Ensuring network integrity for one of the largest, busiest and most complex tram networks in the world

Melbourne trams

Over two million trips are taken on Victoria’s trains, trams and buses each day helping people get to work and school, access critical services, as well as socialise, shop and participate in some of the world’s best cultural, artistic and sporting events. The Department of Transport (DoT) plays a crucial role in making these journeys a reality. This involves managing public transport franchise and service agreements; managing network integrity; implementing network changes; and delivering user-focused passenger services.

Within DoT’s operational structure sat the Automatic Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) system, introduced in 1985. The AVM provided cost savings and operational efficiency due to an ability to understand the Tram location against a timetable. It had been used to support the Enhanced Operational Performance Regime (EOPR) reporting.

Although the AVM had performed well during its life, it was widely acknowledged that, due to limited maintainability, its dependency on legacy hardware and limited ongoing support options, it was nearing replacement. It lacked the ability to support key operational functionality, such as unplanned diversions, headway-based running and monitoring of Trams, and handling concurrent voice and data communications.


Shoal was appointed to investigate the underlying systems status and a pathway to achieve DoT’s future objectives. The problems with the AVM included:

  • Obsolescence
  • Limited disruption management capability
  • Inaccurate, unreliable passenger information
  • Insufficient and unreliable performance data.

Shoal interrogated the existing capability and requirements baseline for the Project, developing current and future network needs and constraints with key stakeholders. An extensive array of on-tram and back-office system interfaces were mapped. Existing market solutions were critically analysed, providing subsequent input to system definition and procurement approaches.


A baseline Client Requirements Document (CRD) was created, capturing solution independent:

  • Outcomes which the Project’s Client, Department of Transport, aimed to realise through the investment
  • Operational and maintenance scenarios, based upon current Network state, and future capability for Operational Performance Reporting commitments
  • Requirements of the Stakeholders (Accredited Rail Operator and Maintainer of the Tram Network, Commuter)
  • Constraints and Network interoperability requirements.

Following this, and through extensive Stakeholder engagement, a comprehensive System Requirements Specification was developed for the design and supply of a new AVM, with fully traced assurance linkages to Client Requirements. This provided a clear assurance route to the realisation of DoT’s objectives.

Shoal continued to provide technical support to the procurement process for the design and delivery, to assist in minimising the client’s procurement risk, and to ensure continuity of operations, communications, reporting and, ultimately, network integrity, for the principal enabling system in one of the largest, busiest and most complex tram networks in the world.