Flying high to improve safety on the train network

17 Jun 2022, James Ireland

Two new drones are taking to the skies to combat trespassing on Melbourne’s train network.

Trespassing on or near train tracks can cause significant trauma for staff, passengers and the community, as well as cause major disruptions for passengers.

When unauthorised persons enter the rail corridor or other restricted areas on the network, Metro cannot operate trains until it is deemed safe to do so.

To reduce the impact of trespassing, Metro is trialling a new drone program as a rapid response to trespassers in the rail corridor.

Metro’s Head of Security Operations Jim Dimitrioski says, “Paired with our current trespassing initiatives and strong partnership with Victoria Police, the drone program will contribute to lowering the number of trespasser incidents on our network and ensuring the safety of our people and passengers and reliability of services.”

The program consists of two drones and four qualified drone pilots who have gained their Remotely Piloted Aircraft Licenses.

These drones can be used for proactive patrolling during special events and also for on-hand incident management.

Drones can fly over the train tracks, send updates and live footage back to the team on the ground, reducing the time it takes to clear incidents.

Minster for Public Transport Ben Carroll says, “Trespassing is incredibly dangerous and the safety of our community requires everyone to be aware and alert around trains.

“It is great to see that Metro are continuing to work hard to reduce trespassing on the rail network and minimise disruption to our passengers so they can get to where they need to go safely.”

The drone capability will give access to the exact locations of trespassers, ensuring crews can attend quickly. The drones will provide real-time updates to Metro’s Control Centre and Victoria Police during an incident.

The program is in its early stages and is currently operating in Melbourne’s western suburbs on the Werribee Line with plans to increase the use of the drones to other parts of the network and even conduct infrastructure inspections.

A single trespasser at one of Melbourne’s busiest central stations can potentially disrupt as many as 50,000 train passengers.

To reduce trespasser incidents, Metro also has more than 12,500 CCTV cameras across the network and initiatives including anti-trespass ground panels and thermal imaging cameras.

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