Metronet depot contract details released

The tender to build a new railcar manufacturing facility in Bellevue for the Western Australian government’s Metronet program has been released to market.

The $50 million assembly and maintenance facility will be 180 metres long, and will include offices, workshops and storage areas to support the 246 new C-series railcars which will be built and maintained there.

The state said the facility will be fitted out when the contract to deliver the trains is finalised with Alstom later this year.

The facility will require two overhead cranes capable of lifting 25 tonnes apiece, and one heavy maintenance railroad with a crane which can lift 10 tonnes, all of which is currently out to tender.

The winning construction contractor will also be required to build a secondary high-voltage testing building.

A tender is expected to be awarded in late 2019.

WA premier Mark McGowan said the construction of a Bellevue facility would bring rail manufacturing back to the Midland area for the first time since the Midland Railway Workshops were closed in 1994.

“The release of today’s tender to construct the Bellevue depot is another step towards bringing railcar manufacturing back to Western Australia,” he said. “It means hundreds of quality, local jobs, more training and apprenticeship opportunities for our kids and WA made trains, on our new WA built Metronet lines.”

Transport minister Rita Saffioti said railcar manufacturing was a key election commitment by WA Labor.

“This is the largest railcar order in WA history,” she said. “We’ve done that deliberately to maximise competition for this large contract, thus maximising the amount of local content companies are willing to commit to.

“We’re committed to bringing back local manufacturing, and ensuring these new trains are built by local people. They’re our trains, and they should be our jobs as well.”

Melbourne Tram. Photo:

Sector invited to design Victoria’s next trams, regional trains

Rollingstock manufacturers have been invited to develop proposals for Victoria’s next generation of trams and regional trains.

Public transport minister Melissa Horne said on September 22 a pair of new rollingstock programs would prioritise accessibility, local content and energy efficiency to move the state’s regional and urban commuters.

“We’re doing the vital design work needed to deliver new trains and trams that are reliable, accessible and meet the changing needs of Victorian passengers,” Horne said.

Victoria wants its next fleet of regional trains to be fully accessible, energy efficient and capable of carrying more passengers. The new trains will enable V/Line to phase out its classic fleet over time.

The state said it wants the next batch of trams to include onboard energy storage, reducing the need for power upgrades across Melbourne’s already stretched overhead network.

Like the regional train plan, the tram program also comes with the goal of eliminating older trams so more of Melbourne’s fleet features low-floor accessibility.

The existing low-floor fleet in Melbourne consists of the C-Class fleet delivered by Alstom from 2001, the D-Class fleet delivered by Siemens from 2002, and the E-Class fleet being delivered by Bombardier on a contract which began in 2013. Together that makes up about 180 trams, with more E-Class being added under a current contract.

The roughly 320 other trams on the network – the W-Class, the Z-Class, the A-Class and the B-Class – are high-floor, meaning they don’t align with the government’s accessibility standards.

The government hasn’t specified which classes will be targeted for retirement, but aside from the 12 heritage W-Class trams, the Z-Class trams are the oldest, being built from 1975.

Horne said both the regional train and the tram program would be developed with the view of limiting the infrastructure upgrades needed to cater for new rollingstock.

She said the development process with a range of manufacturers is hoped to provide the state government with well-informed proposals to choose the best new trains and trams to meet Victoria’s needs.

The state’s Department of Transport said this ‘interactive’ design process would allow manufacturers to adapt their train and tram models for the Victorian network.

Six new VLocity trains ordered from Dandenong

Bombardier’s Dandenong workshops will build another six VLocity trains for Victoria’s regional railways under a new order placed this week.

Six new three-carriage trains will be built under the new order, which is part of a $340 million allocation made in the 2019/20 budget. The allocation allows for a total order of 18 new trains.

Victorian public transport minister Melissa Horne said the new trains would help meet growing demand for regional rail services, operated by V/Line.

“We said we’d deliver new VLocity trains for regional Victoria and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Horne said. “We’re improving services for passengers and supporting hundreds of Victorian jobs as we continue to build new trains and refurbish our existing fleet.”

The new trains contract is being run alongside a $50 million contract to refurbish V/Line’s 75 existing trains, with new seat coverings and padding, and other minor repairs also taking place at Dandenong.

