Don’t miss out on your listing in the 2018 Rail Directory

The deadline is approaching for new entries, updated listings, and advertising opportunities in the 2018 edition of the Australasian Rail Directory.

The Australasian Rail Directory is published each year by Rail Express in conjunction with the Australasian Railway Association.

Companies looking to update their listing, and those wishing to add a new one, have until September 5 to email their requests to the Directory’s editor, Ronda McCallum.

“The Australasian Rail Directory is a fantastic resource for the industry, and is distributed to all the delegates at AusRAIL each year, along with hundreds more through our mailing list,” McCallum outlined.

“We also distribute the Directory in an online format, attracting many more eyeballs throughout the calendar year.

“But time is running out for those looking to add or update their listing the 2018 edition.”

Contact Ronda at Ronda.McCallum@mohimedia.com.

Advertising opportunities are also available in the Directory, with a range of options on offer. Contact Margaret Shannon for more information at Margaret.Shannon@mohimedia.com, or call (02) 9994 8086.

New information screens for Yarra Trams

A trial of new “enhanced” passenger information screens has commenced on one of Yarra Trams’ C1-Class vehicles.

The tram has been fitted with a Vehicle Information System (VPIS), which is comprised of four dual LCD screens and automated audio.

The VPIS systems have already been installed on E, D, B2, and A-Class trams in the Yarra Trams fleet.

Emilie van de Graaff, director of passenger and network innovation at Yarra Trams, said the system provided more information to passengers and would improve travel for those with hearing and vision impairments.

“About 87 per cent of our passengers said they were likely to refer to on-board information screens,” van de Graff said.

“While we introduce these improvements for passengers with accessibility needs, we know all passengers appreciate on-board information, in particular those who are new to using our network, whether they be visitors or Melburnians getting on board for the first time.”

During the trial, the LCD screens will provide information regarding the tram destination, the next three stops, along with notifications regarding the Free Tram Zone and accessible stops. Information relating to planned service disruptions will also be tested during the trial.

If deemed successful, the VPIS will be installed on all of Yarra Trams 36 C1-Class trams, with roll-out planned to start in late 2017.

The trial tram (number 3028) runs on Route 48 and Route 109, and Yarra Trams is encouraging passengers to provide feedback about the new system. The feedback will reportedly be used to help improve the design and content of the VPIS.

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Irrelevant information contributed to train smashing through barrier: Report

A report on a 2015 incident in Western Australia has stressed the need for effective communication to ensure train staff can properly carry out operations and avoid safety dangers.

The incident occurred in September 2015 on a Brookfield Rail line and involved a freight train carrying bulk grain between Avon Yard and the port at Kwinana.

According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s report, track re-railing work (contracted out to John Holland) was in progress along the route, involving the closure of the Up Main line between Moondyne and Jumperkine and the diversion of train movements to an adjacent track. Single line block working was thus implemented under the rules applicable to train order working.

The freight train crew received a train order to proceed from Moondyne to a station limits board, and along with this order they received additional instructions regarding their approach to worksites beyond this limit point.

On the approach to the limit point, the train crew were reportedly discussing the additional instructions when the driver suddenly sighted a station limits board and a track closed warning device (marking the limit of the authority).

With little time to respond,” the report states, “the driver applied an emergency brake application … The train collided with the track closed warning device before coming to a stop approximately 400 metres past the limit of authority.”

The ATSB investigation found that the additional information attached to the train order had distracted the crew and led to their failure in stopping the train at the appropriate location. Furthermore, the report states that no visual cues had been erected on the approach to the authority limit point which could have warned the train crew that they were nearing the location.

“Communication of information through non-standard practices and/or the addition of information irrelevant to the intended task may reduce clarity and introduce a source of distraction,” the report states.

“In an operational environment, effective communication, crosschecking and shared understanding by train crew, together with appropriate environmental cues contribute to ensuring the effective performance of tasks.”

