Sydney Light Rail construction progresses across the city

Construction of Sydney’s new light rail network has continued to make progress over September, with track installation being achieving or nearing completion at several zones.

On Anzac Parade in Kensington and Kingsford, over 3.6 kilometres of track has now been installed. Work will soon shift towards kerbside works, including undergrounding of the electrical and communications networks to enable the replacement of the old telegraph poles with new poles that will support the overhead wiring for the light rail vehicles and the street lights along Anzac Parade.

In the coming weeks, re-configuration of the northbound lanes on the northern side of the Nine Ways intersection will take place.

A new public art installation is also being installed in this section of the light rail, and include sculptures, street art, outdoor furniture and landscape designs.

At Moore Park, work is underway on the construction of the eastern tunnel portal located near Tramway Oval, while track installation has begun near Lang Road and has been completed on Anzac Parade near Robertson Road.

Between Lang Road and Wansey Road, after the installation of overhead wires in Zones 22 and 24, light rail systems and vehicles will begin to be tested in the coming months.

Work will soon be underway on the intersection of Anzac Parade with Alison Road and Dacey Avenue. This will require the construction of a temporary diversion lane to allow all southbound traffic lanes to be diverted, keeping traffic moving during preparatory work and during track installation in the middle of Anzac Parade.

In Surry Hills, construction work has now laid the foundations for the light rail stop at Ward Park, while utility works continue along Devonshire Street, between Crown and Bourke Streets and Elizabeth and Crown Streets.

Installation of the new roadway has started in Devonshire Street, between Chalmers Street and Elizabeth Street alongside the completed track, and will be followed by footpath and kerb finishing work on either side of Devonshire Street.

Over 2 kilometres of track is now in place in the CBD. On George Street between Park and Market Streets, and between Market and King Streets, most of the track and track slab is in place.

Also at these zones, the ground level power supply for light rail vehicles is also close to completion.

2,000 square metres of paving is now in place on George Street between Grosvenor and Alfred Streets and between King and Park Streets. These pavers form the start of the 26,000 square metres will be laid in the city centre, stretching from Circular Quay through the pedestrianised area to Town Hall.

Work is still underway to relocate or replace utilities – water mains, gas mains and conduits to carry power cables – under the CBD.

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Major maintenance works on Hunter Valley network

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and its contractor partners are kicking off major maintenance works on its Hunter Valley rail network this week.

Heavy machinery and materials have been prepared for 72 hours of critical maintenance on the line, which is to take place between 6.30am Tuesday 10 October and 6.30am Friday 13 October.

The works will be undertaken within the rail corridor from the port at Kooragang to Muswellbrook, along the Ulan rail line and from Muswellbrook north to Narrabri, and will include full track reconstructions, the laying of new rail, level crossing improvements, ballast cleaning, rail corridor tidy up works and signalling maintenance.

ARTC’s group executive Hunter Valley network Jonathan Vandervoort said the maintenance works were essential in ensuring the safety and reliability of busy rail network.

“We would like to thank the community for their patience and understanding when we spring into action next week,” Vandervoort said.

“By closing sections to rail traffic, our maintenance crews can work safely and efficiently, and more work can be carried out by our crews who will be working around the clock.”

Further Hunter Valley maintenance works have been scheduled for 20-24 November.

Your digital edition of the Rail Express September/October Issue is here!

Rail Express is pleased to release its 2017 September/October Issue, along with a special supplement on Freight Rail.

Click here to read Rail Express, September/October 2017
Click here to read our special Freight Rail supplement

In our second issue of Rail Express in 2017, we take a look at the cutting edge of this vast and important industry: Signalling & Communications. Around Australia, networks are getting busier, while the environments around them are moving faster, and becoming more complex every day. The job of keeping these networks safe, while also helping them be more efficient, makes this sector one of the most active in the field of research and development, and we take a look at some of the work on the table right now.

We also focus on the explosion of Civil Engineering & Construction taking place in just about every state and territory in Australia, and across the Tasman.

On page 30 we have a case study of some excellent work which has taken place in Sydney’s busy Town Hall station, aimed at improving the concourse and station areas for commuters, while also making maintenance work easier. On page 34 we take a look at the positive signs coming from the market, and on page 35, we profile one of the newest major pieces of work about to take place: Parramatta Light Rail.

Our supplement in this issue focuses on Freight Rail. With intermodal developments popping up around the region, and the wheels finally moving on Inland Rail, could rail soon take a serious bite out of the road industry’s market dominance on key freight routes? We also look at heavy haul rail in the supplement, including ongoing developments in Queensland and Western Australia.

