Technology trials to keep our customers safe and Sydney Moving

Our key focus is to keep our trains running to time, especially during the peak periods. A small delay to a service at one station can become a major delay as the service proceeds to its destination, with flow on impacts to other services.

Over the coming months, Sydney Trains will trial different types of technology to see if the technology can help to overcome the challenges on an increasingly busy rail network, as it meets ever growing customer demand.

The trials will help identify technology that will deliver positive outcomes for our customers through increased customer safety, improved customer comfort and the timely departure of trains at our busiest stations.

Trial of the Dwell Track system

Dwell-time is the time that a train remains stationary at a platform, allowing for doors to be opened, customers to safely alight and board and doors closed.

While there is generally sufficient dwell-time on platforms, during peak times at busy stations, the scheduled dwell-time is difficult to achieve as customers on the train may not be prepared or are slow to alight and customers on the platform may block their path, or may not be prepared to board or arrive late but still attempt to board the train. This then necessitates the guard to open and re-close the doors. All scenarios may cause the train to over-dwell. The time lost is rarely recovered and often grows as the train continues on its journey.

In order to help reduce both the average dwell-time for critical services and the frequency of over-dwell incidents at key locations, we have deployed a number of Fast Track Teams. The teams reduce dwell-time by managing the distribution of customers along the platform and customer behaviour when boarding the service.

The Fast Track initiative has seen notable reductions in over-dwell-times. However, the process is manual and highly dependent on station staff being able to determine, communicate and action crowd density, distribution and behaviours in a timely manner.

In August 2019, Sydney Trains commenced a trial of the Dwell Track system.

Sydney Trains believes a system such as Dwell Track has the potential to help further reduce instances of over-dwell. It could also help improve customer safety and comfort by providing better awareness and support to our Fast Track Teams.

The trial is taking place on Platform 3 at Wynyard Station and is expected to run until June 2020.

The Australian-created Dwell Track technology has been collaboratively developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Downer, supported by the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (co-funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Business Cooperative Research Centres Program).

The Dwell Track system is comprised of:

  • 16 devices, each aligned to a carriage door. Each device contains two cameras: a depth perception camera, based on infra-red imaging, and a digital video camera. Together, the cameras are able to distinguish between people in dense crowds and monitor the flow of customers boarding and alighting.
  • A portable decision-support tool, displaying information captured by the cameras, supplemented by real-time service-related information, including the carriage load data for Waratah sets, and historical dwell-related information.
  • Summary operational performance dashboards, which capture and present metrics that are currently captured and reported manually.

During the trial, decision support tool users will perform an observational role, shadowing the Dwell Manager (who coordinates the Fast Track Team’s activities) at a safe distance.

Images from both cameras are anonymous by design. The images from the infra-red depth perception cameras only show shape outlines and do not show any details. Images from the conventional video cameras are pixelated within the camera and before the images are processed by the software or stored on a server.  As a result, individuals are not identifiable in the camera feeds and the images are not 'personal information'.

As with all CCTV systems Sydney Trains operates in the public domain, the images will be managed as per Sydney Trains’ CCTV Code of Practice.