Melbourne Tram

PTV chair steps down

Public Transport Victoria chairman Ian Dobbs has told premier Daniel Andrews he will not be returning to his post at the end of his current term on June 30.

Andrews announced on Friday that Dobbs had informed him he would step down.

“Earlier today Ian Dobbs advised me that he would not be seeking another term as Chair of the Public Transport Victoria Board,” Andrews said on Friday, April 24.

“Ian has had a long and decorated career in public transport, both here and overseas.

“As inaugural chair and chief executive officer of PTV, he was a strong advocate for better public transport for Victoria.”

Andrews said Dobbs’ work will be continued through ongoing projects, including the much-talked-about Melbourne Metro Rail, the Level Crossing Removal Project and a number of other PTV projects.

“On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank Ian for his significant contribution to Victoria over many years and wish him all the best for the future,” Andrews concluded.

Dobbs was named inaugural chief executive and chairman when PTV was founded in April 2012. As per legislation, Dobbs handed the role of chief executive over to Mark Wild on February 1, 2014.

Before taking up his role at PTV, Dobbs led the former Victorian Public Transport Corporation from 1993 to 1998.

Sydney Train

Collins: Customer experience will drive patronage

Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins is set to speak at this year’s New Zealand Rail conference in Wellington. He sat down with Informa Transport to discuss Sydney Trains, the future, and the role rail can play in growing cities.

Howard, tell us a little about your background and how you came to your role at Sydney Trains.

I started as chief executive in the new organisation Sydney Trains in July 2013.

Previously I held the position of chief operating officer of the London Underground, having had a 35-year career with London transport, from front-line roles to major projects.

I also held part-time appointments with the British Transport Police, Pension Fund Trustee and London Transport – Heritage.

The theme of the conference this year is “Rail as the driving force behind economic growth”. What do you think this means for New Zealand?

We know that rail can be a driver of economic growth and productivity as it is an efficient and economical way to move people and freight.

Rail can also generate growth by facilitating new development and allowing access to markets – essentially improving the connectivity and accessibility of people to other people, opportunities, goods and services.

It’s all about “mobility”. I have seen many global cities and countries transform their “mobility” through sustained rail investment.

What are the major concerns for Sydney Trains this year and looking forward to 2016?

Our goal is to keep Sydney moving and our customers are at the centre of everything we do. We are focused on customer satisfaction, reducing travel times, improving punctuality and all the things that will help improve the customer experience and grow patronage.

In less than two years, customer satisfaction has improved 10% to 88%, so we know our customers are happier with safety, cleanliness, journey times, air-conditioning and improved connections.

Looking forward my concern is to maintain this trajectory of improved performance and to continue to adapt our organisation to meet the needs of our customers.

We are also making changes which will accommodate future passenger growth and ready our network for the not too distant future when new railways feed into the existing network.

In addition, whether we are in the public or private sector, creating greater efficiencies by reducing costs and improving revenue streams, are a key focus going forward.

What interested you in the conference?

The rail conference is the annual and primary forum for the rail industry to focus on the development and growth of rail operations.

Being held in New Zealand this year it is an opportune source of directly engaging with stakeholders such as rail industry leaders from Australia and New Zealand, government agencies (i.e. NZ Transport Agency and, NZ Ministry of Transport), rail customers and wider transport participants such as construction companies and major engineering project consultants.

New Zealand Rail will take place in Wellington, New Zealand, from June 4 to 5. Key speakers include:

  • The Hon Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport
  • Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland
  • Howard Collins, CEO, Sydney Trains
  • Peter Reidy, CEO, KiwiRail
  • Bryan Nye, CEO, ARA
  • Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Council
  • Philip Chalk, Director Asset Management & Maintenance, ANZ, Network Rail
  • Megan Drayton, Foundation Manager, TrackSAFE
  • Simon Wood, Associate Director, AECOM
  • Brent Efford, NZ Agent, Light Rail Transit Association
  • Anthony Eid, Operations Director, Sydney Trains
  • Noel Burton, Head Engineering NZ, Siemens Rail Automation
  • Ken Shirley, CEO, Road Transport Forum

View the full agenda and more information here.

