Australian Bulk Handling Review digital edition: July-August

Rail Express sister publication the Australian Bulk Handling Review has just released its third digital edition for 2017, with the July-August issue now available to view online.

The July-August issue of the Australian Bulk Handling Review includes features on grain handling, and weighing & level measurement.

Click here to view the online edition of the magazine

“This issue also includes profiles of new iron ore projects in Australia and Brazil, a fascinating article on pneumatic conveying misconceptions, and details of German Creek train load-out automation,” editor Charles Macdonald said.

“This digital adds tremendous value for readers, and for print advertisers, whose spend now goes a lot further.”

Main North Line could have ‘restricted’ opening in a month, KiwiRail says

The recent speed of progress in repairing New Zealand’s Main North Line railway may allow the line’s opening to freight trains within a month, according to the operator KiwiRail.

The Main North Line, which runs between Picton and Christchurch, is a major link in New Zealand’s transport supply network, with over 1 million tonnes of freight travelling between the North and South islands every year before the earthquake.

Over 150 kilometres of the Main North Line was damaged in November’s earthquake, and intense repair work has been ongoing over the months since, fixing tracks, removing debris, and rebuilding critical infrastructure.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said he was proud of the achievements of those involved in responding to the “devastating blow” the earthquake delivered to the network.

“This has been a mammoth task. When the repair job is complete it will represent one of rail’s biggest rebuilds in New Zealand since World War II,” Mr Reidy said.

The earthquake resulted in 60 major damage sites along the line, including to tunnels, bridges and embankments, while over 100 slips and landslides had buried the track.

Reidy said the line would soon be open again to freight, but that it would initially be restricted to low-speed, low-frequency services, as a “sizable amount” of repair work remains to be completed before the line will be back to its pre-earthquake state.

“We still face challenges, with the ever-present risk of ongoing seismic activity, and bad weather which could delay the opening date,” Reidy said.

“Freight services will initially run at night so that work on the rail and road networks can continue during the day. KiwiRail’s award-winning passenger service, the Coastal Pacific, will remain on hold until 2018 for the same reason.”

Reidy said that even a restricted opening of the line would mean the replacement of up to 2000 trucks per month, significantly easing traffic pressure on the roads that have carried the freight burden since the earthquake.

“Reopening the line will not only lower the cost to customers of moving freight between the islands, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as every tonne of freight carried by rail is a 66% emissions saving for New Zealand.”

Rail track. Photo: Shutterstock

$ 1.5 million solution for flood-damaged Newdegate line

Arc Infrastructure (previously named Brookfield Rail) have developed a plan to reopen the water-drenched Newdegate line before harvest and prevent flooding damage across the area’s rail network into the future.

The Newdegate line has been closed since the track was inundated with floodwaters in early February. Most of the other flooded lines were reopened in February, while the Wagin to Lake Grace and Lake Grace to Hyden portions of track were reopened in March.

Paul Lowney from Arc Infrastructure said in June that the company had been investigating a number of solutions to get the Newdegate line up and running again, including draining Lake Biddy and pumping away water from the area.

The new solution just announced by the company will cost $1.5 million, and involves lifting the existing track to allow the formation to be built-up by 1 metre. Arc Infrastructure has said that it believes the project will reduce the impact of flooding to the line in the long term.

The company will be providing all the funds for the works itself, and is currently undertaking design and engineering works, engaging suppliers, and finalising the timeline and costings for the project before its commencement within a matter of weeks.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

G:Link Stage 2 in place

With the final piece of track now laid for Stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail network, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has turned attentions to the business case for the third stage of the project, which already has $5 million in funding.

Palaszczuk said the final weld of Stage 2 track was an exciting milestone in the countdown to the commencement of passenger services early next year.

“Light Rail has fundamentally changed public transport on the Gold Coast and once Stage 2 opens people will be able to travel seamlessly across the Coast and to Brisbane,” Palaszczuk said.

“The improved rail connectivity between Queensland’s two largest cities has been embraced by the people of the Gold Coast and will help drive future growth and opportunity.”

The Palaszczuk Government will now prepare a business case for the next phase of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, Stage 3A, in collaboration with the Gold Coast City Council.

$5 million has been committed to the business case.

“Stage 2 is well on track to be ready before the Commonwealth Games and in coming weeks the wires carrying power to the trams will be energised and the community will start seeing us testing trams,” public transport minister Jackie Trad said.

“We are delivering world-class public transport infrastructure for the Gold Coast and with the capacity improvements on the Gold Coast Line that will be delivered by Cross River Rail and Stage 2 of the Light Rail set to open the future is looking good.

“With that in mind, the time is right to start planning for a third light rail extension from Broadbeach South to Burleigh Heads and it is great news that we are getting the business case process underway.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the Gold Coast is one of the fastest growing cities, describing it as “Australia’s holiday playground”.

“We know that the Gold Coast is growing and extending the G:Link will help to make sure we’re ready for that growth and connect our community like never before,” Tate said.

