NorthConnex is a nine-kilometre long, two-tube, twin-lane tunnel linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway in northern Sydney. It was inaugurated in October 2020 to enable motorists to travel from Newcastle to Melbourne without a single set of traffic lights, paving the way for more efficient state and national freight movement and facilitating economic development in the area.
It has also improved the quality of living for the local community around the chronically congested Pennant Hills Road as it has taken approximately 5,000 lorries a day off the neighbourhood streets, reducing congestion and noise while improving air quality.
The New South Wales Government commissioned the Lendlease Bouygues Joint Venture (LLBJV) to design and build this tunnel in 4 years with the latest innovations to ensure the highest safety standards with a sustainable footprint. LLBJV wanted a smart tunnel lighting solution that would meet the project’s sustainability goals and that could be easily and quickly installed to speed up the installation process and guarantee the tunnel opening on-time.
Tunnel lighting for maximum safety
Schréder, with its Australian distributor Betacom, and Phoenix Contact worked together to deliver a solution that met the brief for photometrical and thermal performance, energy efficiency and lighting control expertise. Just over 1,100 OMNISTAR and 5,000 GL2 Compact luminaires controlled by the ATS system were installed.
They deliver a bright white light (in line with the Australian national lighting standard, AS/NZS 1158.5:2014) that guarantees high uniformity on the road and optimal visibility to ensure comfort, safety and perfect visual guidance throughout the 9km-long tunnel.
With more than 100,000 vehicles expected to travel through the tunnel every day, the OMNISTAR was installed for the boost lighting. It ensures an easy and comfortable transition in the critical threshold and exit zones by reducing the contrast with the sun outside and delivers a high colour rendering so any potential obstacles can be quickly and easily identified.
Enhancing the driving experience
The lighting also enhances the art along the tunnel walls and ceiling, designed to keep drivers alert and improve the driving experience. NorthConnex is the first Australian tunnel to incorporate this innovative concept and the artwork is decidedly local, including a starry night sky and the silhouettes of typical Australia birds.
Designed for performance over time
All of the luminaires have been designed to deliver a high photometric efficiency with low energy consumption over time. Thanks to the robust design (IP 66 and IK 08) and long life of the LEDs, the luminaires will resist the harsh tunnel conditions and require little maintenance, significantly reducing interventions, time and thus costs.
Control driven design
All of the luminaires are controlled by the ATS system, a control system co-developed with Phoenix Contact, to easily manage all tunnel lighting parameters remotely. This lighting control system can provide up to 50 special light scenarios, including 18 for the entry zones, to ensure that the lighting is adapted to external conditions, providing a gradual and comfortable change for drivers.
The system delivers the ideal lighting level throughout the entire tunnel, taking into account various parameters including traffic speed and density, to ensure perfect visibility while reducing power consumption to what is absolutely necessary.
The ATS also constantly monitors the luminaires to instantly report any potential failures and optimise operational efficiencies as technicians will know what to expect if called out.
The lighting system integrates Transurban’s SCADA platform, which manages the entire road network so that it can be controlled and monitored from its control room at all times.
Quick installation and commissioning timescale
The power and control cables were assembled and tested before delivery to speed up the installation time. On-site, thanks to the Plug-and-Play luminaires, and cables with ‘Quick-on’ connectors, the installation was set-up quickly and smoothly.
As the ATS is an industrial BUS based system, there was no need to address the luminaires, speeding up the commissioning and alleviating any anxiety over potential delays. The installation was even up and working ahead of schedule.
Sustainable tunnel design
The local authorities are very happy with the tunnel lighting which has contributed to creating a safe and comfortable tunnel environment for motorists while enabling them to ensure operational efficiencies, lower lifecycle costs and achieve sustainability goals. Indeed, NorthConnex was the first road project in Australia to be awarded a “Leading Infrastructure Sustainability Design rating by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) which looks at ways in which the project was designed to minimise environmental impact.
The LED lighting alone will reduce electricity consumption by 18% which equates to an overall reduction in carbon emissions of approximately 350 tonnes during the first year of operation alone.
Motorists are delighted by the reduced time travel in a safer and more comfortable environment.