Inland Rail requires mobile telecommunications for train control and to maintain safe working systems. At certain locations along the 1,700km alignment, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will establish new telecommunications infrastructure or upgrade existing sites to ensure these requirements can be met.
Where possible, enhancements that are implemented to meet Inland Rail requirements will leave a beneficial legacy for regional communities through enhanced mobile capacity and coverage beyond the construction period.
Improved mobile coverage between Narrabri and North Star
In April 2021 ARTC and Telstra commenced a detailed feasibility study to explore opportunities to deliver improved mobile telecommunications along the Inland Rail corridor from Narrabri to North Star (N2NS), looking at the technical approach for site upgrades, the schedule and the cost to improve coverage in a corridor either side of the rail alignment.
In October 2021 local member Mark Coulton announced the sites for enhancement including:
- North Star, with a new radio base station
- Croppa Creek, with a new small cell
- Gurley, which will see an upgrade to the existing base station
- Crooble, with a new radio base station.
Partnering with Telstra, ARTC will undertake the telecommunications enhancements during construction of the rail line. Enhancements will result in improved mobile service along the corridor 10-15km either side of the alignment.
Recognising telecommunications are an economic and social enabler, the Australian Government is continuing to explore options to enhance regional telecommunications services for communities along the alignment while delivering the system requirements and coverage for Inland Rail trains.
These upgrades form part of work being undertaken during the construction phase of Inland Rail, and upgrades to ARTC’s existing National Train Communications System (NTCS) – a system that ensures continuous communications coverage for train operators and the safety of rail workers.
Following the outcomes of the N2NS feasibility study, further investigations are now underway for additional Inland Rail sections, where appropriate, to identify communities that may require upgraded mobile telecommunications.
Improved telecommunications will provide legacy benefits to regional communities through the construction period and the ongoing operation of Inland Rail.
Offsetting temporary increases in demand
Inland Rail's construction supports thousands of local jobs and brings skilled workers to towns along the alignment, temporarily increasing their population and increasing demand on local services such as telecommunications.
To offset this increased demand, ARTC works with its contractors to boost telecommunication capacity at existing sites during construction. The solutions to boost regional telecommunication capacity may include:
- temporary mobile boosters established in proximity of workers camps and construction sites
- enhancements to existing mobile towers
- installation of additional antennas.