The rail industry is on a rapid path to modernisation. Digitisation and the Internet of Things means devices for obstacle and damage detection, preventive maintenance and rolling stock geolocation are now easily available.
The influential InnoTrans trade fair in Berlin draws international attention as it shines a light on new rail technology. Battery-powered equipment featured heavily at last year's event, and while prototypes used to dominate, there are now working models ready for the rail corridor.
In the past, industry confidence in battery-powered gear was not high, given its lack of power and stamina. But technology improvements mean batteries can now be depended on as a reliable source of machine power.
These and other technologies are becoming increasingly available in Australia, which is experiencing a rail infrastructure boom.
Innovation in rail equipment
Similar to InnoTrans, the AusRail 2019 exhibition is set to showcase more battery-powered and fuel-efficient models, along with innovative equipment to improve productivity and worker safety.
One of these is a hybrid excavator. It can run off electricity, meaning there are no emissions when working on site. This is particularly useful on suburban platforms or tunnels where noise, emissions and ventilation are an issue.
In addition, there’s the Rosenqvist CD 400, a high-output clipping machine capable of being remotely controlled for worker safety. It can clip or unclip either E clip or Fast Clip at high speeds — approximately 30 sleepers a minute on Fast Clip. The machine also has a sleeper-lifting grab when in Fast Clip mode.
The Australian-designed and manufactured Melvelle Trackpack is a complete hydraulic power unit with a boom arm and rail trolley. Trackpack takes multiple hydraulic work heads without the need for multiple power supplies. Working head attachments include clipping/de-clippers, screw spike head, spike driver head, pin puller and sleeper drill, making this the Swiss army knife of rail gear. Trackpack represents Australian ingenuity at its best.
Hi-rail booms are ideal for overhead rail works, signalling and bridge works, and triple gauge units can be used across Australian rail gauge variations. The latest booms are equipped with a pantograph to record height and stagger measurements on the move.
Australia’s rail infrastructure boom
Around Australia there are massive rail projects as federal and state governments invest in rail infrastructure.
For freight, increased rail connections take the pressure off roads and reduce emissions in the residential areas that road transport routes pass through. Governments see rail infrastructure as safer and greener than relying on road transport.
Rail is also important in expanding commuter access to cities along growth corridors, with major projects underway in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Many of these, including Melbourne’s current Metro Tunnel project, use tunnels to minimally disrupt surface infrastructure. Due for completion in 2025, Metro Tunnel will channel commuters to key CBD locations and connect to Melbourne’s busiest suburban commuter lines.
In Queensland, the Cross River Rail project will add an underground rail connection from the south at Woolloongabba, under the Brisbane River to connect key locations in the Brisbane CBD.
Sydney Metro is Australia’s largest rail projects. From the north west, metro rail is being extended under Sydney Harbour, through new underground city stations and beyond into the south west.
Kennards Hire Rail: at home in the rail corridor
Kennards Hire Rail provides class track equipment for maintenance, pre-planned shutdown and possession work, servicing 44,000km of rail lines throughout Australia.
Having travelled to international exhibitions to inspect the latest technology, Kennards Hire Rail is investing in more efficient equipment. Instead of buying equipment, this means rail construction companies get the benefit of hiring well-maintained, new technology at a fraction of the cost.
The division's track record of working in the rail corridor means staff are familiar with operational procedures and PPE regulations. Once inducted into the project, rail staff are ready to get the job done. And because Kennards Hire Rail draws on the industry experience of its project managers and staff, it speaks the same language as industry. This is important when planning rail project requirements or in the event of an emergency or when a quick turnaround on maintenance is needed.
A member of the RTAA and PWI, the UK institute for rail engineers, Kennards Hire Rail is a quality-assured company with an emphasis on safety and duty of care. All work practices conform to national regulations, standards and good practice.
This an exciting time to be part of Australia’s rail industry, and Kennards Hire Rail is proud to be playing an active part!