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.

Over 63km of track removed in first phase of Inland Rail project

The Australasian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has now removed over 63 kilometres of existing rail line from the Inland Rail construction in Parkes, New South Wales.

The project, a partnership between the Australian Government and private sector, is intended to upgrade the national freight network between Melbourne and Brisbane by developing regional lines across Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

The works on the section of line between Parkes and Narromine represent the first of a planned 13 Inland Rail projects encompassing over 1700 kilometres.

The track, which has been removed from the freight line between Parkes and Narromine (the P2N project), will be recycled and repurposed for Pacific National’s Intermodal Terminal in Parkes as well as other parts of the NSW rail network.

“It’s just one of the ways we keep our commitment to sustainability,” the ARTC stated in an inaugural project newsletter.

In addition to the track removal, over 100,000 cubic metres of material has been removed as a result of ongoing earthworks.

The works are being carried out by INLink, a joint venture between BMD Group and Fulton Hogan, which is focused on upgrading existing links, building new embankments and culverts, and upgrading signage, signals, level crossings and fencing.

The ARTC stated that they would install over 4000 culverts across the project in total.

Neighbouring projects include the southerly Stockinbingal to Parkes (S2P) project and northerly Narromine to Narrabri (N2N) project, which are both currently in the project feasibility stage.

The ARTC held its first community forum on the project, with two more set to follow on June 19 at the ARTC Community and Working Hub in Parkes and on June 20 at Peak Hill RSL in Peak Hill.

ARA seeking next CEO; Broad endorsed to replace Herbert as chair

Danny Broad will finish up as CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, and has been endorsed to succeed Bob Herbert as Chairman at the end of 2019.

The ARA announced on Thursday evening both Broad and Herbert would conclude their terms as CEO and Chairman, respectively, at the end of the calendar year.

Herbert, appointed as Independent Chairman in 2015, said he was happy to leave the ARA in a strong position.

“The new constitution that was ratified by members in July 2016 has strengthened the governance arrangements of the organisation whilst providing an agreed structure that allows members to better direct the affairs of the ARA,” he said.

“Recognising the substantial contribution Danny Broad has made as CEO of the ARA and the importance of maintaining leadership continuity, the Board has unanimously endorsed Danny assuming the Chairman’s role at the end of 2019.”

Broad paid tribute to Herbert’s work helping transform the ARA.

“Bob is a hands-on Chairman, who played a leading role in setting up the new structure, and positioned the ARA to be advocating not just for increasing rail investment, but as a strong voice on key strategic issues, such as the need for a National Rail Plan and action on skills shortages.”

As for his news, Broad said after more than four years as ARA CEO, he feels the time is right to pass the reigns on to a new leader.

“Since taking on the role in October 2015, ARA membership has grown significantly, our engagement with member companies has strengthened, and the ARA has maintained its position as a respected industry body,” Broad said.

“The ARA is now well placed to work with the Australian and State and Territory governments as they implement substantial passenger and freight rail projects, and deal with significant infrastructure policy issues.”

The ARA Board has established an Appointments Committee, convened by Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins, to oversee the recruitment of a new ARA CEO over the next few months.

Herbert will maintain his role as Chairman of the TrackSAFE Foundation, the ARA-endorsed harm prevention charity for the rail sector.

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Palaszczuk calls for timeline on Adani mine and rail approval

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for a final approval deadline to be set in place for Adani’s long-delayed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.

Mining company Adani’s controversial project, located in the Galilee Basin region of Queensland, 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, and a 189-kilometre freight rail line running from the mine to port facilities at Hay Point and Abbot Point.

Premier Palaszczuk has now advised that the state co-ordinator general meet with Adani and the project’s independent regulator tomorrow to force a final deadline.

“The community is sick of it, I’m sick of it, everyone is sick of the delays,” Palaszczuk said.

“Everyone has had more than enough time to resolve these issues and for some reason that has not occurred – that all ends now.”

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow stated that if an approval timeframe is not concluded within the next two weeks then the meeting will have represented a stalling tactic by the Queensland Labor Government.

“We are looking forward to receiving a call from the coordinator general so we can meet first thing tomorrow morning, and at that meeting I will be seeking the timeline for approving the two outstanding management plans come to a conclusion within the next two weeks,” Dow said in a statement.

“Any timeframe for a decision on these outstanding management plans longer than the next two weeks is nothing more than another delaying tactic by the Queensland Labor Government designed to delay thousands of jobs for regional Queenslanders.”

