Tram stopped at Southport South on the Gold Coast Light Rail. Photo: Creative Commons / David Ansen

GoldLinQ orders four more Flexity trams

Bombardier will supply four more Flexity 2 trams to the Gold Coast Light Rail system in a contract worth roughly $25 million.

Fourteen of Bombardier’s Flexity 2 trams are already in service on the Gold Coast. The four-tram order is an exercise of an option included in the original rollingstock contract signed in 2011.

The new vehicles will be used on the northern extension of the light rail network, known as Stage 2, which will it with the heavy rail system at Helensvale.

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 was confirmed in October after Malcolm Turnbull committed $95 million in federal funding to the project.

Phil Mumford – chief executive of the GoldLinQ consortium ordering the trams – said Bombardier would deliver the trams in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

“The yellow and blue trams have become synonymous with the Gold Coast and the new light rail vehicles required for Stage 2 are due to arrive from August 2017,” he said.

“These trams are designed specifically for the Gold Coast and will ensure the same high quality passenger experience and service frequency is maintained as the system expands.”

Bombardier Transportation’s head of light rail vehicles Carsten Bopp said the Flexity 2 trams had performed well since the line opened in July 2014.

“In their first year, the 14 trams already in passenger service have demonstrated their reliability by completing a total of 6.5 million trips on the line connecting Gold Coast University Hospital and Broadbeach South,” Bopp said.

“This fact is proof of our strong commitment to providing high-quality, eco-friendly mobility solutions to the people of Gold Coast.”

The Gold Coast trams are 43.4m long and 2.65m wide, and are made up of seven modules. Bombardier says they are the first trams in the world to be built with specially designed surfboard racks.

The trams will be manufactured at Bombardier’s site in Bautzen, Germany.

Warren Truss

Truss unveils third Trainline report

Acting prime minister Warren Truss has released the third Trainline report on Australian rail.

Trainline 3 outlines the key role freight, urban and non-urban passenger rail plays in the national economy.

Truss, the guest of honour at Thursday night’s AusRAIL Gala Dinner in Melbourne, said the report would present rail enthusiasts and industry experts with key trends, statistics, and government commitments to rail.

Trainline 3 is a joint annual publication from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

“The publication provides an overview of freight, urban and non-urban passenger rail.

“The report reveals that the end of the mining construction boom has transformed into a production boom and rail is moving more bulk tonnage than ever. “

According to the paper, Australian railways moved almost 1.3 billion tonnes of bulk freight in 2013/14, with WA iron ore transport representing roughly 70% of that figure.

“On the passenger side, Australia’s rail network transported approximately 627 million passengers in 2013-14, with Sydney carrying 272.5 million via heavy rail and Melbourne moving 177 million passengers via light rail in the same year,” Truss said.

Truss, who is acting prime minister while Malcolm Turnbull is out of the country, said the Australian Government is committed to investing in rail projects that deliver economic benefits to Australia including freight rail, inland rail, the intermodal sector and passenger rail.

“Rail is no longer only being viewed as just a long distance and bulk carrier,” he said.

“Indeed, freight rail will need to play an increasingly important role in the movement of goods across the short distances between ports and inland freight terminals.”

Truss said the development of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal would enable future expansion of Port Botany’s container handling capacity, and investment and employment opportunities in Western Sydney.

“Effective rail connections to our national ports are vital for economic growth, and the Government is committed to enhancing these connections,” he said.

“The Australian Governent is also committed to deliver Inland Rail which carries clear benefits for rail freight.

“It promises to deliver economic benefits of around $22.5 billion and create up to 16,000 direct jobs during it’s 10-year construction period.”

Truss also said the Australian Government recognises that investment in public transport is critical to easing congestion and boosting productivity in major cities and regions.

“Our $4.2 billion Asset Recycling Initiative, a key element of the Infrastructure Growth Package includes $60 million to support light rail development in the ACT,” he said.

