infrastructure

Early costings on infrastructure projects leading to inaccuracy: Grattan report

Governments and project authorities need to improve costings on transport infrastructure, and megaprojects in particular, a new report highlights.

The Grattan Institute’s The rise of megaprojects: counting the costs report found that Australian transport infrastructure projects over the past two decades cost $34 billion more than initially expected. Read more

Lilydale

Works beginning on level crossing removal and parking upgrades on Lilydale line

Work to remove two level crossings on the Lilydale Line in Melbourne’s outer east will begin in December, the first of eight level crossings to go on the Belgrave and Lilydale lines.

The two level crossings are at Manchester Road in Mooroolbark and the Maroondah Highway in Lilydale. Thirteen crashes have occurred at the crossings with one fatality in the last decade.

As part of the level crossing removal, new stations will be built at Mooroolbark and Lilydale and a construction blitz will be held from December 11 to 20.

Foundations for new rail bridges will be installed, along with new underground cables. Another week long closure is indicatively scheduled for the end of summer in 2021.

“We’re not wasting a minute getting on with our critical works on the Lilydale line – delivering better transport connections for passengers and important local jobs for workers as we begin to recover from the pandemic,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

Early works on a new multi-deck carpark at Mooroolbark station are already underway. The new carpark will add 450 new and upgraded spots at the station. A temporary carpark is now open to replace the existing carpark which is being redeveloped until 2022.

“Across the state we’re building more than 11,000 new and upgraded commuter parking spaces to make catching the train easier for everyone – and our new carpark at Mooroolbark will double the station’s current capacity,” said Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll.

The new carpark includes lifts, CCTV, and better lighting, with community feedback providing input to the final design.

Once works are complete, the 53,000 vehicles that use the crossings each day will no longer have to wait while boom gates are down for up to a quarter of the two-hour morning peak.

The existing Mooroolbark station will be moved to the Yarra Valley Railway to continue the rail history of the heritage building.

Sped up Avon River bridge crossing ready in December

The bridge over the Avon River used by trains on the Gippsland Line will be completed in early December, ahead of schedule.

After a works blitz to connect the new bridge to the existing rail line from Saturday, November 28 to Sunday, December 6, trains will be able to travel at up to 90km/h on the new bridge, well above the 10km/h speed limit on the current bridge.

The early completion date was significant, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, as working conditions had to account for COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s fantastic that works on the new bridge are finishing early, especially given crews have worked under modified conditions for most of the year,” he said.

The Avon Bridge is one part of the wider Gippsland Line Upgrade, that will increase the frequency and reliability of services to this part of regional Victoria. Other works include track duplication, extending the Morwell crossing loop, upgrading signalling, and adding second platforms at four stations along the line.

In addition, local level crossings would be improved with added safety features, including at McAlister Street.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that the works have prioritised local contractor involvement.

“The past few months have seen a massive effort to bring this new bridge to life, with plenty of involvement from local workers and suppliers,” Ms Allan said.

“Local contractors have worked hard on the project, and we’re focused on continuing to support the local economies of Stratford and Gippsland through the Gippsland Line Upgrade.”

Final works to prepare the Avon River bridge for train services include track and signalling works, removing old sections of railway track and sleepers, and final landscaping works. Additionally, the final pairs of 60-tonne beams are being lifted into place and walls attached.

Local artist Ray Thomas has been commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the bridge.

Part of the Regional Rail Revival program, other works on the joint state-federal funded Gippsland Line Upgrade will continue until late 2022.

Martin Place Station caverns completed ahead of schedule

The station caverns for the future Martin Place Metro Station have been completed, six months ahead of schedule.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance visited the site of the future station, 28 metres below ground and said that the completion of the caverns was a milestone in the delivery of the new Metro line.

“In a few short years, Sydney’s new driverless trains will be running through the heart of the city every few minutes – a fast, new, reliable and safe railway extending from the Metro North West Line,” said Berejiklian.

Constance said that with the shape of the future station coming together, critical infrastructure will be delivered soon.

“This is an extraordinary milestone: excavation, tunnelling and caverns completed – next stop is laying tracks and building the new station which will service the heart of the Sydney CBD,” said Constance.

Nine tunnels to allow commuters to access the station have been built as part of the station’s design. These connect from the station entrances as well as to the existing Martin Place station where passengers can connect to Sydney Trains services.

Under construction for the last two years, the station is located underneath Castlereagh and Elizabeth streets and are 220 metres long and 14 metres wide. Tunnel boring machines Nancy and Shirl arrived at the stations in October 2019 before continuing on the future line.

A total of 126,000 tonnes of rock were excavated to create the two caverns and 5,500 tonnes of steel and 21,5000 tonnes of concrete have been used to create the stations.

Tracklaying is expected to commence in early 2021.

Sydney Metro part of mental health awareness campaign

Sydney Metro workers have been part of the launch of a new initiative to reduce suicide in the construction sector.

MATES Stronger Together aims to drive cultural change in the construction industry, highlighting the shared responsibility that colleagues have for each other’s mental health.

“We know that construction workers are at significantly greater risk of suicide than workers in other industries, sadly a worker takes their life every two days,” said Constance.

“2020 has been one hell of a year, so it’s particularly important at the moment to do everything we can to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of our workers.”

The launch of MATES Stronger Together. Image credit: Sydney Metro

Six times the number of construction workers killed in workplace accidents take their own life, with 190 workers dying from suicide each year. Young workers are particularly at risk, with young workers in construction twice as likely to die from suicide as other young men.

MATES Stronger Together is run by MATES in Construction, a partnership between building companies, unions, employer grounds and mental health organisations.

