Great Southern Rail is a tourism business over and above a rail transporter operating three regular services: the Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin) and The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide) as well as The Southern Spirit operating a variable number of luxury rail tours in the summer months from Adelaide around the east coast to Brisbane.
In 2008 Great Southern Rail approached SAGE Automation to investigate upgrading their existing control Systems. The aim of the control system is to provide control of carriage door locks, paging indication, general alarming and status indication including smoke alarms. The specification was to make the system flexible, robust, and serviceable for any skilled system integrator as well as having spare parts readily available.
The system installed is based on an industrial PLC / SCADA control system, where the PLCs perform all control and monitoring tasks and the SCADA system provides an interface to the control system which provides indication of the equipment status to the operator.
Each carriage contains a PLC to monitor and control the functions and communicate with a Master PLC in the ARM Carriage. The SCADA system provides a graphical user interface to the system for the operator who is located in the ARM Carriage and only communicates with the Master PLC.
The system has been designed with the ability to add carriages in any order and any number as the key criteria. To achieve this, an Ethernet network was selected as the backbone of the system.
Great Southern Rail currently operates a number upgraded carriages around the country.