Bendigo Railway Station - WikiSandbox1

Vic begins consultations for Bendigo Metro Rail

The Victorian Government will next week begin community consultation on the Bendigo Metro Rail project, aimed at bringing a commuter service for Bendigo residents.

Minister for public transport, and member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, said the government would look to gather feedback from Bendigo and surrounding communities on the project.

Through Bendigo Metro, the Andrews Government says it will deliver a commuter train service for Bendigo with increased services running from Epsom, Eaglehawk and Kangaroo Flat to Bendigo.

Feedback gathered from the community will help to inform a recommendations report, which will be prepared by the project’s Community Consultative Taskforce and Technical Working Group.

Chaired by local Labor MP Maree Edwards, the Community Consultative Taskforce will provide recommendations on likely demand for the service, service frequency, coordination with buses, infrastructure requirements and promotion of new services.

The government has set up community drop-in sessions for the project to be held at Eaglehawk on April 30, Epsom on May 2, Kangaroo Flat on May 16 and Bendigo on May 20.

The submission period is open until May 31. A recommendations report is expected by June 30.

Allan on Thursday also announced a second round of consultation on the Bendigo bus network – which is intended to complement the rail project.

“Community consultation on Bendigo Metro Rail will provide an opportunity for locals and those who will use the service to have their say,” Allan said.

“It is vital that the Community Consultative Taskforce works with Bendigo and the surrounding communities to find out how the service can best suit their needs.”

Maree Edwards added: “Bendigo needs an improved public transport system to support our growing city and allow people living in the regions to easily access Bendigo’s CBD.

“I look forward to hearing from the community over the coming weeks to find out what they want out of this project.”

Moreton Bay Queensland Government

ARA backs Queensland in federal funding fight

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye has backed Queensland transport minister Jackie Trad’s call for federal funding of urban rail, calling the Moreton Bay Rail line “symbolic” of a better time.

Trad on Wednesday inspected the first train lines being placed down on the $1 billion project, and used the occasion to tell the media she was campaigning for the federal government to alter its stoic stance against urban rail funding – and would continue to do so.

Nye welcomed the project milestone, but said the Moreton Bay project was more significant to the rail industry than that.

“The construction of this rail line is symbolic, because it represents more than just decreased city congestion, efficient public transport services and a safer way to travel,” Nye said on Thursday.

“It represents a time when the federal government worked with the states to build the infrastructure this country needs, which is on the railway networks of our biggest cities.”

The Moreton Bay Rail Link was funded $583 million by the federal government, $300 million by the Queensland government, and $105 million by the local council.

Once complete, the new infrastructure will connect Lawnton to Kippa-Ring via 14km of double track, including six new stations and 22 bridge structures to provide grade separation of road and rail.

“Australia as a nation is facing increasingly serious economic, social and environmental problems with traffic congestion clogging our roads, transport emissions choking our urban environment, higher cost of living and the continued growth of our major cities,” Nye continued.

“What is needed is investment in an integrated transport system that links our roads, rail and ports to help move the growing numbers of people and goods across Australia.”

Nye said the ARA hopes to continue to work with all levels on government in ensuring that the right infrastructure choices are made for rail.

“State governments cannot be expected to foot the bill for the increasing passenger rail infrastructure needed in our cities,” he said.

“It is through the collaborative efforts of governments on key infrastructure projects, like the Moreton Bay Rail Line, that true potential for rail and other key infrastructure projects can be realised.”

Fairfield line - WA PTA

Perth’s $2bn rail link a step closer

WA transport minister Dean Nalder says new legislation will enable the development of the Forrestfield-Airport Link, with a construction contract award now expected midway through next year.

Enabling legislation for the project, titled Railway (Forrestfield-Airport Link) Bill 2015, was introduced to WA Parliament this week.

“The Liberal National Government is pleased to be delivering this important new public transport corridor to the people of Perth,” Nalder said.

The Forrestfield-Airport Line is a $2bn project to build an 8.5km rail spur from the Midland Line out to Forrestfield via Belmont and Perth Airport.

