Staff Writer

SA protests against rail privatisation

Protests against the privatisation of the South Australian train and tram services erupted in front of the state’s parliament house this weekend.

Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of parliament on Sunday to oppose the government’s privatisation plans, which were announced in July.

The government says that it will still own rail assets, including trains, trams, tracks, stations, and control fare prices. Transport Minister Stephen Knoll explained, when the privatisation was announced, that the public transport network was underperforming.

According to Knoll, the network has one of the lowest patronage levels in the country and the new model will deliver a better service and guaranteed frequency, thus encouraging better patronage.

“We will be able to deliver more efficient services so we can reinvest back into the network to provide better services,” Knoll said.

Before last year’s state election, the now-Premier Steven Marshall said that there was no “privatisation agenda” and its public transport policy did not mention privatisation.

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas spoke to the crowd on the weekend, promising to reverse the privatisation should his party be elected in 2022.

Critical upgrades delivered to Auckland’s Southern Line

KiwiRail has this week completed work on a critical stage of its upgrades to Auckland’s Southern Line as part of the City Rail Link (CRL) project.

The first section of a crossover junction, which would enable trains to safely switch between the existing main line and a new track being built into Ōtāhuhu station, has been installed. Construction towards the entire 1.3-kilometre-long track began in April.

“There will be four crossovers in total, and with more than 20 million commuter train trips on Auckland’s network each year they will help support a new era of services for people when CRL is completed in 2024,” said KiwiRail’s Group Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.

Further work will see the completion of the track and the crossovers, the new line electrified and the installation of communication and signal systems. Ōtāhuhu station will also be expanded to three platforms to handle extra services when CRL is completed.

“There’s a lot more to a successful project than the construction of the tunnels and stations below the central city – work at Otahuhu and other places across the rail network are necessary to deliver a project that will have a huge impact on the way Aucklanders travel,” said City Rail Link’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney says the Ōtāhuhu work demonstrates the scope of the City Rail Link project.

Construction of the new line will be finished early next year.

WA opens Metronet Training Centre

Western Australia is investing $1.25 million towards a Metronet Trade Training Centre to equip locals with the skills needed to build METRONET railcars.

Midland TAFE will become a specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre next year The $1.25 million will go towards new fabrication training equipment, and the redevelopment of workshops to provide the specific technical and support skills required for railcar manufacturing and METRONET maintenance.

The TAFE is three kilometres from the site of the new Metronet Bellevue Assembly Facility where the new C-Series railcars will be commissioned.

Tenders recently opened for the contract to build the Metronet Bellevue railcar depot where Metronet’s railcars will be built and maintained, according to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti. The government is also currently finalising its order of railcars to be built at the new facility.

“The Metronet Trade Training Centre is part of a new hub of railcar manufacturing in Midland, which will allow us to deliver on our commitment to build at least 50 per cent of all METRONET railcars locally in WA,” said Saffioti.

“Midland TAFE will provide world-class training to meet the demand of our Metronet program in courses including engineering, metal fabrication, instrumentation and electrotechnology,” said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.

Local students will also receive a 50 per cent reduction in fees for certain Metronet TAFE courses, including in civil construction and plant operations, as part of a ‘lower fees, local skills’ policy that will reduce TAFE fees for 34 high priority courses.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure the training needs of our Metronet rail projects are met,” said Ellery.

Sydney’s metro tunnels nearing completion

Twenty-two kilometres of the Sydney Metro tunnels are now complete, leaving about 30 cent left of the mammoth public transport project.

Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Nancy tunnelled its way to the new Martin Place Station last week, where it was welcomed by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Transport Minister Andrew Constance and workers.

Since launching in October 2018, TBM Nancy has cleared 6.8 kilometres via the new metro stations at Waterloo, Central and Pitt Street.

“While people are getting on with life in the city above, deep underneath the CBD giant machines like TBM Nancy are getting on with the job, building tunnels for our future metro rail,” said Berejiklian.