As a result of the incident, Brookfield Rail reportedly set up non-crossing indicator boards on all approaches to the station limits board. Moreover, infield protection on both ends of the section of closed track was added, including three track-warning devices 20 metres apart on each rail in advance of the track closed warning sign.

In March last year, Brookfield also introduced a new system of safe working rules and procedures consistent with the Australian Network Rules & Procedures, which means that it similar protective measures have and will be repeated.

The train operator, Watco, has also reportedly worked on emphasising a Crew Resource Management (CRM) program in the aftermath of the incident, which includes “cab situational awareness monitoring” carried out through periodical locomotive data downloads, and has provided additional checkpoints to their already existing Operational Check Ride form that also relates to cab situational awareness.

V/Line train going through level crossing. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

New online feature to provide real-time platform information

Regional train users will now be able to access real-time platform information via the V/Line website and V/Line smartphone app, the Victorian government just announced.

“We’re introducing real-time information so passengers can now check the departure and arrival platform of their train before arriving at Southern Cross Station,” Acting Minister for Public Transport Jaala Pulford said.

The information will be available on the website and the phone app 30 minutes before train departure, and will indicate which platform the service will depart from.

Interchange with other services will also be made easier, as the feature indicates which platform trains are scheduled to arrive at.

The app and website feature will be automatically updated with up-to-date service information, which Pulford said would enable passengers to “properly plan their journey, and make informed decisions about how to get around”.

“We’re taking the next step towards a smarter, more responsive and more coordinated public transport system,” she said.

The new online feature forms part of an effort to improve service information for regional passengers, and comes after the Regional Rail Revival project’s $5.8 million installation of real-time service information screens at 33 regional stations.

GPS technology to help rail maintenance works

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) says GPS technology will help maintain worker safety during upcoming maintenance work on the Hunter Valley Railway Network.

Sections of the track will be shut down during works starting this Friday to allow scheduled maintenance tasks to be carried out, including full track reconstructions, new rail being laid, level crossing improvements, ballast cleaning, rail corridor tidy up works and signalling maintenance.

GPS navigation technology will be used to help complete these tasks quickly while preserving the safety of workers on the site.

ARTC executive general manager for the Hunter Valley, Jonathan Vandervoort, said that GPS equipped machines would carry out onsite earthworks after calculation work has been done to ascertain quantities and to scope out possible problems.

“The system allows plant operators to figure out the depth of excavation and means a surveyor does not have to be continuously around plant to assess and communicate the levels,” Mr Vandervoort said.

“The clever use of technology has allowed us to minimise the disruption to the community by completing work faster and increased safety by reducing the number of workers around mobile plant.”

Vandervoort said more than $20 million worth of essential maintenance will include a range of scheduled maintenance tasks including full track reconstructions, new rail being laid, level crossing improvements, ballast cleaning, rail corridor tidy up works and signalling maintenance.

ARTC is recommending motorists to take extra care while the maintenance works are being carried out.

Works will start on the evening of June 9 on the line from Islington to Telarah and from Port Waratah and Kooragang to Maitland, while further works will begin on the morning of June 10 from Maitland to Muswellbrook, Ulan, and Narrabri. The maintenance works will be completed at all sites by June 13.

ATSB opens investigation over Queensland Rail worker death

Queensland Rail and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will investigate the death of a track worker who was hit by a passenger train at Petrie railway station on Monday night.

Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy confirmed the man died after being struck by a passenger train while working in the rail corridor at 10:26pm on May 29.

“The employee was working as part of a track maintenance team and has sadly passed away,” Easy said. “I want to express my heartfelt sympathies to the man’s family and friends and Queensland Rail employees who I know will also be devastated by this incident.”

Petrie station is where the newly-opened Moreton Bay Rail Link joins the main South-East Queensland passenger network. The opening of the MBRL was delayed last year due to concerns over the line’s signalling system, with then-transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe saying the system initially installed was not capable of managing a junction “as critical as Petrie”.

