First new Waratah Series 2 train enters service

The first of Sydney’s new Waratah Series 2 trains, delivered by Downer EDI-led Reliance Rail consortium, has now entered service on the network following the completion of testing.

Constructed in China by CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, all of the new trains are expected to be delivered, and in service, by early next year – part of the state’s $1.5 billion More Trains, More Services program.

The Chief Executive Officer of Downer, Grant Fenn, said the Waratah Series 2 trains further improved the passenger experience with their superior design and technology.

“Downer is continuing to work with Transport for NSW, our delivery partners and suppliers to provide safe, reliable and comfortable world-class transport solutions for the people of New South Wales,” Fenn said.

“Importantly, we have built on the success of the original Waratah train fleet to deliver Sydney’s newest trains in record-time. We understand the transport challenges in New South Wales and the need to increase capacity as quickly as possible with improved passenger comfort and the highest standards of safety.”

Features of the new trains include improved air conditioning systems with advanced temperature control; over 90 internal and external CCTV cameras; high definition passenger information screens; wheelchair spaces, priority seating and hearing aid loops; and improved interior LED lighting.

As the trains are progressively rolled out, priority will be given to services on the T2 Inner West & Leppington Line, the T3 Bankstown Line, and the T8 Airport & South Line.

Earlier this month, Downer officially opened its rail workshop at Cardiff, west of Newcastle, after a $38 million upgrade. The facility has undergone a major refurbishment, highlighted by the installation of a purpose-built, eight-car train lift and bogie exchange workshop, which will enable the maintenance of the Waratah fleet with minimal downtime.


Daytime testing begins for Sydney light rail vehicles

VIDEO: Sydney’s new light rail vehicles have begun daytime testing for the first time this week, travelling on the newly constructed line between Randwick and Moore Park.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and state transport minister Andrew Constance boarded a vehicle on Tuesday for its first daytime test run. Berejiklian said it was a significant milestone for the beleaguered project, the completion of which has been set-back by one year.

“This is an exciting day for Sydney with light rail vehicle testing now underway during the day along Anzac Parade,” the premier said.

“Not only is testing of the Light Rail Vehicles underway, but the track is nearing completion with less than a kilometre left to be laid.”

The first daytime test run took place in the first energised section of the 12-kilometre light rail route between the Royal Randwick Stop on Alison Road, and Lang Road, Moore Park.

Signal sequencing at 67 intersections along the route of the line between Circular Quay, and Randwick and Kingsford are currently being finalised. Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples indicated to The Sydney Morning Herald that, when the line finally opens, the trams will be given priority over motorists.

“These [trams] carry 450 people, equivalent of nine buses, so you move more people through the intersection per second than you do with the old bus system,” Staples said.

“Clearly these are going to be a high priority when you’ve got 450 people on them.”

Constance said systems testing and commissioning, which includes dynamic vehicle testing, will continue as civil construction nears completion.

“This milestone should remind Sydney that the days of getting a light rail vehicle to Moore Park, the Racecourse or the hospital are just around the corner,” Constance said.

“As civil construction nears completion, more areas along the alignment will be energised, enabling testing to expand.”

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NGR trains continue QLD rollout

South East Queensland’s New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains have rolled out on the Springfield and Redcliffe Peninsular lines, part of the fleet’s ongoing commissioning across the network.

The first service taken by an NGR train on the lines was on Monday’s 3.46am Kippa-Ring to Springfield Central service.

The rollout on the two lines builds upon the initial rollout of the trains to the Gold Coast and Airport lines in mid-December 2017, Doomben line in May 2018 and Northgate to CBD services in July.

State transport minister Mark Bailey said 27 NGR trains have now been fully-commissioned for service across the South East Queensland network.

“It’s great to see the fleet continuing to service customers across SEQ and entering the Springfield and Redcliffe-Peninsula lines,” Bailey said.

“I’m told Queensland Rail has already received messages from excited train enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of the trains servicing these stations for the very first time.”

The NGR fleet will continue to rollout across the network as more trains successfully undergo testing and safety assessments.

The beginning of NGR services on the Springfield and Redcliffe Peninsula lines has been supported by an increased customer service presence at stations, which will enable the provision of boarding assistance for passengers.

Bailey said that works to ensure NGR trains were disability accessible were ongoing and had been undertaken with the involvement of the accessibility sector.