Sydney Metro chief executive Jon Lamonte said that this year was a reminder of the importance of connection.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s just how much we can take ‘connectedness’ for granted and how important our social connections really are,” Mr Lamonte said.

“Our ‘mates’ really do play an important role in preventing suicide in this industry.”

The program will provide practical tools for workers in the construction industry to identify warning signs and act, said MATES in Construction CEO Brad Parker.

“The goal is to create strong networks of support on construction projects across the country, with workers looking out for those suffering from suicidal thoughts and having the confidence to talk to them and connect them with the help they need.”

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately in a life-threatening situation by calling 000 or seek support though one of these services:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

Contract awarded for Crows Nest Metro station construction

The contract to build Crows Nest station, above the new Sydney CBD and South West Metro Line has been awarded.

AW Edwards will build the station, as well as two entrances, footpaths, lighting, retail space, improvements to pedestrian and cyclist safety, and enabling works for over-station developments.

Crows Nest is the first stop on the new line south of Chatswood and NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the service would change the way people get around in North Sydney.

“The new Crows Nest Station will transform how customers travel, with air-conditioned, driverless trains every four minutes in each direction in peak times,” Constance said.

“Hundreds of new jobs will be created throughout the life of the project, with more than 300 workers on site during peak phases of construction activity.”

The service will cut down times into the city, with current train travel from nearby St Leonards to Wynyard taking 14 minutes while it will take seven minutes from Crows Nest to Martin Place.

The station will be located 25 metres below ground in the excavated station cavern. Lifts and escalators will connect the two entrances, one on the Pacific Highway and one on Clarke Street, to the platforms.

Retail space will be created around the Clarke Street entry and in future along the Pacific Highway. Local transport connections including pedestrian crossings, bike parking and paths, kiss and ride, and point to point drop off points are also part of the project scope.

Once complete, the new station will provide metro rail access to surrounding residences, schools, and businesses, while creating a transport hub on the southern side of the St Leonards specialised centre.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2021 to be completed in 2023.

AW Edwards has previously built stations as part of the Epping to Chatswood line that is now part of the Metro North West Line.

A separate tender process will be held for the over-station developer. Further community feedback will be sought on the over-station development package.

Reframing the megaproject in the age of COVID-19

Infrastructure leaders are calling for a rethink in the way that megaprojects are planned and delivered in a post COVID-19 world.

Speaking at the National Infrastructure Summit, those in the public and private sector said that going forward, new approaches will have to be taken to the construction of major infrastructure projects.

With less of a demand for trips to the CBDs of cities during the morning peak, and more distributed travel patterns, inter-urban, suburban and regional connectivity will be a greater focus, said Marco Assorati, executive director of Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo).

“We need to ensure connectivity and good living in bigger cities, but the circumstances of COVID have driven attention somewhere else, to the need to develop regional hubs. We need to connect regional hubs with rail, roads, with technology,” he said.

Similarly, Andrew Head, CEO of Westconnex, said that in future, megaprojects will not just funnel people into and out of CBD, but improve connectivity in polycentric cities.

Linda Cantan, package director, tunnels & station PPP Metro Tunnel at Rail Projects Victoria, said that even in these visions for the future, current requirements will still need to be met, and that cities such as Melbourne were already at capacity in terms of the load on existing infrastructure. In addition, project such as the Metro Tunnel in Melbourne are being designed to free up capacity on the metropolitan network so that connections from regional cities can flow through the city more efficiently.

Another way that projects may change is through the shape of the delivery contracts. Speaking from experience, Bede Noonan, managing director of Acciona Australia said that governments and contractors needed to ensure that more work was being done in the early stages to avoid acrimonious disputes, such as the fall out from the Sydney CBD and South East light rail project, where “massive” amounts of money were spent that didn’t need to be spent.

“If you’re in that space it’s a bad space, the challenge is how to avoid that coming about,” he said.

Other panellists echoed these remarks, with Cantan noting that while there was pressure currently for projects to get into the construction phase to stimulate economic recovery, proper planning and investigation still needed to be done at the outset.

“A, make sure it’s the right project but, B, make sure that we’re setting out the feasibility appropriately, and then taking it out to market as a well-developed project.”

Karangahape

Tunnelling works progress at Karangahape station site

Tunnel mining has begun at the site of the future Karangahape Station with a large excavator brought in to create a 15 metre long connection to the caverns of the future station.

Machinery is digging out the short tunnel from the temporary access shaft, 18 metres deep.

Dale Burtenshaw, deputy alliance director for Link Alliance said the connection would be critical.

“This connection is short, but it will become an important and busy ‘construction artery’ for us providing access for people, machines and material,” he said.

Once the 9.5 metre wide and 8m high arch-shaped tunnel is excavated a roadaheader will finish the connection before beginning to dig out the station platform tunnels.

“It’s a clear sign of work ramping up. Our focus is very much on welcoming the Tunnel Boring Machine at Karangahape Station at the end of next year on the first leg of its journey from Mt Eden,” said Burtenshaw.

When complete, Karangahape will be New Zealand’s deepest underground station at up to 35 metres underground. The station will be 217 metres long to accommodate nine-car trains.

Here the tunnel boring machine will arrive after carving out the twin tunnels from Mt Eden Station.

To ensure construction and earth mining noises are limited, a unique acoustically insulated noise enclosure will encase the access shaft.

“The noise enclosure is a bit like a silencer on a car, reducing the impact of construction at street level in a busy part of the city around Karangahape Road,” Burtenshaw said. “The enclosure muffles construction noise and gives us the flexibility to work longer hours to get the job underground done without disturbing neighbours living and working around us.”

Other work such as the installation of reinforced concrete panels are also underway along with utilities relocation. Plunge columns through the centre of Beresford Square are also beginning to be installed to support floor slabs during construction.