First Sydney Metro train undergoing testing

The first of the new driverless trains that will eventually service the $8.3 billion Sydney Metro Northwest next year is now undergoing testing.

The train is currently at Sydney Metro HQ at Rouse Hill, where testing is underway on commissioning systems, including passenger information displays, lighting and door operation. Acceleration and braking operations for the train are also being carried out at different speeds on test track.

The 6-car Metropolis train was delivered to Sydney in September last year and is the first of 22 that are being built for the Metro Northwest by the French manufacturer Alstom in India.

Under the contract awarded to Alstom in 2014, the manufacturer is also delivering Urbalis 400 communications-based train control, Iconis control systems and Smartlock 400 computer-based interlockings for the Metro project.

The trains – driverless, automated, and remotely monitored – are 170 metres long and feature three doors per carriage, which will allow for speedier boarding and alighting at stations.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said that these new trains would boost rail capacity by up to 60 per cent.

“Metro rail services start in the booming North West region in the first half of next year, where customers will have a train every four minutes in the peak in each direction,” the premier said.

Train testing will eventually be expanded and carried out at Cudgegong Road Station, before later moving on to the elevated skytrain section of the Metro line. Trains will then finally be tested through the new twin 15-kilometre tunnels running between Bella Vista and Epping.

“Safety is Sydney Metro’s number one priority and the testing is being done in close consultation with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator,” state transport minister Andrew Constance said.

The Northwest section running from Rouse Hill to Chatswood forms the first section of a 66-kilometre line that, once the second stage of the project is completed, will extend under Sydney Harbour, through the CDB and onwards to Bankstown. Thirty-one new stations will eventually be constructed in the duration of the project.

The second City/Southwest stage of the Metro line is expected to be complete by 2024 and is estimated to cost somewhere between $11.5 to $12.5 billion. A further line, extending from the CDB to Parramatta via Bays Precinct and Olympic Park, is also being planned. While no funding has yet been committed for this latter project, the government expects it to be complete in the second half of next decade.

Model of Melbourne’s new trains on display

A full-size model of a new High Capacity Metro Train has been unveiled in Melbourne, enabling the public to get a glimpse at the future of their daily commute.

The model train will be on display at Birrarung Marr near Federation Square. Members of the public will be able to gain access to the train, while a variety of activities will be available for children, along with competitions and prizes.

When the display ends on Saturday 17 February – with a light show alongside Melbourne’s White Night events – the train will reportedly be used for ongoing testing, manufacturing and training purposes.

“[With this public display] Victoria will get their first look at the biggest, most advanced train in Victoria’s history,” premier Daniel Andrews said.

“We’ve worked with passengers, drivers and the experts to get the design of the new trains right, and now we’re getting on with building them – to create jobs and a better transport network for Victoria.”

Last year, 2,500 pieces of feedback were provided by the public on the design of Melbourne’s new High Capacity trains, including feedback from accessibility and passenger groups, train drivers and technical experts.

A total of 157 design changes reportedly came out of the public consultation process, and include the provision of better hand holds, extra priority flip-down seating and improved bike and pram zones.

At 160 metres long (and with 7 carriages), the trains will be able to hold up to 1100 passengers, around 20 per cent more than existing Metro passenger trains.

The government is hoping that the $2.3 billion project will establish Victoria as a future train supplier, both in Australia and internationally, thereby providing more local manufacturing jobs. The trains are to be built in both China and Victoria, with the final assembly work occurring at Downer’s Newport railyard in the west of Melbourne.

Traction and electrical auxiliary power systems for the trains will be built in Morwell by Times Electric Australia, while SIGMA Air Conditioning will supply the trains’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems from their existing Derrimut facilities in Melbourne’s west.

Ultimate (Australia) Transportation Equipment, based in Melbourne’s south-east, has received the contract to supply and assemble the passenger seats, hand and grab rails and other interior fittings for the new trains, while Fire Protection Technologies in Waverly has won the six-year contract to supply the trains’ fire detection systems.

Construction of the trains will soon get underway in workshops at Newport, the government has said. The first of these are to begin servicing the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines in 2019, while the whole fleet is expected to be ready for the opening of the Metro Tunnel in 2026.

Barr pleased to show off first Canberra tram

The ACT Government has unveiled the first light rail vehicle to the media, after its arrival in the nation’s capital late last year.

The light rail vehicle, built in Spain by CAF, is the first of 14 ordered as part of up the fleet for the first stage of Canberra Metro.

