Inland Rail consultations progressing in QLD

Community consultations and field investigations by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for the Inland Rail project are progressing during the month of April along the Queensland corridor.

ARTC will also be hosting a stand at the Toowoomba Royal show next week. Simon Thomas, ARTC’s Inland Rail programme delivery director, said it would be a good opportunity for locals to come and talk to ARTC to representatives and find out more information about the project.

“We are committed to this community, as we are to all communities along the 1700km route,” Thomas said.

“Inland Rail is going to bring huge benefits to Darling Downs and Toowoomba and it has been great to see businesses, farmers and Councils already gearing up to make the most of it.”

During April, consultation sessions in Millmerran and Brookstead will enable landowners and other community members will be able to provide feedback to the ARTC on the Condamine River floodplain studies which are being conducted for the project.

Thomas said that ARTC team members would be operating throughout the study area from the NSW/QLD border up to Toowoomba, down the Lockyer Valley and towards to Kagaru in Beaudesert.

“These studies will help us understand more about factors such as the lay of the land, hydrology, rock and soil types, and flora and fauna. In addition to informing environmental reports, the work is critical to developing the feasibility design for the rail line,” he said.

From the border to Helion, teams will conduct will be conducting ecology studies, site-walk throughs, and geotechnical testing, while, from Gowrie to Kagaru, field investigations will include geotechnical, flooding and hydrology, ecological, noise, air quality and vibration, utility identification and cultural heritage surveys.

State outlines Western Sydney rail corridors

A freight rail connection between Port Botany and Western Sydney via the Southern Sydney Freight Line and a north-south passenger connection for Western Sydney Airport are among a collection of corridors identified in a draft report by the NSW Government.

The state on March 26 released a Western Sydney corridors summary report, with the aim of identifying and protecting the corridors that will be needed to “help establish the Western Sydney Parkland City”.

Four corridors have been identified for rail, or at least contain a rail component.

The first corridor is for the proposed North South Rail Line, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to help develop on March 4. The line would connect to Sydney Trains Western Line near St Marys, and to the Main South line near Macarthur, and would pass through the new Western Sydney Airport.

Sections of tunnel would need to be used at either end of the line: between St Marys and just south of the M4 Motorway, and between Oran Park and Macarthur. The report identifies land for future train stations at Oran Park and Narellan.

The second corridor would be for a South West Rail Link Extension, which would connect the South West Rail Link – opened in 2015 – to the proposed North South Rail Line at Bringelly.

 


Click here for PDF version.

 

The third corridor identified for protection is the Outer Sydney Orbital road-rail corridor, running all the way from Box Hill in the north, to Menangle in the south. Its protection would be to support integrated transport options to support “unprecedented growth” throughout Sydney’s west, the report states.

The fourth corridor is for the Western Sydney Freight Line, a future dedicated rail freight connection between Port Botany and Western Sydney via the existing Southern Sydney Freight Line. The line would extend between the existing freight Line at Leightonfield and Villawood, to the Outer Sydney Orbital’s freight rail corridor.

 


Click here for PDF version.

 

“Western Sydney is at the forefront of the biggest infrastructure delivery program in history and for once, we are in the fortunate position of being able to plan and deliver the roads and rail lines this future city needs, first,” state minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said.

“Securing land for this massive transport infrastructure program will set Western Sydney up for success, open up new opportunities and enable us to effectively link our future communities, connect residents to hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”

Roads minister Melinda Pavey said that the new Western Sydney transport links would provide the freight and logistics industries with better access to the future “Aerotropolis”, the urban development that will surround the future airport.

“Building a new city doesn’t happen overnight, and what’s most important is we open up the conversation with residents, community groups, and businesses right across these crucial corridors to inform final alignments,” Pavey said.

Sydney Business Chamber Western Sydney director David Borger said securing the corridors would be important for the future of the proposed Western Parkland City.