The Andrews Labor Government says it has increased V/Line services by 40 per cent, with the operator now running more than 2,000 a week.

Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams noted the contract also supported employment in the area.

“Bombardier are a world leader in manufacturing – this new order will support 100 direct jobs and hundreds more throughout the supply chain,” Williams said.

75pc of Sydney’s new tram fleet has arrived

The 45th of 60 trams being delivered by Alstom for the Sydney CBD & South East Light Rail project has arrived at its stabling yards in Randwick, as testing ramps up across the network.

The tram, which arrived in August, will follow the path of the 44 before it, with testing and commissioning to take place before it is launched onto the network, to join the wider testing and driver training programs underway.

“The arrival of this tram is significant as it completes the number of trams required to run passenger services from Randwick to Circular Quay starting in December 2019,” Transport for NSW said.

“The final 15 trams are either in production or on their way to Sydney with all to be received by November ready for the Kingsford line to start carrying passengers from March 2020.”

The Citadis X05 trams, which will operate in coupled pairs around the network, are being put through their paces with daylight testing now underway in the city from Central Chalmers Street to Circular Quay.

Finishing works are underway in the city, with tree pit protection work, kerb reinstatement, vegetation planting and localised paving.

Outside the CBD, testing is also underway in Surry Hills, between the Randwick terminus and the Chalmers Street stop at Central.

Along that alignment teams have already completed “a significant amount” of footpath restoration works, and traffic signals have been switched with traffic and trams now operating under new phasing.

Not milling about: Dotmar EPP growing local capabilities

Specialised plastic parts fabricator, Dotmar EPP, takes Rail Express through its process, and the latest addition to its local manufacturing capabilities.


Dotmar Engineering Plastic Products (Dotmar EPP) specialises in the fabrication of specific industrial components using an extensive range of modern plastics. For the rail sector, these components can be for rollingstock, track or other fixed infrastructure.

Sales Representative Nicholas Farrell tells Rail Express that Dotmar EPP has refined a process to help new and existing customers get the niche parts they need, made out of the ideal material.

“First, the team meets with the client to discuss precisely what type of part is required, and what qualities are desired or necessary from the material itself,” he says. “Then we can work a customer specification, and can utilise client drawings or samples to design and fabricate a solution.”

Working through the information together with the client, Dotmar EPP will propose a solution and can conduct a trial to ensure it is ideal for the task at hand.

Once any necessary refinements are made, the Dotmar EPP team can then move into a full production run.

“Our aim is to be a trusted advisor,” General Manager Andrew Windsor says. “Material selection is something we’re good at, so, we like to be involved right at the R&D stage of a project.”

Boosting its standing as a trusted advisor is the fact that all the material used by Dotmar EPP in Australia is imported by the company itself, and not through a third party.

“Customers have a direct link to any information that may be required about the materials on offer,” Farrell explains. “They’re coming directly to the source for the material itself, which means they have a direct link to any knowledge they may deem necessary.”

“It hasn’t come through multiple hands,” Windsor adds. “There’s a clear line of communication for the material itself, which is crucial for such a specialised range.”

Farrell says demand for specialised materials in the rail sector is generally driven by the high level of specification demanded by asset owners and standards.

“That demand for a wide range of specialised products is where our versatile manufacturing capabilities come into play,” he says. “Once we’ve settled on a material that’s fit-for-purpose, we can work with it right away.”

Dotmar EPP’s capabilities include CAD/CAM, CNC routing, milling and turning, manual machining, and work with specialised machines like a multi spindle moulder, a rod saw, and a panel saw.

One of the most recent additions to the company’s fabrication facility is an Okuma bar fed mill turn.

“Essentially, it’s a highly-automated precision turning lathe, but it’s high capacity bar feeder, allows us to load the machine with plastic rods, program it and let it run overnight, or whenever needed,” Farrell explains. “That obviously gives the process maximum efficiency and a high level of precision for the finished products. And while it’s great for big production runs, it’s also ideal for precision prototyping.”

The machine has been with Dotmar EPP for around six months and Farrell says the company fully understands its capabilities, and has already enjoyed efficiency gains from having it in-house.

