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.

Year in Infrastructure

Year in Infrastructure finalists revealed

The finalists for the Year in Infrastructure Awards have been announced.

Facilitated by software and digital twin provider for the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure, Bentley Systems, the finalists span categories including digital construction, digital cities, and rail and transit.

The awards recognise users of Bentley Systems software and highlight those who are pushing the envelope of digital design, construction and maintenance of complex infrastructure assets.

Chris Barron, Bentley’s chief communications officer said the awards showcased how digital tools have been used throughout COVID-19 to ensure that infrastructure projects are delivered.

“The circumstances of the global pandemic have made the past few months a challenge for us all, and it is a testament to our users’ resilience that we received over 400 nominees for our Year in Infrastructure Awards program.”

Projects that will be competing for the final award include the Skanska-Costain-STRABAG Joint Venture, that is delivering the UK’s HS2 main works civils contract for the Digital Cities category.

In the Rail and Transit category, high speed rail, signalling renewal, and digital engineering projects are finalists. Projects utilising Bentley’s asset performance tools are also highlighted in the Road and Rail Asset Performance category.

Other rail related projects to reach the finals stage of the awards include the design and construction of the world’s tallest rail pier girder bridge by Indian Railways and Saidel Engineering’s nine storey residential building above subway tunnels in West Bucharest.

Users of Bentley’s reality modelling solution have also been recognised. In Australia, the Warragamba Water Pipeline Digital Twin is a finalist.

To hear more about how Bentley System’s software can be used in a rail context, register via the link below for the upcoming webinar, hosted by Rail Express.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EUYrlSHbRwKnKSWmzWe67Q

The winners of the Year in Infrastructure Awards will be announced during Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure conference, that will be delivered virtually on October 20-21.

Exceeding the standard in hi-rail vehicles

Aries Rail have made a name for themselves by providing the Australian market with unique solutions, backed up by engineering expertise.

The professionalisation of railway engineering has come a long way in the past two decades. What was once a disparate and unregulated area with apocryphal stories of bush- mechanics has become a national field with clear standards and precise guidelines. Ewan McAllister, managing director of Aries Rail, has seen the sector move forward in leaps and bounds.

“When we first started out in this industry, there was basically no rules or regulations for hi-rail vehicles. You could just come up with a concept in your head and go and make it and put it on track,” he said.

This first began to change when contractors and customers began requiring sign off from certified engineering.

“There began to be requests for engineering,” said Ewan. “That would just involve a consulting engineer giving you a one-page report saying that he looked at something and liked it and that it was ok to go to work.”

Seeing where the industry was headed, and looking to lead when it came to higher standards for hi-rail vehicles, Aries Rail were one of the first companies to employ a mechanical engineer.

“Not long after that, we employed our second mechanical engineer and we haven’t looked back since, in terms of what we do. Once we started engineering things properly, it significantly improved the quality of work.”

The formalisation of these trends occurred in 2016, with the release of AS 7502, the Australian Standard for Road Rail Vehicles. Ewan was part of the team that developed the standard over three years, which has since been adopted by rail infrastructure managers (RIMs) around the country.

Today, on top of the requirements of AS 7502, RIMs are adding their own, stringent requirements, something that Aries Rail are only too happy to meet, due to their in-house engineering expertise, said Nathan Bender, director at Aries Rail.

“Every project we work on goes through a controlled engineering design process before releasing into manufacture and then again through various ITP, certification, compliance, and accreditation processes.”

One area that Aries Rail have specialised is in the conversion of heavy trucks for working on rail.

“Large trucks have been a specialty of ours,” said Nathan. “8x4s are large trucks with heavy payloads. As with everything in the design of railways, everything has become bigger and heavier, so the trucks have moved to reflect that.”

To ensure that these larger vehicles were fit for purpose when working in a rail environment, Aries Rail have designed and manufactured their own coil springs to match the spring rate of the parent vehicle, which enable the vehicles to reach a higher load share percentage without overloading.

Another specialty has been the development of air-bagged hi-rail suspensions which is the only safe way to convert an air-bagged truck, something not widely understood in the industry.

Ewan explained that the benefit of designing and manufacturing these kinds of specialist equipment in house means that Aries Rail vehicles can provide a superior and more efficient service.

“Without doing that,” added Nathan, “large trucks on rail payload was severely restricted.”

Meeting this requirement has enabled Aries Rail to supply vehicles that can carry greater loads, maximising their productivity and making large trucks a viable plant and equipment tool.

In addition to the larger vehicles, Aries Rail is also a supplier of light hi-rail vehicles, such as its system for Toyota LandCruisers, has been independently certified for use with driver and passenger airbags.

In-house engineering expertise is utilised on every Aries Rail system.

CERTIFICATION AND SERVICING EXPERTS
In addition to their base in Perth, Aries Rail recently expanded its footprint to Melbourne, to be able to provide 24-hour response to the east coast market.

“We made a strategic decision to base ourselves in Melbourne and move up from there,” said Nathan.

“It gives us that direct after sales support and the comfort that brings for customers making the choice to choose Aries as their fleet provider. Even if it’s Sydney, we can be there with the service truck and a set of tools within 24 hours if need be.”

Having first-hand knowledge of their own equipment allows Aries Rail to know exactly the issues facing any piece of kit.

“Particularly for our own equipment, we’re the designer, the engineer, and the certifier, so we do understand it better than somebody else who may not know the intricacies,” said Nathan.

In addition, with their experience in the design and certification process, Aries Rail can provide ongoing certification services for equipment to be used on every network.

“With our strong engineering background, we’re able to offer that certification process for every network. Then with our eastern states presence and a mobile service truck and a workshop we’re able to offer a recertification and a structured planned service program,” said Nathan.