“Besides underpinning a truly world class integrated public transport system, the light rail is assisting council in meeting our objectives of increasing accessibility to key activity centres, and reducing congestion on the roads.”

Murray Basin upgrades begin

Work is underway on the second phase of the Murray Basin Rail Project, after the $440 million contract was awarded in June.

Federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester joined his Victorian counterpart Jacinta Allan in Maryborough on Monday, to inspect equipment and meet rail workers as the project kicked off.

This was just a month after a joint venture of McConnell Dowell and Martinus Rail was announced as the successful tenderer to deliver the major upgrade.

The contract represents stages two, three and four of the Murray Basin Rail Project, with work to take place up to August 2018. The three stages of work included in the contract cover the gauge conversion and upgrades on rail freight lines from Maryborough to Yelta, Ouyen to Murrayville, Dunolly to Manangatang, Korong Vale to Sea Lake, and Gheringhap to Warrenheip.

Preliminary works are now underway at Maryborough, including vegetation removal and site investigations. Works are also set to begin in Dunolly, delivering major upgrades to the Mildura freight rail line.

The project will increase train axle loadings from 19 tonnes to 21 tonnes between Dunolly and Yelta, and Maryborough to Ararat to allow freight trains to carry heavier loads.

“Improving the performance of the regional Victorian rail freight network will bolster the state’s agricultural sector, drive economic growth, help create jobs and boost regional communities,” Chester said.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project will standardise rail gauges and increase maximum freight volumes, allowing higher volumes of goods to be carried more efficiently.”

Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, who also visited Maryborough, said the upgrade project itself would also benefit employment in the region.

“More than 400 people will be employed on the project at its peak with up to 60 local jobs generated in the Central Goldfields Shire,” Tehan said.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project will ultimately enable trains to carry up to 500,000 more tonnes of grain each year and capture about 20,000 journeys currently undertaken by trucks, improving road safety and the road network for all those who use our local roads.”

The Sea Lake and Manangatang lines will remain open for now, so freight operators can consider using these lines as another option to keep moving freight by rail with works being scheduled outside of grain harvest seasons, the ministers said.

Meanwhile, work on the Mildura line will start on August 7, requiring the closure of the line north of Dunolly for the next five months to ensure the safety of work crews.

Brookfield rebrands as Arc Infrastructure

Western Australian network operator Brookfield Rail is now Arc Infrastructure, chief executive Paul Larsen has announced.

The company’s new name will help distinguish it from its parent company, Brookfield, which has major states in several other infrastructure companies, including Pacific National.

Larsen said the rebranding was “an exciting time” for the business.

“While we remain a Brookfield company, we’re looking forward to creating our own unique identity as Arc Infrastructure,” he said. “As Arc Infrastructure, our new name reflects our commitment to making an even greater contribution to the growth of Western Australia’s economy.”

Since 2000, the operator has invested more than $2 billion in the freight rail network and facilitate a 126% increase in the volume of product being moved, Larsen said.

He said the company’s workforce was heavily involved in the development of the new brand, and the chosen name embodied the company’s future aspirations, while being true to the heart of the core business.

“We have been extremely open with our people throughout the entire process. We asked them what was important to them and this feedback formed the foundations of our new identity,” he said.

“We see this as a great opportunity to create our own identity while still having the support of our parent company Brookfield. We look forward to continuing to deliver positive outcomes and contribute to the State as Arc Infrastructure.”

Steel firm Arrium saved by British buyout

South Australian steelmaker Arrium will be sold to a British company, in a piece of good news for the embattled local manufacturing sector.

Arrium has been under the control of administrators since it collapsed last year, citing debts of more than $4 billion.

The company’s Whyalla steelworks is a key local rail manufacturing site: it was awarded a Federal Government contract after it went into administration to deliver 73,000 tonnes of steel rail to upgrade South Australia’s freight network, and has been linked to the potential Adani coal railway build in Queensland.

Administrator KordaMentha announced on Tuesday the steelworks will be acquired by British bidder GFG Alliance.

The sale is still subject to approval by Arrium’s creditors, and the Foreign Investment Review Board, but finalisation is expected to occur in late August.

“Subject to those approvals, this is a great result for Arrium Australia employees, and the city and people of Whyalla,” deed administrator Mark Mentha said.

“It ensures their future and ends 15 months of uncertainty.”

A Korean bidder had been the rumoured front-runner earlier in the sale process, but Mentha said the British firm ended up being the better option.

“Taking all factors into consideration, including the timeframes required to complete a sale, the administrators and sale advisors Morgan Stanley, decided the GFG Alliance offer was superior to the conditional offer of the Korean consortium with whom we were negotiating.”

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the announcement was “great news for Whyalla and for the state, and offers a bright future for the workers and their families after so many months of uncertainty”.

Rail line at Port Botany. Photo: Sydney Ports Corporation / Brendan Read

Port Botany Line freight upgrades halfway complete

Stage 3 of the Port Botany Rail Line upgrade has just passed its halfway point, with the federal government announcing that more than 55 per cent of works have been completed.

