Long hours for rail crew and continuous operations are the norm in the rail industry and especially so in today’s challenging times of unpredictability. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) estimates fatigue is a contributing factor in 25 per cent of serious train accidents caused by human factors. In addition, contact tracing have become the new normal.
Are you able to ensure the safety of crew members who may have co-located together in a cabin? If a crew member falls sick, will you be able to implement contact tracing quickly?
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As Victoria enters stage 4 restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19, metropolitan rail services and construction on major rail projects in Melbourne are being cut back.
While public transport is able to continue running, with Melbourne under a curfew from 8pm to 5am, Metro Trains services have been significantly reduced with trains running infrequently. Yarra Trams have stated that some services will run at up to 40 minute frequency. Public Transport Victoria stated that changes to services will be different each night.
All Night Network services, which covers services that run after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, will be suspended while stage 4 restrictions are in place. The current restrictions only allow people to leave their homes between 8pm and 5am for work, medical care, and caregiving.
According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews some staff will be redeployed.
“The Night Network will be suspended, and public transport services will be reduced during curfew hours. This will also allow us to redeploy more of our PSOs into our enforcement efforts.”
Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) spokesperson Daniel Bowen said that better communication of changes was needed.
“On Monday night details of drastic evening service cuts for trams and trains were only published as they took effect, giving travellers no time to plan ahead,” he said.
The PTUA recommended running trains to a Saturday timetable would be a better outcome, with less demand during the peaks.
“While the capacity will probably be sufficient to maintain physical distancing given the curfew and the shutdown of most workplaces, the big problem is the wait times. Imagine finishing your shift at 11pm and having to wait 90 minutes for your train home,” said Bowen.
Rail construction projects are also limited under the stage 4 restrictions. Major construction sites are limited to the minimum amount of people required for safety, and no more than 25 per cent of the normal workforce. Small scale construction is limited to a maximum of five people on site. Andrews said the government was reviewing major public projects.
“To date, we’ve almost halved the number of people onsite on some of our biggest government projects. Now we’re going to go through project by project, line by line to make sure they are reduced to the practical minimum number of workers.”
A Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) spokesperson said that work would continue under the new restrictions.
“The MTIA is continuing to look at ways to further reduce the number of staff while allowing essential works to continue safely.”
On-site, MTIA staff are required to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and follow hygiene procedures and staggered shifts. A 70-person strong COVID Safety Team have been ensuring that all worksites comply, with multiple checks each day on every project.
Other rail businesses and organisations will largely be able to continue in line with their COVIDsafe plans. This includes passenger and freight operations, including rail yards, and transport support services.
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said she welcomed the government’s recognition of rail’s essential role and noted that the restrictions struck the right balance between keeping businesses operating and addressing the spread of COVID-19.
“The rail industry has been working hard to keep essential services safely operating throughout 2020,” she said.
“From the train drivers on passenger and freight services to those working in stations, workshops and in the office, rail workers have made sure essential services are there for people who need them no matter what.”
Rail manufacturing businesses will also be able to remain operating, due to their role in supporting an essential service. Manufacturing businesses that support critical infrastructure public works are able to operate as per their COVIDsafe plan.
“Now more than ever we need the rail network to be as reliable and efficient as possible and these businesses are crucial to that effort,” said Wilkie.
Allegations that slave labour was used in the production of components used in a number of Australian rollingstock fleets have been strongly denied by KTK Australia.
In a statement, KTK Australia said that such allegations “are based on no official documents, interviews or testimony”.
The allegations stem from a US Department of Commerce blacklist that included KTK Australia’s parent company, KTK Group. The US Department of Commerce said that KTK Group was implicated in human rights violations such as the forced labour of Muslim minority groups from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
KTK Australia disputed the basis for these implications.
“KTK Group has never employed workers who are members of the Uyghur ethnic minority,” said the KTK Australia statement.
KTK Australia’s website lists its components as in use on a number of Australian rollingstock fleets. These include NSW’s New Intercity Fleet (NIF), and Sydney Metro, the X’Trapolis and High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) in Victoria, and Queensland’s Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR).
Bombardier, which manufactures the NGR fleet, said that it was closely looking into the allegations.