In addition to engineering, Aries have invested in technical and trade knowledge. “We have our own team of mechanical engineers, we recently employed our own compliance engineer, we have a full time PLC programmer, and we have a full-time welding supervisor so that we comply with AS1554 Structural steel welding, which is required under AS7502,” said Ewan.

“All of our weld designs are tested and our staff are coded against them, to certify we fully conform to industry standards.”

Looking to where the industry is moving in the future, Aries Rail have partnered with Holland Co, the largest mobile flash-butt welding service provider in the world to bring the same dedicated, specialist flash-butt welding service model to Australia. Providing these unique solutions is how Aries will continue to service the Australasian rail industry, said Ewan.

“We’ll continue to evolve and deliver the solutions that the market looks for. It’s hard to see what 15 years ahead will be, but we’ve looked to add complimentary products from around the world to what we can offer the Australian market.”

The company has specialised in the conversion of large vehicles.

WA budget includes $1.7bn for rail projects

The Western Australia government will invest $1.7 billion in Metronet projects in this financial year.

The figure comes from the WA state budget, released on October 8, and is in addition to the $1.5bn in federal funding for Metronet.

Projects to be funded this year include the Forrestfield-Airport Link project, which is expected to be completed in late 2021, the first $275.3 million for locally made rollingstock and the assembly and manufacturing facility in Bellevue, and $195m for the Thornlie-Cockburn link.

In addition, level crossings, new stations and carparks, and the extension of existing rail lines are included in the 2020-2021 budget.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the total investment over the forward estimates would support the WA economy out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To keep our local economy strong, the state Budget delivers a record $27 billion in infrastructure investment over the next four years, including construction and manufacturing work for Metronet and major roads across WA,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to establish a major pipeline of work to support local jobs and help guide Western Australia’s economy out of the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring we’re delivering and building major projects for tomorrow.”

The funding in this year’s budget ensures that current projects can continue and procurement can take the next step forward in the 2020-2021 financial year. Contracts are expected to be signed and work to begin shortly on the Byford Rail Extension, New Midland Station, and level crossing removals on the Inner Armadale Line. Final negotiations for the construction contract for the Morley-Ellenbrook line are expected to be completed soon.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said skills and training would be part of the major construction investment.

“These projects won’t just change the way we travel, they will also have a huge role in supporting local jobs and training opportunities, with more than 10,000 jobs expected to be supported as part of these METRONET investments,” she said.

“This year’s investment will allow for continued delivery of the Thornlie-Cockburn Link, Yanchep Rail Extension and Forrestfield-Airport Link, but we’re not stopping there.

“Even more projects are in the pipeline, ensuring we’re delivering and building the infrastructure needed for tomorrow.”

RFPs sought for Byford Rail Extension

Contractors are invited to submit proposals for the completion of the Byford Rail Extension, part of the Metronet program in Perth.

The project involves constructing 8km of new track, a new station at Byford, a bus interchange and up to 600 parking bays.

Armadale Station will also be expanded for longer trains, and the project will include a new Australind platform and an extended pedestrian overpass. Armadale’s bus station will also undergo an upgrade.

The project, estimated to cost $481 million, will connect the high-growth suburb of Byford on Perth’s south eastern fringe to the rail network. A contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021 with the concept design phase underway.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said works on the Thomas Road level crossing, ocnudcted by Main Roads Western Australia would begin the project.

“Works will commence later this year with the removal of the Thomas Road level crossing which will create more than 300 local jobs,” she said.

Local federal member Andrew Hastie said the community had been looking forward to the project.

“The Byford Rail extension will change the way people in Byford live and work,” he said.

“It will create more opportunities for local workers, students and businesses.”

State member for Armadale Tony Buti said his community was similarly enthused about the project.

“Our local community has been waiting for this project for many years and I’m pleased to see it is full steam ahead for these works.”

The Byford Rail Extension was submitted to Infrastructure Australia in July 2020, however the independent advisory body has yet to finalise its evaluation.

Options for the reconfiguration of other level crossings between Byford and Armadale are still being considered.

Contractors sought for Inner Armadale Line level crossing removals

The request for proposals process has begun for the removal of three level crossings on the Inner Armadale Line in Perth.

Contractors are being sought for a $415 million combined package of works that involves the removal of crossings at Oats Street, Mint Street, and Welshpool Road and the construction of an elevated rail line.

New stations at Oats Street and Carlisle will form part of the alliance contracts.

Part of the contract will involve the creation of well-designed public spaces beneath the raised section of the Inner Armadale line.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the projects were key for the economy and local communities.

“We are prioritising projects in Perth that will bust congestion but that are also going to drive the WA economy and deliver local jobs,” he said.

“These level crossings removals will do both.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said by conducting an RFP for the project, which forms part of the Metronet package, the final outcome would be shaped by those delivering the works.

“Metronet is the largest public transport investment in Perth’s history and the RFP process gives contractors the opportunity to be involved in delivering these exciting projects,” she said.

Planning is continuing for the removal of another three level crossings at William, Wharf, and Hamilton streets on the same line.

A total of 2.8km of elevated rail line could be constructed through Perth’s inner south. Local member and WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the project would benefit the local community.

“Removing these level crossings help reduce frustrations for commuters in the area who can be stuck waiting for up to three trains to pass at a time,” he said.

“It is also a unique and extraordinary opportunity for the local community to have their say about the surrounding area and what they would like to see.”

Level crossing gates are down for up to six hours a day at Oats Street and removing the level crossings will also improve safety.

A contract is expected to be awarded in 2021.