Rail capabilities

Key applications for Dotmar EPP’s offering to the rail sector include bogie brake systems, bolster wear pads, freight car coupling wear pads, pedestal and center bowl liners, bushings for brake pull rod systems, bushings for rail brakes, rail joints for electrical insulation, cable clamps, insulating beams, liners for bulk carriers, articulating side bearings and more.

Material offered by Dotmar for rail applications includes, but is not limited to Ertalyte (PETP), Ertalon (Nylon), Ertacetal (Acetal), Polystone P7000 (UHMWPE), Polystone P300 (HDPE), Palsun (Polycarbonate) and Ketron PEEK for applications such as bushings, centre bowl liners, wear pads, washers, track spacers, side guides and electrical insulators.

The company is ISO 9001:2015 accredited, and has a dedicated quality assurance facility and process to ensure all goods that go out to customers are within their specifications.

Contact:, 1800 170 001

Digitisation in track maintenance

Rail Express speaks with track maintenance and construction machines OEM Plasser Australia about applying digital and condition monitoring principles to enhance its offering.


Plasser is already a market leader in the field for the supply of track construction and maintenance machines. Looking forward, a spokesperson tells Rail Express the company sees two of several new applications of condition monitoring principles as the next step for the Australian market.

Plasser is using condition monitoring to help operators better maintain their machines – through the PlasserDatamatic platform – and to help operators better manage their fixed infrastructure – through the PlasserSmartMaintenance solution.

Monitoring the machine

“For operators using Plasser machines, smart maintenance gives them a better opportunity to increase their return on investment, in the form of sweating the asset. This can now be performed with a level of comfort based on the data gleaned,” the Plasser Australia spokesperson says.

“By monitoring conditions and quality of components, we can actually get a better idea of when the machine may need to be serviced.”

PlasserDatamatic combines a number of systems to automate notifications based on the operator’s parameters and the known lifetimes of components on Plasser’s machines. When the time is approaching for a machine service or part to be maintained or replaced, the operator is notified ahead of time and can arrange the best time for work to take place.

Various aspects of the system can be enhanced with active condition monitoring. As an example: “You can monitor the condition of the oil. There are certain Australian Standards for engine oil and hydraulic oil condition, and if those standards are exceeded you’ll get an alert email, and you’ll know it’s time to schedule the machine for maintenance and address the issue.”

PlasserDatamatic incorporates an edge device on the machine, called the MachineDataConnector, which reports key information about the machine back to a central database, which is stored in the Cloud.

The operator can examine the information and coordinate actions through a web interface, called the MachineConditionObserver, and a mobile app, called the MachineMaintenanceGuide. The web interface can be customised, and the platform itself is designed to be scalable, providing key data for multiple machines to all members of staff involved in the operation and maintenance of those machines, whether they are in the office, the depot, or in the field.

“Over time, the platform increases the efficiency of the machine, increasing the return on investment, because the machine is spending more time out there working, and then being maintained when required and according to the real time data,” the spokesperson says.

Monitoring the track

Plasser is also applying digital methods to help operators respond to increasing pressures to reduce maintenance costs and time windows, with its PlasserSmartMaintenance solution, which aims to digitise track maintenance.

The solution uses modern sensors to study the rail corridor – primarily the track and overhead infrastructure – and create a digital twin of the asset.

Plasser’s concept to best use this digital technology is to seek opportunities for better cooperation between the fixed infrastructure and the maintenance machine, by incorporating data on infrastructure, geometry and operational parameters into the maintenance program.

“Nearly every network operator would benefit from this system,” according to the spokesperson. “The digital twin gives us the benefit of recording the fixed infrastructure and creating a virtual track. Through managing that data, we can put the required geometry movements into the track.”


Alstom to build Metronet fleet, Australind railcars

Alstom has been named the preferred bidder to build 246 new railcars for Perth’s growing rail network, and six new Australind railcars, under a 50 per cent local content deal funded by the state government.

WA premier Mark McGowan announced on August 18 Alstom had been selected as the preferred bidder to build the Metronet fleet, almost a year after a trio of hopefuls were shortlisted for the contract

Budgeted at $1.6 billion over 10 years, the contract is for 102 railcars for new rail links and extensions, and another 144 to replace the ageing A-series fleet.

