Guildford Station Dean Nalder - Photo Google Maps WA Parliament

Tender awarded for $2.9m Guildford parking makeover

WA transport minister Dean Nalder has named a contractor to build an additional 350 parking bays at Guildford Station on Perth’s Midland Line.

Perth-based construction firm Jaxon Civil will handle the expansion.

“These extra parking bays will make public transport an even more attractive option for the residents of Guildford and surrounds,” Nalder said on Tuesday.

“Now that the tender has been awarded, the project can kick into high gear and be completed later this year.”

Guildford currently has 118 car spaces. The addition of 350 by Jaxon Civil will expand that to 468. The new bays will be built on an unsealed area near the existing car park.

The $2.9 million expansion will begin in early May.

“Adding parking bays and making public transport an even more attractive option is just one of the ways this government is improving the transport network,” Nalder said.

According to the minister’s figures, the state has added more than 5000 parking bays to the Transperth network since the 2008 election.


Adam Giles rail line - photo Google Earth NT Government

Territory Government explores new 600km rail link

The Northern Territory Government will invest $1 million to investigate the feasibility of a 600km rail line connecting Mount Isa, in Central Queensland, to the Adelaide-Darwin line at Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory.

Chief minister Adam Giles late last week announced the NT’s 2015 Budget includes a $1 million fund to spend over two years into feasibility studies for the potential new rail project.

“Budget 2015 invests heavily in infrastructure for the Territory’s future,” Giles said.

“A new 600km rail project linking these two centres has the potential to provide enormous economic opportunities, particularly in the resources industry.”

The project would provide a standard gauge rail link to the Port of Darwin from north western Queensland via the Adelaide-Darwin railway, at the same time as opening up access to a broad new area of the NT, Giles said.

“Previous investigations indicated a number of mining companies in the Mt Isa area had an interest in shifting their exports of bulk materials through the Port of Darwin, instead of Townsville, if the cost of transport was right.”

Exporting minerals through Darwin could also alleviate shipping pressures in Far North Queensland, the chief minister added.

“Linking northern and eastern markets would provide incentives to explorers and producers to invest in the NT, creating jobs and driving money into the economy,” Giles said.

The Department of Defence has also reportedly expressed strong interest in the project.

“We’re investing $1 million to investigate the possible corridor acquisition and construction of the rail spur. This business case is expected to take two years to complete,” Giles said.

“This is a project of national significance and the Australian Government will be asked to match this funding in line with its commitment to developing the North.”

The corridor has the potential to include a railway link, pipelines and telecommunications infrastructure, Giles said, explaining there are significant potential cost savings by focusing on a multi-purpose corridor rather treating these as individual projects.

“The proposed link may also provide the opportunity for a new rail experience for tourists if it could connect with existing passenger rail services such as ‘The Inlander’ in Queensland and ‘The Ghan’ here in the Territory,” he said.

“This would be a long term project with a price tag in excess of a billion dollars, but its benefits would be exponential to the Territory and I’m keen to explore whether it’s economically viable.”

If an initial business case proves positive, detailed environmental impact studies, geotechnical investigations, engineering design, sacred sites and heritage clearances would need to be done to refine the project, costings and construction plan.

Yarra Trams Clement Michel - Photo Yarra Trams

Know your accountabilities: The Yarra Trams safety journey

Yarra Trams chief executive Clément Michel insists accountability and strong employee-manager relationships are crucial to ensuring a safe transport network.

Michel, who was appointed chief operating officer at Keolis Downer (Victoria) Yarra Trams in 2009, before transitioning to chief executive in February 2013, spoke in late March at the Rail Safety 2015 Conference in Melbourne, organised by RISSB and Informa.

In 1988, an SNCF commuter service crashed into a stationary outbound train at the Gare de Lyon rail terminal in Paris, killing more than 50 people and injuring just as many.

Despite not joining the staff at Paris-Gare de Lyon until 2000, Michel recalled that he couldn’t help but feel a sense of responsibility when his predecessor showed him a box full of press materials, pictures, and news clippings about the incident, several years later.