“This has been done through a series of co-design workshops to ensure that the modified trains will meet functional requirements for all customers, as well as meeting the compliance standards required by the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT),” he said.

“Qtectic, Bombardier and Downer EDI are progressing with detailed design work and preparation of the Maryborough workshops for the train upgrades.”

First Newcastle tram arrives

Newcastle’s first light rail vehicle has arrived, prior to the beginning of testing along the new line next month.

The new tram departed from the Port of Santander, Spain, on a special roll-on-roll-off ship in July. The Urbos 100 – built by the manufacturer CAF – is the first of a fleet of six low-floor trams that will be arriving at the Port of Newcastle over the coming months. Each tram is 33-metres long, and able to carry 270 passengers.

The city’s light rail line, set to open in early 2019, will run between Wickham and Newcastle East via six stations.

Over half of the track installation work has been completed, with construction works expected to wrap up in the coming months.

The arrival of the first tram coincides with the beginning of a campaign to raise community safety awareness around the light rail line when testing begins.

“While testing will start gradually, with trams travelling slowly along the track at night, later this year trams will be travelling frequently through the city simulating timetabled running,”

Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said.

“Light rail is by design quiet and less obtrusive than other forms of public transport, and with our trams weighing 45 tonnes and moving at 40 kilometres an hour, it’s especially important to be aware in the city centre.”

A schools safety programme is also in the process of being developed by Revitalising Newcastle to ensure students are aware of changes around the city centre.

“The most important thing we’ll be encouraging is that people follow signs and signals in the city centre,” Cassel said.

“We’ve added six new pedestrian crossings along the light rail route which will operate in tandem with trams to ensure people can cross the road safely.”

Downer opens upgraded Cardiff facility

PICS: Downer has officially opened its rail workshop at Cardiff, west of Newcastle, after a $38 million upgrade.

Downer on Tuesday officially opened the upgraded Cardiff Service Delivery Centre.

The facility has undergone a major refurbishment, highlighted by the installation of a purpose-built, eight-car train lift and bogie exchange workshop, which Downer says is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

“The completion of the bogie workshop at Cardiff will deliver overhaul and maintenance services immediately for the Waratah fleet ensuring minimal downtime for NSW commuters,” Downer’s executive general manager of Rolling Stock Services Michael Miller said.

“Our expectation is that the Cardiff investment will result in further improvements to all Downer-managed rolling stock fleets.

“There will be improved reliability for these critical assets which are already recognised as world-class trains.”

The $38 million refurbishment also included investment in new wheel presses, axle and wheel lathes, automated bogie rotators, paint booths, bearing wash and other specialist overhaul technology and equipment.

Downer says the refurbishment will result in a 50% reduction to the time taken to overhaul ‘critical assets’. The upgraded facility will also improve the performance, and extend the life, of train assets like bogies and wheels, Downer added.

The Cardiff site now has the capacity to refurbish 2,340 bogies, and 24,030 wheelsets each year.


Photos courtesy of Downer

Left to Right: ARA chief executive Danny Broad, Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins, Sydney Trains deputy executive director for commercial and supply chain Lynne Canalese, Sydney Trains associate director Richard Rice, and Downer executive GM for rolling stock Michael Miller.

3 shortlisted to locally manufacture Perth rollingstock

WA’s McGowan Government has named three potential suppliers to deliver new trains to Perth’s passenger rail network, with at least 50% of the manufacturing to take place locally.

Three consortia were named to the Metronet railcar shortlist on August 28:

  • Alstom Transport Australia Pty Ltd
  • Momentum West (CAF and UGL)
  • EDI Rail – Bombardier Transportation Pty Ltd

The winning bidder – announced in 2019 – will deliver 246 railcars, to operate in 41 six-car sets.

17 of these sets (102 railcars) will be needed from 2021 to service the expansions to Perth’s rail network as they come online, under the Metronet program.

The remaining 24 sets (144 railcars) will be part of a follow-on order, to replace Perth’s ageing A-series railcars between 2023 and 2028.

Manufacturing will take place in Western Australia, with the McGowan Government setting a 50% local manufacturing target for the supply deal.

“The key target of 50% will help revitalise WA’s manufacturing industry and put WA jobs first,” WA premier Mark McGowan said.

A site in Bellevue, near the old Midland Workshops in Perth’s east, has been named the preferred location of a manufacturing facility for the trains.

