tested on trains when they’re not in service.

“When they’re up and running, the trains will essentially be talking constantly to Queensland Rail’s Rail Management Centre via a radio system, trackside technology and onboard equipment, allowing the train’s exact position, direction and speed to be known at all times,” Mr Bailey said.

“It means trains can travel closer together more safely and train schedules can be updated automatically, giving commuters more accurate and timely information.”

Member for Bundamba, Lance McCallum, said workers at Redbank would upgrade 64 Queensland Rail trains over the next two years, and by the end of 2021 four trains could be upgraded at once.

“Delivering stable and secure manufacturing jobs is a key part of Queensland’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan,” Mr McCallum said.

“That plan is creating jobs right across the state and I’m pleased to say that includes here in Redbank for our local community too.

“There are currently 12 workers fitting out the trains on site, with up to 30 planned by the end of the year.

“All up, about 200 workers across south east Queensland are bringing ETCS technology to our rail network, while the new technology will support new and ongoing technical jobs at Queensland Rail.

“This world-class technology is yet another example of the benefits Cross River Rail will not only create when it opens, but is delivering for our economy right now, when it’s needed the most.”

ETCS is used on rail networks around the world, including in France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, India and China.

It will be operational in south east Queensland ahead of Cross River Rail’s opening in 2025.

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