The 33-metre vehicle, which comes from CAF’s Urbos range, will carry up to 207 passengers along the 12-kilometre route being built from the fast-growing northern area of Gungahlin, through Dixon to the city’s centre.

It is understood around ten trams will operate at any one time on the first stage, keeping at least four in reserve for maintenance cycles. More trams will be used during special events.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr relished the opportunity to unveil the first tram to the media, saying every bit of progress made on Canberra Metro was vindication for his Government.

“Let’s be frank, there were many sceptics in the lead-up to procurement of this project,” Barr told the gathering at the vehicle unveiling, referencing the strong opposition to light rail from the ACT Liberals in the lead-up to the territory election in late 2016.

“We are meeting our election commitments to improve public transport in Canberra.

“Many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as chief minister, after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project.

“It’s a strong sense of satisfaction, but we’ve still got a way to go. There’s a second stage of this project to work through, and there’s a lot more new investment coming for Canberra … light rail is at the centre of that.”

ACT transport minister Meegan Fitzharris said the vehicle’s arrival was “a really exciting moment in our city’s history”.

“I look forward to seeing the vehicle travel along the stage one corridor,” Fitzharris said. “I also thank those involved in the transportation of the LRV who ensured it was conducted in a safe and secure manner.”

Both of the ACT’s elected Greens MPs also attended the unveiling, with party leader Shane Rattenbury saying the vehicle’s arrival was “a real milestone in the development of Canberra’s new sustainable transport network,” and fellow Greens MP Caroline Le Couteur adding: “I can remember back in the 1990s, talking about light rail for Gungahlin, and it’s really great to see it finally happening”.

Two more NGR trains enter service

Queensland Rail has released the fourth and fifth New Generation Rollingstock trains onto its network, after the first three trains were put into operation in mid-December.

The two new trains last week joined the first three in operation on the Gold Coast and Airport lines.

The rollout of the embattled NGR fleet is a key component of the State Government’s plans for the Commonwealth Games, which the Gold Coast will host in April.

Queensland Rail boss Nick Easy said the two newest NGR trains successfully commenced operations last Monday, January 8.

“This is another positive step in the rollout of the NGR program and delivering a modern, world-class rail network for South East Queensland, including in lead up to the Commonweal Games.”

Easy said the operator would continue to deploy NGR trains in coming months, as more and more are deemed ready for service following a comprehensive testing and safety assessment phase.

“Following the Commonwealth Games, and as more trains are deemed ready for service, the fleet will gradually be deployed across the entire South East Queensland network,” he said.

The 75-train, $4.4 billion NGR project will deliver an additional 10,000 seats to the South East Queensland rail network.

Next edition features: Light Rail, Passenger Rail, Urban Infrastructure

The first 2018 edition of Rail Express magazine lands in just a few weeks time,  with three strong features to kick-off our brand new bi-monthly schedule:

Light Rail (special pull-out supplement)
Rail Express’s first special supplement in 2018 will focus on the light rail revolution taking place across Australia. Published ahead of the ARA’s Light Rail 2018 event in Sydney in March, and distributed at the event, the supplement will cover new and ongoing light rail developments in Sydney, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Canberra, as well as the latest from Melbourne, the site of the largest urban tram network on the planet. The supplement will also address the latest technological trends and other research and development going on around light rail, and will discuss the potential of future light rail networks in places like Perth, Adelaide and Auckland.

Passenger Rail
Rail Express’s special feature on passenger rail will expand on the magazine’s regular coverage with in-depth features on ongoing projects like the Sydney Metro, the Melbourne Metro Project, the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth, and the City Rail Link in Auckland. New and ongoing passenger rollingstock contracts will also be reviewed, with a particular focus not only on the key manufacturers, but their suppliers as well. The feature will also include the latest offerings from the academic community, and analysis of recent state and federal politics, and what it will mean for the sector.

Urban Infrastructure
Coupling nicely with both the passenger rail feature, and the light rail supplement, the January-February feature on urban infrastructure will cover the interaction between rail and the urban environment. From new station construction in Sydney and Melbourne, to the major rearrangement of rail corridors south of Melbourne and in metropolitan Adelaide, the feature will consider the latest trends and challenges facing rail developments in Australia’s and New Zealand’s rapidly growing city centres.

Please click here to download our media kit.

Missed the previous editions of Rail Express? Please click here to view all of our 2017 digital editions.