From then on, Michel said, he has been inspired to instil a sense of accountability to his staff, to make them feel accountable to their organisation, and to its customers.

You can engineer a risk out only if you have somebody accountable to engineer it out. That is the transformation journey. – Clément Michel

Michel believes that in an ideal safety culture, people will consistently reflect, not to simply feel responsible for their actions, but to “feel accountable, and therefore be driven to act”.

During his presentation at the Melbourne gathering, Michel said at the heart of the issue lies employee-manager relationships.

Regardless of how many new structures and programs are established, Michel said there will always exist a high percentage of non-compliance to rules, when at the core of the organisation, employee-manager relationships are crumbling.

In the world of franchising models, there are things managers and employees are both accountable for, he said, explaining that when both sides are aware of these accountabilities, it is easier to work around pertinent issues, like safety risks, customer interaction, punctuality, processes, and leadership.

Upon arrival at Yarra Trams, Michel said he moved quickly to fix the rules and train the staff. An excellent simulator was crucial for initial driver training, he said, adding that proper and continuous training can help enhance an employee’s innate skills and talents, preparing them to do better in their assigned tasks.

Michel stressed the importance of monitoring all work through automated completion processes and programs.

An automated system, similar to the one Yarra Trams is currently using, enables managers to observe how all the employees are performing, Michel explained.

Michel concluded with an outline of the most important aspects of improving safety in a transport organisation. He said:

  • Accountabilities should be initially laid out on the table
  • Structures on the key processes and leadership must be clearly established
  • The accountability metric system (accountability matrix) must be absolutely clear and fully understood by everyone in the organisation
  • All managers should be held fully accountable for their regular directive reports
  • Managers should be held accountable for the safe outcome and safety of their teams. and the safety of their teams

RISSB and Informa will team up again for the RISSB National Rail Turnouts Workshop, to be held in Sydney from May 27 to 28. Click here for more information.

Related story: When rail meets road: Making rams safer with Clement Michel, Yarra Trams

Parnell Station artists impression - Photo Auckland Transport

Work begins on Auckland’s newest train station

KiwiRail is working to engage contractors to complete design and refurbishment of the former Newmarket station building, before it is relocated to a new $18.9 million site at Parnell, where earthworks began midway through last week.

Auckland Transport (AT) said on April 22 that earthworks have officially started for the new Parnell train station.

Listed as highly desirable in the Regional Public Transport Plan 2013, Parnell is set to cost a total of $18.9 million once fully developed, but the first stage of development is listed at just $6 million.

The station, which will sit on Auckland’s Southern Line between Britomart and Newmarket, will be adjacent to Auckland Domain and Parnell Village.

According to AT, the station is expected to be a key enabler in the regeneration of Parnell, and will eventually service and integrate the local residential and commercial communities and surrounding areas of interest.

Area access will include the Domain, the Museum, Stanley Street and Beach Road, and through to the University of Auckland at a later project stage.

The board of AT approved the $6 million first stage in February. The work which started last week includes earthworks to allow the platform to be installed. These are planned for completion by August.

Meanwhile, KiwiRail is looking for contractors to complete the former Newmarket station building refurbishment. The plan is to then move that building to the Parnell station site.

A station at Parnell is forecast to be used by up to 2000 passengers during the morning peak with many of them heading to the nearby universities, AT said.

It will also be used by people attending events in the Domain and at the ASB Tennis Stadium, and by the Parnell community.

The new station will have two platforms, ticket machines and CCTV. Future stages may include an overbridge, lifts and enhanced access through the Domain, AT said.

“It’ll be a great additional to Parnell not only providing opportunities for local businesses but making it easier to live, work and play in the area,” commented Waitemata local board chairman Shale Chambers.

Melbourne Metro cutaway - Photo Victorian Government

Andrews commits $1.5bn to Melbourne Metro

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced next week’s state Budget will include a $1.5 billion commitment towards the planned Melbourne Metro Rail Project.

