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

Mt Isa recovery on track

Queensland Rail boss Nick Easy says the Mt Isa line is on track to reopen between late April and the middle of May, with good progress being made after last month’s major flooding event.

Easy on March 7 said Queensland Rail’s taskforce was continuing to spearhead repairs on the line between Cloncurry and Richmond, with the section between Richmond and Hughenden recently deemed open to rail traffic.

Crews worked on 50 damaged sites across 100 kilometres of railway between Richmond and Hughenden before opening the section on March 4.

“We are now working closely with our freight operators and their customers on options to restore services through this section and opportunities for freight to be loaded on and off trains at both Richmond and Hughenden,” Easy said.

“We will be continuing to work with our freight operators and their customers over the coming week to finalise these plans.”

Easy said weather was still a factor in repairs, with three kilometres of plastic mats delivered to sites, and construction beginning on temporary access roads at several locations.

“The teams will continue to utilise this matting as required to build access roads in areas which remain wet as repairs continue,” he said.

“Overall, work is progressing well to date and we will continue to provide weekly updates on our progress.”

A 60-bed camp is being built in Richmond to accommodate employees and contractors working on the recovery, and another 120-bed camp will be set up at Julia Creek to accommodate recovery works at Nelia.

“Accommodation presented a significant challenge for the recovery work, but now that a solution has been identified and is being implemented, the Taskforce is confident it can mobilise all of the crews and contractors required to accelerate the recovery program,” Easy said.

“Local contractors have been engaged to transport mobile, stackable buildings on trailers which will house workers unable to be accommodated in local motels and caravan parks and local suppliers in each town will also be hired to provide food, cleaning and supplies to the camps. The camps are expected to be operational within the next two weeks, if not earlier.”

40km of major washouts on Mt Isa Line

Receding floodwaters in Queensland’s northwest have allowed Queensland Rail crews to begin assessing the full extent of damage to the Mt Isa Line, with early reports showing damage across 307 kilometres of track.

QR chief executive Nick Easy updated the public on February 20, saying early assessments showed extreme erosion at 204 sites, including roughly 40 kilometres of major track washouts and 20 kilometres of track scouring.

“Work is underway to confirm required repairs and expected recovery timeframes, taking into account optimum use of all industry resources, plant and equipment.”

The Mt Isa Line has been closed since early February when northern Queensland was hit by an historic rainfall event.

A Pacific National freight train was stranded on the line, and Easy said work was continuing at Nelia – 50 kilometres east of Julia Creek – to assess the full extent of work required there.

“While ground conditions still aren’t dry enough to accommodate the heavy machinery required for Pacific National to recover the train and wagons, we are hopeful that – weather conditions permitting – Pacific National can commence this process late this week.”

An exclusion zone of 20 metres has been established around the train, and fencing will progressively be arranged around the site, Easy said.

19 of the train’s wagons carrying zinc concentrate, and two carrying lead concentrate, have sustained damage, according to Easy. Assessments are being made to identify potential impacts.

Elsewhere, crews continue to get a solid idea of damage done. 71 bridges have been inspected and 16 confirmed as damaged. 100,000 cubic metres of ballast or fill is estimated to be required to repair damaged track. And QR has already had 10,000 sleepers delivered to Hughenden and Cloncurry in anticipation of repair works.

“All available resources are being mobilised to undertake repairs, including engineers and track teams from South East Queensland, to ensure we return the Mt Isa Line to full operation as soon as possible,” Easy said.

As for a timeline, he reiterated his statements from last week. “At this stage Queensland Rail believes the line can be fixed earlier than the 6-12 months that has been suggested and reported,” he said. “We will continue to keep stakeholders and the community informed of these plans and timeframes.”

Madew appointed Infrastructure Australia boss

Green Building Council CEO Romilly Madew has been appointed as the next chief executive of Infrastructure Australia, the Federal Government’s independent infrastructure advisor.

