Queensland gov prioritising local contractors on Cross River Rail

Over 400 local businesses have benefited from Cross River Rail so far, with 90 per cent of contracts going to Queensland-based businesses.

Minister for State Development and Minister for Cross River Rail Kate Jones said that a major rail project such as Cross River Rail can fuel the Queensland economy.

“Major State Government-funded infrastructure projects are crucial to Queensland’s economic recovery.

“Right now, Cross River Rail is already supporting more than 2,000 jobs. At the height of construction, that number will be more like 3,000,” said Jones.

Jones made the comments as she visited Clontarf business Avopiling, which had been awarded contracts close to $6 million.

“Avopiling supports 38 workers – people who have had job security during this pandemic thanks to Queensland’s largest infrastructure project,” said Jones.

Piling has been underway at the Woolloongabba and Albert Street sites to support new underground stations. 300 piles have been sunk in Woolloongabba, and Albert Street is soon to pass 100 piles.

“Avopiling has been operating out of their Clontarf facility for more than 15 years. And they’ve been working on Cross River Rail since November last year,” said Jones.

“They had two piling rigs and 11 workers putting in over 300 piles at Woolloongabba and now have one rig with eight workers at the Albert Street station.”

Graduate engineer Thenuja Srikanthan is working for Avopiling on the contract, which has provided hands-on experience while she completes her geotechnical engineering degree.

“I’ve had the opportunity get practical on the job experience and learn a lot while working at Cross River Rail’s Woolloongabba site,” she said.

Jones said that the Queensland government hopes that Cross River Rail continues to benefit local subcontractors and that the project prioritises Queensland companies.

“We’re seeing local subbies, hiring local workers and investing in new machinery,” Ms Jones said.

“This is putting Queensland companies in a better position to win even more contracts in the future.”

 

Rail industry ready to lead recovery

If the current project pipeline is maintained, rail could lead Australia’s economic recovery after the shocks of coronavirus (COVID-19), the results of a survey of the rail industry show.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has released the results of a survey of its members which has highlighted that major players in the rail sector are looking to local manufacturers and producers to strengthen their supply chains.

The turn to local suppliers comes after the rail industry identified the biggest impact of COVID-19 as being constraints on international shipment of goods.

ARA chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie said that the survey results highlight an opportunity for Australia.

“Many businesses are looking to change their supply chains in the future and this presents a real opportunity for Australian manufacturers and suppliers.”

In a sign of positivity for the sector, the survey respondents said that most of the negative impacts of COVID-19 such as deferred investment, workforce expansion, or capital expenditure would only be in the short to medium term.

“A third of respondents could be back to full capacity within a month of the return to normal operations if the policy settings and project pipeline is right,” said Wilkie.

“Suppliers and contractors stand ready to bounce back quickly to support the recovery.”

Wilkie said that while the survey results were promising for local suppliers, government action could be the make or break factor. A firm commitment to the current infrastructure supply chain and additional stimulus measures would enable the rail industry to work with local suppliers.

“This is the perfect time for governments to streamline procurement processes and boost local content policies to support the generation of new jobs in the rail supply chain,” said Wilkie.

The insights from the ARA survey come after a number of bodies have highlighted the importance of infrastructure spending to lead Australia out of the COVID-19 crisis. On May 20, Engineers Australia released a nine-point plan, with point number one being “Keep the focus on infrastructure projects”.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia noted that the $60 billion difference between the estimated and actual cost of JobKeeper could be directed into productivity-boosting infrastructure.

“Now the federal government has additional balance sheet capacity it should look to investments that can deliver the most bang for stimulus buck,” said CEO Adrian Dwyer.

“Infrastructure investment supported the national economy before COVID-19 and it’s the right policy tool to support our way out of this crisis.”

Contracts awarded for Bayswater Station and level crossing removal

Two contracts have been awarded for major works as part of the Metronet project in Western Australia.

Evolve Bayswater Alliance (Coleman Rail) won the $253 million design and build contract for the new Bayswater Station, with contributing partner Decmil. Coleman Rail was announced as the preferred proponent in April, 2020.

Downer EDI won the Denny Avenue level crossing removal contract after being selected as the preferred proponent in February.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the works will stimulate the state’s economy.

