Staff Writer

Armidale driverless shuttle trials now include passengers

Armidale’s driverless shuttle trials will now start testing with passengers.

“What we are experiencing today is an Australian-first, the first automated shuttle to operate in mixed traffic within a city centre,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said earlier this week.

This second phase of the trial will see the automated shuttle known as ARDi operate along a new route – bounded by Rusden, Faulkner, Moore and Dangar Streets – with passengers, for the first time. The shuttle’s stops currently include: Town Hall, the Old Courthouse, the Mall Arcade and the New England Hotel.

Phase two is expected to run for a minimum of two months, during which the ARDi shuttle will operate Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 12 noon.

ARDi technicians and engineers have spent the last month working on a digital map of the route to enable the vehicle to identify its location and operate in automated mode.

Throughout the trial, the team will collect data on how automated vehicles operate in city environments and interact with vehicles and pedestrians, which will inform potential extensions of the route.

A Transport for NSW says that the regional city will play a major role in unlocking “the future of regional transportation.”

“We already know this technology has the potential to increase safety, improve productivity and help make people more mobile, but we need to keep trialling in different in environments to get the best local outcomes,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

Trials commence for Queensland’s Smart Ticketing system

Trials of a new $371 million Smart Ticketing system are now underway at Brisbane’s Central Station.

Four express gates, with a variety of new technological features, are being trialled at the Edward Street exit at Brisbane’s busiest train station.

Designed to improve customers’ exit times, the gates can be opened with go cards between 7am and 9am for a month, from October 22 to November 22.

The trial is expected to provide insights into customer behaviour at gates and how the gates can be made to be more effective for rolling out of the Smart Ticketing system across the state.

“These trials and tests are part of building a world-class ticketing system for Queensland,” said Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.

“It’s a crucial step in creating system that means all Queenslanders will be able to use their smartphone, smartwatch, credit card or debit to easily catch public transport.

Queensland University of Technology and Queensland research firm Spout Logic will partner with the state government for the compilation of an independent academic research report on the key findings of the trial and recommendations for future gate improvements.

Researchers say that the trial will determine the future of the new, streamlined system for passengers.

“The Express Gates trial is consistent with [the Department of Transport and Main Roads] goals as a customer-centric organisation. Before deploying major expensive changes to the existing system, TransLink is field-testing the effects on travellers, of alternative ways like this to operate fare gates,” said Transport and Main Roads Chair Professor Alexander Paz.

Smart Ticketing equipment will also be installed on North Stradbroke Island Buses, for trials of the new on-board ticketing hardware later this month.

Procurement begins, stations confirmed for Sydney Metro West

Procurement has formally begun for major contracts to deliver Sydney Metro West, after seven station locations were confirmed by the state government.

Work will commence at the Bays Precinct where the major tunnelling will originate. Starting next year, two years behind schedule, early work will include site surveys, investigations and road relocation. Tunnel boring machines are not expected to start digging until 2022.

The NSW government announced this week that it was initiating the procurement process, searching for suppliers capable of building more than 50 kilometres of new metro railway tunnels connecting the Parramatta CBD with the Sydney central CBD.

This is likely to be the biggest tunnelling contract awarded in Australian history, for the longest railway tunnels ever built in Australia.

The metro is expected to reduce the travel time between Parramatta and the Sydney CBD to around 20 minutes. The seven confirmed metro station locations are Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park (a second station), North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock and the Bays Precinct.

A map published this month by the state government is still investigating the feasibility of a metro station in Pyrmont, a potential detour to an additional station at Rydalmere, and the location of another Sydney CBD metro station. The map shows Clyde as a site for stabling and maintenance of the line’s rollingstock, and a service facility at Silverwater.

Sydney Metro West alignment as of October 2019.

“The Western Sydney Metro will fundamentally change how we get around our city for generations to come, connecting Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD with fast, safe and reliable metro rail,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“We’ve successfully delivered the North West Metro Line early and $1 billion under budget, the next line from Chatswood to Sydenham and Bankstown is on track to open in 2024, and now the next Metro project is underway.”