“The Australian Government’s Infrastructure Investment Programme includes $95 million towards the second stage of the Gold Coast Light Rail which will link the Gold Coast and Brisbane and will be delivered in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“Up to $1.6 billion will also be contributed towards urban rail projects in NSW including the Sydney Rapid Transit and a second harbor crossing.

“The project will create around 7,700 ongoing operating jobs and more than 1,300 construction jobs in south-west Sydney.”

Trainline 3 is available to access online at

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Our AusRAIL PLUS 2015 edition is 92 pages and includes:

  • ARA: Introducing new CEO Danny Broad.
  • Workforce: Women have more to offer in rail.
  • Inland Rail & Intermodal: Looking in to the Inland Rail Implementation Group report
  • Research & Technology: Experts meet to talk wheel detection.

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Rail worker manufacturing. Photo: / Courtesy of Bombardier

AusRAIL: Bombardier boss on rail’s next ‘golden era’

Rene Lalande says Australia is poised to enter a new ‘golden era’ of rail, and he’s excited to talk about it with other industry members on day one of AusRAIL.

Lalande, the chief executive of Bombardier Transportation Australia, is one of ten executives set to take part in Tuesday’s rail suppliers CEO Forum in Melbourne.

He spoke with Rail Express ahead of the event, and shed some light on what he expects to talk about with the other panel members, and delegates.

“As of late I see a renewed interest in rail,” he said. “Especially passenger rail, because that’s our focus.

“You see congestion – for example in Infrastructure Australia audit report that was issued in May.

“In the CBD there’s now no open land to build more roads; it comes at a huge premium. So there’s a physical limit to fitting more roads out there.

“And when you think of how much more efficient a train ‘lane’ is to carry passengers, it becomes very obvious that you need to lean that way. We have studies that show that a well-managed passenger train ‘lane’ can carry as much as 50 times the number of passengers as a road lane.

“You can’t easily build 50 more roads to enter the Melbourne CBD, the Sydney CBD, or Brisbane, but finding the room to build one train ‘lane’ … it is a much greater benefit.”

Lalande believes reducing congestion will be key to keeping Australian cities among the most livable in the world.

“I think [livability] is more than about pride, I think it’s absolutely essential,” Lalande explained. “That’s one of the things that people appreciate the most about this country, and that’s what makes this country unique: livability.

“You wouldn’t want to jeopardise that by having traffic keep going up forever. So I think train is a real solution.

“There was a golden era of trains back in the early days of industrialisation.

“I would be perhaps a bit bold in saying we’re seeing a second golden era of trains coming. I think people have not fully embraced that just yet, but if you look rationally about what passenger rail can provide for our busy city centres, the answer becomes pretty obvious.

“I’m totally excited about that.”

Also on Lalande’s agenda at AusRAIL this year is the discussion around local content vs. imported products from ‘low cost’ economies.

“I believe [the benefits of low-cost imports are] a little bit overstated,” he said.

“Of course, not taking advantage of lower-cost countries at all would be silly.

“But I think there’s room for a good balance, where we keep some of this key industry right here in Australia, while leveraging the lower cost of some components.

“If you think about importing everything, that also means all the high-tech jobs that come with it disappear. The support over the life of the asset is no longer done by people that have first-hand knowledge of the product.

“So I think we’re still soul searching, as a country, about how best to strike a balance between local content, and imported.

“But when I look abroad … what I see in the G20 countries is a lot of local content. These guys sign free trade agreements, just as we do. These guys believe in free trade, just as we do. But they also believe in an infrastructure industry that is strong enough to sustain the economy over a long term.”

Lalande also expects to talk about the increased role public private partnerships are having in the rail supply space.

“We’ve been seeing larger contracts as of late. Full systems, and larger quantities of vehicles, purchased under public private partnership types of agreements.

“That’s a change, because it means you’re no longer delivering trains, you’re delivering a whole system. And you’re taking responsibility over a whole system for a long period of time; handling the financing, the maintenance, and taking on the major risks that come with managing a fleet like that.