“The Metronet Bayswater Station upgrade and Denny Avenue level crossing removal projects, combined with construction of other nearby major projects like the Tonkin Gap and Morley-Ellenbrook Line, will help support the WA economy through some tough times ahead.”

The Bayswater Station contract involves the construction of a new four-platform station, along with track, signalling, civil, drainage, and overhead line works. The contract also covers a new rail turnback for the Forrestfield-Airport Link, a bridge at King William Street/Coode Street, and the support of a connection to the Morley-Ellenbrook Line.

Bayswater station will be a lynchpin in the new Metronet network, connecting the Midland Line to the Forrestfield-Airport Link and the Morley-Ellenbrook Line. Early works are already underway.

“When complete, the new Metronet Bayswater Station will transform Bayswater into a major transport hub servicing the Midland Line, Forrestfield-Airport Link and Morley-Ellenbrook Line, and a new station is integral to this,” said Saffioti.

Downer EDI will replace the Denny Avenue level crossing with a rail-over-road underpass at Davis Road. Civil works to revitalise the Kelmscott town centre are also part of the project, which involves tree planting and landscaping works.

Denny Avenue is the first of a projected eight level crossing removals that will form part of the Metronet project. Geotechnical works, demolition, and tree removal has already gotten underway.

“This year alone we have six Metronet projects underway, creating thousands of local jobs and creating opportunities for local businesses,” said Saffioti.

Locally-made concrete beams support level crossing removal

Locally-made concrete beams have been installed at the Cardinia Road level crossing removal project.

The crossing, located in Pakenham, south-east Melbourne, will be replaced with a road bridge over the rail line.

The 24 beams, locally-made in the regional Victorian town of Kilmore, are up to 32 metres long and weigh up to 60 tonnes each. The beams were trucked to site and installed with cranes.

The Cardinia Road level crossing removal is part of a wider works blitz on the Pakenham line, with work also underway on removing crossings at Clyde Road, Berwick, and South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong.

Once finished the 77,000 vehicles that use the three level crossings will more smoothly move through the area and will not have to wait while boom gates are down for a third of the morning peak. In total, 17 level crossings are being removed on the Pakenham line.

A construction blitz is also about to kick off at Balcombe Road, in Mentone. Boom gates were removed on Friday, May 15 and a five-week road closure begun as part of a nine-week construction period.

The Balcombe Road level crossing removal is part of the largest level crossing construction blitz with 1,700 people working in Cheltenham and Mentone for 64 days.

At the end of the works, three level crossings will be gone, with the rail line lowered and road bridges built above the rail corridor.

Balcombe Road will reopen on Tuesday, June 23, and the new Mentone station opening on Monday, August 3.

Prior to their removal, the boom gates at Balcombe Road were down for 49 minutes in the morning peak, with congestion backing up to the Nepean highway.

Roadheader gets to work on Cross River Rail

Tunnelling has officially begun on Cross River Rail, with the first roadheader assembled and digging out underneath Roma Street.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the occasion marked a major step for the Brisbane rail project.

“Above ground demolition has also been underway for several months at the site of the new station – but today is a huge milestone for this project as we start tunnelling for the first time,” she said.

“This is just the beginning of the underground works, with 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels and four underground stations to be excavated in total.”

The roadheader was assembled at the site, 18 metres below ground, and is beginning to excavate the 280m long station cavern.

Now underway, the roadheader can excavate up to 50 tonnes of rock and soil an hour, with disruption protected by the acoustic shed at ground level, which stands five storeys high and is 60m long.

Local Queensland company QMW was involved in the manufacture of the roadheader, supplying the cabs. The locally made cabs and remaining five pieces were lowered into the shaft with a gantry crane and then put together underground.

The 22 metre long and 115 tonne roadheader is the first of two machines that will be working at Roma Street.

As work underground progresses, more and more people are working at the various Cross River Rail sites. Already 1,800 people are employed as part of the project, with the total expected to reach 3,000 when the project is at its construction peak in two years.

State Development Minister Kate Jones said that the project is critical to Queensland’s economy.

“Multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail are vital to Queensland’s economic recovery following COVID-19,” she said.

