A NEW world-class rail signalling system for South East Queensland's rail network is on the fast track, with global Expressions of Interest to develop the $634 million project now open, the State Government announced last week.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the government is planning for the future with its commitment in the 2016-17 Budget to fund the roll out of the European Train Control System (ETCS) to boost train capacity on the rail network in South East Queensland.
"This $634 million rail infrastructure investment will enable more efficient movement of people and goods in South East Queensland and will drive economic efficiencies to underpin the continued success of our State," Mr Pitt said.
"This piece of soft infrastructure, optimises the network in preparation for Cross River Rail and better enables the freight task and the mobility challenge for a fast moving region of Queensland
"The Palaszczuk Government was pleased to allocate funding to a project that will advance the Queensland economy, as well as support on average 120 jobs per year over the eight year implementation period," Mr Pitt said.
Mr Hinchliffe said the new signalling system will bridge the region's "looming rail capacity gap" and described it is a critical first step to build the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.
"ETCS is a game changer, it features an automatic braking system that enables trains to safely travel closer together and means an extra eight trains per hour will be able to move through the busy CBD," the Minister said.
"The signalling system will modernise our rail network and make it work harder and smarter – boosting inner-city rail capacity by 20 per cent and allowing an extra 12,000 people through the CBD each peak period, which is an extra 21 million additional commuters per year.
"The system will usher in a new generation of train technology, providing an added level of safety and allowing trains to travel 2.5 minutes apart, rather than the current three minutes."
Mr Hinchliffe said the signalling system would be installed at the heart of the city network, where capacity and reliability are needed most.
"The new system will be installed from Northgate to Milton, upgrading 26 percent of the existing signalling assets in South East Queensland in one project," he said.
"This will allow more trains to pass through the bottleneck in the CBD, where every single train line on the City network merges into a single corridor and every service stops at Roma Street, Central, Bowen Hills and Fortitude Valley stations.
"ETCS is a critical project because our current rail system expected to reach crush-capacity by 2021 with rail demand expected to double by 2026, and triple by 2036.
"The new signalling system would be operational from 2021, helping to bridge the capacity gap on the rail network."
Mr Hinchliffe said ETCS 'Level 2' was chosen after examining 37 other systems across the globe and is internationally renowned technology used across the world.
"This will be the first time Australia has used this system, which uses 'in-cab' technology, rather than trackside signals," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"ETCS 'Level 2' means the current coloured traffic lights on the side of the track will no longer be required, with a computer in the driver's cab providing the authority to go, while taking other trains on the railway into account, maximising speed and braking efficiency."
Queensland's 75 New Generation Rollingstock trains will be ETCS ready and the existing Queensland Rail fleet will be fitted out with the in-cab technology as part of the $634 million project.
The Expression of Interest is being advertised on QTenders and internationally to secure a delivery partner with experience of ETCS to support Queensland Rail with the delivery of ETCS. The tender is expected to be finalised later this year.