Pacific National - Creative Commons Marcus Wong

PN spends $2.4m on prototype wagons

Advanced materials developer Matrix Composites & Engineering has announced a $2.4 million deal to develop four protype wagons for Pacific National.

Matrix told the ASX on August 6 it had been awarded the contract, and revealed Pacific National was its customer on August 8.

Matrix describes the contract: “to develop and manufacture four prototype composite bulk transport systems”.

The work aims to develop wagons that can handle larger capacities thanks to the unique capabilities of the composite materials developed by Matrix.

The WA-based firm said Pacific National is planning to order 110 units subject to the commercial testing of the prototypes.

Matrix will build the four prototypes at its Henderson facility in WA, and expects to have them ready by the second half of 2019.

“We have been working with our client on the final stage of the design phase and are delighted to have now secured the manufacturing contract to build the prototypes,” Matrix chief executive Aaron Begley said.

“The composite materials being used to manufacture the product are lightweight, rigid, and have fabrication advantages compared to traditional materials such as steel, resulting in structures that significantly increase freight load capacity of bulk transportation.”

Matrix said it is pursuing other opportunities for “lightweight transportation structures,” with discussions commenced with other major bulk transport and freight transport companies looking to upgrade their fleet.

Wireless brake-testing developer to target China

A Queensland workshop is promoting its wireless brake-testing system to the Chinese market, thanks in part to State Government grant.

Electronic & Mechanical Calibrations specialises in the sale, repair and calibration of electronic and mechanical instruments, working out of its shop in Clontarf, north of Brisbane.

Founder Carlos Ortega says his company is Australia’s only wireless brake-testing system specialist.

Clients include Queensland Rail, Aurizon, Pacific National and Progress Rail, along with airline industry clients, who can also use the wireless brake-testing technology, Ortega said.

“We are also in discussions with companies in China to export our testing kit for their use there.”

Electronic & Mechanical Calibrations’ brake testers allow operators to take simultaneous brake readings on a laptop from up to 100 metres away from the running wheel.

The company was recently sponsored by the Queensland Government to showcase its technology at the Myriad technology exhibition and conference in Brisbane in May.

Ortega said the opportunity exposed his business to new markets locally, across Australia and around the world.

“We connected with a software supplier that can design dedicated systems for kits that we assemble, and with other firms whose tools we can calibrate,” he added.

Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath said the sponsorship came via the Advancing Regional Innovation Program.

“This wireless brake-testing system is a great example of the clever innovations coming out our community that improve industry across the entire state,” D’Ath said.

“Transport industries now have a better way to check the brakes on their vehicles to ensure the highest level of safety for passengers and employees.

“We’re proud to support innovative companies like this to achieve great things and create sustainable jobs in our community.”

First Newcastle light rail vehicle to arrive in September

Newcastle’s first light rail vehicle will arrive in Australia next month, after passing initial testing in Spain.

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.

Michael Cassel, Revitalising Newcastle’s program director, said the arrival of the first tram would pave the way for the start of testing later this year.

“Our light rail fleet is being produced by a world leader in transit systems with a presence across Europe, the Americas and Australia, and the ‘Urbos 100’ model on the way to Newcastle is a sleek and modern vehicle which will look fantastic running through the city,” Cassel said.

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.

“Newcastle will soon be to be home to Australia’s first completely wire-free light rail system, with each of the trams carrying an on-board energy source which is charged by an overhead bar at each stop,” Cassel said.

“This is a major improvement to the original light rail design which both the the community and Newcastle City Council told us they wanted, and the result will be a more attractive transport system than you’ll see anywhere in the country, costing just $2.20 to ride or 20 cents if you’re interchanging.”

Canberra: Daytime testing to begin

Testing of Canberra’s light rail vehicles is set to move into its daytime testing phase, as construction of the light rail in the Gungahlin area nears completion.

Light rail vehicle (LRV) testing – which began in June between Gungahlin Place and Nullarbor Avenue – has so far been carried out at night to allow construction activities to be completed during the day.

