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.

AusRAIL: Hitachi committed to sustainability

Hitachi is a fully integrated global provider of rail solutions across rollingstock, signalling, services and turnkey projects. With a presence in 27 countries, it believes its commitment to sustainability can make a difference.


The rail sector is intimately connected to everyday life, putting it in a unique position to offer solutions to societal issues, such as the challenges of population growth and urbanisation.

The global population is forecast to grow to approximately 10.8 billion by 2080, placing pressure on transportation networks, and there are already more people living in urban areas than rural ones. As society seeks ways to ease congestion in high-density areas, metro trains, trams and monorails become increasingly attractive.

Connecting cities is an area in which Hitachi believes it can make a difference. Rail is an environmentally friendly alternative to car and air travel, producing 3-5 times less CO2 per passenger kilometre, and Hitachi is striving to develop more energy-efficient products and technologies, including electric and hybrid trains.

Technologies like autonomous drive will also create new opportunities. If people can buy tickets for the entire journey rather than the train, riding to and from the station by a driverless car, rail may see wider use even as it undergoes new transformations as part of the transport ecosystem.

Hitachi faces challenges such as delays in production, reliability issues and not delivering on easing congestion, all of which have the potential to undermine operations.

To tackle these risks, Hitachi is implementing efficient production facilities, effective project management, robust testing and commissioning, and stringent quality assurance and control.

For example, the Dynamic Headway solution, which is now undergoing feasibility studies in Copenhagen, aims to monitor passenger numbers with sensors at stations and optimize the number of trains needed, automatically, to reduce station congestion and improve energy efficiency. If the monitoring technology fails, neither of those goals would be achieved.

Innovation and sustainability are key in the rail industry, and the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) underpin much of Hitachi’s work. At the same time transportation is a fundamental element in every city’s development as transport enhancements and improvements in connectivity let people enjoy wider opportunities and benefits. Managing director at Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe, Tim Gray, stated.

“We are excited by the global opportunity the SDGs present and are committed to identifying opportunities to support clients and stakeholders in making progress towards their own commitments in this space. We are also keen to collaborate with our industry partners on areas such as Digital Twin to deliver benefit to our customers and society at large.”

One of Hitachi’s specialties is the delivery, support and maintenance of signalling control software for automatic route setting and high fidelity simulation for signaller training. In an increasingly digital world Hitachi says it is keen to develop strategic partnerships with organisations that can connect and add value for their clients via the delivery of complimentary solutions. Through a more collaborative development program, Hitachi will primarily address SDG 9.

Recently, Hitachi has been working on a digital twin solution with a partner organisation called Specialist Project Integration (SPI) to combine simulation and decision support tools.

SPI are experts in information management and support their customers through major construction project delivery and with enterprise digital transformation. Their toolkit includes a range of BIM modelling solutions which complement our products and enhance the total solution.

Benefits of this collaboration include cost reduction through more accurate design processes, a unified asset database, which increases efficiency as options are modelled to prove operational benefits and, most importantly, safety, through more effective possession management during construction and whole life asset condition monitoring.

In it’s Corporate Commitment, Hitachi is focused on SDG4, as part of which they promote careers in engineering through sponsorship of the Women in Engineering Society and other graduate schemes. Hitachi’s Corporate Commitment has a secondary focus on SDG8 and 13.

Contracts around the world increasingly require proof of sustainability, and this is something Hitachi is working on with suppliers and clients alike.


Visit Hitachi at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 214

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Adani dismisses financial ‘smear campaign’

Aspiring mine and rail developer Adani says a harrowing diagnosis from one of Australia’s top forensic accountants is “uninformed” and “inaccurate,” and the company is not at risk of financial ruin.

Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin is perhaps the most controversial of its kind in recent history. The plethora of environmental, economic and employment factors at play have been debated in the nation’s newspapers, shouted about in Central Queensland’s oldest towns, and discussed across dinner tables around the nation for more than half a decade.

But all that controversy could be moot, according to Sandra van der Laan, a forensic accountant from the University of Sydney.

“[Adani Australia] looks to me like a corporate collapse waiting to happen,” van der Laan told the ABC last week. “It has all the hallmarks of the big corporate failures we’ve seen over the last 20 to 30 years.”

Van der Laan, one of the few experts who predicted the collapse of childcare major ABC Learning in 2008, told the ABC the ‘labyrinthian’ structure of Adani’s Australian business “seems to be developed to obfuscate or confuse or to hide things”.

Her analysis indicated the current assets of Adani Mining, the Australian registered business which reported to ASIC on March 31, were less than $30 million. Current liabilities due over the next 12 months come to more than $1.8 billion, van der Laan said.