The manufacturing site would be co-located with a new railcar depot, which would service not only the new rollingstock but Transperth’s broader train fleet.

Transport minister Rita Saffioti said the construction of a manufacturing and maintenance site in Bellevue would have a great impact on the local area.

“The Midland-Bellevue area will be involved in the production of new trains and their ongoing maintenance work, creating sustainable local jobs for local people and supporting ongoing expansion of our vital passenger rail network,” Saffioti said.

Metro Trains Comeng EMU. Photo: Zed Fitzhume / Creative Commons

DTI wins contract to upgrade Melbourne’s Comeng fleet

The first contract for the delivery of the third stage of upgrades to Melbourne’s Comeng fleet has been signed with DTI Group, who will upgrade the trains’ key communications systems.

The contract will see DTI supply and install integrated surveillance and passenger information systems valued at approximately $5.85 million on 58 Comeng trans. The new systems – to include new CCTV cameras, driver CCTV screens, PA systems and emergency buttons – will be installed on the youngest Comeng trains, as these will remain in service over the duration of the progressive retirement of the fleet and the roll-out of the new High Capacity Metro Trains.

The systems include an in-built multifunction 4G, LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n router, twelve high-
definition cameras, two transit rated power over Ethernet network switches, two hearing-aid loop amplifiers, two driver display units, two frontal displays, two PA amplifiers, and six internal displays.

Works will also involve overhauling Comeng air and brake systems and delivering traction control upgrades to the trains.

“As we get on with building the infrastructure that allows us to run more trains more often – we’re also upgrading our trains to make sure passengers are comfortable and safe,” state transport minister Jacinta Allan.

“We’ve delivered a record investment in new trains and trams – both new and old – to get Victorians where they need to go safer and sooner.”

Comeng trains, manufactured by Commonwealth Engineering in Dandenong, entered service in 1982 and were first refurbished 2000 by Alstom Ballarat and Downer EDI in Melbourne.

The current refurbishment programme began in 2017, adding additional handholds and more comfortable seats to the trains, as well as vertical poles and bigger seat handle backs to ensure comfort for standing passengers.

Alongside the upgrades, the state government has made a recent $103.5 million investment in five new six-carriage X’Trapolis trains – bringing the total X’Trapolis orders to 24 – while 65 new High Capacity Metro Trains are to be delivered, the first of which will start running on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines in 2019.

Rail bolsters double-digit growth forecast for Downer

Solid results for Downer’s transport and rail divisions have driven a 7% growth in underlying net profit in FY18, and the company is forecasting significant growth over the next 12 months.

Downer told shareholders on August 16 a strong underlying net profit gain in FY18 had come off the back of revenue improvements across all six of its divisions.

Transport revenue increased by 31%, Rail by 38%, Utilities by 18%, EC&M by 20%, Mining by 4.5% and Spotless by 3%.

Underlying net profit after tax was $296.5 million, up 6.7%.

The one-off cost of Spotless, which Downer acquired during the period, meant Downer’s statutory (i.e. actual) net profit after tax was $117.9 million.

But with that now squared away, the company is forecasting net profit of $335 million in FY19.

Chief executive Grant Fenn said the FY18 result marked the seventh consecutive year Downer had met its guidance, and noted the FY19 forecast would represent a double-digit gain.

“We have leading or strong market positions in all sectors in which we operate and there are significant opportunity pipelines in every one of them,” Fenn said.

Downer’s Transport division’s total revenue was up 31% to $2.82 billion. EBITDA was up 14% to $142.9 million, and Transport has $7.4 billion in work-in-hand.

Rail buoys future growth

Revenue rose 38% for the Rail division, to $1.17 billion. EBITDA rose 29% to $39.2 million, and Rail work-in-hand sits at $8.2 billion.

Downer’s presentation to shareholders noted it would “continue to benefit from significant state government investment in public transport and in particular light and heavy rail”.

Speaking with the AFR, Fenn said the company was encouraged by the NSW Government’s vow to approach major infrastructure contracts from a more cooperative position.

Fenn said Downer had backed out of bidding for the Sydney CBD & South East Light Rail project because of the amount of risk being put on the private contractor. The project has since been plagued with conflict between the delivery consortium and the State Government.

“We wouldn’t have taken the risks on the utilities on that particular project,” Fenn was quoted as saying.