Daytime testing will begin on Monday next week 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” will 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.

Bombardier logo on tram. Photo:

Rail growth drives revenue boost for Bombardier

Canadian transport multinational Bombardier has reported a 3% growth in revenue in the second quarter of 2018, thanks to an 11% boost from its rail division.

Bombardier Transportation, the division of the company which designs and manufactures rollingstock and signalling technology, reported US$2.26 billion in revenue in the three months ending June 30, 2018, up from US$2.04 billion in the same period last year.

This translated to a US$163 million EBIT figure, up significantly from the $10 million figure reported after the second quarter last year.

Bombardier Transportation reported a book-to-bill ratio of 1.1 (down from 1.3), and an order backlog of US$34.0 billion, down from US$35.1 billion this time last year.

Bombardier won a A$77 million deal to provide 10 years of ongoing services for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel’s new rail control system, and the company’s quarterly report referenced Australia as a positive market.

“Asia-Pacific is foreseen to bring further opportunities during the second half of the year,” the company said.

“Further investments are anticipated for urban transit solutions in China, South Korea, Singapore and India, while in Thailand and Australia medium size contracts are to be awarded for mainline mobility solutions.

“Additionally, significant contracts are expected to be awarded in the services and signalling segments across the vast majority of countries in the Asia-Pacific region with the most significant in China, Thailand and Australia.”

The solid quarter for Transportation made up for a 6% decline in revenue for Bombardier’s Business Aircraft division, and a 2% drop for its Commercial Aircraft division. The company’s smallest division by revenue, Aerostructures and Engineering Services, saw a 3% revenue increase.

Bombardier president and chief executive officer Alain Bellemare said the company’s overall 3% revenue growth to US$4.3 billion was evidence of its solid progress positioning itself for the future.

“With our heavy investment cycle largely behind us, our focus is now on ramping-up production and improving operational efficiency to accelerate growth,” Bellemare said. “You can see this in our solid second quarter results.”

Randwick stabling yard unveiled

PICS: Sydney’s new tram depot has been unveiled, with state transport minister Andrew Constance saying the energisation of the Randwick stabling yard marked a crucial phase of the CBD & South East Light Rail Project.

The home of Sydney’s new fleet of light rail vehicles is also set to be the “nerve centre” for the new light rail line, incorporating the operations room for the network, sheds for light maintenance, and a fleet wash bay.

“I’m really excited to see the CBD and South East Light Rail Project coming together,” Constance said from the Randwick site.

“With almost 21,000 meters of track laid, the next big step the public will notice is testing of the trams during daylight hours in a controlled environment along Alison Road.”

Six trams had arrived at the stabling yards when Constance unveiled the site on July 30, and he said two more were due “by the end of the month”.





Photos: Transport for NSW. Click to enlarge.


Constance said the project’s contractor ALTRAC says final barrier removal along the line will begin in the coming months, taking the project one-step closer to the start of operations for the community and businesses.

“As the civil construction winds up along the alignment, we expect ALTRAC to ensure the barriers will either have a much smaller footprint, or be removed completely,” Constance said. “We’re looking forward to ALTRAC forging through this part of the project, getting trams moving around the network and giving the streets back to the people of NSW.”

Barriers are set to be removed or reduced in the City North, Surry Hills and Moore Park by November, followed by zones in the City South by January 2019 and Randwick and Kensington/Kingsford in February 2019.

NZ’s Coastal Pacific service to return in December

Two years after the Kaikoura earthquake suspended its operations, New Zealand’s Coastal Pacific scenic train services will start up again on the Main North Line from the beginning of December this year.

Landslides from the earthquake in November 2016 significantly damaged the rail line, leading to the suspension of the Coastal Pacific along with freight rail services.

While freight trains are now running again on the Main North Line, Coastal Pacific operator KiwiRail has postponed the return of the scenic train service, which runs between Christchurch and Picton via the Kaikoura coastline. From 1 December, however, the iconic journey will once again be open to passengers.

