On Saturday 11th June, the ATP (Automatic Train Protection) Main North Project kicked off on site with a weekend possession. Despite atrocious weather conditions they achieved their target of installing 76 ATP Balises on the tracks between Gosford and Warnervale, plus a small amount of cable trenching.
Work started early on Saturday morning under fog lights in heavy rain. The Balise installation teams persevered despite the weather, only calling it a day on Sunday afternoon, once their target was reached. The cable trenching teams had less luck, with the Super-Sucker trucks unable to extract the water from the pits and trenches, faster than the rain refilled them.
The ATP Balises enable the transmission of track and signalling data to the train borne ATP computer. The computer generates information and alarms for display to the train driver. If the driver fails to take the necessary action, the ATP system can initiate a brake application to prevent the train exceeding the permissible speed, or passing a red signal and creating a dangerous situation.
Adding to the congratulations offered by RailCorp’s ATP Program Manager Craig Stanfield, and Project Manager Wayne Cooney, Novo Rail’s own Project Manager, David Hickson, acknowledged the team’s achievement and their determination to meet the target despite the additional challenge thrown at them by the weather.
He reminded the team of the significance of the moment, commenting that ‘the alliance’s installation of ATP at Wyong represents the first step of another major development of RailCorp’s signalling system...every bit as significant as the introduction of colour-light signals almost 100 years ago, and more recently, the introduction of Computer-based inter-lockings’.
This initial ATP project has 11 months to run and represents the first phase of RailCorp’s Programme to introduce ATP across the network.
Automatic Train Protection (ATP)
Automatic Train Protection is a generic name to describe trackside and train borne safety systems designed to automatically prevent a train from over-speeding or travelling beyond the end of its permitted movement authority, by providing warnings to the driver or automatically slowing the train if the warnings are not acted upon.
Four specific functions of an ATP system are to:
• enforce track speed limits;
• give drivers advance notice about the track ahead (including signals at STOP);
• prevent trains from approaching a signal at STOP at too great a speed;
• prevent trains from passing the overlaps beyond signals at STOP.
A major difference between an ATP system and existing driver safety systems is that it is proactive rather than reactive.