The new rail line will run underground for 8kms in twin-bored tunnels beneath the Swan River and the airport, a move Nalder says will significantly reduce impacts on the local community and the environment.

If all goes according to plan, Nalder expects a construction contract to be awarded by mid-2016. Under that timeline, first trains are expected to run in 2020.

“Linking our eastern suburbs and Perth Airport to the CBD is a critical part of the Government’s plan to future-proof the city by providing increased access to public transport,” Nalder said on Wednesday.

The new connection will feature three new stations, including a bus-train interchange station at Airport West (Belmont), a second station at Consolidated Airport (near the current international terminal) and a bus-train interchange station on Dundas Road in Forrestfield.

Nalder said progress on the project was already being made behind the scenes.

“Fieldwork for initial geotechnical studies along the route of the underground rail line is now complete and this information will now be analysed,” Nalder said.

“The Public Transport Authority recently received five responses of Expressions of Interest for the design and construction of the new rail line, and an evaluation of these is well under way.”

 

rail damage - Transport NSW

Hunter network to remain closed; North Coast significantly damaged

After it originally thought it could re-open its Hunter Valley network as early as Thursday afternoon, the Australian Rail Track Corporation has announced the network will remain closed for at least 48 hours longer.

Re-opening of the ARTC’s North Coast network looks to be even further away, with significant damage recorded and crews scrambling just to get a grip on just how much repair work is needed.

The ARTC said on Wednesday night the Hunter Valley coal network was expected to re-open on Thursday afternoon, but warned that “the reopening [of the Hunter Valley network] remains contingent on improved weather conditions and receding water levels which continue to hamper repair works.”

It appears that those conditions did not improve for the ARTC overnight.

Due to high flood waters, the Maitland flood gates being closed and continued difficult conditions, the forecast for a return of Hunter Valley operations was revised on Thursday around noon, with a re-opening pushed back “an additional 48 hours at the earliest.”

The ARTC closed the Hunter and North Coast networks on Monday, due to  extreme weather and flooding in the region.

With the extended difficult conditions, the Hunter Valley network will remain closed now, meaning Hunter coal train, freight and passenger services remain suspended.

Re-opening of the North Coast network, which suffered major damage to its ballast at various points, looks to be even further away, however.

“The ARTC network along the mid-North Coast around Dungog remains closed and there is no current forecast for re-opening,” ARTC said on Wednesday.

“Initial track inspections indicate more than 18 sites have experienced significant washaways or landslips and each will require significant reinstatement works.”

ARTC confirmed on Thursday that its crews have now identified 22 work sites along the line, which require “significant repair works,” with “a large amount of track underwater”.

In one of those landslip sites, the ARTC said, a large embankment, approximately 8m high and 75m in length, washed out and across the rail line.

“The high water has compounded the response task and 14km of track between Paterson and Telarah is either under water or still unable to be inspected due to flooding and access being closed off (both on foot and by road),” the ARTC said.

“Given the nature and the extent of the damage ARTC is mobilising a dedicated project team to coordinate the repair and recovery efforts required. Project planning and sourcing equipment, material, supplies and other resources is underway.”

The ARTC said the damage to the rail line is believed to be worse than that of the 2007 floods in the same region.

“The scale of the response and high water levels mean ARTC is unable to provide a forecast for a return to operations for this section of the network.”

flooding photo transport for nsw

Transport NSW Info shares more flooding images, video

Transport NSW Info again utilised social media on Wednesday to convey to its customers the extent of the interruptions which caused delays across the greater Sydney and northern NSW transport network.

The Facebook page for Transport NSW Info has seen a more than 300% increase in it’s followers in the past week, and the public transport authority has used its new reach to share videos and photos of the flooding across the transport network.

Around noon on Wednesday the authority shared the following.

Flooding at Bardwell Park has caused the partial closure of the T2 Airport Line between Turrella and Revesby. A limited…

Posted by Transport NSW Info on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

And later in the day, Transport NSW Info shared an incredible video showing a 45 minute period in which Bardwell Park Station was surrounded by flood water, garnering more than 5,000 ‘likes’ and half-a-million views in just four hours.