“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our economy. But we won’t let it derail Queensland’s largest infrastructure project.”

Once complete, Cross River Rail will include 5.9km of tunnels and four underground stations. Roma Street station will be 27 metres below ground and replaces the former Hotel Jen building and Brisbane Transit Centre.

Currently, one floor a week of the Hotel Jen is being demolished.

infrastructure

Why the industry must spend resources wisely to drive Australia out of the current economic crisis

Rudolf Rose, associate director at DCWC, explains how the current COVID-19 crisis should influence Australia’s thinking on infrastructure.

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING INFRASTRUCTURE JOBS
It’s an age-old economic principle. When people earn, they spend; when they do this, funds are further distributed, enabling even more spending. Infrastructure is one of the biggest employers in Australia, so the more we invest in keeping people in these jobs, the better the economy performs as a whole. With COVID-19’s economic fallout, it has never been more critical to ramp up impetus across our beloved industry.

For the most part, infrastructure jobs have been more secure than in other industries, with sectors such as construction deemed an ‘essential service’. But what other security is out there? For workers restricted by current pandemic measures, there is a big appetite to get people back into the workplace. According to surveys conducted throughout the construction industry, civil contractors are prepared to make significant investments in employment if government infrastructure projects are fast tracked. So capacity is there – especially for tier 2 and 3 companies with significant ability to create these employment opportunities. But what else do we need to consider?

While we’ve all been following recent government stimulus packages aimed at boosting infrastructure growth, the trick now is where to spend to achieve maximum benefit.

LinkedIn- Construction Variations

SPEND WISELY AND WITH PRUDENCE
Instead of ‘clustering’ projects in a small area, it may be more beneficial to spread the projects into rural and regional areas. The communities in these areas would benefit greatly from infrastructure investment by creating employment, as well as opportunities for training. Ultimately this translates to community spending filtering down to local businesses. This sentiment is echoing throughout our industry.

Treasury Secretary, Steven Kennedy, told a Senate hearing in October 2019, that spending big on large infrastructure projects is not the way to stimulate the economy. This point of view may have some merit, insofar as large-scale projects take significant time to plan to get the business cases and budget right. Spending more on smaller projects to match demand would make more sense – particularly when planning through to shovelling can be done within a much shorter timeline. This would allow for the main focus on larger projects to remain on planning, scoping and budgeting accurately.

Having said that, larger projects must not be abandoned in favour of the smaller ones. The smaller ones would merely provide shorter term relief in economic downturn, whereas the larger projects would stimulate the economy in the longer run. Mr Kennedy appears to reject the idea of extra spending except “in an emergency”.  That was before COVID-19 became what it is now – an emergency.

WHY IS THE COVID-19 CRISIS DIFFERENT AND HOW MIGHT IT INFLUENCE HOW INFRASTRUCTURE IS DELIVERED GOING FORWARD?
What COVID-19 has taught us so far, is that we are very adaptable. With a significant number of people getting used to working from home (and many coping well with this scenario), people may start to consider whether travelling to an office is really needed. They may think; why bother if they can achieve the same amount of work (and more) from the comfort of their own environment? This may be considered a radical approach and certainly is not without its own pitfalls, but still could be a consideration. This new dynamic also raises a number of questions around the allocation of industry resources in general.

Are train lines into the city from all around the metropolitan areas really going to be used for current or planned increased capacity? Should the spending on these planned projects be channelled to developments where digital connectivity can be vastly improved (let us face it, the NBN still struggles somewhat)? Should we invest more in renewable energy sources instead? Should there be a larger focus on innovation perhaps, and what does this look like?  Maybe if local rail network spending gets pushed back to a lower priority, intercity or fast rail could get more funding to compete with domestic air travel. Or now there could be less spent on transport and more on other forms of infrastructure. These are all alternative options if funds for planned transport projects get redistributed.

But what about the flow on? Although these proposed infrastructure opportunities may lack similarly skilled resources as for civil road & rail construction projects, they could open up training and upskilling for people to work in these industries.  This will promote increased capacity of tertiary educational institutions – again more infrastructure spending, creating more jobs.

WHO PAYS FOR ALL THIS?
While we can promote and encourage big spending on infrastructure to stimulate the economy in times of crisis, people will rightly ask where the funding for these planned projects will come from?

