David Loneragan

TBM starts tunnelling for Sydney Metro

Tunnelling for the Sydney Metro project has begun, with the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will deliver the twin new railway tunnels launched last week.

TBM Nancy, one of five machines that the help build the 31 kilometres of between Marrickville and Chatswood, was officially launched by NSW premier Gladys Berekiklian and transport minister Andrew Constance.

“Sydney Metro is at the centre of the NSW Government’s transformation of public transport which will give people more choice in how they get around Sydney,” Berejiklian said.

“Today marks the start of the huge task of digging twin tunnels under the city, delivering Sydney’s new world-class metro railway and building a stronger, better future for the people of NSW.

The TBM has been named Nancy in honour of transport pioneer Nancy Bird Walton OBE, an Australian pioneer aviator, the first female pilot in the Commonwealth to carry passengers and the founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.

Nancy and another TBM will tunnel 8.1 kilometres from Marrickville to the new Sydney Metro station sites at Waterloo, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place and on to Barangaroo.

The TBMs are about 150 metres long and have been designed specifically for Sydney’s geology to cut through the hard sandstone underneath the city.

“These machines are underground factories, mechanical worms designed to dig and line the tunnels as they go so that Sydney Metro can be delivered as quickly as possible,” Constance said.

“Nancy is specially designed to cut through our city’s unique sandstone and shale and will tunnel an average of 120 metres a week.”

Two TBMs will dig 6.2 kilometres from Chatswood to the edge of Sydney Harbour, while a fifth machine will deliver the twin tunnels under Sydney Harbour.


More local content for future X’Trapolis trains

Alstom Ballarat will produce new X’Trapolis 2.0 trains beyond 2019, after it agreed to update its design to incorporate more local content.

The manufacturer recently came to terms with the State Government on a program to update the X’Trapolis trainsets it delivers to the Melbourne Metro network.

The X’Trapolis 2.0 design will be used for all future deliveries after the current five-train order, which is due for completion by the end of 2019.

Alstom will deliver the five six-carriage X’Trapolis trains after the State Government provided $103.5 million for the additional trains in its 2018-19 Budget.

A total of 24 X’Trapolis trains have been funded by the Victorian Government, with 17 already in service.

“This announcement keeps high skilled jobs in Ballarat, and it keeps Alstom in Victoria,” state transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

“We’re building the state’s largest single order of new trains in Victoria – supporting and creating more than 10,000 jobs across the state.”

65 workers are currently employed at Alstom’s Ballarat workshop for X’Trapolis fit-outs and necessary modifications, including four apprentices and trainees.

“Preparing for the next generation X’Trapolis will strengthen this industry and ensure we continue building the trains and projects that get Victorians home safer and sooner,” Allan said.

Infrastructure South Australia established

The South Australian government has established its independent infrastructure advisory body, Infrastructure SA, which is to be chaired by former Business Council president Tony Shepherd.

An election commitment of Liberal Marshall government, Infrastructure SA will be tasked with developing a 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy, a document which will be renewed every five years. The body is also expected to develop annual Capital Intentions Statements that will prioritise potential major projects for government decisions over a five-year time horizon.

Responsibilities also include maintaining oversight of delivery and performance for all projects with a capital value of $50 million and over, and providing policy advice, relating to infrastructure planning, delivery and use, including advice on appropriate funding and financing models.

“Infrastructure SA is an independent body that will combine the expertise of the private and public sectors to develop a 20-year state infrastructure strategy and 5-year infrastructure plans,” premier Steven Marshall said.

“Planning and building infrastructure according to the geography of marginal seats and the timelines of electoral cycles has ended – Infrastructure SA will ensure we have better planning to support long term economic growth, more jobs, and better, more affordable services.”

Marshall said that Tony Shepherd’s experience in the infrastructure space made him a natural choice to chair the new body. Shepherd was formerly chair of the WestConnex Delivery Authority and has worked on projects such as the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Melbourne City Link and East Link.

“We’re thrilled to have Tony take up the role of chair, as South Australia’s approach to infrastructure planning is overhauled to deliver better, more strategic outcomes and projects,” he said.


Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 consultation group meets

This week saw the first meeting of the community and stakeholder reference group for Stage 2 of Parramatta’s light rail project, which showcased a range of views from local businesses and community members.

Parramatta light rail program director Tim Poole said the inaugural meeting included community members from Camellia, Rydalmere, Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park.

“Our membership represents a broad cross-section of the community from teachers, to business people and a member of the Sydney BMX Club,” Poole said.

“We’re giving representatives across the alignment a platform for collaboration so that together, we can build a light rail for the community.”

 Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will connect Parramatta CBD to Sydney Olympic Park through Ermington, Melrose Park and Wentworth Point.

 Poole said that strong support for the alignment was expressed at the meeting.

“The Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 Community and Reference Group will play an important role in ensuring we deliver a quality connection between Greater Parramatta and the Olympic peninsula,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing this collaboration and meeting with the group’s representatives regularly.”

A final business case for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will be submitted to the NSW government by the end of the year.

Victoria tightens rail advertising standards

Transport for Victoria has established more far-reaching guidelines for the content appearing on City Loop screens, following a series of complaints.

The Victorian government ordered a review of the previous guidelines, which found that these were not being applied to all forms of paid content.

The review also found that a stringent review process and compliance regime to monitor content was not in place for all the content that is shown.

The current advertising guidelines will now be extended to apply to cover all paid content on City Loop screens.

The guidelines now require that all content will not

  • depict any subject matter that is offensive
  • condone or provoke anti-social behaviour
  • promote or relate to alcohol or gambling
  • use sexualised images or gender objectification
  • portray images or events that may cause distress to children
  • be used to promote a political party, parties or a political cause
  • use offensive language
  • demean any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, age, sexual preference, religion or mental or physical disability

Metro Trains Melbourne will also work with content providers to ensure all content shown on City Loop screens complies with these changes, and ensure that there is a clear complaints process in place.

Metro Trains Melbourne has also been asked to look at initiatives, such as closed captions, to ensure content is as accessible to all passengers.

Fifth Inland Rail community consultation committee established in Queensland

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has established a fifth community consultative committee (CCC) for the Inland Rail project’s Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton section, appointing a former local mayor as chair.

The CCC will address and raise community issues during the planning and design phase of the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton section of the 1,700-kilometre freight rail line. With the establishment of the committee, all Queensland corridor sections now are covered by CCCs.

Former Scenic Rim Mayor John Brent will lead the committee, which will also feature 16 members that have been selected from the local community through an independently-run process.

“We welcome the appointment of Mr Brent for the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton CCC. It is great to see ARTC’s ongoing commitment to genuine community engagement for the once-in-a-generation Inland Rail project,” federal infrastructure and transport minister Michael McCormack said.

“Together with the ARTC, we are committed to delivering Inland Rail and are working with communities and land-owners along the route to ensure local knowledge informs the planning of the project.”

The project along the section will see 49km of existing track to be upgraded to enable double-stacking capability along the existing interstate route both south from Kagaru to Bromelton and north from Kagaru to Brisbane’s major intermodal terminal at Acacia Ridge.

The first meeting of the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton CCC is expected to take place in November this year.

Andrews pitches Ballarat fast rail plan

The Victorian Labor government has announced a new $100 million commitment to undertake planning for faster regional trains between Melbourne and Ballarat.

The funding will go towards the government’s new “Western Rail Plan”, which is provide planning for the full separation of regional and metro services on the Ballarat line. Works will include:

  • Two new electrified metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale with possible new stations, with the Wyndham Vale line potentially becoming the western section of the Suburban Rail Loop.
  • Additional tracks between Sunshine and the CBD to run extra services, most likely through a new rail tunnel which would also be utilised by Airport-bound trains and integrated with the Airport Rail Link.
  • A major upgrade to the express-Ballarat lines to run fast trains, including the potential full electrification of these lines with new electric regional rolling stock.

State transport minister Jacinta Allan said that the project would build on the work already done to make services faster and more reliable on the line.

“We’ve added extra services, made country crossings safer and we’re getting on with the Ballarat Line Upgrade – and we’ll now plan for our next big build for Ballarat,” Allan said.

“We’re returning Ballarat trains to our second biggest regional city. Only Labor can be trusted to build the regional public transport we need for the future.”

Earlier this month, the Coalition opposition put forward its own plans to bring faster trains to Victoria’s regional lines, saying that a major rebuild and overhaul of the network could provide services running at 200km/h.

The government dismissed the plan, saying that lacked detail. It is, however, supported by the the Victorian Chamber of Commerce, whose chief executive Mark Stone has also now come out in support of Labor’s plan. Stone said it was pleasing that major parties now have regional fast rail commitments prior to the November election.

“In the lead-up to the state election it is great to see strong commitment from both major parties to improve Victoria’s transport system, so our state can live up to its reputation as a great place to live and do business,” Stone said.

“Long term infrastructure plans are essential to better connect regional workers and businesses, cutting travel times and creating more liveable regional cities and towns.”