This timelapse CCTV footage from Bardwell Park Station captures flood waters rising over 45 minutes, forcing the partial…

Posted by Transport NSW Info on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rolling delays and closures have occurred on the NSW and Sydney rail networks this week due to extreme weather impacting the state’s east coast.

Moreton Bay Rail Link - Queensland Government

Moreton Bay link a case for federal funding

Queensland deputy premier and minister for transport Jackie Trad says the Moreton Bay Rail Link, which is nearing completion, is a good example of why the federal government should take part in urban rail funding.

The $988 million Moreton Bay Rail Link, which was jointly funded by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and the Moreton Bay Regional Council, is on track to be completed by the end of 2016, after construction began in 2012.

Once complete, the new infrastructure will connect Lawnton to Kippa-Ring via 14km of double track, including six new stations and 22 bridge structures to provide grade separation of road and rail.

“Moreton Bay Rail will revolutionise public transport in the area, providing a reliable and fast alternative to driving to the Brisbane central business district that is expected to result in travel time savings of up to 15 minutes during peak periods,” Trad said in a release on Wednesday.

“The project will provide a huge economic injection to one of South East Queensland’s fastest-growing regions, helping to attract investment to the area, create business opportunities, and encourage growth along the corridor, with new train stations set to emerge as hubs of development.”

The Moreton Bay Rail Link was funded $583 million by the federal government, $300 million by the Queensland government, and $105 million by the local council.

Such funding from the federal level is officially a thing of the past, however, with the Abbott Government’s much-publicised refusal to fund urban rail transport projects.

But according to Fairfax, the Queensland government plans to use the Moreton Bay project as a case study to campaign for the continuation of funding from the federal level for urban rail projects.

Trad reportedly argued the case on Wednesday at a public inspection of the development, saying she met with Abbott’s assistant minister for infrastructure Jamie Briggs on Tuesday.

“We had a very constructive conversation,” Trad was quoted as saying, “but once again I made it very clear that Queensland is very, very interested in the federal government changing its position on funding public transport infrastructure projects.

“We know that infrastructure projects like this – like the Moreton Bay Rail Link – which will provide public transport options for people in the Redcliffe Peninsula is critical.

“We also know that there are a number of other public transport infrastructure projects that the south-east corner desperately needs,” she reportedly added.

“And we are very happy to keep working with the federal government and hopefully get them to change their minds in relation to funding public transport infrastructure.”

Moreton Bay Regional Council mayor Allan Sutherland said on Wednesday the rail link is the region’s biggest public infrastructure project in more than a generation.

“This is an historic milestone,” Sutherland said. “With 15% of the Moreton Bay Rail project’s tracks already laid, there is no denying this line isn’t just coming, it’s already here.”

Sutherland’s not precisely right – the line is on track to be finished later next year. It will connect to the main North Coast rail line at Petrie.

Sound Transit route option

Seattle asks customers to ‘build their route’ for light rail extension

Public transport planner and operator Sound Transit has set up an interactive website asking customers to build their own proposed route for a light rail extension south of Seattle, in north-west USA.

Sound Transit plans, builds and operates express bus, light rail and commuter train services in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties – an area which covers the city of Seattle and its surrounding areas.

The Federal Way Link Extension is a proposed expansion of the regional light rail system from SeaTac, south of the city’s centre, roughly 16km further south to Federal Way.

The project would begin at the in-development Angle Lake station, which is expected to be opened in 2016, and would continue to Federal Way via three new stations.

Sound Transit recently released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion, which features a number of options for the specific locations of stations, and the alignment of track below, on, or above ground along the route.

And to decide on those specifics, the project proponent has turned to the public.

“This Draft EIS evaluates several build (light rail) alternatives and a No Build alternative, which considers how the transportation system would operate if the proposed project were not built,” Sound Transit said.

“The light rail alternatives include at-grade, trench and elevated light rail alignments with different station configurations. Four alternatives are evaluated, each with between four and nine station or alignment options.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8LIqLif2hU

Sound Transit has set up the website federalwaylink.org, where customers can go and review the options, before submitting their comments to the EIS.