Of course no Rail Express would be complete without our regular coverage of news from all around the region; we cover recent battles between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth, lots of news out of Infrastructure Australia, and plenty more.

Please enjoy reading this issue. I look forward to engaging with the industry ahead of our next issue, the AusRAIL PLUS special edition, and then we’re on to the event.

Click here to read Rail Express, September/October 2017
Click here to read our special Freight Rail supplement

Instructions: simply use your mouse to drag the pages just like you were reading a magazine. Alternatively, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. To zoom in on a page, use the magnifying glass icon on the bottom centre menu. To download the magazine as a PDF, click the downward arrow icon in the bottom centre menu.

Light rail track installation progress in South East Sydney

Light rail track has now been fully installed at three construction zones in Sydney’s South East, where vehicle testing is to begin in the coming months.

Over 4.6km of track has been laid along Alison Rd and parts of Anzac Parade, and a further 3.9 kilometres has also been laid at other zones on Anzac Parade (where track installation work continues).

The completion of track installation work on Alison Road will allow overhead wires to be installed along the stretch, which is to be followed by light rail vehicle testing along this section.

“Construction of the light rail is making strong progress in the South East with more than 8.5km of track installed along the route, completing the sections along Alison Road and on Anzac Parade, between Todman Avenue and High Street,” coordinator general Marg Prendergast said.

“Seeing the progress on this important section of the light rail route shows how far we’ve come with construction in the South East and when vehicle testing begins in comings months, we will start to see just how much this project will transform this area.”

A safety campaign will be launched prior to the light rail vehicle testing period, making sure the local community is aware of the changes and the potential hazards from moving vehicles and live wires.

Construction work also continues for the first light rail stop on Alison Road.

In other light rail news, ALTRAC Light Rail hosted a stand at the Surry Hills Festival last Saturday, allowing visitors the opportunity to ask questions about the light rail project design and construction.

Heritage items uncovered during construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail were also put on display at the stand, including an arrow stamp brick from the 1820s, ceramic plates and cups, glass and ceramic bottles, a cooking pot, toy wheel, decorative teapot, ink bottle and a decorative smoking pipe bowl.

A heritage consultant, Jayden van Beek, was present to answer questions about the recovered objects.

“It was great to meet people at our festival stall and share with them the background to the fascinating items from early settlement life in Sydney that we have found during light rail construction,” Mr van Beek said.

“There was particular interest in some of the items we had recovered from Ward Park itself, including an old Vaseline jar and cooking pot from the remains of the old Royal Arms Hotel.”

The 12-kilometre CBD and South East Light Rail line is expected to open in early 2019. It will feature 19 stops, and extends from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street.

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Adelaide-Melbourne upgrade complete for 1800m trains

A newly-completed, multi-million-dollar upgrade of the Adelaide to Melbourne rail corridor will allow for longer freight trains, increasing capacity by up to 20%, federal transport minister Darren Chester said.

Six new crossing loops were delivered under the $15 million upgrade of the line, which Chester and the Australian Rail Track Corporation announced complete on September 22.

The upgrade should allow the accommodation of 1,800-metre trains, improving productivity on the line and supporting associated jobs.

“The upgrade will create a 20% increase in productivity for rail operators and remove the need to send additional train services back to Melbourne with empty wagons,” Chester said.

“By investing $15 million in the project, we have created a situation where the maximum length of trains operating from Adelaide to Melbourne can be increased by up to 300 metres The longer, more efficient trains means less congestion for motorists and improved road safety, as well as cutting transport costs.

“The initial scope of the project was to deliver five extensions to crossing loops, which provide opportunities for trains heading in opposite directions to pass each other on single line sections of track, but thanks to clever project management, an extra passing loop at Dimboola in regional Western Victoria was also upgraded within the original project budget.”

Chester said Victorian crossing loops at Pyrenees, Murtoa, Pimpinio, Diapur and Dimboola, and South Australia’s Mile End loop, had all been extended to 1,800 metres.

“A 1,800-metre train carries the equivalent of more than 85 B-Doubles worth of freight that would typically travel by road through South Australia,” he said.

“Moving more freight by rail is crucial to meet the expected doubling of freight demand over the 20 years to 2030 while reducing urban congestion.”

Additional track upgrades are currently underway in Adelaide as part of the jointly funded Australian and South Australian Government Torrens Junction Rail Project, which will provide a clear path for 1,800-metre trains all the way from Perth to Melbourne by late 2017.

Inland Rail

Inland Rail field studies begin in Queensland

A number of field studies towards the Environmental Impact Statements for the Gowrie to Kagaru sections of Inland Rail are now underway in Queensland, federal transport and infrastructure minister Darren Chester has confirmed.

