Zetron digital consoles help control world’s longest trains in South Africa

A further six Zetron DCS-5020 digital consoles are being installed at two new centres which will co-ordinate radio traffic for the control of trains and track maintenance

Zetron digital consoles help control world’s longest trains in South Africa

Eight Zetron DCS-5020 digital consoles feature in a R3.6m upgrade to the 861km freight line which transports over 60 million tonnes of iron ore every year between mines in the Northern Cape and the deep water port of Saldana in South Africa. More than three and a half kilometres long, with eight locomotives and 342 wagons, the trains that carry the export iron ore on the line are the longest in the world.

Rail operator Transnet Freight Rail is deploying the Zetron consoles in two new state of the art control centres from which the operation of trains and maintenance of the track will be coordinated. Two Zetron DCS-5020 digital consoles have been in operation at the line’s original train control centre since 2010.

A Transnet Freight Rail spokesman said: ‘We first deployed two Zetron DCS-5020 consoles in 2010 and they have made life so much easier by bringing a large percentage of radio and phone traffic to a single place where it can be monitored and coordinated. When it came to planning the new control centres, we knew we needed a further six consoles in order to bring all communications under centralised management, and we went for the make and type that has been serving us so reliably.’

Zetron’s partner, Global Communications, will help Transnet Freight Rail install the two existing and two new DCS-5020s in its new train control centre, and four new DCS-5020s in its 24/7 operations room.

The consoles in the train control centre will enable operators to coordinate radio traffic with trains across the entire length of the route from mine to port, and with trains joining the line via its interconnect with the wider South African national rail network.

The consoles in the 24/7 operations room will link operators with track maintenance specialists who necessarily carry out much of their work during the night. All the Zetron DCS-5020s will be networked, enabling every operator position to monitor all seven radio networks associated with the export iron ore line, and six positions to monitor a MPT1327 trunk network. Each console will also access a wireline phone hotline.

‘This arrangement will give us an unprecedented overview of our entire communications,’ said the spokesman. ‘It will enable us to run our operation even more efficiently and even more safely. That’s good for our customers, it’s good for us, and it’s good for our employees too.’ 

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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