NSW signs contracts for 117 regional railcars, Dubbo facility

The NSW Government has selected the winning team to deliver the $2.8 billion project to design, build, finance and maintain the state’s next regional rail fleet.

The state on February 14 signed a contract for the delivery of the new fleet and 15 years of maintenance with Momentum Trains, a consortium of CAF, UGL, CPB Contractors and equity financing partners Pacific Partners, CAF Investment Projects and DIF.

Under the contract ‘fit out and commissioning’ of the trains will take place in Dubbo.

CAF will deliver 117 railcars to form 10 regional intercity trains, 9 short regional trains, and 10 long regional trains. CPB Contractors will design, construct and commission the fleet’s maintenance facility in Dubbo. UGL will maintain both the fleet and the facility for 15 years.

The state says the capital cost of the fleet and facility comes to $1.26 billion.

Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW John Barilaro said the Coalition was delivering on its commitment to build a first-class rail fleet for regional passengers.

“This is a new era for regional rail in NSW,” Barilaro said. “This government is following through on its commitment to replace the old rail fleet with a new modern fleet that passengers can use to travel in comfort with all of the facilities expected of modern rail transport.”

The new fleet will replace the state’s XPT, XPLORER and Endeavour trains, some of which are close to 36 years old.

“This investment will inject billions of new dollars into regional NSW, creating local jobs during the fit out and commissioning of the new fleet and building a new industry in Dubbo to service and maintain that fleet,” Barilaro continued.

“This is one of the most exciting transformations of passenger rail in NSW for decades, improving how people travel in regional NSW and making sure that investment goes straight back into regional economies.”

New features of the trains include more comfortable, reversible seating, window blinds, charging points for electronic devices and overhead luggage storage similar to what is available on airlines, transport minister Andrew Constance said.

“For trips on the regional network, we’ll be introducing new economy and premium classes,” Constance said. “Economy class will have a two by two seating layout while premium class will feature an increased number of seats, set in a two by one layout. Trains for longer regional journeys will also feature buffet cars and will be more comfortable for those who require wheelchair access.

“Building the new maintenance facility in Dubbo is a major boost for regional economies. Some 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase, around 60 jobs during train completion works, and around 50 permanent jobs during ongoing operations, including a number of apprenticeships and traineeships.”

NSW TrainLink will operate the new regional fleet with the first trains to be progressively introduced from 2023.

Rail worker manufacturing. Photo: RailGallery.com.au / Courtesy of Bombardier

Harmonising standards: a national approach to rail manufacturing and maintenance

Victoria is leading the drive for a national harmonisation of rollingstock standards in Australia.

Rollingstock manufacturing and maintenance currently lacks an overall, consistent national approach to standards, with states and territories possessing their own differing approaches. Harmonisation of standards for rollingstock procurement, manufacture and maintenance has been considered as a potential pathway to the reduction of manufacturing costs and, also, as crucial to supporting the further development of local content production.

At AusRAIL in Canberra in November last year, Neil Gibbs from Transport for Victoria updated the conference audience about the developments being made towards the harmonisation of rollingstock standards in Australia. The Victorian Government has taken a leading role in advocating for the harmonisation in standards, which aligns with its objective of improving supply chain performance in the state and to boost the competitiveness of its local manufacturing sector. That is, the competitiveness within both the Australian market and with imports from outside of Australia.

“In Victoria, there are three tier-one rollingstock manufacturers and Australia’s largest rollingstock supplier base,” Gibbs said. “That supplier base supports, across the country, 10,000 employees. The objective of rollingstock harmonisation is to sustain and support further development of the manufacturing base.”

In its submission to the Australian Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) in August 2016, the Victorian Government outlined five areas in which it determined rollingstock standardisation ought to be pursued, with the outcome that TIC agreed to the prioritisation of harmonised standards in two areas: train bogies and windows/glazing. The reason for picking these areas, according to Gibbs, was that they seemed to the most readily applicable across all state and territory jurisdictions.

The Victorian Government then initiated and seed-funded a client group comprising representatives from the state governments of NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The Rail Industry and Standards Board RISSB was engaged to author documents through a development group with representation of government agencies, rail operators, manufacturers, maintainers, along with rail research institutions.

