Check out what happened at Day 2 of AusRAIL below! Updates were posted from the bottom of the page, upwards. All times are local to Adelaide.
4.30pm ARA chief executive Danny Broad brings the 2016 edition of the AusRAIL Conference & Exhibition to a formal close, and invites delegates to tonight’s Gala Dinner.
4.20pm Currie asks the panellists for a final idea or message when it comes to new technology.
Gelston says DPTI needs to continue to listen to its customers. “Focus needs to continue to shift away from moving metal boxes, to moving people,” he says.
Dudgeon says the industry needs to be nimble to adjust to future changes in technology. He notes how far mobile phones have come in the last decade, and speculates how far they may go in the next decade. As the technology changes, so too will customers’ desires.
Palmer says social media analysis could also be an interesting and useful avenue to push patronage in the future.
Lezala says technology should also be used to create “an open architecture for fares”. By using customer technology to track movements, he explains, we could in the future see train systems without barriers.
And Miller believes technology can be used to better direct the flow of commuters throughout the network, with the potential to use data processing to send passengers to the right carriage at the right time.
4.15pm Lezala says MTR is starting to exploit its ability to share information across its widespread international businesses. “Knowledge sharing and resource sharing is an opportunity,” he says.
Collins says connectivity remains an issue on his network, which has 14 kilometres of track where no phone signal can be found. “If you can do it in a steel tube 36,000 feet up in the air over the Pacific Ocean, you should be able to do it on a train,” he says.
4.10pm Currie asks the panel what role government has to play. Collins believes government’s job is to ensure the technology systems are applicable across all modes to help create an efficient, multi-modal system.
But Lezala believes governments still aren’t sharing enough data to help operators and other rail businesses innovate.
Paul Gelston says South Australia’s DPTI has found getting an app to be as easy as sharing the transport network data with students who will create an app fit for purpose.
Miller says Downer struggles to turn its immense volumes of data into rich, “useable” datasets for its customers.
4.05pm Collins says younger rail professionals will help the industry understand how to best apply new technologies.
Michael Miller says Downer is trying to move out of the current “paradigm” of “doing everything yourself,” and is instead looking to the market more for new solutions to complex problems. “We’ve got to get practical outcomes for our customers,” he says, “and that’s not about spending piles and piles of money on our own R&D.”
Dudgeon says when a company like Bombardier needs external expertise, partnering with the right organisations can be crucial for a truly successful product delivery.
4.00pm Lezala thinks big data can help create detailed, tailored profiles for every passenger, to help deliver more services that people want. “We ought to be knowing [for example] that we’ve had 2000 people that have looked for a supermarket here,” he says. “We should put a supermarket here.”
Howard Collins says that on the Sydney Trains network, despite “record” timeliness figures, and data “flying everywhere”, people on platforms still don’t always know what is going on. But arming his staff with phones and smart tablets has allowed them to become better ambassadors for the rail network.
An unexpected side-effect of the smart devices is that lost property has become easier to report, record and track down.
3.55pm Andrew Dudgeon explains how rollingstock manufacturers have to work with operators and governments to give them what they need in an age of new technology. Air conditioning trams in Victoria, for example, are being upgraded based on customer feedback and real time data.
Andrew Lezala says Metro Trains has been developing apps to improve customer experience, as well as a social network for internal staff communication. Metro also has an app for visually impaired passengers. He says it has been important to ensure Metro’s frontline staff have access to information at least as fast as their customers do, so all have been provided with smart devices.
As for big data, Lezala says “we haven’t even scratched the surface yet”.
3.45pm The final session of the AusRAIL 2016 conference is underway, with a CEO Forum on technology, social media and big data.
Included on the panel are Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins, Metro Trains managing director Andrew Lezala, Bombardier Transportation managing director Andrew Dudgeon, Gold Coast Light Rail Keolis Downer CIO Adam Palmer, Downer Rail chief executive Michael Miller and South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure chief operating officer Paul Gelston. Professor Graham Currie from Monash University is facilitating the discussion.
