Sydac's railway driving simulators...

QR3000 electric locomotive simulators

Here we have a number of screen shots from the instructor's console software, provided as screen captures in 1999 by Sydac.

From the left to the right we have Track Builder, Train Consist Builder, Driver's Console (repeated information), and scenario controls. Each screen is effectively a 'control panel' with switches which may be set to simulate various aspects fo operating, as well as indicating to the instructor how the simulated train and its driver is actually performing.

As with the previous page, click on the image for a considerably enlarged view.

Here we have two photographs taken by me during the final testing of the first of the four simulators rebuilt by Sydac.

The camera (on the left hand image) looks across the right-hand driving position (unique to Queensland - apart from some private mineral railways elsewhere in Australia) past the driver to the instructor's position, where we can see two WindowsNT4 multiple processor workstation computers with several monitors displaying various graphical screens.

To the right we can see a wider shot taken over the drivers left shoulder, showing the instructor seated at the desk, and a TV monitor to his right showing the same track footage being displayed to the driver.

QR4000 diesel-electric locomotive simulators

The construction phase of the trailer unit is shown here, with the internal furniture being built and installed. All of these photographs were taken by me; they are most definitely © Richard Ashton. If you would like to use them, please email me, and we can discuss the matter.

The first picture we have is of the standard trailer with its plug door and two side personal access doors, painted and signwritten, with the locomotive cab sitting on the ground alongside, plus one of the internal items of 'furniture' constructed and ready to be fitted inside the trailer.

Next to it we see another shot from a different angle. The first shows better the fact that about 300mm (about 1 foot) off the left hand side of the cab was removed before delivery, to enable to personnel access around the cab inside the trailer. The cab is in fact mounted on shock absorbing mounts inside the trailer.

The third picture is taken inside the (empty) driver's cab from a position immediately inside the entry door behind the driver's seat. Compare this with shots taken later with equipment installed.

The fourth picture is of the timber cubicle for the fault station, to be located just outside the driver's cab door in the entry vestibule.

Walking around to the front of the unit, we see the air conditioning equipment access doors open - both at the end and in the right hand side, and,

Finally we see two pictures of work in progress installing the equipment and its cubicles inside the trailer body.

The final phase at the Adelaide end of the project was the installation of the computer equipment and the connecting up of the driver's input-output circuits.

To the left we see the only obviously different thing in the cab; the computer monitor to the left of the windshield, on which the driver may check instructions.

Slightly further back and to the left of the driver, in the second picture we see the standard control panel for the 4000-class; as a point of interest, if an instructor is in the rear of the trailer, he can communicate using the simulated two-way radio!

In the third picture we see the throttle controls, to the LEFT of the driver's seat, (this is a right-hand drive locomotive), and the controls are set ergonomically at an angle, rather than being 'fore-and-aft' as on a conventional desktop installation. The controls are at a comfortable height, handy to the driver's arm-rest.

Visible at the driver's side of the throttle, is the red knob of the Vigilance button. The checquer-plate floor of the cab is noticeably in better focus that the controls !

The Reverser is shown in "forward" position, the Throttle being in idle. Moving the throttle back towards the driver increases engine RPM in eight standard notches. Pushing the throttle lever forward via the gate to the right first engages dynamic brake setup, then selects dynamic brakes in a notchless progression from no braking up to maximum - as in the older type of type of controller.

The right hand picture shows the location of the air-brake controls, the automatic brake (for the train) being above the independant brake (for the locomotive), with the horn bi-directional joystick being to their rear. All three controls are readily accessible from the driver's right-hand armrest which is just visible in the photograph, level with sill of the cab window.

Both brake levers are in the fully back "Release" position. The Independant brake (with the black handle) is adjustable between this position and Full On. The (Red) Automatic Brake handle is moved forward through Minimum Application (10lb/sq in) to Full Service, and pushed right forward is "Emergency Application".

It is indeed hard to recognise this as a simulator, because all the cab 'furniture' is standard 4000-class equipment, furnished by manufacturer Clyde Engineering, and then modified to interface with the simulator equipment by Sydac. Even sitting inside with the silulator running, the low frequency rumbles of the engine are felt in the floor of the cab, from a large diameter bass louspeaker immediately behind the driver's seat. The sounds corresponding to the idle and eight running notches have been faithfully digitised from recordings made on location, as are track and switch sounds.

Delivery to Queensland was early in the New Year of 2000, behind a prime-mover, to check out out stability and security during a long distance road run. Acceptance tests took several weeks from that point.

Photographs of the unit in use are unable to be posted here because of advice from QR Public Relations of their total embargo on the use of their photographic material by others, and of access to their assets by private photographers..

Westrail P, Q, S and DB class diesel-electric locomotive simulators

The final testing phase of the cab and associated equipment may be shown here in pictorial form, with some of the design team conferring while resolving an anomaly.

We see a front three-quarter view of the cab and a close-up of the video projector under the windscreen.

The view from the cab door behind the driver (left hand position), looking past an out-of-focus seat headrest, shows brake levers mounted on the inside of the left side wall just below the sliding window, with the horn joystick (out of sight) in front of it. Ahead is the bare desktop, devoid of "back-hoe controls", with the two touch-screen monitors below the windscreen, and the throttle controls on an island protruding rearwards from the desktop towards the driver on his right hand side. These photographs will be incorporated.

This is almost a mirror image of that in the right hand drive position in the equivalent QR locomotive (4000 class).

The computer monitor to the right of the desktop is about the only thing that gives the installation away as not being a real locomotive. That, and the car-radio style speaker enclosures in the mansard ceiling section to left and right which we have not photographed; these provide engine, track, and pneumatic (air and horn) sounds for realistic ambience for the driver under instruction.

Although not a driver by profession, having driven the simulator for half an hour, and then standing in the cab observing others driving it for a further hour, I can confirm that it really is remarkably close to the real thing.

One of the differences between this and the QR unit is the type of braking system employed, which was first introduced to Australian government owned railway systems with the 3300 horsepower (then) WAGR L-class locomotives' Westinghouse A26-L equipment in about 1967. A much finer degree of control is acchieved with these more sophisticated braking controls, which permit truly variable and incremental braking. Examination of the Air Brake controller shows its Westinghouse origin.

The unit was repainted in its new owners' colours and delivered by road to them in Perth - Australian Rail Group (who had recently bought Westrail towards the end of the simulator's construction phase) - where acceptance trials are currently being undertaken. We hope to bring you photographs of the final construction phase in Adelaide, and the hand-over in Perth in due course.

If you are interested in other simulators, you may like to visit my simulator page on this site. It will open in a new window.

Updated 1st July 2006