Contractors shortlisted for Morley-Ellenbrook line

The Western Australia government has shortlisted two joint ventures to design and construct the Morley-Ellenbrook line, part of the Metronet project.

The two joint ventures are, Ellenbrook Alliance (CPB Contractors and Downer EDI) and MELconnx Consortium (Laing O’Rouke Australia Construction).

Having completed the request for proposal phase, the shortlisted contractors will now enter the competitive bid phase.

The contract is the largest of four works packages to deliver the Morley-Ellenbrook line and covers the design, building, and commissioning of the electric rail line and five new stations.

Early works are already underway on the Bayswater Station and a contractor, Evolve Bayswater Alliance, was recently announced as the preferred proponent for the construction of that station.

WA Premier Mark McGowan announced that the decision has been the product of extensive engagement.

“Leading up to procurement, we engaged with hundreds of local businesses and subcontractors so they were prepared to bid for the huge range of work available through all stages of the project.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the finalised project would connect the growing north eastern suburbs of Perth.

“This is another major step forward for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line project, which is the final missing piece for transport infrastructure in the north-eastern suburbs of Perth.”

After leaving the Midland line at Bayswater station, the new, 21km line will follow the Tonkin highway and finish a t the Ellenbrook town centre. Stations will be built at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook. Another station could be built at Bennett Springs East with population growth forecast there.

The continuing construction on the Metronet project, which has not been limited by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, is hoped to boost the WA economy.

“This year alone we will have six METRONET projects underway, in addition to our railcar manufacturing facility in Bellevue where local workers will build our METRONET railcars,” said McGowan.

 

Ventia’s acquisition of Broadspectrum given green light

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has stated that it will not oppose Ventia’s acquisition of Broadspectrum.

The acquisition was first announced in late 2019. Ventia is a 50/50 partnership of CIMIC Group, which also owns CPB Contractors and UGL Limited, and funds management firm Apollo Global Management. Although operating largely in other sectors, Ventia has provided work on the Parramatta Light Rail. Ventia’s subsidiary, Visionstream, provides telecommunication services to the rail industry.

Broadspectrum, owned by Spanish multinational Ferrovial, provides rail services on the Sydney rail network, to Bluescope at Pork Kembla, on the Brisbane Airport rail Link, and provides maintenance services in South Australia. Broadspectrum will also install the Automatic Train Protection project on the Sydney Trains network.

The ACCC said that strong competition would remain in the sector if the purchase goes ahead.

“We looked at this proposed acquisition closely to ensure strong competition remains in the supply of infrastructure services to industries with a direct impact on consumer prices,” said ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.

“We contacted many customers of infrastructure services, and received consistent feedback that there is sufficient competition from alternative suppliers and that companies will continue to have a variety of options when contracting for infrastructure services.”

Work progressing deeper underground for Metro at Central Station

While Central Station is left largely without commuters as Sydneysiders work from home or self-isolate, work has been progressing on the new underground station beneath Central in preparation for the Sydney Metro CBD and Southwest.

Work on the 27 metre deep metro station box is currently 10 metres below the surface, with 6,000 tonnes of crushed rock is being excavated each week.

To remove the rock from construction of the metro station as well as the new Central Walk an 80m long, six-metre-wide construction tunnel has been built under Central Station.

Central Walk will connect the two underground metro platforms with to light rail, suburban and inter-city trains, as well as buses.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that the state is lucky that work is continuing on this project despite the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We are very fortunate that major transport infrastructure projects like this continue to be delivered.”

While extra work is underway to take advantage of the drop in people passing through Central, Sydney’s busiest station, the extra tunnel parallel to Central Walk has been built to minimise disruptions to train services.

“This six metre wide construction tunnel runs parallel to Central Walk and allows excavated crushed rock to be removed without impacting trains and customers,” said Constance.

Construction has also entered two ‘ghost platforms’, platforms 26 and 27, that were constructed for the Eastern Suburbs Railway line to Bondi and the Illawarra but were never used. 17 rooms will utilise the platforms to provide communications and power to Sydney Metro.