“I think that’s a trend that’s well-established now, and I see that continuing in the future. Clearly it’s a significant shift within the industry.”

Lalande will join nine other executives at 11.30am on Tuesday, November 24, in a Rail Suppliers CEO Forum at AusRAIL PLUS 2015.

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E-Class Melbourne tram. Photo: Liam Davies

Victoria places 20-tram order with Bombardier Dandenong

A $274 million, 20-tram order announced in May has been placed by the Andrews Government, with rollingstock to come from Bombardier Transportation’s Dandenong facility.

Bombardier signaled to the government early in 2015 that it may have to wind back its Dandenong operation as it came close to finishing the 50 tram order placed by the Brumby Government in late 2010.

Andrews announced in May the state would order another 20 E-Class trams. This week, public transport minister Jacinta Allan said the government had formally placed the new 20-tram order.

“The 20 new E-Class trams will provide certainty for manufacturers, secure 500 local jobs and boost Melbourne’s iconic tram network, to carry more people every single day,” Allan said on Monday.

“E-Classes are the biggest, safest and most accessible trams on the network.

“They are made in Melbourne, for Melbourne, and every single one of them has been ordered by a Labor Government.”

Yarra Trams boss Clément Michel said with the last of the 50 original E-Classes ordered due to enter service in May 2017, the additional 20 would help relieve a significant growth forecasted in the operator’s passenger numbers.

“Demand on Melbourne’s tram network is forecast to grow significantly in coming years and we need these new trams to help keep the city moving,” Michel said.

“As E-Class trams enter service, larger trams with greater capacity and real-time passenger information are being cascaded onto lines where patronage or demand is greatest.”

A statement from the premier’s office said the new 20-tram order “ensures there will be no changes to production levels at Bombardier for the next three years”.

The first of the 20 trams in the new order will enter service in June 2017, and all 70 E-Class trams now under order should be in service by late 2018, the statement read.

The 30th E-Class tram will soon enter service on Route 11. E-Classes currently operate on Routes 11 and 96, but the government plans to spread them across the network as they roll off the production line.

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Chinese high speed train. Photo: Bombardier

CDPQ buys 30% of Bombardier Transportation

Canadian plane and train manufacturer Bombardier has sold 30% of its rail business to investment firm Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for US$1.5 billion in a fund-raising move.

The deal values Bombardier Transportation at US$5 billion – roughly AU$6.9 billion. Bombardier Transportation is Bombardier’s rail manufacturing business; it is separate from Bombardier Aerospace, the company’s plane manufacturing arm.

Under the terms of the deal, CDPQ will name three members to a seven-member board which will run Bombardier Transportation. The board will be chaired by Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare.

The move was chosen by Bombardier’s board of directors as “the most attractive option” following a review of financing options.

“The transaction announced today, when completed, will crystallize the value of Bombardier Transportation and strengthen Bombardier’s financial position, with no increase in debt,” the Canadian manufacturer said last week.

“The funds to be received by [new holding company] BT Holdco from the transaction will be distributed to Bombardier and Bombardier intends to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.”

Bellemare added: “This investment by CDPQ, which has a long history as one of our major investors, is a testimonial to the growth potential of the rail industry and to Bombardier’s leadership in seizing the opportunities this market offers on a global scale.

“Bombardier and CDPQ have one common objective: leveraging Bombardier Transportation’s innovative portfolio of products and services, engineering talent and worldwide presence to drive margin expansion.”

XTrapolis trainset. Photo: RailGallery

Latest X’Trapolis batch delivered ahead of time

French multinational Alstom Transport says it has completed delivery of the latest batch of eight X’Trapolis trainsets for Melbourne Metro ahead of schedule.

The six-car trainsets were delivered from Alstom’s regional manufacturing centre for rollingstock in Ballarat, Victoria, after being ordered by Public Transport Victoria in June 2013.

Their addition to the Melbourne Metro fleet brings its operating total to 82 six-car X’Trapolis trains.