3.15pm The conference breaks for Afternoon Tea.
3.05pm MTR has maintained a significant property portfolio throughout its integrated developments, providing it with an ongoing rental revenue that moves with inflation, just as its operational costs move with inflation. He says the property base also helps it more easily secure significant loan facilities, and make large investments to enhance passenger service.
He says in Hong Kong, the integrated property and railway development system has created a “win-win” result. The society wins through new developments and a world class metro system, the government wins by not taking on any risk or spending much money, and of course MTR wins by developing a major set of transport and property projects.
3.00pm Wong outlines a pair of models for the construction of infrastructure and surrounding development: one which is integrated, so the same authority is in charge of both projects, and another where the transport project is handled by one group, and surrounding developments are put out to separate tender.
While he says a decision should be made on a regional and case-by-case basis, Wong believes an integrated transport development model generally achieves better and more reliable results.
2.55pm Wong explains how MTR ascertains the rail funding gap before it considers how much land to develop around the infrastructure, thus ensuring enough value capture can take place to property fund the line, and deliver a profit to MTR.
He says the basic concept of value capture comes from the mutual value adding that occurs when train lines are built around developments. The rail line delivers more foot traffic to development centres, which in turn build up and create more volume on the rail line itself.
2.50pm MTR’s head of Australian business Terry Wong is now addressing the conference, to discuss MTR’s value capture model.
MTR earns just 14% of its profits from Hong Kong transport operations. While 5% more comes from its Mainland China and International operations, 21% of its profits come from property development, 28% from property rental and management, and 32% from commercial operations in and around stations.
2.45pm With four key packages of works providing for the Metro Tunnel construction, another contract to deliver the new trains, and additional works relating to level crossing removals on the existing lines, Tattersall says the management of various interfaces between each contract will be crucial.
The targeted completion date for the Metro Tunnel project is 2026.
2.40pm The Metro Tunnel will need to be built in three sections, in parallel. North of the CBD will be tunnels drilled with tunnel boring machines (TBMs), while road headers will be used to create the tunnels through the CBD, and TBMs will again be used south of the CBD. Tattersall says the sections must be built at the same time, as building them in order will take too long and the urgent need for capacity is too high.
2.35pm The High Capacity Metro Trains are to be launched as seven-car sets, but Tattersall says the stations will be built to allow for the trainsets to be extended to ten cars each, to prepare for future capacity increases.
2.30pm The ultimate plan for the Metro Tunnel is to facilitate the creation of a segregated metro network in Melbourne, with seven isolated lines. The tunnel’s route is expected to also relieve a significant load off the spine of the tram system through the CBD, as it will offer a faster journey for commuters looking to cross the city from north to south, or south to north.
2.25pm Melbourne’s Metro network is forecast to double in patronage by 2030. This issue is worsened, Tattersall says, by choke points at North Melbourne and Richmond, and a City Loop which is already “at capacity”. There are also pinch points on the tram network around and through the Melbourne CBD.
2.20pm Melbourne Metro Rail Authority chief executive Evan Tattersall follows Gellibrand, with a presentation detailing the challenges and drivers for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project.
2.10pm He says there is “a good 12 to 18 months of design” to go into the complex station precincts in the CBD, where new train stations are to be built below ground level, and new buildings will be built above ground level, while both precincts will be “knitted together” at ground level.
2.05pm Sydney Metro’s full automation and platform screen doors means trains will be able to enter stations at a high velocity even during peak periods, reducing dwell time and improving train throughput metrics, Gellibrand notes. Sydney Metro will also have Australia’s first ever fully automated train yard facility.
Tracks are now being laid throughout the tunnel section of Sydney Metro Northwest, Gellibrand says.
2.00pm Sydney Metro is looking at optimising the customer experience not just on the line, but from door-to-door, origin to destination. Gellibrand says that means looking at the stations, the precincts around the stations, and how passengers travel to and from those precincts.