“In doing this work, we found that the target audience was procurers of rollingstock,” said Gibbs. “This led not to the development of a standard, but instead a guideline for developing specifications.”

The guidelines for bogie and window procurement, developed by RISSB in consultation with representatives of state government agencies, the rail industry and the rail technology sector, were released to transport procurement agencies in October 2017. The guidelines, Gibbs said, were developed with the intention of being used by both companies and state governments when procuring rollingstock and by manufacturers when procuring bogies, glass or glazing.

According to a study authored by David Anderson from Transport for Victoria, the pilot guidelines set the path for future developments in harmonisation of standards. “Australia stands to benefit considerably from nationally consistent rail manufacturing standards,” the report states. “Higher production volumes and lower unit costs for standardised componentry will aid the rollingstock industry’s longterm sustainability. A long-term outlook encourages investment, and jobs through greater local content, as well as delivering better value from money for rollingstock procurements.”

Gibbs also raised the point that if harmonisation is aligned with international standards, it would be able to support the connection of local suppliers not only wider national opportunities, but to global ones as well. “A connection can be made through the harmonisation of standards themselves so that they are aligned with international standards, and that will then assist local suppliers substitute for overseas equipment and participate in export opportunities,” Gibbs said. “Another form of connection of suppliers to opportunities through establishing greater market awareness through trade delegations. Just recently, there was very successful delegation to Innotrans in Germany that established connections between international suppliers and local suppliers.”

Gibbs said that additional manufacturing support can be provided by state industry participation policy and through acquiring local content in procurements. As an example, he outlined the Victorian government’s approach, which includes a policy of enforcing a minimum 50 per cent local manufacturing content requirements for all rollingstock projects valued over $50 million and tender evaluation weightings of 10 per cent for industry development, 10 per cent for job outcomes and 80 per cent for technical, performance, risk and delivery matters.

“So, given that this is now law, it will be applied any forthcoming procurements in Victoria for new regional trains and next generation trams,” Gibbs explained. “In terms of the next generation trams, in Melbourne we have the objective through this program to replace all of the high floor trams by 2032. This leads us to the expectation that this will see the procurement of between 220 and 250 trams, which is a huge order.”

Gibbs explained that “supply chain development” in the procurement of rollingstock by the state government in Victoria was “the new norm”, and was recently applied to the High Capacity Metro Train (HCMT) project. The project’s consortium partners – Downer, CRRC and Plenary Group – partnered with Toyota, the Chisholm Institute and Swinburne University to transition and re-skill manufacturing workers from the automotive sector.

Suppliers on the HCMT project were selected on the basis that they demonstrate a commitment to develop local manufacturing facilities in Victoria. Bogie frames works were awarded to Hofmann Engineering in Benidgo, traction motors to Times Electric in Morwell, HVAC works to Sigma in Derrimut, and Pantographs to Austbreck in Hallam.

Gibbs said the development of national harmonised standards would support higher returns on investment for these types of local suppliers and provide a base for cost-effective manufacturing innovations. “If we can secure good return on investment, it will enable companies to carry out effective innovation and not be penalised by it. The objective, in Victorian rollingstock procurements, is to eliminate peaks and troughs in procurements and create a steady and stable flow of production and returns on investment.”

Gibbs said the next steps in harmonisation would be industry engagement sessions between state government agencies and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) early in 2019 to gather industry feedback. “We have a document that is ready to be published by RISSB, and will use the engagement sessions to introduce that document,” said Gibbs. This is will be followed by the issuing of the guidelines for bogies and windows by the relevant state agencies.

The creation of a national market for transport-related products and services is being advocated by the Victorian Government to create a long-term order pipeline across Australian jurisdictions. For this to be realised, it would have to be collaborated through the Council of Australian Governments and its Ministerial Transport and Infrastructure Council.

KiwiRail discloses 450-wagon purchase

New Zealand rail operator KiwiRail has ordered 450 rail wagons from a Chinese manufacturer.

In a short statement on February 8, the operator detailed it had entered into a contract with CRRC Qiqihar Rolling Stock Co. for the construction of 450 flat-top rail wagons.