“With Inland Rail progressing, it is important to get these ecology surveys underway to inform the design and broader environmental assessment of this Inland Rail section,” the minister said.

“The field studies and investigations will help identify and understand animal and plant species in the area including their habitat.

Ecology surveys will include the collection of spring and summer seasonal data concerning the flora and fauna of the area.

The data collected will help develop each of the three Environmental Impact Statements and feasibility designs for the projects that make up the Gowrie to Kagaru section of the project.

Gowrie to Helidon, Helidon to Calvert, and Calvert to Kagaru are the three sections identified to make up the Gowrie to Kagaru section, by the ARTC’s Inland Rail team.

Gowrie to Helidon includes 26 kilometres of new dual gauge track, a 6.4 kilometre tunnel, seven viaducts totalling 4.2 kilometres, six bridges totalling 520 metres, and three passing loops.

It will use the existing rail corridor and the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Gowrie to Grandchester protected rail corridor.

Helidon to Calvert will be 47.7 kilometres of new dual gauge track, including a 1.1 kilometre tunnel, four viaducts totalling 1.5 kilometres, 20 bridges totalling 1 kilometre, six grade separations and four passing loops.

And the Calvert to Kagaru section includes roughly 54 kilometres of new dual gauge track, a 1.1 kilometre tunnel through the Teviot Range, 15 grade separations, 13 river-crossing bridges, and up to four passing loops.

It is to follow the protected Southern Freight Rail Corridor (SFRC), which links he West Moreton line near Calvert to the interstate rail line near Kagaru, north of Beaudesert.

Together the three sections are considered the most technically complex along the Inland Rail project, but they also contribute a large portion of the construction expenditure, a boon for Queensland, which will overall see 50% of all Inland Rail spending.

“Each EIS will include extensive consultation with the local community, landowners and other key stakeholders,” federal member for Wright, Scott Buchholz added.

ARA names Next Generation Scholarship winners

The Australasian Railway Association has announced the six rail graduates who have won AusRAIL 2017 Next Generation Scholarships.

ARA boss Danny Broad announced the names last week, saying he was pleased to highlight the innovative ideas of young individuals.

“The ideas of the recipients of the AusRAIL PLUS 2017 Next Generation Scholarship vary from focusing on targeting classrooms, hosting workshops and promoting the rail industry in lecture halls through industry partnerships with schools, TAFE and universities to creating mobile rail gaming apps,” Broad said.

“The winners are commended for their innovative approaches in being able to think about alternative methods of communicating to individuals in a way that promotes the rail industry positively.”

Six rail graduates were selected:

  • Alice Jordan-Baird, Project Advisor, Corporate Affairs & Communications, Transdev
  • Nicola Chung, Rail Networking Analyst, Transport for NSW
  • Asimina Vanderwert, Graduate Engineer, Metro Trains Melbourne
  • Maxim Karpyn, Instrumentation Engineer, Bombardier Transportation Australia
  • Jase Berry, Graduate Engineer/Lam-Thien Vu, Systems Engineer, Shoal Engineering.

Scholarship winners will receive complimentary attendance to the AusRAIL PLUS 2017 Conference and Exhibition, including the Welcome Reception, Exhibition Networking event, RTAA Yellow Tie and Gala Dinners, in November this year.

Requests for tender for bridge and culvert works on Tasmanian network

Two requests for tender have been released by TasRail for the repair and replacement of bridges and culverts across the Tasmanian rail network.

Part of the joint federal and Tasmanian state governments’ $119.6 million infrastructure investment in the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation program, the requests for tender aim at ensuring the longevity and efficiency of rail freight operations in the state.

“The Freight Rail Revitalisation program will upgrade priority sections of the Tasmanian rail network over four years to mid-2019,” federal transport and infrastructure Darren Chester said.

“This investment will further underpin Tasmanian rail’s capacity to deliver freight safely and on time, supporting businesses across the state and the entire Tasmanian economy.”

Works on the repairs and replacement of culverts is scheduled to begin in November 2017. The water-flow capacity of culverts is to be reassessed, while culverts that are identified as maintenance liabilities will be reconstructed or replaced using modern construction materials.

Bridgeworks will involve strengthening the structures of key bridges on the network, along with the reconstruction of the Elizabeth Bridge at Campbell Town on the South Line.

According to state infrastructure minister Rene Hidding, the bridgeworks will commence in in January 2018.

“These jointly-funded works are greatly improving the reliability of our rail network, which can be seen by the huge improvement in derailments over the past couple of years,” Hidding said.