1.55pm Gellibrand says the Sydney Metro team is “confident” it is close to environmental approval for the tunnelling section of stage two of the project, Sydney Metro City & Southwest.
The Metro line will have a designed headway of 90 seconds and a targeted interval time between trains of 2 minutes at operational peak.
One of the key benefits of the line compared to other works in recent years in Sydney, is that it is a standalone line, which means service interruptions on other lines will not impact services on the Sydney Metro line, and vice versa.
1.50pm Sydney Metro deputy program director Tom Gellibrand opens the afternoon session with a presentation to provide an overview of the major metro project being developed in the NSW capital.
12.25pm The winner of the Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition will be announced at the AusRAIL Gala Dinner. The session now breaks for Lunch.
12.15pm The final presentation comes from Arup economist Ben Mason. Mason is challenging the current standards used to appraise the economic value of a project. He says the current system’s reliance on a 7% discount rate, despite significantly lower interest rates, fails to leverage the current advantages in the economy, and disproportionately devalues returns over time. Having a high discount rate especially works against rail, he says, as rail projects tend to provide returns over a longer period of time than roads.
12.00pm Next up is Michelle Doolan, a civil engineer from Aurecon. Doolan says major project developers are too focused on showing the public the final product, sometimes years before they become a reality. Instead, she says project developers should promote the process, not just the product, and says virtual reality technology offers an opportunity for this to happen.
11.50am Metro Trains Melbourne graduate engineer James Donovan is the next presenter. He is pitching the use of sensors on the base of the rail head to monitor the passive sound wave recorded as a train approaches and passes a point in the railway. Donovan explains that a break in the rail would result in step change in the sound wave, while minor to significant sub-surface flaws would also impact the sound wave. The sound recorded would also change as lubrication quality changes. Analysis of these passive sound waves, he says, could save maintenance teams time and money, and could reduce risk of derailments.
11.40am Second to present is Jason Bridgman, from Sydney Trains’ operations and planning division. His idea is for an intelligent rail system that actively observes and learns how equipment is performing day to day, sending alerts when behaviours start changing. He believes a combination of rail monitoring, behaviour profiling and artificial intelligence can be used to diagnose likely issues, without the system being told what problems it is looking for in the first place.
11.30am First to present is Aurizon graduate engineer (electrical) Alexandra Baranski. Baranski’s pitch is for a greater partnership between the private sector and academia. Through collaboration, she says, emerging technologies can be more easily tested and proven. Her vision is for CBD light rail networks powered by renewable technologies, without “unsightly” catenaries.
11.25am Danny Broad opens the Young Rail Professionals Innovation Pitching Competition, which is taking part between five finalists selected from “a flood” of abstracts submitted in the lead-up to AusRAIL. Making up the judging panel are Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator chief executive Sue McCarrey, UGL executive general manager for rail and defence Alan Beacham, and Metro Trains Melbourne managing director Andrew Lezala.
11.15am Irwin asks if anyone does not agree with the idea of targeting a 50/50 gender share in rail, and nobody raises their hand. So with everyone in agreeance, he asks, are enough people actually doing what they should be doing to achieve these goals?
“We’ve got to be more bold,” he says, “we’ve got to be more aggressive, and we’ve got to have aspirational targets.” He points out that the newly-announced ARA Board has only one woman, saying “one is not enough.”
11.10am Lalande says the real change can come from the top. He says the industry is led by 50 to 100 key leaders, “many of these people are in this room today”. He encourages those listening to target 50/50 hiring of men and women within the next five years. “If we’re really genuine about that, I think we could make a huge difference,” he says.
McAuliffe says one key change is for employers to “open their eyes” in their recruitment processes. “Look at the hierarchy of men whose sons and grandsons worked for rail. We need their daughters and granddaughters to work for rail.”