Andrews announced on Tuesday that the Budget, which is set to be announced next Tuesday, May 5, will include $1.5 billion for anticipated planning, design and significant early works for the project, which is expected to commence construction in 2018.

The funding also provides for land acquisition, preparations for the Expression of Interest and Request for Tender stages of the development, and significant early works such as tram rerouting and service relocations, the premier’s office said.

Once early works have been completed, a contract will be awarded for major construction of the tunnels needed for the rail link.

“Melbourne Metro Rail is the biggest public transport infrastructure project in Australia,” Andrews said, “and the biggest overhaul of our public transport system since the City Loop.”

Andrews was joined by minister for public transport Jacinta Allan, to make the announcement.

“To build underground tunnels, you need to know exactly what’s under the ground,” Allan said. “That’s what geotechnical testing is telling us.”

Allan and Andrews made the announcement from the project’s first geotechnical testing site since the project was last being prepared (before being cancelled), by the prior government.

140 boreholes will be drilled between South Kensington and South Yarra over the next few months. The testing, which will build on work done in previous efforts to deliver Melbourne Metro, will provide critical data about ground conditions and soil quality.

“Melbourne’s new underground rail network will move 20,000 extra people in peak hour,” Allan said. “The previous Liberal Government abandoned it, but Victoria needs it.”

The Andrews Government is developing the Melbourne Metro Rail Project instead of the East West Link tollroad project, which was kicked off by the previous government.

Andrews made national headlines earlier this month when he announced that the contractors signed on to deliver the East West Link had been dismissed at the cost of at least $339 million.

Just days after the formal cancellation of the road project, Andrews and Allan announced the preferred alignment of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, with twin 9km tunnels set to run under Swanston Street through the Melbourne CBD.

“Aligning Melbourne Metro with Swanston Street is better for passengers and taxpayers,” Andrews said at the time.

“Confirming the preferred alignment and not proceeding with the Liberals’ East West Link means we can get on with the project our state needs and the project our state voted for: Melbourne Metro Rail.”

rail damage - Transport NSW

Hunter coal network to open Wednesday afternoon

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has announced that the Hunter Valley coal rail network, which was closed by severe weather and flooding last week, will return to service early on Wednesday afternoon, April 29.

Heavy rain and wind last week left the ARTC’s Hunter and North Coast networks flooded and damaged, with the corporation announcing on Tuesday, April 21 that it had closed the rail lines.

An initial forecast for the Hunter network predicted a possible re-opening as early as last Friday, April 24. But flood waters were slow to recede, and the ARTC had to extend that forecast by at least 48 hours.

On Monday, April 27, the corporation announced that infrequent passenger services would resume in Hunter, but that operations on the Hunter coal rail network were still offline.

“We currently remain unable to operate beyond Maitland,” the track administrator said on Monday.

“Large sections of track are now visible through the water line and the local team has been able to continue repair and refurbishment of signalling and track equipment.

“There are still sections of track with high water levels around Wallis Creek Bridge, however initial inspections of the bridge structure have taken place and are positive.”

A day later, on Tuesday, April 28, the ARTC was able to confirm a forecasted re-opening of the Hunter coal rail line of “early tomorrow afternoon (29 April)”.

“ARTC is working closely with our customers and the Hunter coal chain on the operational start-up plan,” the corporation said.

“ARTC maintenance crews will continue to work through the week to return the track to normal operating conditions.”

The ARTC prepared residents for a noisy few days, saying the work would “involve heavy track repair machines working around-the-clock conducting track resurfacing and rail grinding”.

“This is essential to get the network back up and running and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

While the forecast will be welcomed by operators on the crucial Maitland-to-Newcastle line and the broader Hunter network, users on the ARTC’s interstate, North Coast track are in for a longer wait.

The North Coast network, which was crippled by fast-moving flood waters which removed huge sections of ballast, and landslides which in places completely covered the rail line, is still closed a week later.