With the T1 Western Line and the T9 Northern Line expected to reach capacity within the next decade, the government needs to fast-track the necessary infrastructure projects.

“Western Sydney Metro will more than double the existing rail capacity between Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD,” said Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

AusRAIL PLUS: ADT Western Australia to show off Hydrema range

ADT Western Australia, a Hydrema distributor, will showcase the ultimate in hi-rail excavators with the AS7502-compliant MX20-Rail and MX Rail Lift at this year’s AusRAIL PLUS in Sydney.

ADT WA is the Western Australian distributor for all Hydrema road-rail vehicles and the whole of Australia distributor of Hydrema excavator road-rail vehicles.

“While Hydrema’s road-rail vehicles are manufactured in Europe, the effort is made to make the equipment wholly compliant to Australian standards,” says ADT WA’s general manager Darryl Moore.

The new AS7502 standard, introduced at the end of 2016, mandates that all road rail equipment must be designed by a qualified engineer and that the standard covers all aspects of the vehicle, from braking systems, wheels, axles and event recorders, to engineering, design and manufacture.

In fact, the Hydrema 912FS-Rail dump truck and MX20-Rail were the first machines that met this standard. The 912FS-Rail was delivered to the Karratha based Pilbara Rail Maintenance earlier this year.

With rail infrastructure managers seeking OEM levels of quality alongside this compliance, the Hydrema rail excavator MX20-Rail and the Rail Lift attachment are at a significant advantage.

MX20-Rail is a compact excavator with the flexibility of both low (type 3) and high (type 2a) rail capability. While it is designed for heavy lifts, it is the most compact rail excavator in the +20 tonne segment with the a rear-wing radius of just 1839mm. Rear rail gear assembly allows a platform for carrying tools for ease of movement “so that you don’t have to run up and down the tracks,” said Moore.

The MX20-Rail has engine power of 123 KW, greater than its competitors, and the highest hydraulic performance in its class, with a combined flow of 407 litres per minute.

The machine is “ready for the railway tracks,” says Moore.

The elevated work platform and crane, that makes up the MX Rail Lift, enables two people to work safely at height while three hydraulic extensions offer a maximum reach with the man basket of 12.2 m.

It includes as standard a heavy-duty slew system specifically designed for working in the rail industry, which is able to hold the lift in position even on sloping tracks offering high levels of stability also with a height and slew limitation (dubbed a “virtual wall system”).

The basket can be stowed when the crane is folded behind the machine in a transport position, providing a mobile unit on rail. It has a manual Volvo wheel loader quick hitch and is fully detachable from the base machine, with adjustable stabilisers for ease of removal and storage.

According to Moore, “Hydrema is uniquely placed to supply these machines at a faster rate than its competitors.” This is due to a streamlined production process. In fact, “our lead times are a month or two faster than our competitors,” says Moore.

While it is just as flexible in its offerings, “Hydrema is smaller than its competitors, which makes it the more agile supplier during a time when Australia’s rail infrastructure construction most needs it.”

With a pipeline of 206 infrastructure projects in the rail sector alone, Hydrema/ADT’s agility is sure to be welcomed by Australia’s rail infrastructure suppliers.

See the MX20-Rail and MX Rail Lift at Stand 35 at this year’s AusRAIL PLUS.

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Adani awards $100m rail contract

Adani Mining awarded a $100 million rail contract to Martinus Rail, after Martinus was 50 per cent acquired by Malaysia’s Gamuda Berhad.

Under the contract Martinus Rail will build a 200-kilometre rail link from the $2 billion Carmichael mine to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network, facilitating passage to Adani’s export facilities at Abbot Point.

Upon its 50 per cent acquisition of Martinus, Gamuda announced it would immediately begin bidding for $20 billion worth of construction projects in Australia as part of its plans to leverage Australia’s $300 billion infrastructure development pipeline. Gamuda’s joint venture partners have previously worked with the India-based Adani in Asia.

