Doha Metro nears completion

Doha, the capital city of Qatar, is closing in on opening its automated metro network in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The network is designed to do the heavy lifting for the expected one million visitors who will attend the World Cup, as well as increasing the share of journeys via public transport in Qatar from 0.5 per cent to 21 per cent.

Electrical systems provider Thales is supplying both major elements of the metro system and providing project management services as the interface between civil works providers and electromechanical suppliers.

Thales will supply the train control system – in this case Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) driverless signalling – as well as the Operational Control Centre, passenger information and announcement systems, CCTV, and automatic fare collection.

Sustainability is a core component of the project, both in shifting commuters from cars to metros, and by reducing the network’s consumption of energy.

“The Doha Metro will be a real solution to traffic congestion, and the Metro’s efficient operations will save energy. Furthermore, Thales signalling systems will enable operators to adjust operations depending on consumption of electricity,” said Arnaud Besse, marketing and communications director for Urban Rail Signalling at Thales.

When complete, the metro network will cover 85km via 37 stations. A fleet of 110 fully automated trains will traverse the network, connecting Hamad International Airport, the Old City, and the inner suburbs of Doha.

“The Red Line has already started operating. It will be the longest line, with 18 stations over more than 40 kilometres. The Gold Line, made up of 11 stations, is also in service. Both lines have already enabled the operator to serve commuters and tourists,” said Jean Saupin, general project manager for the Doha Metro.

The last metro station, Legtalifiya Station is expected to open later in 2020, to connect the Metro with the to be finished Lusail Tram.

Concern over toxic soil to be dumped at a V/Line rail yard

$172.9 million V/Line stabling yard development could potentially be used as a temporary holding site for contaminated soil with possible carcinogens PFAS and asbestos.

The Wyndham Vale rail yard is set to be occupied by V/Line as a maintenance and storage space to replace the Footscray train stabling site which is being removed as part of the West Gate Tunnel works.

The $6.7 billion project requires 2.3 million tonnes of soil to be relocated offsite. The 82-hectare government-owned site in Melbourne’s west is being considered by officials following a meeting with Wyndham Council this week.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are raising concerns for the health and safety of rail workers if the soil was dumped next to the V/Line rail yard.

Luba Grigorovitch, Victorian Secretary of RTBU wrote in a letter to state Government officials on Monday that she is “deeply concerned” the toxic soil would pose a huge risk to workers and residents.

Grigorovitch told Rail Express that she is demanding confirmation from the government whether soil would contaminate the air conditioning systems of the Geelong-Melbourne trains, which run directly alongside the site.

The state secretary for the union said they’ve been inundated with calls from concerned V/line workers. 

“Our members don’t want to be operating alongside contaminated soil,” she said.

“This government seems to be infamous for passing the buck. We’ll be  undergoing full safety audits and testing before giving the ok for our members to be working at the site.”

The new facility is designed to meet interpeak stabling needs for V/Line trains operating on the regional rail network, while also ensuring there is capacity to house additional trains in the future.

The project will involve construction of a stabling yard, driver facilities and a bypass track connected to the Geelong line, which will allow trains to access the facility without delaying passenger services.

38 new VLocity carriages are arriving to the V/Line network early this year and there are concerns that there isn’t enough facilities for the growing network.

V/Line stated in 2018 that stabling capacity would be exceeded by March 2019.

The Age obtained an internal V/Line document under freedom of information laws, reporting that “the rail yard was needed to run a greater number of services on the network and to operate new trains reliably”.

According to the internal document, the lack of maintenance infrastructure will continue to impact on performance and shortages will impact V/Line’s reliability.

A government spokeswoman told the Hearld Sun that if Wyndham Vale was a temporary site it would not disrupt rail operations.

“Transurban and its builder are working with project parties to find a long-term solution to manage the rock and soil from tunnelling – no decision has been made,” she said.

Department of Transport spokeswoman said operations of the stabling facility will not be compromised.

“While a decision on where to temporarily hold soil from tunnelling for the West Gate Tunnel is yet to be made, the land in question is outside the Wyndham Vale stabling facility so if the site was ever used it would not impact the timing or operations of the new stabling facility,” she said to The Age.

The Wyndham Vale rail yard is metres away from proposed housing estates and four planned schools.