After inputting their preferred route and station locations, users are given a summary of the projected cost, travel time and capacity of their chosen option.

Sound Transit encouraged customers to “use this tool to select route and station options to understand the various impacts”.

“This interactive tool provides a sample of the potential options,” Sound Transit added, before encouraging customers to read the Draft EIS for more information.

Photo: Auckland Transport

Auckland a ‘phenomenal’ city for rail growth, says mayor

Auckland mayor Len Brown is set to speak at this year’s New Zealand Rail conference in Wellington. He sat down with Informa Transport to discuss Auckland, its future, and the role rail can play.

Len, the theme of the conference this year is “Rail as the driving force behind economic growth”. What do you think this means for New Zealand?

LEN BROWN: There is much economic, social and environmental upside to rail. It gets heavy freight off highways and urban commuters off urban roads – these have real economic value.

It’s long been understood that heavy freight causes almost all the wear and tear on our road network. Getting trucks off roads saves government and councils considerable sums of money and provides financial returns to the high-fixed-cost rail sector. Getting commuters off the road reduces the economic losses to road congestion. In Auckland losses to congestion cost the regional economy many hundreds of millions each year.

What are the major concerns for the industry this year and looking forward to 2016, particularly in Auckland?

Auckland has phenomenal growth in passenger rail transport. It is currently running at 21% per year and that rate is accelerating. That’s good for commuters – they’re voting with their feet – and it’s good for motorists because it removes congestion and it’s good for the environment.

With the purchase of Auckland’s 57 electric multiple unit trains, we have sorted capacity, efficiency and environmental issues in our rolling stock. We now need to get the constraints out of the network.

Currently Britomart can only handle 20 trains an hour. We have already hit that constraint in our daily peaks. Britomart will hit its people handling capacity in 2018 – we will literally run out of escalator capacity and floor space.

Building the City Rail Link fixes both these problems, allowing trains to pass through instead of having to reverse out, and 40% of passengers who would have to use Britomart will choose to use the new Aotea station on the CRL. It will also give commuters large chunks of their day back – commuters from west Auckland will see up to 50 minutes a day reduction in commuting times.

What will you be discussing at the conference?

Primarily a “transport accord” between the Government and Auckland.

Auckland has several unique features. Its population grows by the equivalent of the population of a city the size of Palmerston North every two years. It has distinct demographic features, especially ethnic diversity. Its economy is heavily and increasingly services oriented and that means the primary economic input is people – so the transport priority for the economy is to move people from their homes to work.

The vast majority of transport movements are within, not into, nor out of, nor through Auckland. It also has a single local authority making service delivery and regulatory decisions. And it has the scale to afford it the sophisticated decision making mechanisms normally only available to Government.

These features strongly suggest that Auckland needs decision making mechanisms that reflect its unique circumstances. A transport accord will provide such a mechanism, where the two major and equal transport decision makers share the same knowledge base, plan together, explicitly agree what they can agree and agree to continue to discuss those matters on which they are yet to reach agreement.

Whose other presentation are you looking forward to hearing at the conference?

This year’s speaker line up is first rate. I want to hear everyone and I and my office will be there for the entirety of the conference.


New Zealand Rail will take place in Wellington, New Zealand, from June 4 to 5. Key speakers include:

  • The Hon Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport
  • Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland
  • Howard Collins, CEO, Sydney Trains
  • Peter Reidy, CEO, KiwiRail
  • Bryan Nye, CEO, ARA
  • Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Council
  • Philip Chalk, Director Asset Management & Maintenance, ANZ, Network Rail
  • Megan Drayton, Foundation Manager, TrackSAFE
  • Simon Wood, Associate Director, AECOM
  • Brent Efford, NZ Agent, Light Rail Transit Association
  • Anthony Eid, Operations Director, Sydney Trains
  • Noel Burton, Head Engineering NZ, Siemens Rail Automation
  • Ken Shirley, CEO, Road Transport Forum

View the full agenda and more information here.