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Contract signed with INLink JV for Parkes-Narromine Inland Rail

A $300 million construction contract has been signed for the Parkes to Narromine section of the Inland Rail project, the first section to be built for the 1,700-kilometre freight rail line.

A joint-venture between BMD Constructions and Fulton Hogan, called INLink, has been selected as the construction contractor for the Parkes to Narromine section.

INLink was named the preferred bidder for the contract in July.

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and federal member for Parkes Mark Coulton said that the federal government was working with the ARTC and INLink to create local jobs and opportunities for local businesses to work on the project.

“An Australian government project facilitator is working with the ARTC and INLink to open the door for local businesses, communities and job-seekers on the ground to get on board with the opportunities this project presents,” Coulton said.

“Right here in the Parkes electorate there will be local opportunities for concrete supply services, transportation, fencing, earthmoving, drainage, electrical works, concrete works, security and water bore drilling.”

The 106-kilometre Parkes to Narromine section is to utilise existing ARTC operated track. It will undergo extensive upgrades, including the replacement of bridges and culverts, enhanced level-crossings and three new crossing loops at Goonumbla, Peak Hill, and Timjelly. A new 5-kilometre long connection to the Broken Hill line west of Parkes is also to be constructed.

Federal finance minister Mathias Cormann said that, with the beginning of construction works, Australia was closer to addressing its long-term freight challenges.

“In New South Wales alone Inland Rail will boost the Gross State Product by $2.6 billion and create around 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and into operation,” Cormann said.

“We are already seeing jobs for regional communities in New South Wales as well as complementary investment in towns along the route, such as the $50 million Parkes National Logistics Hub.”

Design works approved for new North East line VLocity fleet

The Victorian government has conditionally approved the scope of works for new VLocity trains for the North East Line, upgrade works for which are to begin next year.

The new long-haul trains are being built by Bombardier Transportation Australia, and provide similar to other VLocity trains currently in operation across the regional network.

The new trains are being specifically designed to meet the needs of the North East line and will be built and ready to take passengers once the $235 million upgrade to the line is complete.

The state government announcement that it had reached an agreement with Bombardier to complete the design of the bogies for the new standard gauge VLocity trains. VLocity trains have not previously been fitted with standard gauge bogies, so the bogies will take the longest to design, construct and gain safety accreditation.

“The trains that run on the North East Line will be one of a kind – you can’t just buy them off the shelf, that’s why we’ve already started doing the work with Bombardier to ensure they’re ready to go,” Labor MP for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said.

Bombardier is also delivering the next stages of design work for the new standard gauge VLocity trains for the North East Line, including the provision of facilities for food and drink options, sufficient luggage space and room for bikes.

“We said we’d have the trains ready by the time the track is finished – and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” state transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

“Finalising the scope of works is an important step forward and we will continue to work with the Commonwealth government to ensure passengers are the priority as works begin.”

Federal Labor promises $300 million for Melbourne’s Suburban Rail Loop

The federal Labor opposition has promised to provide $300 million in funding for the Victorian government’s proposed $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop project, six weeks out from the state election.

The funding proposal from federal Labor would match the Andrews government’s pre-election commitment, making a total of $600 million for planning, engineering, design and pre-construction to enable major works to get underway in 2022.

Federal shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese said that Labor’s investment would enable the development of a business case for the rail project.

“This is the sort of vision Melbourne needs – to keep up with the demands of Australia’s fastest growing capital city, investment in world-class, modern transport network is critical,” Albanese said.

The Suburban Rail Loop, an underground, 90-kilometre ring of passenger rail around Melbourne, would connect every major rail line will carry 400,000 passengers each day, taking thousands off existing citybound trains and 200,000 vehicles off the city’s roads, Labor has claimed.

“It will connect the suburbs directly to major employment hubs, universities, TAFE and hospitals outside the city, making it much easier for Victorians to get around for work and recreation,” said Albanese.

“Labor’s investment will help finalise exact station locations, route alignments, rolling stock and staging, and get construction underway faster.”

Labor has said that expert analysis shows that the project will slash travel times across the city, enabling commuters to travel from Box Hill to the airport in 25 minutes, Monash Clayton in around 15 minutes, and from Broadmeadows to Deakin Burwood in less than 25 minutes.

Albanese claimed the project will provide a major boost to the Victorian economy, creating 20,000 jobs in the construction phase alone and employing 2000 apprentices.

“Labor understands how important it is to invest in decent public transport that will take the pressure off our cities, ease traffic congestion, and connect the suburbs and the regions – bringing jobs and apprenticeships along the way,” Albanese said.