Both federal and state governments have already spent significant amounts of money on cash stimulus packages including JobKeeper allowances. This may well be unplanned and we, in the general public, may not really know whether funds earmarked for other areas of the economy, including infrastructure spending, have been redirected to pay for the various cash stimulus packages introduced. They may have come from some form of contingency fund in the government coffers. We certainly do not know.  However, if funds from other projects were redirected, including planned infrastructure investments, and those projects required ‘new’ funding, all levels of government may have to rethink where the capital would come from to pay for these projects. Let us face it, short term cash stimulus only goes so far – what happens if that runs out or gets wound back early?

One of the major contributors to reinvestment in infrastructure could be the sale of assets, as NSW did when they sold the state’s electricity assets. This provided a major boost to infrastructure spending and could be done again. Alternatives to this could be increased borrowing, higher taxes (GST), print more money, etc. All these have their own pros and pitfalls and identifying the healthy balance would be the key to getting this right. No option will be perfect, but some may be more perfect than others.

In any case, in our current environment loaded with uncertainty, some surety remains. As a historically vital player, infrastructure continues to play a pivotal role in boosting our country’s economy during economic downturn. The key is not only to spend wisely, fairly and equally, but to embrace the potential redistribution of funds across fresh opportunities arising out of this novel landscape.

Contact Rudolf Rose at: https://www.dcwc.com.au/contact-us

CRL

CRL stepping-up after COVID-19 lockdown

Construction sites in central Auckland will be working double shifts to complete the City Rail Link (CRL) as quick as possible.

From Monday, May 18, working hours at the Mt Eden and Karangahape will be extended to up to 16 hours per day, from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 7pm on Saturday.

Although essential back-office work was able to be completed while New Zealand’s level 4 restrictions prohibited site access, CRL chief executive Sean Sweeney said that the project has changed.

“I think we have come out of the lockdown pretty well – apparently faster than most projects – but one thing is certain, COVID-19’s legacy means CRL is now going to be a very different project than it was two months ago.”

The scale of the project, as the largest transport infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand, has meant that the full restart of the project has a wider impact on the economy.

“This project plays a key role in the economic recovery post-COVID-19. The scale of CRL means there is so much we can do right now and into the future to create much needed jobs and to help get the economy pumping again,” said Sweeney.

“Operating two shifts on a site means more people working and more money in their pockets to go and spend locally.”

Currently, 40 key workers are stuck overseas and have been unable to travel to New Zealand, however the project is seeking to be classified as an essential service to enable the workers to come to New Zealand.

“If we able to persuade the Government to support our request, those CRL workers overseas together with their skills should find it easier to get to New Zealand,” said Sweeney.

While the project remains on track, some other delays have been caused by the arrival of the boring machine pushed back until late 2020, with tunnelling to begin in early 2021. The lockdown’s full effect on costs and project timings is being investigated.

“That work will take several months, and the outcome will depend on the health of the economy, how our suppliers here at home and overseas are faring, and on international efforts to curb COVID-19,” said Sweeney. “CRL is important for Auckland’s future and the measures announced today are an important first step to keep to our timetable and to our budget.”

New board members announced for Cross River Rail Delivery Authority

The Queensland government has appointed five new members to the governing board of the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.

The board is now comprised of an array of senior Queensland public servants, and is chaired by Damien Walker, director-general, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development.

In addition to the director general of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the Under Treasurer, who are required to be on the board in the relevant legislation, the five members of the board are from the State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Housing and Public Works, Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, and Transport and Main Roads departments.

The appointment of new board members follows the removal of the previous Cross River Rail Board. Removed board members were Paul Lucas, former Queensland Attorney General, former NSW chief scientist & engineer Mary O’Kane, CEO of State Gas Ltd, Lucy Snelling, former director general of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet John Lee, Brisbane City Council nominee John McEvoy, and Airservices Australia board member Tim Rothwell.

The previous board’s terms were to expire in April 2020, however in February Minister for Cross River Rail Kate Jones informed them that their terms will not be renewed.

At the time, Jones said that the move to replace the board was about improving compliance.

“It is clear to me and to Cabinet that now we have moved from the procurement phase to the construction phase of the project we need to beef up compliance,” said Jones.