Safety concerns were resolved throughout a lengthy investigation yielding dozens of applied recommendations, however, and the line was opened late last year.

It is not known at this time whether signalling played any role in the fatality.

Easy said QR was working with investigators to examine the cause of the incident.

The ATSB opened its formal investigation, with a preliminary report expected within 30 days.

Deputy premier and minister for transport Jackie Trad, quoted by the ABC, said: “Safety for our Queensland Rail workers is my absolute priority and there is a full investigation underway.”

Mango Hill station on Moreton Bay Rail Link. Photo: Queensland Government

Moreton Bay closure justified: Report

The official report into the decision to stall the opening of Queensland’s Moreton Bay Rail Link was justified and necessary, an official report has ruled.

Transport minister Jackie Trad on Saturday announced the findings of rail expert Robert Smith’s investigation into the line’s closure, which were provided to the Government last year, but could not be released until “residual commercial negotiations with the contractor were finalised and the legal process concluded”.

Informing the Government’s decision to delay the opening last year, Queensland Rail had cited both “operational and safety” concerns over the line’s signalling system.

The report found the decision to delay the opening of the MBRL was “justified and necessary,” but noted Queensland Rail’s identification of safety as a reason to delay the commissioning was not applicable, as safety issues had not yet been formally assessed as part of the line’s regular commissioning schedule.

The report made 40 recommendations; the first 16 of which were applied immediately to the MBRL to allow it to open late last year.

“Since its implementation, the signalling system has performed well,” Trad said. “The remaining 24 recommendations relate to lessons learned and future projects are all being addressed.”

Scheduled to open midway through 2016, the Moreton Bay Rail Link’s final commissioning was delayed until October, after then-transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe put the line on hold due to concerns over the line’s signalling system.

The $988 million MBRL project was jointly funded by the Federal Government ($583 million), Queensland Government ($300 million) and Moreton Bay Regional Council ($105 million), with Thiess listed as the project’s managing contractor and full rail service provider.

Hinchliffe launched the independent audit a week after he delayed the line’s opening.

“Queensland Rail testing has determined the signalling system currently installed does not meet the operational and safety standards found across the rest of the network,” Hinchliffe said at the time.

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Applications for Fixing Country Rail now open

Applications are now open for project proposals to upgrade the NSW regional rail network as part of the state government’s Fixing Country Rail program.

Deputy premier, John Barilaro, minister for roads, maritime and freight, Melinda Pavey, and member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced the allocation of $150 million for Round One of the program.

The stated aim of the Fixing Country Rail program is to fund rail infrastructure projects that will improve connectivity on the regional network and reduce transport costs for regional businesses.

The $150 million comes out of the $400 million NSW Restart funding for enhancements to regional rail lines.

“Improving rail takes pressure off local roads, helps improve road safety and efficiencies in freight,” deputy premier Barilaro said.

“We want to enhance local communities, which is why we are focusing our efforts in improving networks in rail, roads and freight.”

The opening of Round One comes after last year’s Pilot Round, which funded projects at Burren Junction, Hillston, and Barellan, among others.

The deputy premier said that economic benefits were already being delivered by these projects.

“For every additional train leaving Burren Junction 70 trucks are being removed from the roads network and producers are saving up to $9 a tonne, while the extended siding has meant big savings in wagon loading times. We want to continue seeing these kinds of results.”

With the opening of Round One the government is encouraging those involved in the regional freight industry to nominate projects for the allocation of funds.

“While Fixing Country Rail funding will only be allocated to rail asset owners and managers, input from the people who produce and move freight will be critical for ensuring we get the best ‘bang for buck’ with any upgrades,” Kevin Humphries said.

Round One applications will be reviewed by a technical panel chaired by Transport for NSW’s Freight Industry Branch and then by the Infrastructure for NSW Independent Regional Assessment Panel, which will make recommendations for project funding.