“Bombardier Transportation is aware of the recent action by the United States Commerce Department in relation to KTK Group Co. We are actively monitoring this new dynamic – impacting the transportation industry – and any effect this could have on our own supply chain, projects and products,” said a Bombardier Transportation spokesman.
In Bombardier’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which all suppliers must agree to, forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking are explicitly prohibited. The code outlines:
Bombardier will not engage in the use of forced or enslaved labour or human trafficking, nor will it tolerate their use at any level in its supply chains. Suppliers must not demand any work or service from any person under the menace of any penalty. For example, Suppliers’ employees must be free to leave work or terminate their employment with reasonable notice, and they are not required to surrender any government issued identification, passports or work permits as a condition of employment.
Alstom, which manufactures the Sydney Metro and X’Trapolis fleet, also prohibits forced labour in its supply chain. Its Ethics and Sustainable Development Charter requires that suppliers commit to the “elimination of all forms of illegal, forced or compulsory labour”.
A Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson said that it was assured that there is no evidence of forced labour in the supply chains of its rollingstock.
“We have asked our manufacturers to take additional steps to ensure the integrity of their supply chains, and we continue to monitor the situation and will consider further steps based on the outcomes of ongoing supply chain investigations.”
A Transport for NSW spokesperson highlighted that suppliers must comply with Australian laws covering subcontracting and reporting requirements.
“Transport for NSW also has rights to access and audit the supplier’s records and the materials, goods, workmanship or work methodology employed at any place where the supplier’s activities are being carried out.”
The NSW spokesperson said that the components in use on the NIF were from the French arm of KTK.
In a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which is in part funded by the US State Department, KTK Group is named as one company that was involved in the transfer of Uyghurs out of Xinjiang. The report cites online news articles.
KTK Australia noted that the cited articles refer to non-Uyghur workers from Xinjiang constructing a playground in a city in Jiangsu province.
“KTK Group confirms that in 2018-19 it did employ a small number of workers from Xinjiang, who were not ethnically Uyghurs, all were properly employed and paid the same wage as all KTK other workers in the same positions,” the KTK Australia statement read.
The US Department of Commerce blacklist prohibits US companies from working with listed companies. KTK Group has no investments in the US and said the decision would not have a material impact on the business.
“KTK Group is a transparent company and we welcome any international customers to inspect our facilities and to audit our labour practices.”
A joint national protocol to enable smooth freight movement over closed borders has been agreed upon by state and territory governments and the Commonwealth.
The national Protocol for Domestic Border Controls – Freight Movements establishes a common set of agreements for freight operators that are transporting goods across state borders that have been closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks.
The national protocol outlines that rail crew will not be required to quarantine or self-isolate for two weeks, unless they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or were in close contact with a case.
Rail crew who are crossing borders or travelling through hotspots should be required to keep a record of close contacts and should minimise non-essential contacts.
Freight operators are encouraged to have a COVIDsafe workplan which will be mutually recognised by state and territory governments.
If further changes are necessary, state and territory governments are encouraged to consult with industry to understand the impact of potential changes.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that the protocol was the result of collaboration between government and industry.
“This is a great demonstration of how governments and industry are working together to ensure much-needed goods keep making their way to communities during the pandemic whilst keeping the health and safety of all Australians front and centre.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said that with various and rapidly changing requirements, the protocol would enable the efficient operation of supply chains across Australia.
“We know this has been tough a time for the industry, with our freight operators often required to cross multiple internal borders in a single trip – facing the critical domestic border controls state and territory governments have had to operate to stem the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“Aligning state and territory measures through this protocol will ensure smoother inter-state journeys for our freight operators and reduce delays in the supply chain.”
Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Kirk Coningham said the organisation had been working to ensure that freight continues to move when border restrictions were put in place.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined just how vital efficient, safe and resilient supply chain operations are to Australia. Yet the closure of state borders and imposition of restrictions during the pandemic has added complexity and duplication of processes associated with freight transport,” said Coningham.
Interstate border closures were a feature of the first wave of COVID-19 shutdowns in March, with freight operators required to fill out arrival forms.
In early July, when NSW closed its border for the first time with Victoria due to the outbreak in Melbourne, permits were required for rail freight staff crossing the border. This initially also required rail staff to self-isolate, however this was then overturned.
Coningham said the new protocol will reduce future confusion.