“I want to ensure I have the right people with the right skills to deliver this project and hold CPB and Pulse Consortium to account.”

CPB Contractors was put into the spotlight by construction union CFMEU, which has counted 50 breaches of Workplace Health & Safety laws since early demolition work begun at Cross River Rail sites six months ago.

“To have more than 50 enforcement notices issued in this space of time on one project is just extraordinary – if this was a motorist behind the wheel of a car you’d strip the driver of their licence and impound the vehicle in the interests of public safety,” said CFMEU assistant secretary Jade Ingham.

CPB Contractors was contacted however declined to comment.

Alliance chosen for Tonkin Gap rail and road project

An alliance of contractors have been selected to build the Tonkin Gap project, which will deliver enabling works for Metronet’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line, in Perth.

The Tonkin Gap Alliance, made up of BMD, Georgiou, WA Limestone, BG&E, and GHD, will expand the section between Collier Road and Dunreath Drive to construct a three-lane, freeway-standard road.

The Morley-Ellenbrook line will partly run along the middle of the Tonkin Highway, and the Tonkin Gap Alliance will build the dive structures to allow the building of the railway to enter and exit the middle of the highway.

Other modifications will occur between Railway Parade and Hepburn Avenue, and will involve the replacement of the existing Broun Avenue flyover.

WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti said that the works package will improve mobility in Perth’s eastern suburbs.

“Road and rail projects will play a key part to WA’s economic recovery going forward. This project will fix one of Perth’s most congested roads while laying the groundwork for the Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line,” Saffioti said.

“Tonkin Gap is a major component of the train line to Ellenbrook, with two dive structures and the foundation for the rail included in the project scope.”

Saffioti said the government was looking to infrastructure projects to stimulate the state’s economy.

“Together with new Bayswater Station procurement, we now have two out of three major contracts for Morley-Ellenbrook Line at an advanced stage,” she said.

“Building this project, combined with construction of other nearby major projects like the new Bayswater Station and Morley-Ellenbrook Line, will help support the WA economy through some tough times ahead.”

The project is jointly funded by the WA state government and the federal government, with the federal government contributing 80 per cent of project funds.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said that the project is part of an infrastructure-led recovery.

“Our $100 billion infrastructure pipeline is setting the foundations for economic recovery on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

“In addition, it will create thousands of new jobs at a time when what we want is to get Australians back to work.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan also noted that progressing urban infrastructure projects will have flow on effects.

“Our record investment in major road projects and Metronet will set up our suburbs for the long term and benefit Western Australians, now and into the future,” McGowan said.

“In times like these it’s important we continue to progress the projects that will provide work for local businesses and keep workers in their jobs – this will ultimately support the state’s wider economy.”

Station upgrades progressing around Victoria

One project has just begun and another has just completed to expand parking and continue upgrades at stations in Victoria.

Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne announced that a contractor has been selected to expand car parking at Craigieburn station, north of Melbourne.

Civil construction firm Civilex will build 745 parking spaces at the station, along with associated lighting, CCTV, and access works.

“We’re getting on and delivering another 11,000 carparks at train stations across Victoria – making it easier for locals to get where they need to go,” said Horne.

A new pedestrian crossing will also be built so that commuters can get from the carpark, built on the eastern edge of the Hume Highway, east of the station, to the station. The pedestrian crossing above the railway line will also be upgraded.

Member for Yuroke Ros Spence said that the carpark would increase the ability of residents to use public transport.

“Now we have appointed a contractor, works will get underway later this year. This is another milestone in this long-awaited carpark and like all Craigieburn residents, I can’t wait to see works commence.”

In Donnybrook, as part of the regional rail revival program, a new carpark is now open, with an extra 150 car-parking spaces. The upgrades included additional accessible parking, CCTV, and lighting.

The new carpark is part of upgrades to the station itself, with an extension to the city-bound platform allowing for passengers to access all train doors. This is hoped to eliminate delays on Seymour line services.

Connectivity to local transport services was improved through upgrades to a drop-off zone, taxi rank, and a new bus interchange which will open in the coming months once work on Springs Road is finished.

The carpark took 170 works almost 12,000 hours to complete.