Skip to main content

mailContact Information

Signalling innovation moves more people and product

Video: Hitachi Rail - Pioneering the future of sustainable rail solutions.

Designing a world-first rail solution

Innovation is key to Hitachi Rail improving the mobility of people and freight - where every passenger, customer, community and economy enjoys the benefits of smart, seamless, and sustainable transport.

As part of this, Hitachi Rail is at the forefront of new technology that is improving the rail network in Queensland, Australia, including in Brisbane City, as well as a Rio Tinto site in the Pilbara, Western Australia. This advanced signalling technology is called European Train Control System, or ETCS.

ETCS is an advanced digital signalling system that relays continuous information between an operational control centre (OCC), trackside and on-track equipment, and trains regarding the position, direction and speed of each train and enables the system to calculate safe, maximum running speeds.

world-first rail solution

Knowing the exact position of each train along the network means they can be scheduled to travel closer to each other.

“I’m proud that we’re leading the way in providing systems that solve real problems for industry, the community, individuals and the environment,” Dr Anthony MacDonald VP of Automation & Freight Systems APAC, Hitachi Rail.

ETCS signalling

A need for increased service while maintaining safety

For SEQ, the requirement for a new integrated system was catalysed by its growing population and urbanisation, and the impending 2032 Olympics.

“We needed to help increase capacity and reliability in order to move people seamlessly across the whole SEQ network,” says Anthony.

“However, if you want more trains, you need to put them closer together. We had to find a way to do that while maintaining the highest level of safety.”

“In Rio Tinto’s case, it was about increasing how many tonnes they could haul – unlocking additional network capacity and improving efficiency. Their journey from mine to port was around 18 hours with an additional 2 hours for a, driver change stop. Adding ETCS technology removed this required changeover.”

increased service while maintaining safety

Both systems also allow data and analytics to be used for predictive maintenance to extend the life of assets, and improve reliability, safety and network resilience.

However, while these solutions require innovative thinking, so does their implementation, especially as they involve people.

“These are as much about people as well as technology. While the tech is well understood, we’re helping organisations who have used the same signalling system for decades to do something different,” Anthony says.

more efficient maintenance

A dream for the future

Digital signalling is changing Australia’s rail infrastructure for the better, creating future-ready transport solutions, increasing capacity, easing urban congestion, and delivering critical safety gains and operational efficiencies.

“I have a dream that Brisbane can be like a European city, where I rock up and there’s a train. I just hop on and then hop off at my destination without even thinking about it. With this technology, I know we will get there,” says Anthony.

“I grew up in Brisbane and was constantly frustrated with the transport. It’s pretty special to be involved in a project that will change how my city lives and my kids’ lives.”

A dream for the future