Applications for Round One will be open until the middle of July.

Metro train. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

New services announced for Melbourne lines

30 new Metro train services will soon be running at peak hours every week in Melbourne’s north and west, the Victorian government announced on Wednesday.

The Craigieburn, Sunbury and Werribee lines are to each receive new morning and evening services, which, according to the government, will allow for an added capacity of 27,000 passengers during peak hours.

State public transport minister Jacinta Allan announced the added services as part of the new metropolitan timetable scheduled to start on 27 August.

“We’re running more trains at peak hour – when extra services and more room are needed most,” the minister said.

In addition, the 37 daily services that currently stop at Newport along the Altona Loop will be extended into direct services between Laverton and Flinders Street Station. Two peak services along the Hurstbridge line are also getting extensions.

The Labor government has so far added 300 metro services and 600 regional services for the V/Line network in response to the chronic overcrowding on Melbourne’s trains.

A consumer satisfaction survey issued by Canstar Blue last year reported on the Metro’s frequent service delays and high levels of overcrowding being reported by passengers.

Moreover, figures released by Public Transport Victoria from a May survey last year revealed that 20 per cent of all morning peak hour trains were overcrowded. At that time, the Craigieburn and Sunbury lines had overcrowding levels of 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

The government hopes that the addition of new peak services on those two lines will go some way towards easing those levels downwards.

“The new services will make a real difference – getting people to work quicker and home sooner,” Allan said.

“We’re adding services and delivering the major projects our network needs – we’re getting on with the job.”

These projects, of course, include the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project due to open in 2026, along with the removal of level crossings, and installation of new high-capacity signalling that will allow 24 to 30 trains per hour to reliably run on the lines.

However, as reported by The Age, the growth in passenger demand in the west and north-west is expected to exceed capacity on the Sunbury and Craigieburn lines by 2021 at the latest, well before the Metro Tunnel project is complete.

Spokesman for the Public Transport Users Association, Daniel Bowen, was quoted in The Age on Wednesday, saying that the announced timetable didn’t go far enough.

“It is obviously a step forward but it’s not a major change to the timetable. They don’t appear to be making best use of the track capacity freed up by the opening of the Regional Rail Link,” Mr Bowen said to The Age.

“I think commuters would like to see more substantial changes to the schedules to cut waiting times and relieve overcrowding.”

The government is also investing in 19 new X’Trapolis trains, and 65 high-capacity trains (20 per cent longer), which will begin servicing the Cranbourne-Pakenham Line in 2019 and all of which are expected to be in service by the time the Metro Tunnel project is complete in 2026.

The new train timetables will be available in July from ptv.vic.gov.au and will be in effect from 27 August.

Resleepered track on WA's Leonora Branch Line. Photo: Brookfield Rail

Communications upgrade for Brookfield Rail freight lines

Brookfield Rail, the manager and operator of the 5,500 kilometre freight rail network in Western Australia’s southern half, is upgrading its radio communications network in an effort to improve safety, efficiency and operability of communications on the rail line that runs between Perth and Bunbury.

The project — which costs $2.5 million — will involve the installation of nine radio communication towers along Perth-Bunbury line that will also service the rail lines from Brunswick to Hamilton and Collie.

Brookfield Rail expects that once the project is completed in June this year, communications coverage and performance will be greatly improved.

“The South West is one of the busiest sections of the freight rail network, and this upgrade will reduce the chance of radio black spots, improving communications and future proofing this vital connection from the region into Perth,” Paul Lowney, general manager asset management and projects for Brookfield Rail said.

“The project is just one example of Brookfield Rail’s long-term commitment to improving the safety, efficiency and reliability of the State’s freight rail network,” he added.

Brookfield Rail will also be updating older infrastructure along the line between Brunswick and Collie, replacing the existing copper cable with a new microwave radio system. This development, according to the company, will bring the line up-to-date with the latest communication technology.