“The protocol’s explicit acknowledgement that authorities should consult with industry to understand the effect and impacts of potential changes ahead of any new directions being been put place is significant. Adherence to this commitment will be essential to avoid some of the confusion that has been witnessed throughout the pandemic, as border requirements were changed with inadequate notice to industry,” he said.
“ALC is pleased that these principles are all enshrined in the protocol that has been agreed to today. We also welcome the protocol’s commitment to mutual recognition of COVIDsafe workplans developed in other jurisdictions, and to standardising the duration and conditions of border permits.”
More apprentices are being sought than ever are being offered by Sydney Trains, as the organisation looks to fill 90 positions.
The apprenticeships cover seven disciplines, including telecommunications, signal fitting, signal electrical, substations, rail traction, plant mechanic, and high voltage cables.
Once the apprentices finish their training, they will receive a nationally recognised trade qualification.
Sydney Trains acting chief executive Suzanne Holden said that there was a great diversity of work to be done on the network.
“The Sydney Trains network is the largest passenger rail network in the country and there’s plenty of work to do. Apprentices will learn the skills so they can help maintain infrastructure like our overhead wires, escalators, bridges and tunnels, signalling system and the fleet.”
Sydney Trains currently employs over 200 apprentices, and 60 joined earlier in 2020. Apprentices come from all backgrounds and are at various stages of their career.
“We are proud to offer an industry leading apprenticeship program, with women accounting for almost a quarter of our total apprentices,” said Holden.
NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the program offered a way to start a promising career.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for thousands of people across NSW. This apprenticeship program is an opportunity for people who may have been affected to take up an apprenticeship and develop life-long skills in the rail industry,” he said.
“Sydney Trains maintains a huge network covering more than 1,500 kilometres and a variety of skills are required to keep the network moving. I really want to encourage anyone interested in learning and developing their trade skills to apply.”
In Queensland, on the Cross River Rail project, a new qualification has been developed for those apprentices that are working on the program.
Cross River Rail has partnered with TAFE Queensland to introduce a Certificate III Rail Infrastructure traineeship qualification. Delivered by TAFE Queensland, the qualification is hoped to benefit the entire rail industry by creating a supply of well trained and qualified workers.
Already, 150 apprentices have worked on the rail project, and as the largest infrastructure project in Queensland the project will provide training opportunities for 450 trainees and apprentices over the lifetime of the project.
The rail industry has identified a lack of skilled workers as a key impediment to the delivery of major infrastructure projects, with the current skills shortfall a major component of the National Rail Action Plan. Skills shortages in construction, particularly high voltage electrical work, train signalling are identified, as well as roles in operational and manufacturing contexts.
RISSB is launching a program focusing on the safety of frontline track workers across Australia.
The program of work focusing on frontline track workers follows extensive consultation with industry leaders, including those who attended a track worker safety forum in December 2019. These consultations demonstrated consistent agreement that track worker safety is a significant industry priority.
RISSB’s Australian Rail Risk Model (ARRM www.arrm.org.au) makes it very clear that track worker safety is a major issue for the rail industry. ARRM quantifies the risk of harm, and while the railway is generally very safe, it shows that the risk to our people makes up around 26 per cent of the risk that is present. ARRM further shows that risk breaks down broadly as indicated in the chart.
Industry, including CEOs and COOs, understands this, and RISSB has responded by developing a comprehensive program building on work already completed or underway on track worker safety. Informed by consultations with industry and insights from ARRM, the program spans work packages across five key areas.
• RISSB is joining forces with ONRSR and ACRI to undertake research into current and emerging technological solutions. Our industry has tried administrative controls over the past few decades, now let’s push towards better use of engineering controls. This will lead to work to help the railway assess and adopt potential solutions.
- PLANNING WORKS
• RISSB will develop guidance material for planning works in the rail corridor. As an industry we have a long history of planning and executing works, and yet problems or changes to the plan are regular contributing factors in occurrences.
• Digital Engineering (DE) – we have written a Code of Practice on DE, this year we will explore the development of a Standard to enable this technology for more efficient, lower cost, and safer planning of works.
