Securing Rail's Telecommunication Networks

Radiofrequency spectrum is a finite resource managed by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). 400 MHz radiofrequency based communications systems are used extensively throughout Australia by the rail industry.

Use of radio systems operating in this radiofrequency band are the basis for harmonisation and interoperability of mobile commutations systems used for safety and operational purposes across all facets of the Rail Industry.

The ARA Spectrum Committee have been working together and with the ACMA to secure on-going access to the 400MHz spectrum against a background of increasing use of this band for existing government and commercial users.

The 1800MHz radiofrequency spectrum was acquired in 2006 by the five state rail authorities responsible for metropolitan rail systems in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. This was a strategic acquisition to secure spectrum necessary for the implementation of advanced rail safety and control systems up to the year 2015.

In the lead up to the rail industry’s radio spectrum licenses expiring in 2015, the ARA and its Spectrum Committee have lobbied hard to retain the use of this vital resource at a cost that reflects the broader public interest.

As a result of the ARA’s continued efforts, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Anthony Albanese, issued a direction to the ACMA in mid-2013 to offer the 2x10 MHz of 1800 MHz spectrum to the current rail licensees subject to the following conditions:

  • The spectrum is only used for rail safety and control communications;
  • The licence price will be at a public interest price set at 50% of the price payable by commercial users; and
  • Payment for the licences will not be required until after 1 July 2014 but before the licence expiry in 2015.

The rail industry is currently working through this process with the ACMA.


Smart Rail

A focus of the Telecommunications Committee in 2018 is the Smart Rail project, which will involve the development of a long-term vision for technology in the rail industry over the next 20/30 years. 

It is intended that the route map will provide a framework through which next generation rail technologies can be integrated and supported in the Australasian rail environment. The aim is to help ensure systems are interoperable and the right data is available to deliver cross-industry benefits, including safer operations, improved reliability, opportunities for innovation and reduced costs through efficiencies, automation and technology selection.  For further information click here.


More Information

For more information, please contact Maria Morozova at or on 02 6270 4503.


Key Documents