Central Walk is scheduled to be open to the public in 2022 and the new metro line in 2024.

The current workforce of 5,000 is completing the project out of a total workforce of 50,000.

“The upcoming Sydney Metro West project will support 10,000 direct and 70,000 indirect jobs while construction of the Metro North West Line created more than 20,000 jobs,” said Constance.

Civil contractors have “significant capacity” to support economy

Civil contractors are prepared to make significant investments in employment, if government infrastructure projects are fast tracked.

According to a new survey from the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF), Australia’s civil construction industry has the capacity to restart the nation’s economy following restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to Chris Melham, CEO of CCF, there is an opportunity for smaller companies to get involved.

“The survey results demonstrate civil construction companies, particularly those operating at the tier 2, tier 3, and below have significant capacity to assist the federal government achieve its goals of supporting the economy and to keep people employed during these unprecedented economic conditions,” said Melham.

The survey gained responses from 228 companies across each state and territory, and while respondents noted that COVID-19 had a negative effect on their business, 74 per cent said they had a capacity for projects of up to $10 million. 17.5 per cent indicated a capacity to start projects between $10 and $50m, and 8.3 per cent said they were ready to begin projects worth more than $50m.

The CCF highlighted that this meant there was a great capacity for firms to begin work on smaller projects, or larger ones broken down into separate works packages. In its recommendations, the CCF encourages the federal government adopt a procurement policy that disaggregates major project to allow tier 2 companies to tender through joint venture arrangements.

The CCF also recommended that the federal government bring forward the 10-year $100 billion infrastructure investment fund and use debt to increase the fund’s size.

“It is important however that these projects are spread across as many tier 2, tier 3 and below companies across Australia to ensure widespread benefits can flow from any stimulus investment, particularly in rural and regional communities where infrastructure investment can deliver a significant multiplier effect to those local economies in the form of employment, training and community spending,” said Melham.

“The survey sends a powerful message to the federal government that the civil infrastructure sector is ready to lead the economic recovery if governments inject more money into the sector for new projects.”

The survey and recommendations follow the CCF calling upon the federal government to do more to support the smaller tier 2 and 3 civil construction companies, who have sat above the financial threshold measures announced so far. In a statement on April 3, Melham noted that in the absence of worker retention measures, civil contractors need to have their outstanding claims paid.

“The industry’s viability and that of its workers during COVID-19 relies on prompt payment by public procurements agencies and I therefore urge the federal government to develop a ‘supplier payment policy’ for all public bodies involved in federally funded civil infrastructure projects and to impose that policy as a matter of urgency.”

CCF recommended that the policy involve the immediate payment of invoices, the continuation of normal payments even if service delivery is disrupted until June 30, supporting supplier cash flow, and reviewing tender requirements.

TBM Sandy breaks through at Bayswater

Tunnelling is complete on the Forrestfield-Airport Link, part of the Metronet project in Western Australia.

On April 20, tunnel boring machine Sandy broke through at the Bayswater dive structure. WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the completion of tunnelling is a “major milestone” for WA.

“While Western Australia has been grappling with COVID-19, TBM Sandy and the project team have been continuing to work on this incredible project for Perth.”

The breakthrough ended 900 days of tunnelling under Perth Airport and the Swan River, creating 16 kilometres of tunnels, two twin 8km tunnels.

Now that tunnelling is finished, track will start to be laid from July 2020. The track slab is half installed while construction and fit out of the station buildings continues.

“In times like these it’s important we continue to progress projects that will provide work for local businesses and keep workers in their jobs, ultimately supporting the State’s wider economy,” said McGowan.

The tunnels, made with 9,000 tunnel rings comprising 54,000 locally made concrete segments, link three stations, Forrestfield, Airport Central, and Redcliffe to the wider rail network.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti thanked those who have worked on the project so far.

“In July 2017, Premier Mark McGowan and I were at the Forrestfield Station site to mark the start of tunnelling on the Forrestfield-Airport Link,” she said.