- SKILLS / COMPETENCIES
• RISSB is working with industry to introduce the National Track Safety Induction (NTSI) Course in mid-2020. The NTSI course will deliver competency in TLIF2080 (Safely Accessing the Rail Corridor). The NTSI has been developed to make it easier for employees to move and work across jurisdictions, and for employers to ensure staff meet national training requirements.• Protection Officers have a hard role, often in difficult circumstances. We will explore with industry how we can strengthen the safety benefit this critical function brings. A high-quality, national Protection Officer training course will deliver value.
- SAFETY CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS
• In 2019, RISSB published the National Rules Framework. We have now brought industry together to produce a streamlined, contemporary national rule around communications – another regular contributing factor in occurrences. This work, carried out under the auspices of the National Rules Industry Reference Group will seek to produce a detailed rule that all rail companies can adopt, making it the industry benchmark. We will work with the rail industry to identify and develop other areas once the communications test case has proven itself.
• The communications rule work will dovetail with RISSB’s existing Safety Critical Communications training package and complement RISSB’s existing Safety Critical Communications Guideline.
• During 2020, RISSB will write a Standard for Safety Critical Communications.
• We will produce guidance for achieving a positive safety culture in the rail corridor. Our people on the front line must have control over safety aspects of the work that they’re doing, and they must be empowered to make decisions about it.
• RISSB will soon be launching its safety culture survey – the Occupational Culture Work Health and Safety (OcWHaS) survey and will make it available to industry.
These initiatives will build on work RISSB has undertaken on track worker safety including:
• Publishing AS 7479 Collision Avoidance and Proximity Warning on Track Maintenance Vehicles Including Road Rail Vehicles.
• The development of a Safety Critical Communications course for industry and specific RTOs.
• A focus on track worker safety in conferences and forums.
RISSB will progress this new program of work, in conjunction with industry groups, to take input and advice learning from international railways.
Contributing industry groups include:
• The National Track Worker Safety Forum;
• The Safety Managers Group;
• The Safety Standing Committee;
• The National Rules Industry Reference Group; and
• The Human Factors Managers Group.
Anyone interested in being involved in the safety of track workers can contact Jesse Baker, RISSB general manager safety and innovation at: email@example.com.
The finalists for the Women in Industry awards have been announced.
The annual award, co-presented by Rail Express, highlights the contributions made by women to industries including transportation, logistics, manufacturing, mining, construction, and waste management.
This year saw the highest number of nominations, beating the 2019 record by 27 per cent. The growth of the awards was not only represented in the nominations themselves, but the number of individual businesses and organisations submitting nominees across varied industrial sectors.
The awards span multiple categories, including social leader of the year, rising star of the year, sponsored by Atlas Copco, business development success of the year, industry advocacy award, safety advocacy award, sponsored by BOC, mentor of the year, and individual excellence awards across the fields of transport, engineering, sponsored by BAE Systems Australia, mining, and manufacturing.
The most nominated category was the Rising Star Award, which received a record number of nominations this year.
Rail organisations represented in the awards include Transport for NSW, which included finalists Neolani Reardon (Safety Advocacy Award), and Camilla Drover (Excellence in Transport).
Sonja Malcolm, senior manager – capability & development from Sydney Metro was nominated for the Industry Advocacy Award, while Nadine Yousef, associate director at Sydney Trains received a nomination for the Safety Advocacy Award.
Lidija Dumbaloska, professional head of electrical engineering at Sydney Trains, received a nomination for Excellence in Engineering.
Judging will now begin before the winners are announced online in late August.
A full list of nominees are below.