If you’re looking to target the Light Rail, Passenger Rail or Urban Infrastructure markets, or run a general branding/awareness campaign, this edition will reach well over 30,000 unique eyeballs in the Australasian rail sector. As Australia’s leading business-to-business rail publication, with an industry only circulation, we can offer you an unparalleled audience of rail industry specific leaders, buyers, decision makers and influencers to ensure maximum yield from your marketing spend.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Daniel Macias on 0427 270 774.

Probe opened into pre-Xmas bogie failure

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating a December 12 bogie fracture on a Pacific National coal train at Kooragang, NSW.

The ATSB is preparing a report after a fracture was identified on the bogie frame of the 39th wagon of PN train TM78A.

The defect was discovered during a roll-by inspection as the train was leaving the Kooragang Coal Terminal at Newcastle, heading towards Tahmoor.

No damage was reported to any track infrastructure, but damage to the train was recorded by the ASTB as “substantial”.

The Bureau’s investigation will be undertaken by officers from the NSW Office of Transport Safety Investigation.

“Investigators have commenced collecting evidence, statements from involved parties and other necessary information,” the Bureau said.

HCMT site build well underway

The first steel structures are now in place in Melbourne’s Pakenham East for the maintenance facilities, stabling yards, and a driver training simulator for Victoria’s new high capacity trains.

Earthworks are also on their way to completion at the site, which is reportedly of a size comparable to 60 MCGs. Approximately 400 workers will eventually be at work on the construction site next year, while 100 workers will be needed at the site in the long-term for the ongoing maintenance of the trains.

The Victorian government has invested $2.3 billion in the High Capacity Metro Trains Project – a public-private partnership between the government and Evolution Rail (a consortium consisting of Downer, CRRC, and Plenary) – which will deliver 65 new trains, the first of which will appear on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line in the middle of 2019.

The government is hoping that the project will establish Victoria as a future train supplier, both in Australia and internationally, thereby providing more local manufacturing jobs. The trains are to be built in both China and Victoria, with the final assembly work occurring at Downer’s Newport railyard in the west of Melbourne.

Traction and electrical auxiliary power systems for the trains will be built in Morwell by Times Electric Australia, while SIGMA Air Conditioning will supply the trains’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems from their existing Derrimut facilities in Melbourne’s west.

Ultimate (Australia) Transportation Equipment, based in Melbourne’s south-east, has received the contract to supply and assemble the passenger seats, hand and grab rails and other interior fittings for the new trains, while Fire Protection Technologies in Waverly has won the six-year contract to supply the trains’ fire detection systems.

“Our bigger, better, next-generation trains will move more people and create 1,100 jobs across the state,” state industry and employment minister Ben Carroll said.

“We’re creating local jobs by building more trains to get Victorians home safer and sooner.”

Bombardier signs deal for more Dandenong trains

Rollingstock manufacturer Bombardier has announced a new $146 million deal to deliver a further 27 VLocity diesel multiple unit railcars to Victoria’s regional network.

The new deal will bring V/Line’s total fleet of VLocity trains to 264 railcars – delivered in 88 three-car sets – by 2019.

Bombardier has built its VLocity trains at its Dandenong plant for over a decade. The trains are designed to operate at a maximum speed of 160kph, and can carry over 230 passengers each.

Bombardier Transportation’s Australian managing director Andrew Dudgeon said the company was “delighted” to continue its partnership with the Victorian Government.

“This order demonstrates confidence in our VLocity vehicle platform which was designed, engineered and manufactured in Victoria, for Victorians,” Dudgeon said.

“These trains will provide an improved travel experience for passengers, and help address the mobility needs of a rapidly growing population.”

Bombardier says the new trains will achieve over 69% local content, and will support over 600 jobs across the rail industry.

The manufacturer will also install in-train 4G signal technology across the regional fleet, after a successful pilot program earlier this year. The program is part of the Victorian Government’s $18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project.

A century later, Canberra gets its first tram

106 years after Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin called for a tram network as part of their master plan for Canberra, the Australian capital has welcomed the arrival of its first light rail vehicle.

The first of fourteen vehicles for the new Canberra Metro light rail line arrived this week, after leaving Spain in October.

Spanish manufacturer CAF is delivering the fleet for Canberra Metro, as part of the Canberra Metro Consortium.

Each of the trams will be made up of five modules, based off of CAF’s Urbos model – the same model used in Sydney’s existing light rail line.

Boasting capacity for 207 passengers, the trams will include 12 priority seats, two wheelchair spaces, and will be equipped with on-board Wi-Fi as well as air conditioning and bicycle storage.