The operator did not say how much the contract was worth, only that it was disclosing the purchase under the Crown’s SOE continuous disclosure rules for transactions of more than $50 million.

It said delivery of the wagons is expected prior to the 2019 peak freight season.

In FY18 KiwiRail launched a strategy to deliver future rollingstock, citing “decades of underinvestment in its assets,” and noting “many of its trains and wagons are at the end of their useful lives”.

KiwiRail acquired 150 new wagons in FY18, and said in its annual integrated report it was targeting the acquisition of 235 heavy wagons in FY19.

Parramatta’s wire-free sections defined

The NSW Government has clearly defined which sections of the planned Parramatta Light Rail line will be catenary free, with approximately four kilometres of wireless railway proposed.

The state in December 2018 announced winning bidders to build stage one of Parramatta Light Rail, and said plans were in place for wire-free operations along certain sections of the project.

This week the state released a map of the project, showing 16 stops between Carlingford and Westmead via Rydalmere, Camellia, the Parramatta CBD and North Parramatta.

It shows trams will operate catenary-free between Stop 1 at Westmead and Stop 4 at Cumberland Hospital, and between Stop 7 at Prince Alfred Square and Stop 11 at Tramway Avenue.



“Vehicles will be equipped with roof-mounted batteries that are charged via overhead wires and ground level conductor rails at the Westmead Station stop,” the state said.

The trams will be 45 metres long and capable of holding up to 300 passengers each.

First NGR arrives at Maryborough for rectification works

The first New Generation Rollingstock train has arrived Maryborough ahead of a $335 million program to adjust the fleet to suit the latest disability access standards.

A recent report from an inquiry into the delivery of the fleet of 75 new trains for South East Queensland highlighted fractures in the relationship between Queensland Rail and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which allowed a fleet of trains to be ordered while not fully complying with access standards on cars including toilets.

The inquiry found rollingstock manufacturer Bombardier advised the state of difficulties designing the trains to suit the standards, given South East Queensland’s narrow-gauge railways, but that their construction was approved anyway.

With many of the trains now operating, boosting the capacity of the South East Queensland’s rail network, the state will pay $335 million to have the issues rectified at Maryborough by Downer.

Looking to make a positive out of the rectification spending, local member Bruce Saunders said the Palaszczuk Government was delivering local jobs.

“We always said these works would be carried out locally and made no apologies for that,” Saunders said. “The rectification works will not only make our new trains accessible and better for everyone, particularly people with disabilities and mobility issues, but this contract will support regional manufacturing and an estimated 100 local jobs too.”

Transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said he was pleased the government was following through on the recommendations of Forde Inquiry into how Queensland’s NGR trains were designed and ordered.

“Upon completion, the NGR trains will be the some of the most accessible in the country,” Bailey said. “We expect the first NGR train to be upgraded to meet all operational and functional requirements to go back into customer service in 2020.”

The Forde Inquiry, ordered by the Palaszczuk Government, described the relationship between Queensland Rail and Transport and Main Roads as being “marred by distrust,” and recommended a “comprehensive cultural assessment” be undertaken to foster a more collaborative working environment.

Commissioner Michael Forde said the distrust had stemmed from the parties being shuffled around in their roles during the early stages of the NGR procurement process.

“The decision to remove QR as the project lead created a degree of resentment and animosity that resulted in a competitive rather than collaborative relationship during the delivery phase of the project,” Forde said. “In the Commission’s view, the tense and competitive relationship hindered the effective management and resolution of compliance issues.

“An environment where the prevailing consideration is carefully distinguishing responsibilities and defending positions rather than working together to achieve a common goal is not conducive to positive project outcomes or the prompt and effective management of issues.”

McMillan new boss for Bombardier Transportation Australia

Victoria’s Rolling Stock Development Division’s chief executive Wendy McMillan has been named the new managing director of Bombardier Transportation Australia.

Bombardier’s head office in Berlin this week named McMillan the business’ new head in Australia and South East Asia, and managing director of Bombardier Transportation Australia. McMillan will begin in the role on February 1.

