New South Wales rail infrastructure authority Railway Services Agency has introduced remote monitoring of equipment at isolated level crossings around the network, using digital cellular technology provided by Call Direct Cellular Solutions.

Providing two-way communication and allowing the collection of real-time information, the Remote Monitoring Unit was originally developed to allow remote reading of electricity meters. RSA is using the units to detect faults with crossing gates, alarms, lights or signals, and to report any instance of vandalism or weather damage.

The RMU is pre-programmed with vital ’expression data’ simulating the operation of a fault-free crossing. It then monitors the actual input signals, compresses the signal and compares it to the expression data. Any variance is flagged up, and the RMU pinpoints the cause of the fault by analysing the data stream.

In the event of a fault, the RMU sounds an alarm at the central control office. The duty technician dials into the relevant crossing using a GSM radio link to extract real-time data from the monitoring unit. This is then passed to the repair staff before they set out.

Each RMU costs around A$5000, but offers substantial savings compared to RSA’s annual bill of A$250000 for maintenance contractors and land-lines to manage remote crossings.

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