Fenn found the NSW Government’s recent 10-point action plan promising, however.

“I’m pretty buoyed by that particular document and hopefully that will be the way it works on Parramatta [Light Rail] and other large infrastructure projects,” he was quoted. “What those 10 points are really talking about is an appropriate allocation of risk to the people that are best organised to manage that risk and price it.”

Downer’s Annual Report noted its Rail revenue and EBITDA rose despite the company selling its freight rail business to Progress Rail in January.

Major contracts for Downer Rail include the Sydney Growth Trains project in NSW, the High Capacity Metro Trains contract in Victoria, and ongoing work with Sydney Trains, Transport for NSW, WA’s Public Transport Authority, Metro Trains Melbourne, Transport Victoria and Queensland Rail.

New managing director for Bombardier

Paul Brown has replaced Andrew Dudgeon as Bombardier’s managing director for Australia, as part of the rail technology leader’s transformation program.

Brown, previously Bombardier’s senior rail industry leader in Australia, was named the new managing director ‘ad interim’ on August 15.

Per Allmer, Bombardier’s president for Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Australia, said the management change was part of an ongoing plan to strengthen Bombardier’s competitiveness in “key rail ecosystems”.

“We are delighted to bring Paul into this role, to reinforce our management team, accelerate our transformation, and increase our focus on satisfying our customers in Australia,” Allmer said.

Brown has worked in rail for Bombardier for 35 years.

He has been the project director for Queensland’s New Generation Rollingstock project, and will continue in this role as managing director.

Bombardier said Brown’s other priorities include strengthening stakeholder relations, and securing new business in Australia’s “highly competitive” market.

Andrew Dudgeon will leave the business. Bombardier said he had “decided to pursue other career opportunities outside of the business”.

“Bombardier wishes to thank Andrew for his service and for his efforts in developing our business,” the company said in a statement.

Bombardier employs over 1,000 in Australia, designing, engineering, manufacturing and maintaining rolling stock, and providing signalling, rail equipment, asset management and through-life support to customers and operators.

Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, and listed on the Toronto stock exchange, Bombardier employs 69,500 across its aerospace and rail transport businesses – roughly 40,000 in the latter.

ACT heralds its first Rail Safety Week with daytime testing

PICS: ACT’s first ever National Rail Safety Week event has launched, as the territory joins in the efforts of up to 75 rail, police and government organisations from across Australia and New Zealand to raise safety awareness across the sector.

Meegan Fitzharris, ACT’s transport and city services minister, attended the launch at Gunghalin’s shopping precinct on Sunday.

The event emphasised a greater public awareness of track and level crossing safety around the new Canberra light rail system.

It also served as a launching pad for the start of daytime testing for Canberra’s new light rail fleet.

Fitzharris said the transition to daytime tests means the public must be extremely careful while near the tracks.

“Our light rail vehicles started overnight testing in June and day time testing will start this week. This means it’s more important than ever for our residents to be aware of the importance of staying safe around the tracks,” Fitzharris said.

“The number one thing you can do to avoid harm is obey all signs and road rules. Be sure to pay attention around the tracks, because light rail vehicles can move quickly and quietly.”



Daytime testing for the light rail vehicles (LRVs) will begin on August 13 and will also include practical driver training for light rail drivers as they prepare for the operational readiness and commencement of services.

Vehicle testing is being accompanied by tests of the whole light rail infrastructure and system in this zone, including track, signaling and passenger information systems.

A minimum of two LVRs will be on the tracks during the day, with “T Lights” regulating their movements at Flemington Road intersections Hinder Street, Kate Crace Street and Manning Clark Crescent.

It will initially take place between Gungahlin Place and Nullarbor Avenue, between the hours of 9:30am and 3:00pm. Testing will continue during the night.

Eventually, from the middle of September, more LRVs will be testing on the tracks and the testing area will be extending from Gungahlin to Mitchell.

Rail Safety Week, an initiative of TrackSAFE Foundation, the Australasian Rail Association and other organisations, will be promoting safety around rail corridors across the country, with volunteers from the rail industry preparing to visit thousands of school students in metropolitan, regional and rural areas throughout the week.

Fitzharris said it was an important milestone for the ACT to join in the Rail Safety Week activities for the first time.

“It shows how far we’ve come towards delivering an integrated public transport system with light rail working alongside buses to meet commuters’ needs in our growing city,” she said.