“Even though investments into the construction of these road and transport corridors are not being made immediately, it is essential to plan for the future growth of the region,” Borger said.

“Reserving land for these vital transport corridors closely aligns with the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy and the Greater Sydney Commission’s plan for Western Sydney.”

The public will be able to give feedback on the corridors online up until May 18, or at a community consultation session.

Job Opportunity: Rail Express

Mohi Media, publisher of Rail Express, is seeking a very special sales person to spearhead the growth of Australia’s leading rail industry publication.

Rail Express has grown exponentially from a single annual edition in 2016 to six editions per year for 2018, now serving 13,000 people a day via email, 4,800 people bi-monthly via print and countless more direct to our website.

We’ve achieved this by focusing on high-quality editorial content, creating an efficient print and digital mix, and ensuring we always do our best to champion the challenges, achievements and interests of the people who keep Australia’s rail networks moving.

Our continuous growth now provides an opportunity for Rail Express to take on a strategic sales specialist to drive the publication forward.

However, we’re not looking for any salesperson. We’re seeking one who will bring in new ideas and new energy the publication and, most importantly, someone who puts our readers first.

One of the many reasons Rail Express enjoys strong editorial credibility is our strict policy that we don’t (and never will) accept advertorial disguised as editorial content, so our perfect candidate will be one who can come up with amazing display, digital and sponsorship ideas that sync with our content and provide compelling opportunities for the businesses that have highly relevant products and services to offer our readers.

The person we’re looking for has a passion for the Australian rail industry, loves to network at industry events, is familiar with product we currently produce, is someone who can see the possibilities of we already have and is not afraid to think outside the box when putting forward concepts for improvement and/or new offerings for our readers and advertisers alike.

This is full-time position based in the Sydney CBD, with flexible working arrangements negotiable, and an appropriate remuneration package will be offered based on what you have to offer.

If you can relate to the above and would like to become part of a well established and fun team, we’d love to hear from you!

Please express your interest directly to Mohi Media managing director, Michael Mohi, via email: Michael.Mohi@mohimedia.com.

Locals to get their say on future of fire-damaged Mooroopna station

Mooroopna residents and passengers on the Shepparton Line will be able to makes their voices heard on the future redevelopment of Mooroopna station.

The station’s facilities were destroyed by a fire in January this year, forcing V/Line to install a temporary shelter at the station last month to continue servicing passengers.

Community consultations will get going in the next few weeks. Victoria’s transport minister Jacinta Allan indicated that the feedback would be central in developing plans for the rebuild.

“Mooroopna Station has been serving the community for over a hundred years and holds a special place in local hearts and minds,” Allan said.

“We will build passenger facilities that serve the community well and connect the station to Mooroopna.”

Locals will be able to attend a consultation session with Transport for Victoria and V/Line staff at Mooroopna’s Bill and Beats Café on Monday 16 April. A survey will also be available online.

“I encourage locals to attend the session and have their say about the passenger facilities they would like to see restored,” member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said.

Greater Shepparton Council, the historical society and several other community groups have already indicated that they would be involved in developing plans for the station.

Aurizon Community Giving Fund now open

The latest round of Aurizon’s Community Giving Fund is now open, enabling Local community groups and charities to apply for grants of up to $20,000.

Aurizon’s CEO, Andrew Harding, said the Giving Fund aims to support important community projects.

“With operations spanning three states, we are keen to support local charities and community groups who may need funding for projects in the areas of community safety, health and wellbeing, education or the environment,” Harding said.

“If you belong to a charity or community group that is looking for some financial support, I strongly encourage you to take the time to look at all the information on our website and apply.”

To be eligible, groups must be non-profit organisations that hold an approved deductible gift recipient (DGR) status charity (Item 1) from the Australian Tax Office, and have projects affecting areas in which Aurizon operates.

Through the Gift Fund, Aurizon has provided support for over 300 charities and not-for-profits since 2011. 22 charities were provided funds in the most recent round announced in December 2017.

