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Passive cooling to boost Inland Rail sustainability

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is looking to boost the sustainability of the Inland Rail project through passive cooling in its signalling huts.

Signalling huts, which are used to house power, communications and signalling equipment, are dispersed along the Inland Rail alignment.

The huts will have improved building design alterations, which aim to minimise heat-gain and cool buildings with less energy required compared to standard air-conditioning.

Historically, signalling huts have been cooled by air-conditioning, a method which is often costly, highly electricity-resource dependant, and incurs continued maintenance costs and alterations due to exposure to Australia’s harsh climatic elements.

Inland Rail interim chief executive Rebecca Pickering said by implementing passive cooling instead of air-conditioning to keep the signalling huts cool, it will lead to a reduction in standing load and power consumption.

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“It also means there will be no additional maintenance and alarm call outs for air-conditioning failure, and lower, or cost neutral, capital cost of shade structures compared to air-conditioning,” Pickering said.

“The hut design was trialled on the Murgo Loop section of the Narrabri to North Star project and, comparatively compared to air-conditioning, the use of passive cooling resulted in a 26 per cent reduction in energy consumption in a 24-hour period.

“Adopting the passive cooling system not only reduced energy consumption but was also able to maintain the integrity of the signalling system under heat conditions – improving performance compared to traditional air-conditioning methods.”

The reduction in power consumption has allowed Inland Rail to switch from mains to solar supply.

“From the outset of the Inland Rail project, we’ve aspired to forge a reputation as an industry leader in sustainability,” Pickering said.

“We know that sustainability is about much more than the environment and resource use which is why revitalising local economies through sustainable jobs and investment in new industries remains a key priority for the Inland Rail team and our contractors.

“While Inland Rail’s leadership team is responsible for leading our culture of sustainability, we know that success is dependent on the ongoing empowerment of the entire workforce to create and foster a culture of sustainability awareness and action within all ours teams.”

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