“The mid North Coast track remains closed, however works have been progressing well,” the ARTC said. “A number of minor repair jobs have been completed.

“Focus remains on two major project sites around Tocal where geotechnical assessments have been completed and all-weather and alternative access roads are being prepared to allow for consistent supply of materials.”

AT Metro Photo Creative Commons PCUser42

Three companies short-listed for Auckland operator contract

Auckland Transport has announced the three companies which will compete for the tender to operate passenger rail services from July 1, 2016.

Serco NZ, Transdev Auckland and KiwiRail will compete for the next Auckland Transport passenger deal.

AT Metro general manager Mark Lambert on Friday said tender documents will be issued to the short-listed companies soon and the new rail contract will take effect when the existing contract expires.

Lambert said there was a high level of interest internationally when Auckland Transport sought Expressions of Interest.

He said the three shortlisted companies were selected after careful evaluation.

The new contract will be performance-based, and Lambert said it would reflect the “huge changes” in the Auckland passenger rail system since the current contract was put in place in 2003, with Transdev Auckland as its operator.

Since 2003, Auckland’s Metro rail service has been electrified, and modern electric trains will soon be operating on all lines. Stations have been upgraded, new stations have been built and the Western Line has been double-tracked.

Lambert noted the number of services has increased from 40,000 to 140,000 per annum since 2003, whil passenger boardings have passed a record 13 million a year and are climbing at record rates, with growth of 33% in March 2015 compared to the same month last year.

Annual growth for the March year was 21%, he noted.

More information on the short-listed companies, via Auckland Transport:

  • Serco NZ is the New Zealand arm of the British Serco PLC, an international service company working in a variety of sectors including transport, health and corrections. Internationally, Serco’s rail operations include the MerseyRail and Northern Rail operations in the UK and the Dubai Metro in the United Arab Emirates. Serco delivers services to central and local governments in New Zealand and Australia with over 9,000 staff across the region and 600 based in Auckland.
  • Transdev Auckland is part of the Transdev Group, one of the world’s largest private passenger transport companies. The Group, whose head office is based in France, operate light and heavy rail services in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia. Transdev has been operating the Auckland Metro rail services since 2003.
  • New Zealand Government-owned KiwiRail owns and manages the national railway network. It operates freight and passenger rail services throughout New Zealand, including the Tranz Metro commuter rail operation in Wellington, which provides 2,200 services each week.
Lift upgrade at Joondalup Station - Photo PTA WA

Joondalup lift upgrade part of 6-station, $7.1m plan

The Public Transport Authority of WA has completed a major lift upgrade at Joondalup Station, as part of a $7.1m plan to upgrade 20-year-old facilities at six Perth stations.

WA transport minister Dean Nalder earlier this month announced the completion of the lift replacement at Joondalup, which began in January and was completed inside its three-month timeline.

The new, bigger lift can accommodate two large wheelchairs at a time, Nalder said.

“I accept the temporary closure of the lift created difficulty for some passengers,” Nalder said. “This has been undertaken with the very best of intentions so that the lift is reliable in the long-term.”

“A growing number of people rely on public transport and for passengers with accessibility challenges, our rail and bus systems are incredibly important. So we must ensure our facilities are accessible and operational.”

The project team removed the lift and built a new steel structure within the operating train station. To reduce the impact on passengers, the project was shortened from four months to three.

The works are part of a $7.1 million project to replace lifts and escalators at the following stations:

  • Warwick
  • Joondalup
  • Whitfords
  • Stirling
  • Glendalough
  • Perth Station (some facilities, not all)

“I understand that passengers with mobility issues, or prams and young children may have had to change their travel plans due to these works,” Nalder concluded, “but I believe it will improve their journeys on the Transperth system in the long term.”

Flooding Transport NSW Info

Social networks play a big role during NSW storms

NSW transport minister Andrew Constance says public transport customers and road users turned frequently to social media for updates throughout last week’s extreme weather.