Treasurer Tim Pallas and member for Werribee said on air during a 3AW interview that it won’t be a long-term containment.

“Any suggestion that there is going to be long-term containment or toxic facility is just nonsense,” Mr Pallas told 3AW.

“What is proposed at Wyndham Vale is essentially a short-term place where it is isolated from the environment and if it is ever used – it may well not ever be used – it’s only if you can’t get access to the long-term facility.”

The stabling project is funded by the state government and is still under construction and set to open in the coming months.

Rooty Hill station upgrades increase accessibility

Station upgrades have been completed at Rooty Hill Station, in Western Sydney.

The station, located on the Main Western Line, now has four new lifts to make each platform accessible. Family accessible toilets have also been installed on each platform, said a transport for NSW spokesperson.

“The upgrade also includes a new pedestrian footbridge with new stairs to each platform, larger platform canopies for better weather protection and upgrades to CCTV and lighting to improve customer safety and security,” said the spokesperson.

In addition to the work on the station, a new commuter car park, with 750 car spaces, 16 accessible spaces, 10 motorcycle spaces, and 10 electric vehicle charging spaces, opened in early January.

Power for the vehicle charging ports will be locally sourced.

“The power requirements for these facilities are supplemented by sustainable features built into the car park design, including a rooftop solar system with 1140 solar panels. These also efficiently operate the car park lights and lift,’ said the TfNSW spokesperson.

Included in the upgrades are artworks produced by the local Aboriginal community, and pavers have been installed with the handprints of 450 school children from the local area.

The station’s heritage as the original terminus of the Western line’s extension to Blacktown, and its subsequent role in Sydney and NSW’s rail heritage is acknowledged in the station’s footbridge.

The upgrades to Rooty Hill station are part of TfNSW’s wider Transport Access Program, which is making stations more accessible around the state.

Wire-free, grassed track in Stage 2A of Canberra light rail

The extension of Canberra’s light rail will be wire free, under preliminary environmental approval from the Commonwealth government, and onboard energy storage will be fitted to existing light rail vehicles.

The ACT government announced today that the Commonwealth government has decided that Stage 2A of the Canberra light rail project could be assessed using preliminary documentation. This covers the route from the city to Commonwealth Park.

Features of the 1.7km route include wire-free track from Alinga Street station, progressive on the western side of London Circuit and then Commonwealth Avenue, before terminating at Commonwealth Park.

The ACT government is also proposing grassed tracks as the route travels along the Commonwealth Avenue median, said ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel.

“Running wire-free through London Circuit will mean a narrower track built in the middle of the road, taking up less space as Light Rail will be running in the road median.”

The use of wire-free track preserves heritage vistas along Commonwealth avenue.

“This decision from the Federal Government reinforces our choice to deliver light rail to Woden in two stages. The process of assessment for Stage 2A means we can get on with the job of extending light rail to Woden sooner,” said Steel.

With approvals gained for the section to Commonwealth Park, the next stage of the light rail project will progress the line to Woden, in Canberra’s south. This section will require more extensive approvals from the Commonwealth government as it passes through the capital.

“We always expected that an extensive EIS process would be required for the more complex stage 2B extension through the Parliamentary Triangle under the Commonwealth environmental approval process,” said Steel.

Wire-free tram track is currently operational in the Sydney CBD’s light rail and in Newcastle on Hunter Street. In Parramatta, grassed track will also be installed, for up to one kilometre.

New members appointed for ARA young leaders board

Four new young rail professionals have joined the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Young Leaders Advisory Board (Y-LAB).

The new members are:

  • Jane Gillespie, senior consultant at Arup;
  • Josh Steed, team lead at SNC Lavalin;
  • Melanie Bowden, area manager at CPB Contractors; and
  • Alexander Daview, project manager at the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

In addition to the four new members, the ARA has appointed two reserve members to step in for vacancies that may arise due to career movements. The reserve members are; Tahni Littlejohn, systems analyst manager at Transport Canberra and City Services, and Karthik Krishna Kumar, project manager at Bombardier.

The new members join the four continuing Y-LAB members.

The Y-LAB is part of the ARA’s push for involvement in the rail industry from a younger generation of the workforce. The thoughts and insights of this group have been incorporated into the workings of the ARA, said ARA chair and acting CEO, Danny Broad.