“This tunnelling is pivotal to a well-connected public transport system here at Martin Place, where customers will be able to transfer between the new metro and the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line,” said Constance.

TBM Nancy will spend a few weeks undergoing maintenance before being re-launched to complete the last 1.3 kilometres between Martin Place and Barangaroo.

Before TBM Nancy’s arrival, workers spent 21 months building the caverns for the new Martin Place Station, removing about 198,000 tonnes of rock in the process.

“Deep under city streets and buildings, this historic new metro line will not only increase the capacity of our rail network but make it easier to get around,” said Constance.

Call out for two more Inland Rail contracts

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has commenced the procurement process for two more Inland Rail contracts.

Applicants are invited to submit Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for a construction contract on the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail. The other EOI is for the supply and delivery of rail sleepers program-wide, for an estimated 1.44 million sleepers.

“Inland Rail is already securing jobs for regional Australians. The benefits of Inland Rail will be felt far beyond the route as businesses come on board to build this essential link in our national supply chain,” said ARTC Inland Rail Chief Executive, Richard Wankmuller.

The project expects to create 16,000 jobs when construction is fully underway. Inland Rail and the ARTC are focused on ensuring that in addition to the major construction industry jobs, local companies, businesses and job seekers will be able to participate in the different aspects of Inland Rail where they can, according to an Inland Rail statement.

“This once-in-a generation project will complete the backbone of the national freight network by providing a transit time of 24 hours or less for freight trains between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland,” said Wankmuller.

Construction on the Parkes to Narromine section of the track has been underway for ten months now, and ARTC believes businesses in the area are already benefitting from the flow of work from Inland Rail. These businesses include services for concrete supply, transportation, fencing, earthmoving, drainage, electrical works, security and water bore drilling providers.

“Inland Rail construction is injecting significant dollars into local businesses and the regional economy with $41.2 million spent so far,” said Wankmuller of the Parkes to Narromine construction efforts.

ARTC hopes more such work will come from the Narrabri to North Star project, which will include upgrading around 171km of existing rail track through the reconstruction of existing track, replacement of bridges and culverts, level crossings and crossing loops.

Melbourne’s transport vision unveiled

The City of Melbourne has released its draft Transport Strategy 2030 in anticipation of the population growth which will see the number of people using the city’s public transport every day rise from the current 900,000 to 4 million by 2036.

The draft details the city’s transport vision, which includes embracing the future with smart and micro mobility trials, making public transport services to the city safe, accessible, direct and frequent, and ensuring that Melbourne’s train stations are “international gateways to [the] city”.

Deloitte Access Economics estimates the economic benefits of the Transport Strategy actions will be $870 million over 10 years.

One of the main priorities named in the document is the “urgent need” to take 50,000 cars off CBD roads every day, which it intends to do with an overhaul of the city grid using the Spanish city of Barcelona as a model.

“Barcelona has a uniform street grid similar to Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid,” according to the document.

Melbourne will look to Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ as a model, wherein streets that form a three-by-three group of nine city blocks are redesigned to prioritise people over cars.”

The streets around the perimeter of each superblock are designated for cars and public transport, and speed limits are reduced to 10km/h.

“Vehicle through-movement is not allowed. In areas where, previously, almost 75 per cent of all space was allocated to cars, 75 per cent is now given to pedestrians.”

NSW trials smart solution for congestion issues

Transport for NSW is currently running trials intended to minimise station congestion and improve on-time train operation.

The Responsive Passenger Information (RPI) Project utilises Sydney Trains CCTV systems and WIFI technology to support data aggregation at Town Hall Station.

The RPI Project trials are being conducted in collaboration with Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Sydney Trains and the University of Technology Sydney.

According to UTS, the RPI system “optimises network performance by leveraging existing digital technologies to inform and influence user behaviour.”

