The AusRail Plus 2023 gathering in Sydney was a welcome opportunity for industry leaders from Australia, New Zealand, and beyond to connect at our sector’s largest annual event.
One of the conference’s main themes was reporting the progress of decarbonisation strategies across our sector, as we continue the shared journey towards Net Zero. Trapeze Rail’s Driving Advice System (DAS) makes a major contribution in this area by significantly reducing operators’ emissions, so we were delighted to attend the launch of the ARA’s Sustainability Guide which features a decarbonisation best practice case study of our DAS implementation for KiwiRail.
The Trapeze DAS system provides in-cab advice for drivers of any type of train including passenger, freight, light rail, and heavy haul services, by generating an ideal journey profile and helping them achieve it through optimised braking and acceleration. It is industry-proven to enhance on-time running and service reliability, cut fuel costs, reduce emissions, and improve outcomes for scheduling and maintenance functions.
You can read more about the inclusion of DAS in the ARA’s Sustainability Guide later in this blog.
This year has seen growing industry recognition for Trapeze’s Workforce Management (WFM) software, with three high-profile Australian rail organisations adopting the technology in 2023. This interest was reflected in the frequent product demonstrations our experts provided for executives during AusRail.
Our Workforce Management system provides rail organisations with the integrated business data necessary to save time and reduce costs. The software allows rail operators to streamline a range of complex tasks, replacing manual processes with automated systems that are designed specifically for rail applications.
A highlight of the first day was the Big Picture panel of leaders from industry and government. Josh Murray from Transport for NSW began by considering the transformational influences impacting transport and the challenge of dealing with these simultaneously.
“We are dealing with so many variables within transport that require our sector to respond effectively and with resilience,” Mr Murray said. “Just look this week at the cybercrime incident affecting our ports and the potential impact of that for freight in the pre-Christmas period.”
Paul Scurrah from Pacific National cited the difficulty in generating new rail investment and the length of time needed to deliver major rail projects, as well as the disproportional impact the carbon emissions safeguard mechanism has upon rail operators over road freight. “Rail freight produces 16 times less carbon pollution per kilometre than road transport and we have plenty of capacity, yet we are losing mode share. This is counter intuitive.”
He added that introducing new technology to help achieve decarbonisation targets is more difficult in the current inflationary environment. “I have heard the phrase ‘sweat the asset’ more in the last two years than ever before,” he said.
The panel also focused on how current macro-economic conditions create downward pressure on rail freight services. Kevin Doherty from Beca developed this point by comparing the general lack of consumer confidence with the confidence that is evident within the sector itself. “Rail can respond by simplifying projects to deliver more efficiently, as we continue to cut out unnecessary waste and complexity to move our industry forward.”
Mark Lusis from Arup opened the Net Zero panel by assessing the industry’s decarbonisation journey. “As I walk through the exhibition hall and listen to the conference speakers, it is clear that we no longer see Net Zero as an obligation. Instead, we are looking at the opportunities that accompany this target.”
Kylie Hargreaves from National Intermodal explained that her organisation is building five strategic intermodal transport hubs which aim to achieve True Zero. “This means every electron within the precinct will be green, thanks to our renewable energy generation and storage capabilities. We are also focused on achieving uplift in the locomotive market, where possibilities include using battery locomotives for short haul.”
The Infrastructure Sustainability Council’s Mike Kilburn outlined the Infrastructure Net Zero initiative. This brings together government organisations, the Australasian Railway Association, and other peak bodies to collectively address national infrastructure decarbonisation targets.
Another member of the Infrastructure Net Zero group is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Julia Hinwood agreed with Mr Kilburn about the importance of collaboration across the transport sector, with rail being at the heart of these discussions. Her organisation has invested in funds accessing key infrastructure assets including airports, ports, and energy generation facilities.
Anitra Hobby mentioned barriers to decarbonising Pacific National’s fleet of 570 active locomotives, such as the cost of electrifying the Nullarbor and other remote areas of Australia’s 30,000 km freight track network. She emphasised the need for optimisation and efficiency to achieve lower locomotive emissions, as part of Pacific National’s decarbonisation roadmap.
“We need to be smart in how we manage our operations, our train consists, and our terminal operations to minimise our energy footprint. In the medium term we are interested in exploring low carbon technologies such as biofuels or renewable diesel, then beyond that is the potential for battery-electric or hydrogen locomotives.”
The Net Zero panel’s recognition that optimisation and efficiency are key decarbonisation strategies was echoed at the ARA’s Sustainability Guide launch event. ‘On Track to a Sustainable Future – Australasian Railway Association Sustainability Guide’ was created by ARA in partnership with Arup.
The guide uses best practice case studies to demonstrate how operators, track owners, and manufacturers are working with suppliers to deliver a range of improved outcomes. “Continued investment in sustainable transport systems is critical to achieving net zero targets,” said ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie. “There are already some fantastic examples of sustainable innovation in rail.”
Trapeze Rail’s DAS is featured on page 34 as an example of decarbonisation best practice. The case study showcases our DAS implementation for New Zealand’s largest rail transport operator, KiwiRail, which has achieved a 13.5% reduction in fuel costs since adopting the solution. The impact made by DAS was so immediate that KiwiRail’s 2020 target to reduce energy consumption by 20 GWh was achieved in 2016, prompting the organisation to increase this 2020 target to 73.5 GWh.
This year’s AusRail Plus gathering was an inspirational few days for the Trapeze team. If you weren’t able to attend in person, we would welcome the opportunity to share more of our individual learnings from the conference with you!
Want to connect about AusRail, DAS, or WFM? We love to talk about technology solutions that reduce costs while improving performance so get in touch with us today.
AusRail Plus 2023 was a welcome opportunity for industry leaders to connect at our sector’s largest annual event. The Trapeze stand was busy as our team connected with fellow executives and hosted DAS and WFM demonstrations.
Workforce Management, Driving Advice System (DAS)