“This funding all goes towards local community projects, and we look forward to continuing that support in this new round,” Harding said.

The Community Giving Fund round will close on 27 April 2018 and applications can be made on Aurizon’s website.

Landowner consultations help shape Narromine to Narrabri Inland Rail corridor

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has now met over 60 landowners in one-on-one meetings in an effort to guide planning and design approaches for the Narromine to Narrabri section of the Inland Rail project

This phase of consultations began approximately one month ago and follows previous ARTC meetings with around 450 landowners last year, and an information event in December that was attended by 700 people.

The ARTC’s Inland Rail division CEO, Peter Winder, said they were taking a “personal approach” in the meetings, with small teams moving from Narromine towards Burroway, and, in the coming months, north to Narrabri.

“It takes time to do this right. There are around 300 landowners in the study area and we will meet with each and every one of them,” Winder said.

“Landowners are being contacted directly throughout this intensive, consultative process. There will, of course, be many more discussions with landowners over the course of the next year or more.”

The Narromine to Narrabri section will comprise approximately 300 kilometres of new track, making it the longest and most significant greenfield development of the Inland Rail project.

The study corridor is approximately 2 kilometres wide (with wider and narrower variations), within which the ARTC have been carrying out consultations – with landowners and engineering and construction experts – to ascertain the most appropriate site for track placement.

Around fifty alternative options for the study corridor were considered in response to community and stakeholder feedback. The choice itself was determined according to ARTC’s evaluation process, which included ascertaining the option that best met the “Service Offering” – the level of service required from the project by freight operators and customers – and the option that had the greater advantages with regards to the costs of construction, maintenance, and track operation.

Other criteria, including safety standards, technical viability, ecological and environmental impacts, and property, landowning and land use impacts, were judged in workshopping events across 2016 and 2017.

The preferred study area was chosen, among other reasons, for its estimated 4 minutes 38 seconds reduction in transit time over 3 hours and 10 minutes for the whole Narromine-Narrabri section – a decrease of approximately 2.5% — and for its estimated 3.3% capital cost saving on the total $1.5 billion cost of this section.

The 2-kilometres study area will, over the next 18-24 months, be whittled down to a final rail corridor of 45-60 metres wide. Community and stakeholder consultations are forming part of the refinement process.

Winder indicated that landowners had so far welcomed the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them, including the design of the project in relation to individual properties, and planned studies such as geotechnical investigations, environmental surveys, social impact assessments and noise monitoring.

“We see input from landowners and communities as critical in shaping the design of Inland Rail,” he said.

“This means we are listening carefully and we are highly aware of the need to understand more about individual requirements, as well as community issues and local opportunities.

“This consultation process forms part of gaining that in-depth understanding which we take very seriously, applying a unique, highly tailored approach.”

Carmichael boss hits back at ‘loudest voices’

Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj has labelled critics of the Carmichael coal mine the vocal minority, and has reinforced the company’s determination to mine the Galilee, despite recent setbacks.

The Townsville-based mining boss this week promoted the part Adani plays in electrifying parts of the developing world, saying the Indian energy giant was “at the front line helping to solve these global dilemmas”.

“The Carmichael project is linked to unstoppable growth that has the potential to benefit Australians by creating jobs for families, opportunities for local businesses and billions of dollars in royalties to fund schools, roads and hospitals for years to come,” Janakaraj wrote in a Monday op-ed in the Financial Review.

“Australia’s prosperity has been built on investment in industries that create jobs … made possible by a framework of legislation, regulation and a robust legal system all backed by a reliance on fact and science,” he said.

“I hope Australia chooses to continue on this path rather than on a new path wherein the loudest voices dictate public policy without regard to fact, consistency and robust governance processes.”

Adani recently parted ways with Downer on the staged development of the 60 million tonne per annum thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin, saying it would serve as an owner-operator moving forward.