Social Leader of the Year
Alanna Vial – BlueScope
Althea Papinczak – Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC)
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Gemma Murphy – QBE Insurance
Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia
Jane Tiller – Monash University
Sarah McSwiney – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Rising Star of the Year
Proudly sponsored by Atlas Copco
Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)
Helen Vu – BOC
Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA
Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia
Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia
Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac
Nima Sherpa – BHP
Rose Lindner – MMG
Vera Milutinovic – Inenco
Business Development Success of the Year
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems
Industry Advocacy Award
Elizabeth Molyneux – AGL Energy
Hayley Jarick – Supply Chain Sustainability School
Jacquelene Brotherton – Transport Women Australia Limited
Jodie Sainsbury – Kickass Women
Joy Marrocco – AGL
Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council
Shay Chalmers – Strategic Engineering
Sonja Malcolm – Sydney Metro
Safety Advocacy Award
Proudly sponsored by BOC Ltd
Annastasia Denigan – Cement Australia
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Maddy Holloway – CITIC Pacific Mining
Nadine Yousef – Sydney Trains
Natalia Trewin – WesTrac Pty Ltd
Noelani Reardon – Transport for NSW
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd
Tracey MacDonald – BAE Systems Australia
Mentor of the Year
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks
Excellence in Manufacturing
Josie Costanzo – Brickworks Building Products
Marina Melik – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Rebecca Parnell – Artisan Food Company Pty Ltd
Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems
Samantha McDonald – Bluescope
Excellence in Mining
Carlie Hayward – BHP
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Jacqueline Madsen – Caterpillar
Kim Parascos – iVolve Industrial Technology
Rose Lindner – MMG
Sarah Withell – BHP
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd
Excellence in Engineering
Proudly sponsored by BAE Systems Australia
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Jane MacMaster – Engineers Australia
Jo Withford – Department of Transport
Lesley DeGaris – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Lidija Dumbaloska – Sydney Trains
Mandy Petrides – Bosch Australia
Excellence in Transport
Agnes Lesson – Elgas
Camilla Drover – Transport for NSW
Danelle Kempton – Dananni Haulage
Jane Gillespie – Arup
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited
Dealing with rapid population growth has led to Melbourne upgrading the signalling system on two of its most congested lines. Rail Systems Alliance is ensuring the benefits are felt for years to come.
Over the past 10 years, the story of Australia’s cities has been rewritten. While Sydney had been dominant for the previous century, no account of the urbanisation of Australia in the second decade of the 21st century could ignore the rapid growth of Melbourne.
The relative growth of Melbourne is most clearly illustrated by the fact that Melbourne adds a Darwin-worth of population each year, overtaking Sydney in population size by 2026. Much of this growth has been concentrated in two areas, the west and the south-east of Melbourne and the rail lines that serve these expanding areas are reaching capacity. This has necessitated Victoria’s Big Build, the largest infrastructure building programme in the state’s history, of which rail plays a major part, highlights David Ness, package director, Rail Systems, Rail Projects Victoria.
“There’s a number of initiatives underway to help alleviate that population growth, one is the introduction of larger trains that can carry more passengers, and then the second part is the provision of High Capacity Signalling (HCS) on the corridor that lets us run more trains, more often.
“What ties all of that together is the Metro Tunnel project that connects those two corridors, Dandenong in the south-east and Sunshine/Sunbury in the west, and allows us to untangle the existing rail network. It’s a combination of things but HCS is the centre point, allowing you to operate more efficiently on the corridor.”
The HCS project, now in its testing phase, is being delivered by Rail Systems Alliance, a partnership between Bombardier Transportation, CPB Contractors, and Metro Trains Melbourne. The project will introduce Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) technology, the BOMBARDIER CITYFLO 650 rail control solution, on both the Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines as well as in the newly built Metro Tunnel, creating a new end- to-end rail line from Sunbury to Cranbourne and Pakenham. The two existing lines are some of the most complex in the Melbourne network, not only serving commuter trains, but regional passenger lines and freight services, requiring a mixed-mode solution, said Tim Hunter, alliance manager, Rail Systems Alliance, Metro Tunnel Project.
“What is unique about Melbourne is the fact that we’re upgrading existing lines, on brownfield sites, as well as the greenfield site in the tunnel. That means that we can continue running the existing trains on the existing lines at the same time as we do the upgrades. As the vehicles become fitted with the CBTC technology then they can run either in the conventional signalling or CBTC mode. The beauty of it is that it’s a mixed mode solution for the existing lines.”
The introduction of moving block rather than fixed block signalling will enable a step change in capacity, even under mixed conditions.
“We’re expecting to open with around 18 trains per hour when we will still have a mixture of CBTC trains and regional and freight trains,” said Ness. “But, as time progresses, the system itself has a capacity of 24 trains per hour. That means it actually has a higher capacity to recover from disruptions that may occur, and the Metro Tunnel will be capable of 24 trains per hour.”
ENSURING EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION
Getting to this targeted level of capacity on the first introduction of CBTC technology on an existing rail line in Australia has required a collaborative approach, facilitated by the nature of the Rail Systems Alliance.
