Queensland Rail warned against signalling system

Queensland Rail warned against signalling system :Queensland Rail says it warned the Newman government against installing a signalling system that eventually failed, delaying the opening of a rail link north of Brisbane.

In April 2014, QR was asked for advice on the train signalling system chosen for the Moreton Bay Rail Link between Kippa Ring and Petrie.

It advised against adopting the system, but the government settled on it two months later.

Labor’s Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe one week ago halted the likely mid-year opening of the new $1.1 billion rail line for safety reasons after the signalling system failed.

The signalling system chosen for the Kippa Ring to Petrie Rail Line – the Ansaldo MAcroLok system – is clashing with the signalling system used on the rest of the south-east Queensland rail network.

The system cannot handle the number of signalling enquiries needed and “crashed” after three trains passed through the Petrie station.

In April 2014 Queensland Rail told the Department of Transport and Main Roads that it did not believe the system that was ultimately chosen in June 2014 could be installed in time to meet the deadlines of the project.

However, Queensland Rail was advised the system that was adopted by the project team because it was cheaper and any difficulties could be handled by the project team.

“Queensland Rail’s signalling engineers participated in the technical evaluation of the Moreton Bay Rail Link signalling system in April 2014,” QR said in a statement provided on Monday.

“(It) rated Ansaldo’s MAcroLok system lower than the alternatives, due to it not being type approved and Queensland Rail’s lack of confidence in the technology being able to be implemented within the timeframe required for delivery of the project.”

QR said it had “successfully” used another model of the signalling system from the same company – Ansaldo’s MicroLok system – across its SEQ rail network.

The new model was promoted as superior technology, Queensland Rail’s statement reads.

“Ansaldo’s MAcroLok system was presented as new, superior technology to the company’s existing MicroLok system,” the QR statement reads.

“Following a technical and commercial evaluation, Ansaldo’s MAcroLok system was the preferred option due to it being significantly cheaper than the alternatives.”

Queensland Rail again raised its concerns with the new Ansaldo MAcroLok system.

“But was advised that the system was significantly cheaper than the preferred technologies and that the contractor was confident they could overcome Queensland Rail’s concerns,” it said on Monday.

The tender was awarded in June 2014.

The Moreton Bay Rail Link project – the new Kippa Ring to Petrie rail line – is the first major rail project in Queensland that Queensland Rail has not managed, according to Queensland Rail.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is expected to announce early this week who will run an independent inquiry into how and why the “failed” rail signalling system for the Kippa Ring to Petrie train line was chosen.

Mr Hinchliffe put QR back in charge of the rail project last week. The Department of Transport and Main Roads has previously run the project.

Mr Hinchliffe’s announcement of the bungled signalling system last week prompted accusations from both major political parties about the awarding of the contract.

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