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Clayton Utz keeps trains rolling

Clayton Utz keeps trains rolling

Trains travelling the length and breadth of Australia now have a fully integrated and simplified communications system, thanks in part to the work done by Clayton Utz with client Australian Rail…

Trains travelling the length and breadth of Australia now have a fully integrated and simplified communications system, thanks in part to the work done by Clayton Utz with client Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC) and Telstra.

The more than two years of negotiations included having to adapt the agreement to accommodate a comprehensive change of the Telstra network mid-deal, IP and IT senior associate Michael Montgomery said.

“It was initially a deal to be run using Telstra’s CDMA network, [but] in about November 2005, Sol [Trujillo] announced that they were scrapping it,” he said. “So we had to recut the deal, and as a result of that, that created some anxiety in trying to future-proof the rollout against further changes in technology.”

The network change meant that Clayton Utz had to negotiate “specific provisions in the design and construction agreement and the carriage services agreement, which provide that if there is any further change of mind or technology, it will all be implemented on the original terms, with no further cost to ARTC. So that was a bit of a unique twist,” Montgomery said.

Further difficulties arose from ARTC’s ownership of part of the network used by Telstra, which had to be leased back to the telco giant — a novel approach for Telstra, Montgomery said.

The resulting deal and new technology now allows full mobile communications between trains and control centres from coast to coast, replacing the nine separate radio communications systems that necessitated the inefficient use of different radio frequencies and equipment.

“Part of this deal involved designing a piece of equipment that gets installed in each locomotive, that is able to deal with all the different line technologies still, but also pick up on the mobile network with a satellite backup around the country,” Montgomery said.

The deal was led by Clayton Utz major projects partner Murray West, with Montgomery offering specialist telecommunications advice.

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