It does this by offering a communications feedback loop, in real-time, between public transport users and operators, enabling the behaviour of each to influence the behaviour of the other.

The long-term vision of the project is to enable passengers to make informed decisions about their commute so they can avoid adding to the peak travel crowding.

The data aggregation stage will finish on 30 November 2019.

Works blitz to send Ballarat line upgrade over the line

A 23-day works blitz during November will take place in Victoria to get the Ballarat Line Upgrade completed.

Crews have already worked more than one million hours on the project, laying almost 30 kilometres of track, building crossing loops and duplicated track, upgrading stations, and constructing a new station.

However, more work remains to enable more frequent and reliable services, including upgrading key stations and undertaking critical signalling commissioning.

While buses replace trains, the Ballarat Line Upgrade team will use the opportunity to also complete track work at the Hopkins Road level crossing in Rockbank.

“This half-a-billion investment in the Ballarat line will bring more frequent and reliable services, transforming the state’s second busiest regional train line,” said Victorian senator Sarah Henderson.

“It will provide much-needed extra services in the morning and afternoon peak periods, plus a train every 40 minutes off-peak for growing communities along the line.”

The Ballarat Line Upgrade is part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival project, a joint initiative of the Australian and Victorian governments, which includes upgrading regional passenger train lines across Victoria.

This has created more than 1,000 jobs, according to a Victorian government statement.

After works are complete, critical safety testing and driver training will take place before the new services begin in 2020.

Work set to commence on Metronet’s Bayswater upgrade

WA’s Transport Authority has embarked on the tender process for a $1 million project which will form part of the early work towards construction of Metronet’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line and Bayswater Station upgrade.

The tender is for the creation of a new cable route along the rail corridor between Meltham and Bayswater, which will include relocating and laying six kilometres of fibre-optic cable to clear the way for the construction of the future rail lines.

The cable is vital to Transperth communications with train control and signalling, and  current cable alignment needs to be rerouted from the northern side of the train turnback area to the south.

Offering the installation of the new cable rerouting as a separate tender will enable the winning tenderer for the design and construction of the Bayswater project to begin work quickly once the contract is awarded.

“Releasing this tender ahead of the main contract will ensure the new contractor will be able to hit the ground running when they take control of the site next year,” said WA’s Acting Transport Minister, Sue Ellery.

The cable re-routing tender, released on October 10, will close on October 31.

The contract is expected to be awarded in November.

“These works are the first on-site works for two high-quality Metronet projects, which will eventually change the way north-eastern suburban residents commute and travels,” said Ellery.

Yarra Trams recognised for asset management best practise

Victoria’s mass transport system operator Yarra Trams has been recognised for its asset management systems across the organisation.

Yarra Trams, which operates nine different classes of trams across a network covering 250km, has received full certification compliancy with the ISO 55001 – Asset Management standard.

It is one of 19 transport organisations in the world to be awarded the accreditation, which it received across all assets of the company’s business, including rolling stock, infrastructure, and intellectual and operational technology.

“To achieve ISO 55001 across the entire organisation is something that is unique within the transport industry, and an accomplishment we are very proud of,” said Yarra Trams CEO, Nicolas Gindt.

The certification was formalised on 4 October 2019 by British Standards Institution Australia (BSI).

“Yarra Trams should be proud of their achievement in achieving certification. They can demonstrate they have a well-structured and robust approach to asset management and are committed to driving continual improvement,” said the managing director of BSI Group ANZ, Marc Barnes.

The certification marks the successful implementation of its new Asset Management System (AMS), which began two years ago.

The AMS covers the operator’s management of infrastructure, rolling stock, operating and intellectual technologies. Implementation involved creating more than a 100 standards, procedures and guidelines, introducing life-cycle models, as well as updating and establishing 26 asset class strategies.

Upgrades to business systems were made to enable improvements to process and procedure.

Thousands of hours were spent on training, communicating, and embedding change, according to a statement from the operator.