The completed works included 1.5 kilometres of track reconditioning, 9.9 kilometres of concrete re-sleepering, 8.4 kilometres of new rail, 6 kilometres of new drainage, and 2 new retaining structures.

Federal transport and infrastructure minister Darren Chester said that upgrades went towards boosting the line’s freight capacity to help meet growing demand from the freight industry for transport to Botany via rail.

“The most effective way to improve Port Botany’s efficiency and productivity is by enhancing the rail network and pushing more of the freight task through the port on to rail,” Chester said.

“This project offers improved access and connectivity for rail freight operators—and in taking freight off the roads is good for both the people and businesses of New South Wales as it ultimately assists in lowering the cost of transport.”

Chester said that freight and logistics companies had already invested over $1 billion to put more freight on rail.

“In the last six months alone, new freight loaded on to rail has taken the equivalent of more than 270 trucks a week—or more than 7,000 trucks—off the roads around Port Botany.”

These developments are “great news for Sydney’s motorists,” Chester said, as moving freight on to trains and taking trucks off the roads would lead to improvements in road safety, and a reduction in traffic congestion that would save time for drivers.

“While road freight is critical to the economy of New South Wales, Sydney’s rapidly expanding population and New South Wales’s future freight growth means it is no longer sustainable to be all carried by road, so rail needs to move more and more freight,” he said.

$75 billion of federal funds have been invested for the Stage 3 upgrades, which also includes initial project funding for a scoping investigation into potential capacity enhancements for the Southern Sydney Freight Line/Metropolitan Freight Network, and the Cabramatta Loop development phase, including construction design and geotechnical investigations.

The government expects the project to be completed in September 2019.

Queensland spruiks contract opportunities for Adani project

Local businesses in Mackay will next month be offered advice on how to secure contracts from projects in the region, including the controversial $21.7 Carmichael mine project.

The regional growth seminar, taking place on July 6 at Mackay’s Harrup Park Country Club, will feature representatives of the Carmichael project and the $498 million Mackay Ring Road project.

Queensland’s development minister Anthony Lynham advised local businesses to make the best of the opportunity.

“These major projects will be an economic shot in the arm for businesses creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the region,” the minister said.

“That’s why the premier worked hard to win the commitment from the chairman of Adani to use regional workers and base themselves in regional Queensland.”

Mackay has been confirmed by Adani as the base for its mining services, while its rail maintenance and provisioning yard will be located in the Mackay-Bowen region also.

Lynham said that mining services businesses were an important export earner for the state, and that their innovations had been taken up overseas in agricultural and construction sectors.

“Much of that innovation has come directly from companies based in the Mackay region – companies like Taurus Mining Solutions who feature in our State Budget,” he said.

The Queensland government is funding a Mackay Trade and Investment Action Plan that comes out of $35 million in investment over five years allocated to boost the state’s trade and investment.

Member for Mackay Julianne Gilbert said that she expected that local businesses would “see real opportunities” after the Carmichael project goes ahead in the region, and encouraged them to register for the seminar online (at http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/) or by phone on 4898 6800.

Turnbull: Victoria’s asset recycling saga ‘fake news’

Malcolm Turnbull has teed off on journalists who question the nature of Canberra’s $1.42 billion commitment to Victorian regional rail, calling speculation over missing asset recycling money “fake news”.

The PM was in Melbourne on Tuesday, discussing the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival project.

The Andrews Government announced the project in April, based on the argument it was owed $1.45 billion by the Commonwealth for selling the Port of Melbourne in September 2016.

Federal treasurer Scott Morrison has argued the state does not deserve any reward for the port sale, because the two-year asset recycling scheme closed before the deal went through – a fact Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has blamed on stalling tactics by Victoria’s Liberal Opposition.

Moreover, Morrison has argued Victoria was never to receive $1.45 billion for selling the port, instead saying he offered state treasurer Tim Pallas an $877.4 million commitment, which Pallas did not sign.

The result has been nine months of bickering between the state and federal governments, with either side accusing the other of playing politics, and nothing getting done.

That all came to an end on Tuesday with Turnbull’s announcement of $1.42 billion in regional rail funding, which the Victorian Government says has come from the asset recycling scheme, but the PM says has not.

“No, it’s not [from the scheme],” the prime minister told reporters. “The asset recycling scheme has closed, this is money that’s coming out of our infrastructure budget. We found the funds available.”

Turnbull’s patience was tested further, with a reporter asking whether Victoria would get any Commonwealth money for selling the Port of Melbourne, given the regional rail funding is not being attributed to the asset recycling scheme.

“You are way out of touch,” the PM responded.

“What Victorians are interested in is getting the job done. They want the infrastructure built. They are sick of politicians arguing and point-scoring. They’re sick of journalists and the media point-scoring and arguing too.

“We are delivering this money today. The asset recycling scheme was closed. It had come to an end. I’m sorry, that’s the fact. But the bottom line is the money is there.

“My focus, our focus, is on the needs of 24 million Australians,” he continued. “We are committed to them.

“I hear all the commentary. I see all the click-bait. I see all of the fake news. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in results. That’s what we are delivering.”