“Thank you to the tunnelling team and other workers who delivered TBM Sandy to her destination and helped achieved this major milestone.”

The $1.86bn Forrestfield-Airport Link provides over 700 jobs in Western Australia, and is one of six Metronet projects underway in 2020.

The tunnelling for the Forrestfield-Airport Link was conducted by a joint venture of Salini Impregilo and NRW Civil and Mining which won the design and construct contract, along with a 10 year maintenance contract, in April 2016.

Regional rail improvement works about to begin

A $3.9 million package of maintenance and improvement works is kicking off on the Ballarat, Ararat, and Maryborough lines.

The works will begin on Wednesday, April 22, and continue until Sunday, May 3 and involve a works crew of 90 to complete the major infrastructure upgrades. Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne said that the upgrades will make for better rail services.

“We’re getting on with this work now to improve reliability and services for passengers on the Ballarat, Ararat and Maryborough lines.”

Work will involve maintaining and renewing infrastructure, such as the Melton Reservoir Viaduct. In addition, the surface of the rail bridge over Toolern Creek and other culverts will be replaced, allowing water to easily pass under the tracks.

Other sections of track will be replaced and improved, while signalling equipment will be installed and the road surface at the Dowling Road level crossing in Windermere will be upgraded.

Coaches will be replacing trains while the works are underway.

Physical distancing measures will be in place on site.

“These works are going ahead with extra precautions in place to keep workers safe as we continue to slow the spread of coronavirus,” said Horne.

Member for Wendouree, Juliana Addison said that the works would improve regional rail.

“We are carrying out these important works now, to ensure that the many members of the Ballarat community who rely on V/Line services, get the service they deserve.”

Drilling works continuing for Suburban Rail Loop

Early geotechnical works are continuing as part of the first stages of the Suburban Rail Loop.

Having begun in November 2019, during April a number of site investigations have taken place in Clayton, Burwood, Notting Hill, Mount Waverly, Highett, Cheltenham, and Glen Waverly.

The works so far include drilling to gain data and information about local ground conditions. This involves confirming an area is free of utility services, geotechnical drilling and testing, and installing a groundwater monitoring well for samples and measurement of groundwater levels.

Investigations have been focused in the south east of Melbourne, as the first stage of the loop will run from Cheltenham to Box Hill. Clayton will serve as a new transport super hub while new stations will be built in Burwood and Monash.

In March this year, a number of investigations were also carried out in areas from Box Hill to Highett. The project aims to have 100 boreholes drilled by mid-2020.

Once complete, the Suburban Rail Loop will connect each metropolitan train line in Melbourne and travel around the city from Cheltenham to Werribee via Melbourne Airport.

Initial construction works are expected to commence in 2022. When operational, the Suburban Rail Loop will run as a separate rail line, using dedicated rollingstock and separate systems. The same ticketing system will serve both networks, however.

Work about to begin on level crossings in Werribee

Site establishment works are about to get underway to remove two level crossings west of Melbourne near Werribee.

This month, site office and are preparation works will begin at the Werribee Street level crossing and at the Old Geelong Road level crossing in Hoppers Crossing.

At Werribee Street, the Level Crossing Removal Project will construct a new rail bridge over Werribee Street. Works in April and May will involve setting up site offices on Cottrell Street, locating utilities including electricity and water and removing trees and vegetation within the project area. Work will then begin on piling for bridge foundations and a temporary track, to ensure freight services can continue running on the Geelong Line.

Similar works will get underway at the Hoppers Crossing Site to prepare for the construction of a road bridge and pedestrian overpass above the rail line. The Hoppers Crossing station carpark will be relocated while works are progressing.

These works notifications following the confirmation of designs for the two level crossing removals. McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne will be delivering the work, in addition to the Cherry Street level crossing work nearby.

Efficient digital modelling cutting major project costs

It may be a rule of thumb that the larger a rail project is, the more its costs are expected to increase. In Sydney, the construction of the Sydney Metro CBD and Southwest is expected to increase by $3 billion, a 25 per cent increase on the initial costing of $11.5 to 12.5bn. Indeed, the Grattan Institute estimates that every 10 per cent increase in a project’s size is associated with a 6 per cent higher chance of an overrun, and that any overrun that occurs will be 3 per cent larger.