At the Victorian Government McMillan was responsible for train and tram fleets, including the development of strategic business cases and delivery of capital projects, asset management and industry development.

“With her experience in business development, project delivery and rolling stock procurement, [McMillan] is a great addition to our senior team,” Bombardier’s president for Western Europ, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Region Per Allmer said. “With Australia and South East Asia together as one strong sub-region, combined with Wendy’s strategic leadership, our objectives are to increase customer satisfaction, drive business growth and deliver our transformation program.”

Paul Brown, who has served as Bombardier Transportation Australia’s interim managing director since August 2018, will return to his role as project director for Queensland’s New Generation Rollingstock fleet, and will continue to advise McMillan and the rest of the team.

“I sincerely thank Paul Brown for his leadership in Australia in the interim and for his ongoing contribution to Bombardier,” Allmer said.

“I also take this opportunity to thank Jayaram Naidu, Head of South East Asia, as he has been instrumental in the strong growth of our South East Asian region winning significant orders during 2018. Our powerful new team of Wendy, Paul and Jayaram will leverage the synergies, strengths and successes of both teams to jointly shape the new operations model for Australia and South East Asia in preparation for the market evolution to come.”

Digitisation adds new dimension to track maintenance

Specialty machine supplier Plasser Australia outlines its contribution to a “new era” in track construction and maintenance.

Plasser is using the latest in sensor and communications technology to give its customers direct access to machine data.

Through the company’s PlasserDatamatic 2.0 module, operators can monitor their machine through a desktop, smartphone or tablet, with live information covering the location and condition of the machine, the operations it is performing, and the condition of the track below it.

“The industry is moving towards data collection, and PlasserDatamatic fills this purpose,” Plasser Australia tells Rail Express. “For us, the next step was to connect a modem to the machine, and over the GSM network, analyse this data from afar.

“You can have engineers sitting in offices, rather than on machines, collecting data. This is ideally suited to perform preventative maintenance – predictive maintenance. The system also helps minimise downtime: If you have a fault, you can get online and pinpoint what the issue is.”

Plasser’s technology allows a wide range of factors to be measured, and reported back to base constantly.

The PlasserDatamatic program provides, in a single point of access:

  • Geo fence: a machine’s area of application can be defined, and when the it reaches or leaves this boundary, a message can be triggered. This system can be used to tell schedulers whether a project is on schedule or not.
  • Last events: A machine’s log entries are accessible and retraceable for one week.
  • Integrated user help: All data on the machine is available via one access point. Operating instructions are stored in PlasserDatamatic.
  • Event Wiki: Comments function for self-help. Recurring entries can be documented. Comments provide comprehensive help, independent of a single operator.
  • Dashboards for personalised configuration: Every user selects the machine parameters in the dashboard and creates a customised display.
  • Servicing: Reports of the MachineMaintenanceGuide (MMG) can be accessed centrally, including photos, check lists, notes and even audio files.

Plasser says the system can keep operators abreast of “anything from engine oil pressure, to battery voltage, right through to the condition of your hydraulic oil”.

From a production perspective, measuring systems can be fitted as means of increasing productivity.

“Operators are under increasing pressure to reduce maintenance costs and increase utilisation of the track occupation windows, as this increased track availability makes the railway competitive with other modes of transportation.”

Plasser says its machine-enabled measuring and monitoring can generate smart data, and a virtual track, which allows maintenance to be more efficient. There are many benefits to be gained from such systems.

“The quality of the works performed can be immediately inspected by the customer,” the company says. “The number of people in the danger zone is reduced. Works can be inspected from an office environment.

“The combination of trends and intelligent assessment methods makes it possible to analyse and recommend predictive maintenance actions for the track infrastructure.”

The wide reach of Plasser machines and data collected around the globe means the company is constantly able to improve its off ering to customers.

“If we receive information from a number of operators and see that there is a trend forming in one particular piece of equipment or system, then we can start looking at the potential cause of that, and get to a root analysis,” the company explains.

This information is also helping Plasser in developing new and improved products. As an analogy, “when you take a modern car to be serviced, the OEM can connect to the vehicle with a laptop, analyse the data if something has failed, see when it failed, and diagnose the probable causes as to why it failed”.

