Install of new signalling system reaches testing milestones

ETCS Level 2 is a new world class signalling system that will help trains in South East Queensland run more efficiently and with greater reliability while maintaining safety on our rail network. It is being introduced to the SEQ rail network as part of the Cross River Rail project by the Sequence Signalling & Systems Alliance, which consists of Hitachi Rail, Queensland Rail and Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.

Stage 1 one of introducing the new system has been to build a pilot on the Shorncliffe Line and over the last few months, testing on the line has moved through a number of stages, achieving important milestones along the way.

Trains fitted with new technology have been travelling the full length of the Shorncliffe line between Bindha and Shorncliffe stations since February, seamlessly transitioning between Queensland Rail’s current signalling system and the new ETCS digital signalling system.

An SMU trained fitted with ETCS technology passing through Shorncliffe station during testing


In addition and over the Easter long weekend, a train from Queensland’s New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) fleet completed its first low speed ETCS dynamic test on the line, which was significant milestone in preparing the NGR rolling stock for travel through the Cross River Rail twin tunnels, where ETCS will also be installed as the signalling system.

Testing is a vital part of introducing any new technology and for a rail signalling system it involves a multi-staged process that:

  • Starts in a factory and undergoes rigorous testing in a systems integration laboratory before it is transferred to a ‘real world’ operating environment.
  • Sees each element tested in isolation, and then brings them all together to be tested as one system.
  • Confirms this core system (including data exchange) successfully integrates with other sub-systems.
  • Puts the system through a myriad of scenarios (or test cases) to determine how it performs.
  • Validates its operation against all required safety regulations and operational requirements.


‌An NGR train fitted with ETCS technology at the Banyo stabling facility during testing along the Shorncliffe line


For those who are familiar with railway signalling systems, the testing completed to date has involved ETCS-fitted trains successfully transitioning between ETCS Level 0 and ETCS Level 2, connecting with all on-track balises, and switching between the trackside radio base stations located along the line. It has also confirmed that the level crossings and other field equipment were effectively controlled by the interlocking system and operated in accordance with Queensland Rail standards. Progress has also been made on integrating the traffic management system with the interlocking system (wayside standard platform) in the Rail Management Centre.

Rigorous testing of the system will now continue and the recent success of this ‘sub-system and integration level’ testing paves the way for gradual software updates, testing of specific ETCS functionality, and full system testing and validation later this year.

Members of the Sequence ETCS test and commissioning team at Shorncliffe station