“Adani Mining is in a very fragile, even perilous, financial position,” she was quoted as saying. “The gap between current assets and liabilities is what’s really concerning. Effectively on paper they are insolvent. I wouldn’t be trading with them, as simple as that. I wouldn’t have anything to do with them.”

Adani on July 24 dismissed the report, and labelled van der Laan’s commentary as “false and misleading”.

“Just like every mining project, our project will not generate income until the mine and rail are built and operating and coal can be sold and exported. Until we start producing and selling coal, we will be continuing to invest in the development of the mine and rail and therefore this will be treated as an accounting loss,” a spokesperson said.

“With Adani’s approvals for construction now in place, construction on the Carmichael mine and rail project is progressing well. The construction stage is due for completion approximately two years after approvals were received, and production of coal will shortly follow.

“The investment in the delivery of the Carmichael Project was always expected to be a long-term investment, which is why Adani has remained committed to the Project.

“Already Adani’s businesses in Australia have had major impacts on the Queensland economy, through its ownership and operation of Abbot Point Port Terminal, Adani Renewables’ solar farm in Rugby Run, and now with the delivery of the Carmichael Project.

“Adani looks forward to continuing its operations and the significant financial contribution it makes to the Australian economy over the coming years.

”We expect anti-coal activists will continue their attempts to discredit and misrepresent our organisation and operations. Despite this we will deliver our Carmichael Project and the benefits it will bring to regional Queensland communities.”

Adani also criticised the Institute for Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), an advocate for renewable energy development which republished van der Laan’s comments.

“IEEFA is well-known for publishing alarmist papers that attempt to discredit the fossil fuel industry using flawed analysis in order to achieve its state aim of transitioning to renewable energy,” Adani Mining said.

Victorian Government launches trial of plastic rail sleepers in Melbourne

The Andrews Labor Government has begun an 18-month trial of railway sleepers made from recycled plastic.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio and Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne were in attendance as the first of 200 Duratrack plastic sleepers was laid today at Richmond train station in Melbourne.

“We’re embracing new technology to tackle the problem of plastic pollution in our community,” D’Ambrosio said.

“This project is a great example of the circular economy we’re creating through innovation and rethinking a product we use every day.”

The sleepers are produced using a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste such as cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers by Mildura-based business Integrated Recycling, which developed the product in association with Monash University over a two-year period. 

The Duratrack sleepers are built to a potential life cycle of 50 years at half the cost of timber sleepers. Integrated Recycling also cites benefits such as reduced replacement cycles, the ability to integrate with existing sleepers, a weight comparable to timber sleepers and non-conductivity. Each kilometre of track that uses the sleepers translates to roughly 64 tonnes of plastic saved from landfills.

Integrated Recycling has already received approval to use the sleepers on Melbourne’s metro network, which have been implemented on four tourist railways including the Puffing Billy railway in the Dandenong Ranges.

“It’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations,” said Minister for Transport Horne.

Adani gets final green light for Carmichael mine and rail project

Energy giant Adani has received the last approval it needed to begin work on its planned Carmichael coal mine and rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

The controversial project, subject to different levels of discussion and approval for the better part of a decade, was given the final all clear after Queensland’s Department of Environment and Sciences (DES) approved its Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) on June 13.

It followed the approval late in May of Adani’s management plan for the black-throated finch.

The Groundwater plan was approved after Adani submitted an updated version of the plan addressing the state’s feedback on June 12.

“In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia – the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year,” the Department said.

Adani Mining’s CEO in Australia, Lucas Dow, said the approval brought to a close a two-year process of rigorous scientific inquiry, review and approvals.

“The finalisation of the GDEMP and the Black-throated Finch Management Plan paves the way for construction to commence on the Carmichael Project and the delivery of much-needed jobs for regional Queenslanders,” he said on June 13.

“Over the coming days preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions will continue. These preparatory actions will enable us to then start construction activities including fencing, bridge and road upgrades, water management and civil earthworks on the mine site. The level of construction activity will then steadily increase over the coming weeks.”

Along with a new coal mine, the Carmichael project also includes construction of a 189-kilometre, narrow gauge rail line to connect to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network. The company had originally planned a 388-kilometre standard gauge railway to take coal directly to export facilities at Abbot Point, but scaled back its plans in September 2018.

The final approvals for Adani come just weeks after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asked the state’s coordinator general for a firm timeline for action.

“The community is sick of it, I’m sick of it, everyone is sick of the delays,” Palaszczuk said in May. “Everyone has had more than enough time to resolve these issues and for some reason that has not occurred – that all ends now.”

The Carmichael project has been subject to repeated approval delays over the last two years. Adani’s plan for the development encompasses an open-cut and underground coal mine capable of producing 60 million tonnes of product a year, but production is set to begin at a lower rate.