“This is an industry-wide movement, and what we’re off ering our customers is right at the forefront of this progress.”

Visit: www.plasser.com.au

Parramatta Light Rail contracts awarded, 4km of wire-free rail

Winners have been named for contracts to build, and supply and operate rail systems for the first stage of Parramatta Light Rail, and the state says four kilometres of the project will be catenary free.

NSW transport minister Andrew Constance on Thursday announced the winners of a pair of major contracts for the project, which he said will have a total budget of $2.4 billion.

A joint venture of Downer and CPB Contractors has won the $840 million contract to build the light rail line.

A consortium of Transdev and CAF has won a $540 million deal to supply and operate the network and build the depot, light rail stops and power systems.

The State said the project will use 45-metre, fully accessible vehicles, capable of carrying up to 300 passengers each.

Constance said both contract winners had a demonstrated history of delivering successful light rail projects around Australia.

“We are excited to confirm the NSW Government is investing in not one but two experienced consortia to deliver us a world-class light rail,” the minister said.

“Between them, these teams have delivered the Newcastle, Canberra and Gold Coast Stage 2 light rail networks that have transformed these cities for the better.”

The State said Transport for NSW has signed agreements with the City of Parramatta, other government agencies and the major utility providers, clearly defining responsibilities and working arrangements during construction and operations.

The Government also announced on Thursday that roughly four kilometres of the twelve-kilometre route would be wire-free, with stretches between Westmead and Cumberland Hospital, and between Prince Alfred Square and Tramway Avenue.

CAF trams utilising an on-board power supply are part of another NSW Government-driven project, Newcastle Light Rail, which is entirely wire-free.

Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee thanked the community for engaging with the State throughout the three year planning and design process.

“In a few years, Parramatta Light Rail is going to get people out of their cars and transform the Greater Parramatta region with quick and easy transport,” Lee said.

Feedback from concerned local business owners led the State to proclaim earlier this year that construction along Eat Street would not begin until 2020. It also says a three-month ‘construction grace period’ will apply along Eat Street each summer.

The contracts announced this week also require construction teams to work around evenings and other busy times, and include commitments to employ local workers.

Targeted for first operations in 2023, stage one of Parramatta Light Rail will provide services every 7.5 minutes during peak periods.

The contracts announcement comes after remediation works began in October a the future site of the project’s stabling and maintenance facility at Camellia. Roadworks are also underway to prepare the Parramatta CBD and North Parramatta for the project.

Less downtime, more flexibility: Providing a better fastening solution

Infastech Engineered Fastening says it can provide wagon manufacturers, rail track and maintenance businesses with an alternative swage locking fastening system which also benefits from the Enerpac tooling service network.

The 734 AV Enerpac series of tools aims to leverage a node-based system, as well as the reach
of the Enerpac-authorised service centre network, to provide a better solution for its users.

Swage locking fastening systems have applications all around the rail sector, from the manufacturing or maintenance of wagons, bogies or locomotives, to installation of new or upgraded track, maintenance of heavy machines, and so on.

Common swage locking systems leave users with common issues. Different nose equipment is often required to install different-diameter lockbolts, and when a tool breaks down, it often must be sent away to be fixed.

Infastech Engineered Fastening has designed a platform which offers a better solution.

The 734 AV system consists of four separate parts: a placing tool, pump unit, hose, and easy-to-change nose equipment.

The pump unit is a high-performance custom Enerpac unit, with a high-efficiency 2-stage pump design with increased oil flow rate and bypass pressure, and 18% less current draw than comparable pumps.

Infastech Engineered Fastening National Sales Manager Ashley Gorman told Rail Express the capabilities of the company’s system made it perfect for the rail sector, especially in a large, sparse country like Australia.

“By using an Enerpac system, it allows customers who require after-service to take it to any Enerpac-authorised service centre around Australia,” he explained.

“That could be someone located in Port Hedland, for example. They don’t have to worry about sending the tool far away for servicing; they can go to their local area to have the tool serviced.

“And that’s a big thing, because you can’t afford to have downtime on tooling when you’re undertaking a major project.”