“We went through a pretty extensive, year-long competitive alliance tender process,” said Ness. During the process, Rail Projects Victoria looked at the system’s capabilities, the ability to minimise disruption during integration, and did site visits to other HCS projects internationally.
“On a balanced score card of value for money, being able to address our technical requirements, being able to address mixed mode, being able to work within an alliance framework – which is intrinsic to the way we’re approaching the job – Bombardier Transportation, CPB Contractors and Metro Trains Melbourne were
the successful tenderers,” said Ness.
Taking an alliance approach to project delivery allowed for the project to effectively interact with the many other stakeholders involved. While the technology promises to increase capacity and relieve the strain on Melbourne’s rail network, its success depends upon all elements of the wider project working together.
“We have the technology challenge, in that what we’re introducing into the system is new, but that change is not just operational, it affects the entire way in which the network is run,” said Ness.
The introduction of HCS in Melbourne requires the project to interact with a variety of stakeholders, including the rest of the Melbourne rail network, the other consortiums on the Metro Tunnel Project, and the procurement of larger trains, which is being delivered in parallel.
“The alliancing model provides the most flexibility to adapt and move while maintaining your focus on that end game,” said Ness.“It’s very difficult to do a project like this with just a fixed scope, fixed dates, fixed price, fixed everything. Having a target price that you can adapt and working together with the client has been proven to be the best model.”
In practice, this has enabled a regime of extensive testing for the technology on the rail line. On the Mernda Line wayside equipment has been installed and two existing X’Trapolis trains have been fitted with the Bombardier CBTC equipment. Dynamic testing is now underway. The project has also involved the operator, Metro Trains Melbourne, to prepare the end user – the drivers and operators of Melbourne’s trains, as Hunter outlines.
“We’re setting up additional labs so we can test the train management system for the new trains alongside HCS. We are also taking the equipment and systems that have been implemented inside the tunnel and then testing that with our systems in the lab, so that when we go to implement on site we will have done as much testing as we can offsite. This will make implementation testing and fault finding a lot smoother.”
The hands-on approach to testing enables the end users (for example, train drivers) to become “super users” as the design develops and the new technology is introduced as part of the project.
“We have user working groups within Metro Trains Melbourne to facilitate operational and maintenance input,” said Hunter. “We’ve done a lot of on-site training, we’ve taken them to Bombardier’s CBTC facilities in Bangkok, Madrid and Pittsburgh and shown them what has been done on other projects, and how the technology works. This collaboration is critical to successfully implement HCS on this project.”
Hunter explains that each piece of equipment that drivers or operators use goes through an extensive human-centred design process, with safety front of mind.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work but I’ve learnt from other projects that it’s essential because in the end we want the people who will be using the technology to really feel as though they own it.”
One example where this has occurred is in the design and purchasing of the desks that will be used at operations centres in Sunshine and Dandenong.
“We’ve got the actual desk that we’re proposing to use in the control centres in our office in Bourke Street and we invite people from Metro Trains Melbourne to come and look at, sit at, use, and test it.”
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF HCS
While signalling upgrades on two of Melbourne’s busiest lines will have an immediate benefit for commuters, Rail Systems Alliance has also been aware of the need to ensure that investment in the project benefits the wider rail industry. While experiencing unprecedented investment, the rail industry is looking at a looming skills crisis. As one of the first rollouts of CBTC technology, the HCS project aims to train the next generation of signalling engineers.
“We’ve got roughly 35 cadets coming through the project,” said Hunter. “We’re working closely with the Victorian government and the Local Jobs First – Major Project Skills Guarantee but it’s important that we’re building a base for future projects.”
While signalling projects such as HCS have needed to hire talent internationally, Hunter hopes that this won’t continue to be the case.
“We’ve had to bring a lot of people in from overseas – including myself – who have done these kinds of projects around the world but that’s not a sustainable model. What you actually want is a strong, capable, local team, so that’s what we’re setting out to do. We’ve got cadets working on signalling design, onboard equipment, the control systems, the communications systems, the radio systems, systems engineering, and systems safety assurance.”
Having such a major project occurring in Melbourne has a drawcard for attracting the next generation of engineers to rail.
“As soon as they join, I sit down with them and talk about the project and how exciting engineering is on these kinds of projects.”
“University is a good starting place for technical knowledge, but to have the opportunity to work on a project of this size and this complexity on their doorstep is too good to miss,” said Hunter.
