Supporting Queensland Rail’s Critical Signalling Equipment

Client: Queensland Rail
Location: Mt Isa, QLD
Completion: 2019
System Supplied: Custom designed

Project Overview

Queensland Rail operates over 6,600 kilometres of track and an additional 5,000+ kilometres of optical fibre and radio systems, supporting the running of rolling stock, signalling, overhead power-control and safety sensor systems. These networks depend on consistent power supply for the reliable functioning of critical monitoring systems, including hot bearing and hot wheel detectors.
For this project, Queensland Rail wanted to expand and upgrade their radio network which enabled track-mounted sensors in the Mt Isa region to transmit real-time alerts to train drivers, warning of overheating bearings and wheels.
The remote geographic locations involved, coupled with the rail operator’s ongoing renewable energy initiatives, meant that an off-grid solar-powered battery solution was the obvious choice.
Valen and Queensland Rail worked together to design a solar energy storage solution that provided reliable performance in remote areas, suited the specific site conditions, and maximised kW output for consistent power supply to vital communication and safety infrastructure.

The Challenge

With the potential for overheating running gear to cause catastrophic failure, lineside hot bearing and hot wheel detectors provide a critical early warning system, measuring temperatures as a train passes a specific site.
These bearing and brake detector systems then automatically raise alarms to designated signal boxes or signal panels, indicating the defects on passing trains such as high temperatures in bearings, brakes, or wheels. Alarms are also communicated directly to train drivers via radio communications, allowing drivers to modify the operation of the train to bring running gear temperatures back under an acceptable threshold.

It’s clear that these temperature trackside systems make a significant contribution to the safety of the rail network, however installing and powering these systems in outback Queensland has proven to be a logistical challenge.
With no mains power available at several sites within the Mt Isa system, Queensland Rail needed to look for a reliable off-grid energy solution to expand the reach of this important trackside technology.

The location of the proposed radio communications sites also presented challenges, requiring a power solution without ground penetration, but still suitable for black soil. Queensland Rail had several of these sites all with slightly different load profiles, so each site needed individual consideration to get the best outcome.

Co-creating a Solution

Valen and the Queensland Rail project team had to work together to design an off-grid solar power storage solution that suited the harsh environment and maximised energy produced by the PV panels.

In consultation with Queensland Rail, Valen designed a pre-engineered modular system that met all project criteria and minimised on-site installation time. With Queensland Rail already having achieved successful installations elsewhere in their network with the Valen EnduroGEL Front Terminal Battery, we based our design around this proven technology.
Queensland Rail technicians were familiar with this product and satisfied with its reliability, efficiency and longevity, so we tailored a solution that combined the Valen EnduroGEL Front Terminal Battery with a solar regulator, DC distribution panel and a heavy-duty enclosure.

The package supplied by Valen included all the necessary components, from precast engineered footings suitable for black soil, to solar panels that could be safely installed by one technician. Our team’s project management skills were also in play, ensuring that all components were pre-assembled where possible, and the individual systems freighted directly to each site ready for installation.


Queensland Rail was able to install Valen’s packaged solar off-grid systems within a reduced time frame on site, fully supported through the installation and maintenance phase by our team of experts. Each system is now fully operational, providing reliable (and renewable) energy to guarantee maximum uptime with minimal ongoing maintenance.

With a constantly expanding network, Queensland Rail has been integrating energy efficiency and emissions reduction considerations into all areas of its operations. Our co-designed solar battery storage systems are supporting Queensland Rail’s transition to renewable energy, as well as providing a practical response to challenging working environments and remote network locations.

Technical Specifications

Custom Designed ModX6 Solar Modular Unit, including:

  • 12 Volt, 155Ah Valen EnduroGEL batteries
  • 2 x Single-door outdoor field enclosures
  • Victron Morningstar MPPT 60A Solar Controller
  • Valen 300W solar panels
  • Galvanised frame for corrosion protection
  • Precast concrete footings to suit volatile soil
  • Design, project management and logistical support

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