The electric hydraulic pump drives the power to swage the collar onto the pin, creating the fastening itself.

By using easy-to-change nose equipment and hydraulic hoses in different lengths, the tool can be adapted to suit local assembly requirements.

“The unit itself is unique because you can adjust its stroke setting, so if you’re doing a small diameter pin, you only have the pulling power for that pin,” Gorman explained. “If you’re pulling a large diameter pin, the tool can be reset for more stroke.”

The placing tool is designed to be robust and durable, while still being lighter weight, ergonomic, and highly manoeuvrable.

Large diameter Avdelok XT lockbolts, NeoBolts, as well as Avbolt fasteners can be placed securely in seconds with the 734 AV series of installation tools and pumps.

The Avdelok system

The 734 AV series is designed for the high-speed installation of Large Diameter Avdelok lockbolts.

These lockbolts are designed to offer high shear strength, high controlled clamp, within a wide selection of materials, head sizes, and collar options, providing for an extensive variety of applications.

The Avdelok system is designed to be quick to install, and easy to inspect for tampering, making it the ideal fastener for heavy engineering.

Avdelok structural lockbolts come in steel, stainless steel, and aluminium alloy, and range from 4.8mm (3/16”) to 28.57mm (1 & 1/8”). Headforms include brazier, countersunk, truss and large flange heads, and collars can be full, half or flanged.

For more information, visit: www.stanleyengineeredfastening.com

Harnessing processing power to develop smarter train assembly

Terence Vu sees a future where robots can work out the best way to assemble rollingstock components. The PhD student spoke with Rail Express about his project.

With research co-funded by the University of Wollongong and the Rail Manufacturing CRC, Terence Vu is working to advance the field of automated assembly for rollingstock fabrication.

Put simply, Vu wants machines to determine the best way to assemble components by learning and adapting to new processes on the fly.

“Traditionally in manufacturing, people program robots the step-by-step process to manufacture a part,” Vu explains. “But any time they have a new component, they have to program that additional component again.”

In Vu’s version of the ‘factory of the future’, that engineer would simply provide inputs and a desired result – a 3D model – and the robot would establish the steps required to get there.

“My PhD project is aiming to develop a certain brain for the robot to ‘think for itself ’, where it can determine how to assemble a product from many individual parts,” he says.

“When the parts are brought together, we want the robot to consider lots of constraints from the assembly configurations. We also want other requirements such as the assembly stability and the part’s tolerance to be considered, before making a decision regarding the sequence, and the path to bring those parts together into the final product.”

For every new part or assembly, the machine would be able to adapt and adjust to ensure its process was the most efficient possible, given the constraints.

Vu’s PhD research combines physics, mathematics, engineering and artificial intelligence. Given the large number of potential assembly routes to take, running software simulations helps to select the quickest, safest and most tolerant route when assembling components. The algorithms Vu builds currently work to assemble virtual components, but in the future may be trialled and adapted to be a real-world rail scenario.

Vu says this kind of capability is thanks to recent developments in computing power, and research, specifically within the field of artificial intelligence.

“In recent years, people started to think of many ways to present the different constraints and data efficiently, so the robot can make use of that information,” he says. “And certain algorithms have made the process faster as well.”

With an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Design Engineering, Vu gained industry experience working in robotics at the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab – a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, before relocating to Australia to pursue his PhD studies and continue progressing his passion in robotics.

Vu believes technology like this has a future not only in manufacturing, but in the maintenance and repair side of the rail industry. He says more students should be encouraged to enter the rail sector.

“I think the rail industry is very lively and very colourful,” he says. “It serves and employs people from all walks of life, and I believe that people of any disciplines can participate and contribute to this industry.”

The Rail Manufacturing CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) sponsors and directs collaborative research and commercialisation partnerships in rail manufacturing. It pairs researchers with commercial businesses, with the aim of furthering the rail manufacturing sector within Australia.

The Rail Manufacturing CRC also supports the next generation of rail leaders, with more than 30 students supported across industry projects, scholarships and internships run by the Centre.

For more information, visit: www.rmcrc.com.au