KiwiRail responds to NZ Government’s Zero Carbon Bill

KiwiRail has expressed its support for the New Zealand Government’s proposed amendments to the Climate Change Response Act.

The governing Labour Party’s Zero Carbon Amendment Bill proposes that the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in keeping with the aims of the Paris Agreement.

KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller stated that the company was well-placed to “help New Zealand move to a low-emissions future”.

Miller added that rail produced up to two-thirds fewer carbon emissions than road per tonne of freight carried.

This approval is in keeping with KiwiRail’s own attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which it reduced by three per cent in the 2017-18 financial year.

The company’s chief executive officer Peter Reidy was also one of 14 CEOs to join the Climate Leaders Coalition in July 2018.

The government-backed operator’s initiatives in this regard include the fuel-saving Driver Advisory System (DAS) and introduction of new electric vehicles to its rail fleet.

Last year, the government reversed a decision to replace 15 KiwiRail electric locomotives on the North Island’s Main Trunk line with diesel equivalents, announcing that it would instead refurbish the trains for continued use at a cost of $35 million.

The NZ National Party said that it welcomed the propsed amendments to the act but argued that its methane reduction targets were too severe.

“We are not convinced that the proposed 24-47 per cent reduction for methane meets our test in terms of science, economic impact or global response,” said Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges.

Methane emissions are particularly prominent in the dairy farming industry, which represents a highly important export market for the country.

Research from the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in 2017 stated that 49 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the agricultural industry.

Melbourne train stations ‘ripe for redevelopment’ says RMIT

RMIT researchers examining 230 train stations across Melbourne have stated that certain stations in the city’s suburbs should be developed to reduce car dependency.

The researchers said suburban Melbourne stations such as Murrumbeena, Mentone, Preston and Bentleigh had the structure in place to be redeveloped into transit-oriented developments (TODs) to reduce car dependency.

Stations identified by the researchers as suitable for TOD share common features such as shops and community centres, residential and retail opportunities.

RMIT Centre for Urban Research author Dr Lucy Gunn stated that many train station precincts in Melbourne lacked basic features and amenities such as supermarkets and bicycle storage.

A lack of residential density in the regions surrounding these stations was cited as another contributor to locals electing to use their cars instead of walking and cycling.

“If we want to reduce car dependency and get the most out of our train stations, redeveloping the area around them is the best way to encourage walking, cycling and active public transport use,” she said.

The team at RMIT assessed 14 walkability features at the train stations, including access to schools, convenience stores and access to other forms of transport, among other services.

Stations identified as being “highly walkable” by the researchers included South Yarra, Prahran and Balaclava. Stations in Melbourne’s outer ring were identified as having poor access in comparison.

The idea behind the research is to think of train stations as more than just transport hubs, according to RMIT.

“Rethinking train stations to make them about more than just transport is the future for a more healthy, liveable Melbourne,” Gunn concluded.

Women

Finalists named for Women in Industry Awards

Individuals from major rail businesses are among the more than 70 finalists named across 10 categories ahead of the 2019 Women in Industry Awards on June 6.

Exceptional women from a range of industries will be recognised at the Women in Industry Awards, a gala dinner event and award ceremony being held at The Park in Melbourne on June 6.

Aurizon’s head of finance and regulation Loretta Lynch is among three finalists – announced this week – for the Excellence in Mining Award.

Natalie Bond, deputy general manager for Downer’s High Capacity Metro Trains Project team, has been named a finalist in both the Excellence in Manufacturing and Excellence in Engineering categories.

Linfox, which acquired Aurizon’s intermodal business earlier this year, has a number of finalists across several categories, including Tania Matthews for the Safety Advocacy Award, Kylie Fraser for Mentor of the Year, and Emily Reuter and Tina Dreher each for Rising Star of the Year.

AECOM principal engineer Claire Bennett is a finalist for Mentor of the Year.

And mining and rail group Roy Hill sees plant controller Paigan Hickmott in the finalist group for Rising Star of the Year, and planning manager Jodi Moffitt for Excellence in Mining.

The full list of finalists is available here.

Tickets for the event are also on sale – join Rail Express among other key partners for an evening of celebration.

When: Thursday 6 June 2019, 6.30pm

Where: The Park, Albert Park, Melbourne

Dress code: Cocktail