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Digital Systems Program
Director, PalazziRail; BE (Electrical), University of Technology Sydney
Bill Palazzi is the primary thought leader and strategist behind the Transport for New South Wales Digital Systems Program.
Using new technology to eliminate the requirement for lineside signals, the program aims to modernise the approach to signalling and controlling trains throughout the Sydney mainline rail network, allowing for more frequent services, reduced journey times, and improved reliability and safety, with lower energy consumption and reduced costs.
The principles for the current signalling and train control systems on the Sydney rail network were laid out in the 1920s. These principles now constrain the network in significant ways.
For example, the system allows operation of a maximum of 20 trains per hour per track. In addition, the bespoke nature of the system means high costs, difficulty in introducing new technology and limitations in the skilled workforce available.
“THE APPROACH TO DEPLOYING DIGITAL SYSTEMS REPRESENTS AN INNOVATION SIGNIFICANT ON A GLOBAL SCALE.”
Digital Systems aims to transform the way the network is operated and managed. The program includes the adoption of world-leading technologies such as traffic management, which provides controllers with enhanced and intelligent tools to manage the network, as well as automatic train operation — a system comparable to autopilot — to support train drivers.
The benefits of Digital Systems are substantial. Network capacity will be lifted to more than 24 trains per hour. The reliability and punctuality of services will be improved. Energy consumption will be reduced by automation of energy-efficient driving styles. Safety of rail customers and workers will be enhanced. Combined, the benefits mean that the Sydney rail network will be able to provide a better service for many years to come.
Palazzi said the approach to deploying Digital Systems represents an innovation significant on a global scale and the program is widely recognised as one of the most exciting of comparable initiatives worldwide.