“The Inaugural Y-LAB made a big impact last year, giving us some clear direction on how to attract a younger workforce, participating in the ARA Board’s Strategy Day to develop our 2019-24 strategic plan and many other key contributions.”

Broad was enthusiastic about the participation of younger members of the rail industry in the program and what this meant for the industry as a whole.

“The fact that we had such a strong field to draw from, with 37 applicants is testament to the eagerness of younger employees to contribute to the future of our industry and I look forward to working with the second iteration of Y-LAB in the year ahead.”

Arup will host the first meeting of Y-LAB for 2020 on March 3, in Sydney.

Broad acknowledged the work that the outgoing members have done.

“I’d like to thank our outgoing members, Jamie Ross-Smith of UniPart, Tegan Ball of Queensland Rail, Amy Lezela of Metro Trains Melbourne and Mike Groves of Network Rail Consulting for their contributions during 2019.”

Australian group awarded funding for tram batteries

A consortium of Australian businesses and research institutions will investigate the production of fast charging batteries for trams.

The group, comprised of the University of Queensland, CSIRO, battery manufacturer Soluna Australia, and nanotechnology company VSPC, will leverage a $1,641,000 grant from the federal CRC-P program to invest $5million in batteries which could remove the need for overhead powerlines to power trams.

The batteries developed will be fast-charge lithium-ion batteries. VSPC will develop advanced cathode materials, while CSIRO brings expertise and intellectual property for the application of fast-charge batteries in trams and other vehicles such as buses, ferries, and military vehicles.

The team from the University of Queensland Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology will contribute to the characterisation and optimisation of the battery materials. Soluna will then advise on manufacturing and lead commercialisation of the product.

Mike Vaisey, VSPC executive director, said the project could tap into the popularity of light rail.

“This project is a tremendous opportunity to bring together Australia’s technological capabilities – including VSPC’s advanced cathode materials, CSIRO’s battery expertise and UQ’s analytical abilities – to develop new battery systems using VSPC cathode material. Light rail is experiencing a resurgence worldwide as cities modernise, and fastcharge batteries are critical to avoiding the poles and wires of the past.”

Once successful, Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said that the Australian-developed technology could be other in other transport forms.

“The aim is to deliver an Australian product that puts this country at the forefront of battery development … and there’s more to it than trams; successful application of what is currently at our fingertips will lead to myriad other fast-charge applications, many of them not yet thought of.”

LINX puts funding behind AFLW

Logistics provider LINX Cargo Care Group has joined the AFL Women’s team.

LINX, which operates the Enfield Intermodal Terminal in addition to its rail services, will be part of the women’s AFL league in 2020 and is part of the league’s connection to its partners, said AFL general manager of commercial, Kylie Rogers.

“Demand from partners stems beyond a desire to be associated with football. We have developed long-term, value-based relationships with brands whose purpose and mission are aligned to ours.”

Part of this mission is growing the participation of women in fields that were once dominated by men. As the league has become more professional participation by women and girls at all levels has increased, the AFL stated.

According to Anthony Jones, CEO of LINX, the logistics sector shares a similar story.

“The supply chain and logistics industry have until recently been largely a male-dominated sector, much like Australian football, until the AFLW paved the way for a more diverse, inclusive sporting landscape,” he said.

In a 2018 survey conducted by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), 21 per cent of the Australasian rail workforce are female, a four percentage point increase on 2014 figure. However, of the full-time workforce, only 18 per cent are women, while 56 per cent of the part-time workforce and 24 per cent of the casual workforce are women.

Other findings from the survey include that women occupy 19 per cent of managerial positions in the Australasian rail industry. Furthermore, in clerical and administrative positions, women make up 60 per cent of the workforce, while in technicians and trade positions, women make up only 5 per cent, the lowest proportion of any role.

Jones said that the company will be seeking to grow the place of women in logistics, as the AFLW has in sports.

“LINX Cargo Care Group is committed to bringing that same inclusive and disruptive ethos to the supply chain and logistics sector, which makes our partnership a natural fit.”

Inland Rail grants $4000 to a men’s cultural group in QLD

Over $55,000 in community donations from Inland Rail will be granted to groups across the whole rail corridor in regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The Maibin Jaihilah Yahgilah men’s cultural group from Beaudesert, Queensland will receive $4000 in the third round of the Inland Rail Community Sponsorships and Donations program.