This came as the Queensland Government vetoed any federal funding for a key rail line to connect the mine to export facilities at Abbot Point, 388 kilometres away.

The project has also faced significant opposition from environmental groups, concerned over the impact of more coal exports on the Great Barrier Reef, and the contribution of the project to global emissions.

But Janakaraj says much of the criticism ignores the progress already made on Carmichael.

“The claims against the project are numerous. Each has been disproved by scientific studies, by experts and in court challenges,” he wrote.

“Yet false information is recycled and gets traction in public discourse. Much commentary ignores the 112 approvals granted, the studies that supported them and the many environmental conditions the project must, rightly, comply with.”

Pointing to figures from the International Energy Agency suggesting power from coal generation will increase 250% to 2040, Janakaraj said Adani was playing a part in helping people emerge from poverty.

“Only a generation ago they washed in a river, walked everywhere and cooked on fuel stoves, now many have motorbikes, mobile phones and are treated in clinics with basic equipment when they are sick,” he wrote.

“By 2040, India’s share of global energy use will be 11%. The population numbers 1.3 billion; in these people’s lifetimes, India and their standard of living will transform.”

Adani has recently lost the support of Labor at both the state and federal levels: After promoting the potential of the mine for regional jobs prior to the state election last November, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk decided to veto federal rail funding for the project.

And Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten last month said a Labor Government would not support the coal mine – but said it would stop short at tearing up existing contracts if it came to power.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week criticised the Opposition leader for pulling back his support for the mine.

“[Shorten’s comments] represent a genuine sovereign risk that will ultimately cost jobs and investment,” Turnbull said in Sydney on March 7.

“What Bill Shorten is doing is not just threatening that project, he’s threatening every other project and he’s threatening future projects. It will have a shocking, chilling effect on jobs and investment in Australia.”

Freight services resume on cyclone-damaged section on Main North Line

Freight rail trains are now running again on the Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch, after the completion of repair works following the damage caused by Cyclone Gita in late February.

Heavy rainfall – exceeding 200mm over 18 hours in some areas – caused approximately 300,000 cubic metres of material spreading across 60 sites between Parnassus and Clarence in landslips, leading to the shutdown of both the rail line and the state highway.

According to KiwiRail, sections of track repaired after the damage wreaked by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 had fared better than others.

“Overall, we were very pleased to see that areas were work had already been completed stood up very well, and we have been able to largely restore the track to the same condition it was prior to the storm,” KiwiRail’s group general manager Todd Moyle said.

Much of the works carried out by KiwiRail and NCTIR teams focused on clearing the large debris flows, while the shutdown also allowed for other planned work to be brought forward. For instance, one of the temporary bridges, which had been installed to enable the early re-opening last September has now been replaced with a new permanent structure.

“This is a great outcome as it will help improve running time of trains and closes out another major damage site from the original earthquake,” Moyle said.

“Looking ahead, our teams will continue to focus on works that improve the reliability of the line and reduce transit times, so we can better support our customers and resume pre-earthquake levels of operations as soon as possible.”

Turnbull prods at Labor’s ‘two-faced’ Adani approach

Labor backbenchers are reportedly asking Bill Shorten to wind back his criticism of the Carmichael coal mine, after the Opposition leader said he was “increasingly sceptical” of the proposed $16 billion project this week.

Shorten appeared in South Australia on Tuesday to support Premier Jay Weatherill ahead of the state election later this month.

Asked by media members to clarify his position on the proposed mega-mine, Shorten said his views were clear: he does not support it, but will not tear up contracts or overturn approvals if Labor comes to power.

“I have made it clear that I am a sceptic and increasingly sceptical of the Adani proposal,” the Opposition leader said.

“Labor has said since the last federal election that, if it doesn’t stack up commercially or environmentally, this project shouldn’t go ahead. Labor said at the last federal election that we wouldn’t provide taxpayer funds … I am not a fan of it.”