“We are keen to now get started and looking forward to partnering with numerous local Rockhampton and other regional Queensland businesses and people to get our part of the project under way,” said Martinus Rail managing director Treaven Martinus.

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said the company had now awarded more than $450 million worth of contracts for the Carmichael project, in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland.

According to a media release from the federal minister for resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, the company also announced it was establishing a business centre in Rockhampton, Central Queensland.

“[The] new Rockhampton Business Centre will support recruitment and local business contracting for its Carmichael Project mine,” said the government statement.

“I spent years fighting for the Adani project because it means delivering jobs and economic activity for regional Queensland. These announcements are more proof in the pudding,” said Canavan about the announcement.

Environmental activists have been holding weekly protests in front of the offices of companies involved in the Carmichael coal project and are expected to target Martinus Rail.

Metro train. Photo:

Victorian transport performance poor in September

Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and V/Line will pay compensation to Melbourne’s commuters for poor public transport performance during the month of September, according to Public Transport Victoria.

As part of the state’s contracts with transport operators, tough performance standards need to be met to operate Melbourne’s train network.

Metro Trains delivered 89.9 per cent of services on time in September, for failing to deliver 90 per cent of on time services. It also failed to meet its 98.5 per cent reliability target by 0.1 per cent.

This means the operator will pay compensation to passengers for the fourth time this year for falling short by 0.1 per cent.

Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne directed the Department of Transport to work closely with Metro Trains to improve their performance. As such, a dedicated team was created by the department to work closely with Metro’s management to improve performance.

“Metro Trains is expected to deliver a train service that Melburnians can rely on and there were a number of times during in September that did not happen,” said Department of Transport Head of Transport Services Jeroen Weimar.

Our train passengers deserve better.”

According to the government statement, several incidents impacted punctuality during the month of September, including one wherein an overhead power fault near East Richmond trains on four lines over several hours.

“There were more than 320 incidents involving police operations, trespassers on train tracks and near misses, which delayed a total of 955 trains.”

The 2019 AFL Finals series was also on in September, for which 300 extra services were delivered to help transport 250,000 fans.

Yarra Trams surpassed its 82 per cent punctuality target with 86.3 per cent, but achieved 97.9 per cent reliability which is under the 98 per cent compensation threshold and, as such, will pay compensation. Excluding an industrial action which meant work stoppages, says Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams averaged 98.9 per cent reliability throughout September.

Operational staff at Yarra Trams are planning another strike in October over its demands for wage increases. The Rail, Tram, and Bus Union is also engaging Metro Trains in court over the right to launch industrial action as well as seeking a new agreement with V/Line.

V/Line achieved 96.8 per cent reliability and 87.7 per cent punctuality. However, it will pay compensation to passengers for falling short of their targets on some individual lines.

“It’s pleasing to see V/Line deliver a consistent regional service this year,” Mr Weimar said. “We’re currently delivering a series of regional rail infrastructure upgrades, which will improve services across multiple regional lines.”

Light rail construction imminent in Sydney suburbs

The T6 Carlingford Rail Line in Sydney will soon permanently close to make way for construction of the Parramatta Light Rail, which will connect Carlingford to Westmead via the Parramatta CBD.

The Carlingford line, which closes on January 5, 2020, will be replaced by a new bus route until 2023, when the Parramatta Light Rail is expected to open.

The 535 bus route will be introduced on the same day as the closure of the Carlingford rail line, 5 January.

“The new route 535 will keep customers moving between Carlingford and the Parramatta CBD while we build this important new transport mode for Western Sydney,” said Transport for NSW Coordinator General Marg Prendergast.

“Route 535 will run at least every 15 minutes in the busy periods of the day – a boost for customers who currently have just two train services per hour during the peak on the T6 Carlingford Line. Real-time data will be available on the online Trip Planner, as well as on third-party apps, so that customers can plan ahead,” said Prendergast.

The bus route will operate between Carlingford, Telopea, Dundas, Rydalmere, Camellia/Rosehill and Parramatta CBD. However, those who wish to alight at Clyde will need to interchange at Parramatta for a rail service.