Constance on Friday said Transport for NSW’s trip planning websites and social media handles received record traffic during last week’s storms, which caused multiple disruptions across the rail network, and on roads.

“I thank public transport customers and road users for their patience with network interruptions,” Constance said.

“The challenge facing transport and road operators was greatly assisted by customers avoiding unnecessary travel and timing their essential journeys to take pressure off traditional peak periods.

“We appealed to public transport customers and drivers to turn to our websites and social media tools to find the latest service updates and they responded in record numbers.

“Websites were constantly updated around the clock with disruption information and links to these alerts were shared on social media in a coordinated way to give customers easy access to information in the channels they use.”

Trip planning site had 250,000 users visit the site over a 48 hour period – nearly double the normal number of visitors.

Meanwhile the Live Traffic NSW website and mobile apps had more than 482,000 visitors, about 20 times greater than usual.

The key benefit of social media, Constance said, was customers were able to play a crucial role by sharing with their networks Transport’s Twitter and Facebook content for roads and public transport during the storm.

2.2 million people saw or shared information about the storm on Transport for NSW’s Facebook page. 600,000 people saw or shared updates about flooded roads on the Live Traffic NSW Facebook page.

On Twitter, posts from Transport for NSW’s various network accounts regarding disruption information were seen millions of times thanks to more than 4,500 retweets in 48 hours, Constance said.

Tweets last Thursday, during the flooding at Bardwell Park, from the @T2SydneyTrains Twitter handle were seen about 174,000 times.

Tweets on the day of the track damage at Dungog from the @TrainLinkNorth Twitter handle were seen about 375,000 times.

“We have listened to customers about the way they want to receive journey information and increasingly they want that through mobile-optimised websites, apps for their mobile devices and social media,” Constance said.

“We now have apps on the market or in development for public transport, road conditions, public transport fares and accessibility.

“The way customers turned to our websites and social media during the storms to get where they needed to go shows just how great the appetite is for these services.”

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Hunter Valley network on track; North Coast remains closed

The Australian Rail Track Corporation is still unable to operate serviced beyond Maitland, but main line operations for local passenger trains have returned to the Hunter network since it was closed last week due to flooding.

The ARTC said on Sunday night that the Hunter Valley network should be opened by Monday morning, but confirmed that the North Coast line would remain closed.

Following flooding and high winds last week, the ARTC shut the Hunter Valley network between Maitland and the Port of Newcastle, along with its North Coast network.

Initially the authority believed it could re-open the Hunter network on Friday last week, but flood waters were slow to retreat, and the ARTC announced a further closer to the Hunter network of 48 hours.

The ARTC said on Monday that it would be able to give a forecast for return to services between Maitland and the port sometime on Tuesday afternoon.

“With flood waters dropping over the weekend and improved weather conditions, ARTC teams have been able to make good progress with repairs to the track between the Port of Newcastle and Maitland,” the ARTC said.

A Pacific National test train was run on the track to de-scale the rail and ensure all repaired signaling and track circuitry was working properly.

“The Maitland flood gates remain up but water has been dropping at a rate that we expect the gates to be removed tomorrow morning,” the ARTC said.

“There are still sections of track with high water levels around Wallis Creek, and this will be the key area of focus for our team after the flood gates come down.

“Some parts of the network are still without power, and there remains a sizeable track repair and signalling repair job to take place over coming days.”

The ARTC said crews will continue to work through the week to return the track to normal operating conditions.

“Residents are advised that this will involve heavy track repair machines working around-the-clock conducting track resurfacing and rail grinding.

“This is essential to get the network back up and running and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

The corporation said it will continue to work with customers and the Hunter coal chain on an operational start up plan for coal, passenger and general freight that will take into account the need to meet passenger timetables, provide coal customers with access to the port, “and above all, safety”.

The North Coast network, which sustained substantial damage during last week’s extreme weather – including severe ballast washouts and several landslips – remains closed, with no forecast for re-opening yet offered by the ARTC.