While there’s no concrete plan to roll out HCS beyond the existing project scope at this stage, efficiencies of already implementing the technology mean that any future upgrades would be even smoother.
With a competent and experienced local workforce, and upgrades in place on two of Melbourne’s most complex lines, Melbourne would be well-placed to extend HCS over the rest of the existing rail network said Ness.
“Our focus right now is to successfully deliver HCS on the Sunbury and Cranbourne/ Pakenham corridor. However, if you look at Melbourne’s growth, and some of the pressures on the rail network, HCS may be one future option to get the most out of the existing infrastructure,” said Ness.
Omada Rail Systems is bringing exciting and innovative technology to the Australian rail industry.
Through a strong focus on youth development and carefully selected company partnerships, Omada Rail Systems is capable of delivering globally recognised technology across Australia. Omada is partnered with two UK based companies, Gioconda Rail and KeTech, both of which are renowned for taking the first step and pushing technological boundaries. Through their usual services of signalling design, systems integration, testing and commissioning, and telecommunications engineering, Omada is capable of introducing these technologies into Australia.
The directors at Omada are committed to working with their team to identify and implement process innovations. With the promise of providing clients with the best value for money, the Omada leadership understands that a focus on quality and efficiency is key. The company has a growing reputation for delivering high quality work and going the extra mile to ensure the client’s satisfaction. This is largely due to a strong work ethic and philosophy of teamwork, allowing for a fast and safe turnaround of projects. Omada has outlined a plan to further increase capacity for delivering larger projects by implementing efficient processes and resources; backed by bringing in additional quality engineers to the team.
Omada interlocking simulator
Omada is building an inhouse relay interlocking system and test panel, to demonstrate signalling design and testing fundamentals. This project is designed to be predominantly worked on by Omada’s graduate engineers, allowing them to further develop their knowledge of signalling design principles. Once complete, this will serve as a platform for high quality inhouse training for all of the current Omada engineering team and for future graduate intakes. With this project targeting completion early in 2021, Omada believes this unique project will set them well above the pack.
Omada and Gioconda joined forces more than 12 months ago, with the mutual goal of enhancing asset management, signal sighting, and driver briefing activities in Australia. Gioconda services stem from their base specialties of railway filming and 3D modelling.
Gioconda’s services include:
- Railway filming
- Video asset mapping
- BIM and 3D visualisation and modelling
- Signal sighting
- Driver briefing and training packages
A powerful tool and process for inspecting the railway as part of design, Gioconda’s asset mapping tool has sparked a great deal of interest from Australian companies looking for more effective methods of asset management. Gioconda have previously delivered multiple projects for Metro Trains Melbourne such as a virtual signal sighting and driver briefing package for the Mernda project and a driver briefing package for the Burke Road Grade Separation project. Omada and Gioconda have brought this technology to many major operators through presentations, with high levels of interest. According to Omada director Luke Craven, “The Gioconda software is a remarkably efficient and powerful tool. By bringing the railway into the office, it has massive benefits with regards to safety and cost.”
KeTech has been at the forefront of real time information systems for 20 years and, like Omada, has recently experienced substantial growth. Providing real-time passenger and driver information systems, KeTech’s team offer their clients a reliable, fully integrated information system.
KeTech’s products and services include:
- Passenger information systems
- Customer information systems
- Connected Driver Advisory Systems (C-DAS)
- Driver-only operated CCTV system
With a strong focus on being one step ahead, a passion to challenge the impossible and meticulous attention to detail, KeTech is set well above its competition. KeTech is able to combine its passenger, customer and driver information systems to work in unison, as a universal information system (UIS), capable of providing passengers and operators with live updates and information such as arrival and departure times, seat allocations, platform alterations, toilet availability, and much more. Designed to vastly improve customer experience, operational efficiency and support a safer journey, KeTech’s UIS is truly ground-breaking. Omada and KeTech’s leaders are closely aligned in their desire to bring this technology into Australia. With operators constantly looking to improve customer satisfaction figures and operational efficiency, KeTech’s products are a proven solution.
The three companies previously shared an exhibition stand at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 and have since seen a great deal of interest from Australian based companies. If you would like to find out more about Omada Rail Systems, KeTech, or Gioconda visit: https://www.omadarail.com/services/