So when you are building the most expensive rail project in the world, the cost overruns could be gigantic. Already, the HS2 project in the UK is estimated to cost as much as £106bn ($208bn), however, the project delivery authority has been told to find at least £500 million in digital efficiencies.

To do so, HS2 Ltd have looked to apply digital best practice in data and modelling requirements, with the requirement to meet PAS 1192 Building Information Modelling (BIM) standards. This standard mandates a fully collaborative 3D BIM, including electronic project and asset information, documentation and data.

Implementing these requirements joint venture Skanska Costain STRABAG (SCS), which has been awarded the civil works contract for the 250km southern section between London and Birmingham. The section, and the project as a whole, will carry the fastest trains in Europe and over 30,000 passengers a day. During early contractor involvement, SCS had to formulate and achieve approval of a conceptual design scheme of 26km of railway within 14 months. To meet the client’s BIM demands, SCS needed to accommodate existing British railway systems and 6,000 utility assets, not to mention the 20km of tunnels, bridges, and five kilometres of earthworks.

Using BIM software from Bentley systems, SCS created a library of components within ProjectWise and OpenBuildings Designer to enable a distributed workforce of six companies including 550 staff across four countries.

“We have 59 nationalities, so quite diverse cultures on the team, and we like to think BIM is the common language we all speak,” said Peter Ruff, head of BIM for SCS.

The SCS team used Assetwise to connect asset information to the design model, so that operations and maintenance could be involved early. This led to an integrated BIM system which allows for real-time access to trusted information.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone, designers and contractors, can use this information,” said Ruff.

The use of Bentley systems in this early stage enabled early clash detection within the project and when interacting with the numerous outside stakeholders. This has already saved an estimated £1 million. Design review time was also reduced by having models and data in a single digital location, which saved £500,000 and the time cost of searching for information spread across multiple systems.

Using a connected digital environment also improved costing processes, an area of focus for SCS, said Ruff.

“One of our key areas that we wanted to improve was our 5D approach, where we use the BIM models to estimate and price from.”

A structured digital data environment ensured consistency and transparency for all stakeholders, enabling further accuracy. This led to a £300,000 saving in a 50 per cent reduction in design changes and 75 per cent less resources used than planned.

Moving forward from the early contractor involvement stage, the SCS team are looking to their BIM strategy underlying the information model which can be used throughout the project lifecycle.

“Using Bentley solutions has allowed us at SCS to realize our mission statement of creating a project that will be seen as the ‘Digital Blueprint of Future Infrastructure Projects’” said Ruff. “They have allowed us to create, manage, and leverage intelligent BIM models and the data housed within them on a complex project and see a significant increase in productivity, efficiencies, and collaboration between a large team and a multistage contract.”

Canterbury vent shaft

Notice to proceed issued for HS2

The UK government has issued a ‘notice to proceed’ for companies to begin work on High Speed 2 (HS2).

The decision ensures that construction will go ahead on the controversial project, and confirms that work will progress while the country grapples with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated lockdown measures.

The ‘notice to proceed’ is the formal approval for the construction of stage one of the project, from London to the West Midlands. This stage project is split into four work packages awarded to four separate joint ventures. Awarded in 2017, the joint ventures are:

  • SCS Railways (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG);
  • Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels UK);
  • EKBF JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman); and
  • BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement).

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson, said that the decision is an assurance to the rail industry.

“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.”

HS2 Ltd, the public company overseeing HS2, estimates that 400,000 supply chain contracts will be created in phase one of HS2.

“In these difficult times, today’s announcement represents both an immediate boost to the construction industry – and the many millions of UK jobs that the industry supports – and an important investment in Britain’s future: levelling up the country, improving our transport network and changing the way we travel to help bring down carbon emissions and improve air quality for the next generation,” said Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd.

The UK government has also published the full business case for the project.