Madew will assume the CEO role in April, replacing Anna Chau who has been acting CEO since Philip Davies left IA at the end of his three-year term last year.

Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said Madew’s appointment would bolster IA’s skill and expertise, helping it better assist with planning and delivery of major infrastructure.

“Ms Madew has a proven ability to forge strong working relationships with colleagues and external shareholders in industry, government and the community and I welcome her appointment to this important leadership position,” McCormack, also the federal transport minister, said.

“Ms Madew’s expertise will help to ensure IA can continue to consult with a broad range of stakeholders to provide high quality advice and strategic feedback, to assist the Federal Government and others with making important decisions about major infrastructure investments.”

McCormack said one of Madew’s first priorities will be overseeing the finalisation of IA’s next Australian Infrastructure Audit, due for release in mid-2019.

Madew has been the CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia since 2006. She has occupied multiple board positions including as deputy president of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, the World Green Building Council, and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

In 2009, Madew won the national 2009 Telstra Business Women’s Award for Community and Government, in 2015 she won the US Green Building Council’s International Leadership Award, and in 2017 she won the World Green Building Council Chairman’s Award.

IA chair Julieanne Alroe said Madew had been a driving force behind Australia’s sustainable building movement.

“Recognised around the world as a leader in the property and construction industry, Romilly is an experienced CEO with expertise in strategy, governance and policy development,” Alroe said.

“She has forged strong working relationships with industry, government and community stakeholders through her current role and previous executive positions.”

Alroe said it was “an incredibly important time” for Madew to be joining IA, with the Audit due, and work soon to begin on the next Australian Infrastructure Plan.

Madew said she was honoured to begin a new chapter as IA’s CEO.

“Infrastructure Australia has a critical role to play in helping governments prioritise projects and reforms that best serve our communities,” she said.

“I look forward to growing the organisation’s focus on delivering better outcomes for individual users across transport, energy, telecommunications, water and social infrastructure.”

The appointment was immediately welcomed by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which represents industry members.

“The appointment of Ms Madew will add strength to the independent advice of Infrastructure Australia in what is set to be a major year for infrastructure delivery,” IPA chief executive Adrian Dwyer said.

“Infrastructure Australia has enjoyed bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle over the years and it will be important that this tradition continues in the lead up to the election.”

Technical and commercial advisors appointed for Melbourne Airport rail

More than 100 local and international companies have registered their interest to take part in the construction of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL), and the State Government has named key advisors for the project.

A joint venture of Aurecon, Jacobs and Mott MacDonald has been named technical advisor for the project, which will build a rail connection from the CBD to Melbourne Airport via Sunshine.

In a statement from the Premier’s Office the government cited the members of the AJM joint venture’s track record on projects like London’s Crossrail, Sydney Metro Northwest, Auckland’s City Rail Link, and the Metro Tunnel project in Melbourne.

The joint venture has begun site investigations along the proposed MARL corridor as part of early planning work.

Meanwhile, KPMG has been appointed as a commercial advisor for the project.

“We are not wasting a minute in getting this project planned, designed and delivered,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on December 13.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is the next step in our transformation of Victoria’s public transport network and a key part of the Suburban Rail Loop.”

“The Airport Rail Link will benefit all Victorians,” added transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan, “delivering a new super hub at Sunshine and paving the way for fast rail to the regions.”

The state selected the Sunshine route for MARL after a strategic appraisal found it performed better than alternatives via Maribyrnong, Flemington and Craigieburn.

The Federal Government, which has committed $5 billion to the project, came out in favour of the Sunshine route in late November.

Development of a detailed business case is underway, with the project set to begin construction by 2022. Next steps include stakeholder engagement work to help inform the business case, and further detailed planning.

The Registrations of Interest phase of the project resulted in more than 100 registrations from companies around the country, and around the world.

Rail Projects Victoria, which led the RoI program, said “more than 100 high calibre local and government organisations” from design, engineering, construction and finance sectors were keen to take part.