KiwiRail’s Alan Piper said that the operator will be expecting high patronage numbers upon its reopening.

“We are delighted to confirm this well-loved service will be running again this summer, allowing thousands of travellers from around the world to once again enjoy this spectacular coastline by train,” Alan Piper.

“This will be very welcome news for the people of Kaikoura, as the Coastal Pacific plays a critical role in the local economy by bringing thousands of tourists into the area.”

Prior to the Kaikoura earthquake, approximately 43,000 passengers rode the Coastal Pacific during the summer season, reportedly spending around spending $35 million in the Marlborough and Kaikoura regions.

Piper said that, while the Coastal Pacific had been out of action, KiwiRail’s other scenic tourist services – the South Island TranzAlpine and the North Island Northern Explorer – had experienced a 10% boost in passenger growth.

“Our scenic trains play an important role in getting domestic and international tourists out into often hard to reach regions, and are becoming increasingly popular,” he said.

“Having the service back up and running reconnects our journeys across New Zealand allowing people to travel from Auckland to Christchurch and across to the West Coast by train and ferry.”

The Coastal Pacific will run from December until late April 2019, departing from Christchurch each morning (with the exception of Christmas Day) and returning from Picton each afternoon.

Bombardier wins Singapore metro car contract

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority has signed a US$607 million (AU$822m) deal with Bombardier for 396 metro cars for passenger service on the high-capacity North-South and East-West Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines.

Bombardier announced the deal, which includes an option for long-term service support that would bring the deal to US$881 million in value, on July 26.

The manufacturer will provide its MOVIA metro cars under the deal.

Bombardier Transportation president Laurent Troger said the MOVIA cars are a “high-performing mobility solution” designed for densely populated and fast-growing cities.

“For more than 20 years, Bombardier has been a strategic mobility partner to the Singapore Land Transport Authority, built on a strong track record of delivery performance, best-in-class rail technology and service excellence,” Troger said.

“Bombardier is proud to be a significant contributor to Singapore’s public transport network and to support LTA’s ambitious expansion plans to grow its rail network to 360 kilometres by 2030.”

The 396 metro cars will be able to operate in 66 six-car sets.

Singapore’s North-South and East-West MRT lines combined for 102 kilometres of metro railway, servicing 61 stations, and an average daily ridership of almost two million.

State progressing Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A business case

VIDEO: Gold Coast locals will have their say on the third stage of the region’s popular light rail line, after the state released new footage of its plans and set several community consultation dates.

Concept designs are in place for the third phase of Gold Coast Light Rail, which is actually the first half of the planned third section of the project, after Gold Coast Council decided splitting the stage in two would make the project more “viable and affordable”.

The state has invested $5 million to plan Light Rail Stage 3A, which will extend the existing line from Broadbeach South to a new terminus at Burleigh Heads, with planning for up to eight stations along a 6.7-kilometre route.



Dual track would be built down the centre of the Gold Coast Highway, with at least two traffic lanes retained on either side of the tracks.

The current plan will call for five new trams to be ordered as part of Stage 3A, “similar” to the 18 existing vehicles, which are Bombardier’s Flexity 2 model.

Department of Transport and Main Roads estimates once construction begins on 3A, it will take roughly three years to build.


GCLR3A map
Click to enlarge


State member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon said the four planned community drop-in sessions would help the state progress the detailed business case, which is still being developed.

“The light rail has already proved to be an iconic and transformational project for the Gold Coast,” Scanlon said. “Since Stage 2 came online in December we have seen a 33% increase in light rail patronage overall, with more than 5.2 million trips taken in the first six months.”

The growth represents an increase of around 51,000 trips each week in 2018, compared to 2017.

“Population growth continues to place increasing pressure on the city’s road network which is why planning for this extension of the light rail system is essential,” transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said.

“As we saw during the Commonwealth Games in April, trams can carry many more people while occupying less road space than cars. Without a change in how people move around the city, continued high levels of car dependency will result in further road congestion and associated delays.”