“Canberra’s LRVs will provide on-board safety and comfort, including CCTV recorded coverage, an integrated emergency communication help point system, and ergonomically designed seating and handrails to ensure secure supports are available to both standing and seated passengers,” ACT transport minister Meegan Fitzharris said.

“As we strive to become a more sustainable city, the LRV also meets the most demanding eco-design requirements, using the most efficient technology and lightweight materials.

“The ACT Government would like to thank all those involved in the transportation of the LRV, including NSW and ACT police, who ensured the transportation was done in a safe and secure manner.”

Canberra Metro, currently under construction, will be a 12-kilometre, 13-stop light rail line linking the northern district of Gungahlin with the city’s centre. Future plans include a number of other lines linking other parts of Canberra to the centre.

First NGR trains to enter service

The first of South East Queensland’s new passenger trains will enter service next week, subject to a temporary exemption for certain non-compliances which will be addressed in the long-term, Queensland Rail has said.

QR announced on Wednesday the first of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) fleet would enter service on the Gold Coast Line on Monday, December 11.

Initially ordered by the Newman Government in 2014, the NGR’s delivery was halted in March this year by the Palaszczuk Government, in the midst of an ongoing management debacle at QR which included the dismissal of several high-ranking employees, as well as former transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who handed the portfolio back to Jackie Trad.

Trad and Palaszczuk at the time blamed operational and design issues — in the braking system, air-conditioning, ventilation and driver visibility — which had been apparent since on-track testing began last year, for the delay.

Train manufacturer Bombardier, blamed by Queensland’s mainstream media, has maintained that the trains are of the highest calibre, and issues found in testing were not abnormal for a project of this scale.

Nonetheless the manufacturer vowed to work with QR and its other partners to work out the kinks in the rollout process, and get the NGR trains on track as soon as safely possible.

Bombardier managing director Andrew Dudgeon this week welcomed the news the first of the trains would be allowed to enter service.

“Today is a very special day for the people of South East Queensland, and all involved in the delivery of this vital rail project,” Dudgeon said.

“These trains are state-of-the-art. Built for Queensland’s commuters, the NGR fleet was locally designed and engineered, and will be maintained by a dedicated team of industry professionals over the next 30 years.”

Bombardier Transportation delivered the trains as part of the Qtectic consortium, which also includes John Laing, ITOCHU and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

QR boss Nick Easy, who is newly-appointed after QR’s Government-driven overhaul at the start of the year, said the NGR trains were essential to meeting demand during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will take place on the Gold Coast.

“More trains will be rolled out on the Gold Coast to Airport line over the coming months, including some services to Doomben and Northgate, and will eventually operate across the entire South East Queensland passenger rail network,” Easy said.

“As the NGR fleet commences passenger services for the first time, each train’s performance will be closely monitored.”

Disability access on the new trains is still an issue.

QR and the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) have made a joint application to the Australian Human Rights Commission, to grant a temporary exemption to the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.

The temporary exemption will allow non-compliant trains to operate while work to redesign and rectify other NGR trains continues.

“As the rectified NGR trains are expected to progressively roll-out onto the South East Queensland rail network in 2019, NGR trains in their existing design will be utilised for passenger service in the interim,” Easy said.

The decision to greenlight the train rollout has come under fire from some disability advocates, with Geoff Trappett from Inclusion Moves telling The Brisbane Times that many in the disability sector were “appalled” at Queensland Rail’s “arrogance” in putting non-compliant trains on tracks, and that, in response, he and others in the sector would be pursuing “whatever legal avenues” at their disposal.

While acknowledging the work that remained to be done on the fleet, Easy nonetheless praised the joint efforts of TMR, Queensland Rail and Qtectic in ironing-out design-issues and carrying out tests to ensure the trains were ready and safe for service.

“I’d like to thank the teams from TMR, Qtectic, and Queensland Rail who have worked extremely hard behind the scenes to get to this milestone,” he said.

Qtectic Chair Bill Haughey drew attention to the close collaborative work was required to bring the project to this point.

“We are excited to present the new fleet to the people of Queensland. Our consortium would like to thank the Queensland state government, TMR, and QR for their continued support and close collaboration. These new trains will provide passengers with a safe, more comfortable, and digitally-enabled environment,” Haughey said.

Bombardier said there are currently 175 employees at the Wulkuraka Maintenance Facility, with a plan to ramp up to over 200 employees once maintenance activities commence.

With additional reporting from Oliver Probert.