Sydney Trains x Presien

Sydney Trains x Presien

Author :
Presien Team

The Sydney Trains network is a vital transportation artery, connecting millions of passengers each year. Regular maintenance and improvements are par for the course for a network that covers hundreds of kilometers of track, 170 stations, numerous lines, and trains arriving every few minutes.

In the busy world of rail construction, safety isn't just a priority—it's a necessity. 

Keeping a close eye on people and plant interactions 

Behind the scenes, there is a very real danger for rail construction workers: the risk of being struck by mobile heavy plant.

The close quarters shared by heavy equipment and workers, coupled with the pressure of restricted track access and round-the-clock operations, create a constant risk of serious, even fatal accidents. 

For Damien Drew, Works Management Lead, Major Works Division at Sydney Trains, Blindsight by Presien was just the tool he had been searching for.

When working in track possessions, the major risk is not from trains but being struck by mobile plant and equipment moving around on site. We’d been hunting for a safety solution for some time.” 

To tackle the challenges faced by Sydney Trains, the Enterprise Trackworker Safety (ETWS) Blindsight initiative was born. This two-year project involved the close collaboration of Sydney Trains and Presien and the buy-in of numerous plant-hire companies to roll out the Blindsight safety system. 

Blindsight is a simple, pre-trained AI vision system for heavy industry. Designed for mobile plant and fixed infrastructure, it prevents accidents by alerting vehicle operators and crew to objects in blind spots. 

As part of the initiative, 39 Blindsight systems were installed across a variety of plant types. The technology captures approximately 30,000 people/plant interactions every month and has achieved a significant reduction in near misses and injuries since going live.

While Presien's AI vision models recognise people, machinery, vehicles, and objects with remarkable accuracy, every site has its own unique elements. Presien’s team of AI engineers worked closely with Sydney Trains at the program's inception to work through any false positives and ensure models were fully tailored to Sydney Trains' many worksites.

We didn’t just buy into the tech stack from Presien, but the team behind it. Their experience in computer vision and machine learning was key to ensuring the AI vision was fully customised to our sites. 

Continuously shaping systems for the better 

Blindsight’s automated reporting took the ETWS initiative a step further, with videos and detection-event data sent straight to the cloud and accessible to Sydney Trains leadership 24/7. 

Based on the initial trial, Sydney Trains found that the most effective method of utilising the system was to alert individuals outside, on the ground, rather than the operator inside the cab.

“When we reviewed the footage, we observed people approaching hazardous areas and reacting by stepping back upon hearing the warning," Drew explained. “As a result, we created a concise two-minute induction video that highlights the necessary changes we want to see in worker behaviour," explained Drew. "It's our way of communicating to newcomers that we aim to prevent system triggers and prioritise safety. It’s helped drive much more meaningful discussions about safety on-site."

AI vision for the win

During the second year of the project, Sydney Trains sampled 1,000 random detections each month. A project officer categorised them into safe or unsafe detections. Safe detections indicated individuals were aware of approaching equipment and had positioned themselves safely, while unsafe detections involved people unknowingly or casually stepping into the path of moving machinery.

“At the trial's onset, 40 to 50 percent of interactions were deemed unsafe. However, over the year, this dramatically decreased to around three percent. This reduction reflects both system improvements and enhanced safety awareness among our workers.”

On top of tangible safety improvements, Sydney Trains was recognised at the 2023 Australasian Rail Industry Awards, alongside Presien, with the Supplier Excellence Award.

Damien and his team have unlocked the power of AI vision to keep safety on track at Sydney Trains. With Blindsight fully embedded into their operations, continuous improvement is underway.

Put progress in plain view

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