Along with delivering the trains ahead of schedule, Alstom says it provided more local content in this order than it was contractually obliged to, a sign – it says – of its commitment to the local manufacturing sector.

“Delivery of these latest trains highlights Alstom’s trusted local capabilities and excellence in project execution and delivery” Alstom Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Coxon said.

“The quality and reliability of these trains is testament to the dedication and skills of our team in Ballarat and those of our local suppliers.”

Coxon said the contract was evidence of Alstom’s focus on combining advanced global technology with local innovation.

A further five X’Trapolis trains were ordered by the Victorian government in a March 2015 announcement.

The next five trains are expected to start operating by late 2016.

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Sydney Metro at Campsie. Artist's impression: Transport for NSW

AusRAIL: Metro CCTV winner aims to continue success

EXHIBITOR PROFILE: Aussie-listed tech firm DTI will include some of the products that helped it win the 22-train Sydney Metro CCTV contract at its AusRAIL stand next week.

DTI recently announced it had won the contract to supply passenger information and CCTV systems for trains being delivered to the Sydney Metro Northwest project by Alstom. The order is expected to commence later this financial year.

The contract will equip each train with:

  • a digital surveillance system with removable 8 terabyte hard disk drives and communications infrastructure for system management and data downloads
  • 24 internal and two forward-facing, high-definition IP rail rated cameras
  • an IP-based audio communications system for public address with 60 interior and exterior speakers, hearing aid loops, and an automated voice announcement system, directed by computer and GPS to announce next stop, door open and close and other messages
  • 30 passenger information intercom units
  • external LED-driven destination indication signs, 48-inch wide-screen LCD route displays, and internal passenger information displays – all IP-based and digitally-controlled in conjunction with the audio system
  • a driver display screen which provides status information and also interfaces with the surveillance system to provide low-latency live views from all cameras in up to six cars on the train, plus a second six-car coupled train

“As part of the proposed contract, DTI’s CCTV system will also allow video evidence to be recovered from the trains through an on-line automated CCTV ‘booking’  system providing ongoing benefits through the easy management of equipment, video retrieval and video storage,” the company added.

DTI business development manager Arthur Constantinou told Rail Express the company, which has exhibited at AusRAIL a number of times in the past, will have several pieces of new technology to show off at its stand this year.

“At this event we will have on display our newly released Transit Grade CCTV Camera, our latest IP-based MDR6 Network Video Recorder, and a working demonstration of our own Dynamic Route Map Display,” Constantinou said.

“We will be focusing this year on conveying the distinct advantages of our Total product solutions and offerings to the Australian and Global rail markets, and why [companies] should use DTI.”

DTI will exhibit at Stand 727 at AusRAIL PLUS 2015, set to take place in Melbourne from November 24 to 26.

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Stadler Rail executives at Milsons Point station. Photo: Stadler Rail

Stadler enters Australian market

Swiss rollingstock business Stadler Rail has launched an Australian office, and wants to open manufacturing operations Down Under.

The company announced on Wednesday it has established Stadler Australia, and will set up local manufacturing facilities if it wins a major rollingstock deal.

Already shortlisted as one of four bidders for the NSW Intercity Fleet contract, Stadler officials told Rail Express the company has recently held talks in at least four states – NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia – and is now actively pursuing contracts, using the new Stadler Australia office in Sydney to lead the push into the region.

“Australia and the Asia Pacific region offer exciting new business opportunities for Stadler Rail, which we are determined to pursue,” Stadler vice president Peter Jenelten said.

Stadler has had its eye on the region for some time, but Jenelten said the recent transition to the Turnbull Government, and subsequent changes to transport funding policy, had helped make the decision to open an Australian office an easy one.

“This federal funding will stimulate the construction of new rail and light rail projects throughout the country, in addition to the new rail projects that are already underway in various states,” he said.

“This is a very good time for Stadler Rail to be entering the Australian market.”

Speaking at an event in Sydney, Jenelten explained the company’s reasoning behind local manufacturing.