The funds will be used for the completion of an amenities block on a five-hectare site that has significant cultural ties to Mt Warning (Wollumbin) and the Mununjali people dating back thousands of years.

Rebecca Pickering, Inland Rail Director of Engagement, Environment and Property said more than $180,000 has already been allocated in the first three rounds of the program to help communities through a range of events, projects and activities.

“We congratulate successful recipients for this round which include sporting groups, schools, men’s groups, and Indigenous Cultural Groups. Funded projects represent a diverse range of initiatives such as upgrading community facilities, skills building in the areas of STEM education and inclusive events,” Pickering said.

Sharne Iselin, president of the Maibin Jahyilah Yahgilah men’s group said they meet every month to discuss challenges and barriers and how to overcome them.

“The work we do is really important and sadly it’s something that is badly needed in today’s society. We do all we can to support our community empower and strengthen local Mununjali cultural values and principles,” Iselin said.

The next round of funding applications for the program is now open and eligible groups can still apply for funding of between $1000 and $4000 for their project or service by Friday 31 January.

Inland Rail said in a statement that applications are encouraged from individuals and organisations in regional centres along the corridor, to ensure regional areas receive maximum benefit.

People are invited to visit the Inland Rail website to apply for a donation and for further information on the program.

Community projects spread the benefit of Inland Rail

Inland Rail’s impact on the communities it serves will not only come in the form of rail services.

The project announced 19 initiatives from laptops to Dolly Parton to improve the wellbeing of the communities which the project interacts with.

The announcement is the third round of the Inland Rail Community Sponsorships and Donations program, and includes over $55,000 for schools, community groups, and associations in regional Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.

Director of engagement, environment and property for Inland Rail, Rebecca Pickering outlined the project’s rationale.

“A key commitment of Inland Rail is to leave a positive legacy along the rail corridor and the Community Sponsorships and Donations program is just one example of how we seek to ensure regional communities benefit from this unique project,” she said.

Over $180,000 worth of grants covering events, projects, and activities, have been announced so far.

The next round of funding is now open, and groups can apply for funding of between $1,000 and $4,000 until Friday, January 31.

“These grants are in addition to the support Australian Rail Track Corporation is providing to bushfire impacted communities which includes raising funds for the Bushfire Crisis Appeal and encouraging volunteering by employees,” said Pickering.

Grants in this round went to projects including the Narromine Dolly Parton Festival, the purchase of tools for the Gundy Men’s Shed, five laptops for Forbes Public School, and the Mitchell Community Multicultural Festival.

Heritage tree relocated as part of METRONET works

An 80-year-old Kurrajong tree has been relocated to allow for construction at the Bayswater Station in Perth, part of the METRONET project.

The tree was moved to nearby Bert Wright Park, with the assistance of one crane, followed by a mobile crane which transported the tree to the nearby park. Residents were following the relocation closely, noted Marylands MLA, Lisa Baker.

“Preparation works for the tree relocation began in May 2019, when a trench was dug around the tree and its roots trimmed. Soil was then backfilled into the trench, and the tree was left for six months for careful monitoring over the winter,” she said.

“While residents were no doubt thrilled to witness the incredible sight of a massive tree being craned down one of their main streets, its relocation also marks an exciting new stage in the Bayswater Station Upgrade project.”

Moving the tree will allow for the station’s eastern entrance to be upgraded, to allow for better integration with the surrounding commercial centre and meet disability standards.

As part of the METRONET project, Bayswater will become a significant transport hub, located at the intersection of the Midland line, the Forrestfield-airport link, and the Morley-Ellenbrook line.

Once completed, the new Bayswater station will host six-car trains, be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act, and have more connections to bus services. Additionally, the King William Street bridge will be raised by a metre to 4.8 metres, to avoid collisions with high vehicles and trucks, which frequently caused delays.

Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, noted that the station’s new design incorporated the views of the local community.

“While residents were no doubt thrilled to witness the incredible sight of a massive tree being craned down one of their main streets, its relocation also marks an exciting new stage in the Bayswater Station Upgrade project,” she said.

“We know having properly integrated train stations and transport infrastructure can transform local communities in to buzzing hubs of retail, recreational and residential life.