Together, the railcars will operate in 41 six-car sets, making up TransPerth’s C-series fleet.

At least 50 per cent of the trains’ construction will take place at a new plant in Bellevue, in Perth’s east. The plant is currently being designed, with a construction contract to be awarded in early 2020, and initial construction completion targeted for 2021.

The railcar contract also includes 30 years of maintenance, which Alstom would deliver using its HealthHub solution. HealthHub, already in use on the Sydney Metro, is designed to combine a range of condition monitoring systems to coordinate an ideal predictive maintenance schedule.

Premier McGowan said new trains would hit the Mandurah and Joondalup lines starting from 2022, supporting more than 200 direct and long-term jobs.

“These are WA trains, so they should be WA jobs,” McGowan said. “When people ride on a new Metronet train, everyone will know that it was built in Western Australia, by Western Australians.”

He noted since the Midland Railway Workshops were closed in 1994, work carried out in WA was limited to window tinting and passenger seating, just two per cent of the work that goes into building a train.

“WA can do so much more than that,” he said.

An Alstom spokesperson said the company was “delighted” to be selected as preferred bidder.

“We look forward to building on our existing local footprint and partnering with the State of WA in this exciting new phase of local railway manufacturing,” the spokesperson said.

WA transport minister Rita Saffioti said the tender process had confirmed it was more cost-effective to build the trains locally.

“This has been an important project of mine since I was Shadow Transport Minister and travelled over east to learn how the Victorian Government locally manufactured their trains,” Saffioti said.

“I knew that WA had the workforce and the skills to make this happen and I am proud that the Premier and I are able to deliver on this important election commitment.”

The new C-series fleet will replace the A-series fleet, which entered service throughout the 1990s. The last of the B-series fleet, manufactured in Queensland by EDI Rail-Bombardier, was delivered to Perth in June 2019.

Alstom is also the preferred bidder to build six new diesel railcars for the state’s Australind service, with a target delivery date of 2022-23.

Saffioti said the Australind services was “an important train service for residents in the south-west”.

“The Australind service has been neglected for too long, but will finally get the attention it deserves under the McGowan Labor Government,” she said.

Grants offered to SMEs for Metronet railcar program

Perth businesses will be offered grants up to $20,000 to help them take part in the upcoming $1.6 billion Metronet railcar program.

The state government said on July 26 it would provide grants to qualifying small- to medium-sized businesses to help them meet essential pre-qualification requirements, and purchase and upgrade essential equipment to be a part of the local manufacturing process.

The grants process will begin once a bidder is selected from three shortlisted proponents for the contract.

Alstom; a joint venture of CAF and UGL; and a joint venture of EDI Rail and Bombardier are competing to deliver the Metronet rollingstock contract.

The contract demands local construction of 246 new railcars: 17 six-car sets to service new rail projects under the state’s Metronet banner, and another 24 six-car sets to replace the Perth network’s aging A-series fleet.

Once the winning bidder is selected, local SMEs will be able to apply for the supply chain grants through WA Industry Link.

New South Wales pushes on with rail automation

Rail Express speaks with experts from Alstom about the signalling revolution underway in New South Wales, and how modern technology helps drive capacity and performance.


The opening of Sydney Metro Northwest in May represented the first revenue services for a completely driverless passenger train in Australia.

The new line’s Alstom trains operate at the highest grade of automation as defined by the International Association of Public Transport, which defines five Grades of Automation (GoA) as follows:

  • GoA 0 is traditional on-site train operation, without any automatic systems assisting the driver or controlling the vehicle.
  • GoA 1 sees the train driver remain in full control, while being advised by an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system, which checks the train’s speed against what is permitted by the signalling, and can help adjust speeds to stick to a timetable or improve capacity.
  • GoA 2 uses ATP and Automatic Train Operation (ATO), which drives the train during regular operations, but still uses a driver to control doors and operate the train in the event of a disruption.
  • GoA 3 removes the driver, leaving a train attendant to open and close the doors and operate the train in the event of a disruption.
  • GoA 4 is a completely automatic train system, with no staff onboard. Movement and door operations are all controlled automatically.