He said it made financial sense – with Australian dollars being both earned and spent by the business “protecting [the operation] from the exchange market” – and explained the recent trend of closures in the manufacturing sector meant there should be a surplus of skilled labour available. “The skills are there,” he said, “we should have people on the market.”

Jenelten said while Stadler would not try to compete with Chinese manufacturers when it came to initial investment cost, the Swiss business was confident it could give customers a better product, which would pay off in the long run.

“I’ve always said a decision to buy a train is like a wedding,” he said. “It can be expensive, but a divorce is even more expensive.”

Stadler rollingstock would outstrip Chinese competition when it came to life-cycle costs, with an “excellent track record for being good in energy consumption,” Jenelten argued.

“The more time I spend in Australia the more confident I am about the potential for Stadler passenger trains in this region,” he added.

Stadler manufactures rollingstock for every level of passenger rail: light rail, trams, metro trains, suburban rail and intercity trains.

The Swiss company is one of four bidders shortlisted for the NSW Intercity Fleet. It is joined on the shortlist by Alstom Transport Australia; a consortium of Downer EDI Rail and CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles; and a consortium of UGL Rail Services, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and CSR Corporation.

Shortlist members were issued with a formal Request for Tender in September. Transport for NSW is aiming to have the first train of the 520-carriage deal in service by 2019.

Stadler is based in Bussnang, in the north of Switzerland near the German border. It has grown from having 18 employees and a revenue of roughly AU$7 million 25 years ago, to employing more than 6000 people, and boasting an annual revenue of more than AU$4 billion today.

“We’ve developed strong relationships in our existing markets,” Jenelten said. “I believe our capacity to innovate and offer bespoke solutions will serve Stadler Rail well as we move into the emerging markets in the east.”

Pictured: Stadler Rail vice president Peter Jenelten (left) and director of marketing and sales Stan Skalski (right) at Milsons Point in Sydney.

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Rail worker manufacturing. Photo: / Courtesy of Bombardier

Three shortlisted for Melbourne high capacity contract

Victorian transport minister Jacinta Allan has named three consortia to the shortlist to deliver 37 new high capacity metro trains.

Allan, who is also the state minister for employment, named the following shortlisted parties for the High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) Project this week:

  • Bombardier – comprising Bombardier Transportation Australia, Macquarie Bank, ITOCHU and Infrared Capital Partners
  • Eureka Rail – comprising Alstom, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and John Laing
  • Evolution Rail – comprising Downer EDI, Changchun Railway Vehicles and Plenary

Allan noted each of the three shortlisted bidders includes a Victorian manufacturer. This reflects the Andrews Government’s “strict local content requirements,” she pointed out, with at least 50% of the HCMT Project work to take place in Victoria.

Bombardier has a manufacturing site in Dandenong, in south-east Melbourne. Alstom has a regional centre workshop for rollingstock in Ballarat, roughly 100km west of Melbourne. Downer has a rail workshop in Newport, just east of the Melbourne CBD.

“The shortlisted bidders will build the best trains for Victoria and our strong local content requirements mean they will create local jobs and boost the Victorian economy,” Allan said.

“Melbourne is growing and more people are choosing to catch the trains – that’s why these new bigger, better trains are critical.”

The contract for the $1.3 billion HCMT Project was released to market in June. The trains will run on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, Melbourne’s busiest.

The 37-train contract is part of the Victorian Government’s Trains, Trams, Jobs 2015-2025 plan, which outlines a ten-year plan for the procurement of 100 new trains, 100 new trams, and also sets out to boost the regional fleet.

The HCMT Project is being procured as a public private partnership, and also includes the construction of a new train maintenance depot in Pakenham.

Allan says the project will create as many as 800 jobs during the manufacturing stage, and 200 ongoing jobs in train maintenance.

The shortlisted trio will be requested to submit a formal proposal in the second quarter of 2016, the government explained. The tender process is expected to be completed before the end of 2016.

The government wants the first train delivered under the contract by late 2018.

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