The risk of damaging Australia’s image for future foreign investment, or opening the government up to compensation claims, would be too high to cancel contracts if they eventuate, Shorten said however.

“The reason why I won’t do that is because I don’t want to expose taxpayers in the future to billions of dollars in compensation claims,” he said.

The statement comes after Labor was attacked by the Coalition and the Greens for having a “duplicitous” position on the mine.

Labor has promoted the potential value of the mine to jobseekers in major regional Queensland seats – at both the federal and state levels.

Cathy O’Toole, who won the seat of Herbert for Labor in 2016 by a narrow margin, has reportedly said she still supports Adani. “We have never taken kindly to people in the south telling us what we can and can’t do,” O’Toole was quoted by the AFR.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday labelled Shorten’s approach to Adani as “two-faced”.

Speaking at the AFR Business Summit in Sydney, Turnbull said regardless of his promises not to tear up contracts, Shorten’s position represented a “genuine sovereign risk” that was bigger than just the Carmichael project.

“Comments from our opponents, the Labor Party, and Mr Shorten in particular over the past few days represent a genuine sovereign risk that will ultimately cost jobs and investment,” the PM said.

“What Bill Shorten is doing is not just threatening the project, he’s threatening every other project and he’s threatening future projects. It will have a shocking, chilling effect on jobs and investment in Australia.”

Changes made following Parra Light Rail EIS submissions

Feedback on the environmental impact statement (EIS) for stage one of the proposed Parramatta light rail project has been reviewed by Transport for NSW (TfNSW), with the authority making several changes to the project in response.

The EIS for the project was released for public display between 23 August and 23 October last year, during which government agencies, stakeholders, and members of the community were able to make submissions to NSW’s Department of Planning and Environment.

The proposed light rail corridor – expected to open in 2023 – is to connect Westmead and Carlingford via Parramatta CBD and Camellia with a 12km two-way track, with both on-street and dedicated corridor alignment.

The road network will be altered to accommodate the project, while sections of the existing T6 Carlingford Line heavy rail corridor and Sandown Line for will be converted for use as dedicated light rail corridors.

Interchanges with existing rail and bus facilities will be constructed at Westmead, Parramatta CBD, and Carlingford, while a stabling and maintenance facility has been proposed for Camellia.

A total of 156 submissions were received during the EIS display period – 15 from government agencies and other key stakeholders, and 141 from the community (including businesses and special interest groups).

TfNSW’s report indicates that among the issues most frequently raised were around traffic transport and access, project design (including project alternatives), and concerns about socio-economic and business impacts, and the project’s heritage, environmental impacts, including concerns about noise, vibration and dust during construction.

According to the report, 11 design changes have been made to the Parramatta light rail project in response to the submissions and further design investigations have been carried out. Changes include alteration of road networks (to improve traffic flow in the broader network during construction and during the future operation of the light rail line), the reallocation of the proposed Prince Alfred Square stop (to reduce impact of the project on Alfred Square park), changes to the design of the Dundas stop to improve its integration with existing heritage structures, and the provision of better pedestrian and cyclist connection points for stops.

Following consultation with Sydney Trains, TfNSW has decided that the decommission the Carlingford Line will include the removal of the existing overhead rail systems and a section of the tracks within the existing Carlingford Line corridor between the proposed Camellia stop and Parramatta Road, and that, following the completion of works, the section will be returned to RailCorp. This change, the report indicates, has been made to improve worker safety during the project’s construction phase.

Other changes, or “clarifications”, include some reductions in the number of partial or whole property acquisitions required for the construction of the project.

The Department of Planning and Environment will now review the report compiled by TfNSW and produce a draft assessment, which may possibly include recommendations on approval conditions. Following this, the Minister for Planning will determine whether the project is to be granted approval. Upon approval by the minister, TfNSW will continue consultation with community members, government agencies and stakeholders during further stages of the project.