“TasRail has so far rolled-out construction contracts totalling $80.9 million, the majority awarded to local companies, which are in turn supporting local sub-contractors and local suppliers of goods and services. These bridge replacements and repairs will continue to improve the reliability of rail for the benefit of customers and the Tasmanian economy.’’

The state government’s Buy Local Policy applies the TasRail tenders, and thus tenderers will have to demonstrate support for Tasmanian industry and businesses.

The request for tender for the culverts work will close on October 6, while the bridgeworks request will close on October 20.

First freight trains on Main North Line since earthquake

Freight trains have started servicing New Zealand’s Main North Line for the first time since last year’s devastating earthquake, with the first train making its way from Picton to Christchurch last Friday.

The milestone marked the start of low-frequency freight services that will run five nights a week. This will allow repair and rebuilding work to continue during the day while also helping to take 2000 trucks a month off the inland road freight route.

“We’ve had a remarkable 10 months to get to this point, and what it has highlighted is the importance of rail to our economy, and how critical it is that road and rail work together,” said KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.

“Before the earthquake, KiwiRail was carrying one million tonnes of freight on the line for our customers per year. After the quake, freight has had to be moved south by road, which has put pressure on the inland route.

“It’s meant additional costs for freight forwarding companies and it hasn’t been easy for truck drivers.”

New Zealand’s transport minister lauded the efforts over the past ten months in getting the line running again, which included intensive and extensive repair work at over 750 sites.

“Over 1500 workers from KiwiRail, the NZ Transport Agency and their partners in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR) have done a fantastic job in what have been challenging conditions,” Bridges said.

The first service to travel on the repaired track on Friday carried general domestic freight from KiwiRail customers Bascik, Toll, Mainfreight Group and Maersk, and was driven by KiwiRail Locomotive Engineer Wayne Sullivan, who was also driving a train on the line when the earthquake struck.

KiwiRail held special celebratory event on Friday morning at Kaikoura as the train passed through, organised to acknowledge community support for the operator and North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance and their efforts to rebuild the line.

“The earthquake had a major impact on Kaikoura, and the past 10 months has not been easy for them. KiwiRail appreciates the co-operation the community has given us over that time,” Reidy said.

“That support has helped us get freight trains running ahead of schedule, and that in turn will help take pressure off the alternate route.”

During the event, a sculpture by local artist Ben Foster was unveiled to mark the occasion and to acknowledge the rebuild effort.

“As an artist living in Kaikoura, I felt a great sense of pride in being involved with the creation of a sculpture recognising the November 2016 earthquake event and its effects on the wider community,” Forster said.

The sculpture features pieces of twisted track salvaged from IronGate, north of Kaikoura, and incorporates key place names of the Main North Line along the Kaikoura coastline, which Forster said was a way of honouring the history of the construction and reconstruction of the line over the decades.

“More importantly,” Forster remarked, “this sculpture reminds us that change is very much a constant, the twisted rail communicating the raw power of Mother Nature, and may stand as a constant reminder of how resilient we all are as it reaches upward.”

Palaszczuk spruiks Downer’s recent Maryborough success

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has visited Downer’s workshops at Maryborough, and discussed its $70 million in projects, including rollingstock overhauls and rail maintenance deals.

Palaszczuk said since coming into the run of success adding to its projects pipeline, Downer EDI’s Maryborough site had added 20 new workers.

The site will overhaul locomotives for a number of Queensland’s regional rail services, and will also soon commence significant maintenance work on the Citytrain fleet.

“It’s great to be in Maryborough to announce that Downer EDI had been awarded almost $8 million in rail maintenance projects which are expected to commence this year,” the premier said.

“They have also been selected as the preferred tenderer for an additional $62 million in upcoming rollingstock overhauls.

“We have already seen Downer hire 20 new local workers and this announcement means a secure pipeline of projects that will give Downer EDI the confidence to generate more jobs locally and boost the Wide Bay economy.”

In Downer’s recent annual report announcement, the company’s chief executive Grant Fenn noted that new projects in the rail and transport divisions would help the company endure a slowdown in its mining and utilities divisions.

Along with the Queensland work, Downer has enjoyed success on a number of major rollingstock contracts, including the High Capacity Metro Trains deal in Victoria, and the Sydney Growth Trains project in NSW.

Queensland transport minister Jackie Trad said Downer’s Maryborough success was a demonstration of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to local jobs.

“We recently introduced our Buy Queensland policy which highlights the importance of government contracts going to local businesses and supporting local communities,” she said.

“Through these projects, 15 locomotives will be overhauled to ensure continued reliability of the Inlander, Westlander, Spirit of the Outback and Kuranda Scenic Railway services, which connect communities right across Queensland.”