With GoA 4 now implemented on the Sydney Metro, Transport for NSW continues its rollout of GoA 1 through its ongoing ATP program across the electrified Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink network, including the South Coast Line as far as Kiama, the Blue Mountains Line to Lithgow, and the Central Coast / Newcastle Line.

Rollout includes installation of balises in the rail corridor between existing trackside infrastructure to monitor train speeds, and the installation of equipment on board all suburban and Intercity train fleets, and is set to continue until at least 2020.

Meanwhile, the state will incorporate the ATP program and achieve GoA 2 on the Sydney Trains network through its Digital Systems program. Announced last year, Digital Systems is an $880 million investment in ETCS Level 2 technology, ATO, and a Traffic Management System for more effective incident management and service regulation across the network.

Alstom has worked with Transport for NSW on its ATP program for the last seven years, it delivered the rollingstock and signalling for Sydney Metro Northwest, and it is one of the top candidates in the ongoing procurement of the Digital Systems platform, which is expected to roll out in stages from the early 2020s.

With all that in mind, Alstom’s ETCS Solutions Director Vincent Passau gives Rail Express his thoughts on how operators can use ATO as a tool to improve their operations.

“When we speak about ATO, it is not simply an onboard function. It is the way you regulate and optimise the capacity of your network,” he says.

“An integrated Traffic Management System (TMS) gives a global view of the complete performance of your system; you know where your trains are, how they are behaving, where they are in comparison to the timetable.”

Passau says the accurate tracking of trains provided through modern onboard and trackside technology further aids the performance of a TMS.

“Iconis [Alstom’s mainline TMS solution] is working well in combination with ETCS technology, because the data being sent by ETCS are giving us very accurate information about the train. Not just the track section the train is on, but its exact location, speed, and its mode of operation, so our system can detect not just if a train is late, but why it is late, and adjust automatically.”

The technology allows the transfer of instructions in the other direction, telling a train to speed up or slow down within safe limits, to better comply to its timetable and to improve capacity and performance on a network-wide level.

“Once the train receives the information from the control centre, it will have the expected speed profile and the arrival time at the next station, and the ATO will compute a speed profile to achieve that within the safety limits, and while using energy in the most efficient way.”

At the control centre, Alstom’s Iconis system incorporates automatic path management functions with the goal of achieving greater efficiency on large networks with dense traffic.

Implemented in Bologna, Italy, the system automatically routed 80 per cent of traffic, and achieved a 15 per cent capacity boost. “Because you have better stability, you can increase your margins and operate your network in the most efficient way,” Passau says.

Passau says Alstom’s systems, as well as its onboard and trackside technologies, are designed with the potential for a transition between GoA 2 and GoA 4 in mind.

“Every transportation segment of rail is going towards ATO, and then we see it progressively moving from GoA 2 with a driver, to GoA 3, where it is driverless but you have a person on the train in case of incidents, or to support the passengers should they need it, up to the unattended Grade of Automation 4.

“The important element is moving fromGoA 2 to GoA 4, and key to this is replacing the driver not so much with something that can drive the train, but with something that can react to unexpected situations.”

Local track record with global support

“We’ve built up a reputation for solutions in rollingstock, signalling, systems and services, and we like to think we can take very small components – effectively products and their sub-components – to standalone solutions, all the way to bundled offers of two or more of our solutions,” Alstom Australia’s Customer Director NSW Alan Trestour says.

In Melbourne, Alstom continues to deliver its Metropolis trainsets. For the Sydney CBD & South East Light Rail project, Alstom is delivering traction power substations, overhead catenary systems, rollingstock, signalling, passenger information systems and the ongoing maintenance of those solutions.

Alstom delivered and will maintain the new rollingstock for the recently-opened Sydney Metro Northwest, and will also maintain the CBTC signalling solution it provided for the new line.

Alstom’s Mainline Platform VP Jean-Marc Nizet, visiting Australia in April, reflected on how the company was responding to an increased desire for modern signalling technology around the world.

“Just as you have in Australia, there is a growing demand all over the place for signalling for railways,” he told Rail Express. “The biggest challenge we face as an industry is having the competence to sustain all that.

“To respond to this we have our global strategy, which first aims to provide our customers with strong local teams, to help with all aspects of a project – whether it’s engineering, maintenance or design – but to then support that team with global network of knowledge bases.”