“From 2023, the Parramatta Light Rail will deliver frequent ‘turn-up-and-go’ services that will better connect and support the region’s growing communities,” said a government statement.

Three new rail stations for the Gold Coast

Construction towards three new Gold Coast train stations will begin in 2020-21.

“More than 120 jobs will be created during construction of these train stations – infrastructure that will help Gold Coasters get from A to B faster and more efficiently,” said Minister for Cross River Rail Kate Jones, in early October.

“The Gold Coast is growing fast and the Palaszczuk Government is building the infrastructure needed to support this growth.”

The new stations will be: the Pimpama station, located off the Old Pacific Highway; Helensvale North station located next to Mangrove Jack Park, off Hope Island Road; and the Merrimac station located on Gooding Drive, approximately 750 metres east of the Pacific Motorway and Gooding Drive Interchange.

“We’re building these stations because we know public transport makes a real impact on people’s lives,” said Assistant Tourism Industry Development Minister Meaghan Scanlon

“This is a down payment on the future of the Gold Coast,” she said.

Prior to construction, the government will need to acquire the land for each station, finalise the station designs, and then go to tender for procurement of construction partners.

According to the Queensland government, public consultation will begin immediately. It expects all three stations to be completed in three years and operational with the start of the Cross River Rail network.

New On Demand transport service for Moree

Transport for NSW has announced that it will establish a permanent new On Demand service for Moree, in northern NSW, as trials have been proving successful.

The government says that it will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) soon, calling for operators to submit value for money proposals for the transport solution.

A spokesperson said the On Demand Public Transport trial was popular among the Moree community, with both residents and visitors jumping aboard.

“Customers have embraced the On Demand trial in Moree and this is great news for the community that a service will be established to provide greater flexibility and mobility for customers on an ongoing basis.” A TfNSW spokesperson said.

“More than 33,000 passenger trips have been delivered since we launched the trial, with around 5,000 customers using the service per month.”

Since launching in November 2018, the Moree On Demand trials have been subject to two extensions, enabling the pilot to run through until early 2020.

“We’re now looking for a transport operator to lead the implementation of a new ongoing On Demand service to provide reliable, more economic choice for customers to providing residents with access to key health, retail, educational and social services.”

In 2016 the NSW government, since then re-elected, announced that it was looking to replace timetables with a public transport system which responds to the demand of commuters in real time.

State transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance then announced a trial of services that arrive when and where commuters want them.

“Imagine a NSW where you don’t need to check the timetable because the right numbers of trains, buses or ferries arrive when and where they need to. This future is not far off if we are quick off the mark today.”

“I want to see the end of timetables, and a network that can cut down on travel delays by automatically putting on extra trains in wet weather or extra buses from a footy team’s home suburbs to away games,” the minister said.

Trials of the services have been conducting throughout Sydney CBD, and are now branching out into more regional parts of NSW.

AirRail’s bid for the Melbourne airport tunnel

The Victorian government is under pressure from the Commonwealth to accept a proposal for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link which would see the line privately owned and operated, according to a report.

The MARL, with an estimated price tag of $15 billion, has so far had matching $5 billion commitments from both federal and state governments. A plan from private consortium AirRail would offer the remaining $5 billion needed, but as part of the offer the consortium would own and operate the tunnel.

The Age is reporting this week the federal government is pressuring Victoria to go ahead with the deal, but that Victorian officials are averse to the prospect of a privately owned and operated tunnel being added to the city’s Metro Trains and the region’s V/Line network.

The airport link would connect with the planned Geelong fast rail via a new rail tunnel to Sunshine, and federal urban infrastructure and cities minister Alan Tudge says the MARL is important for the federal government’s vision of the Geelong project.

AirRail Melbourne would see some of Victoria’s transport providers partner with IFM Investors, a global fund manager with $112 billion.

The Victorian government is reportedly considering a cheaper, above ground alternative which would consist of building new tracks as well as utilising the existing railway line from the western suburban junction to the CBD.