11.05am Professor Wood says evidence shows flexible workers are more productive than traditional workers, and a mindset shift is needed before real progress can be made.
Eva Wood says the industry needs to make a statement to. “You actually need some bravery to say we are going to do this, and this is why,” she says. “There’s a fundamental perception of normality, and if you created a change in either the way in which you employ people … that can actually make a difference.”
11.00am McAuliffe says the ARTC’s efforts to get more women into its workforce have gone “incredibly well”. The ARTC attracted some criticism recently for advertising some new roles exclusively to women, but McAullife says the Corporation has persevered. She says unions have not worked in partnership with the ARTC well enough through the process.
10.55am Frauenfelder agrees the issue should be looked at more as aiming to achieve “diversity as a whole”. “Going forward, we need to keep focusing on diversity.” “It is really a cultural change.”
Professor Wood says research shows diversity carries some risks. Adding minority groups to a workforce can improve diversity and acceptance, he says, but it runs the risk of creating “fault lines,” when the majority group begins to feel threatened.
10.50am Jenny McAuliffe says the term ‘Women in Rail’ in Australia deserves a score of just three out of ten. “We still seem to be missing the mark,” she says, when it comes to recruiting more women into rail. She says women can be a real solution for the future shortage of skills being forecast by many. “We have young women between 18 and 45 that are ready and willing to take opportunities, but they don’t understand that they are there to be taken on.”
Rene Lalande agrees. “I don’t think we’re doing a good job … to attract young talent, especially women,” he says. “We have not done enough,” he says, “not enough flexibility … and on the retention front, we also don’t do a good enough job.”
Rowenna Walker adds that women are only part of the diversity equation. She says the more diverse the workforce becomes on more fronts than just gender, the better the sector will be.
Eva Wood says the industry is lucky to have a huge range of paths of entry, saying the barriers to getting more women in the workforce are in many places, “more perceived than real”. “Flexibility is actually essential,” she adds. “We need to look at flexibility for both men and women.”
10.45am Facilitator David Irwin encourages listeners to open themselves up to the thoughts that might come out of the conversation at the forum.
10.40am The second half of the morning conference session kicks off with a Forum on Women in Rail. Panellists are TrackSAFE Foundation executive director Naomi Frauenfelder, Aurecon global service leader for rail and mass transit Rowenna Walker, ARTC executive general manager for people Jenny McAuliffe, Jacobs transport group director of operations Eva Wood, Centre for Ethical Leadership director Professor Robert Wood, and Transdev Australia CEO Rene Lalande. The forum is being facilitated by Pacific National CEO David Irwin.
10.05am The session breaks for Morning Tea.
10.00am UTS has worked with Downer Rail and the Rail Manufacturing CRC on a complex dwell-time diagnostic tool, which uses sensors to create a 3D point cloud to highlight passengers and track their movements as they board and alight trains.
The aim of the research is to analyse standard behaviours, to potentially “spot, in real time, behaviour that may be obstructing egress of people throughout the system,” Dr Zeibots explains. The outcome of this could be to determine new ways to encourage passengers throughout the network so it can operate more efficiently.
9.55am Dr Zeibots moves on to the topic of Responsive Passenger Information Systems, which are aimed at tackling the disruption to rail operations created by passenger behaviour at major bottlenecks in the network.
The UTS centre is looking to use robotics concepts to create a new type of passenger information system. The system would use sensors and cognitive analysis to better inform passengers during peak hour to help them avoid over-crowded platforms or carriages.
9.50am Dr Zeibots talks about how new technology has created the standardised “Service Quality Loop”, which highlights the differences between a service provider’s view of a service, and a customer’s view, and how, over time, those two views should work in a loop to lift service quality.
“The perception that the customer has of what is needed, and what was actually delivered, is really what we need to be looking at,” she says.
9.45am Dr Michelle Zeibots, a transport research director from the UTS Transport Research Centre, is now talking about the centre, which was opened in May, and about some of the work being done in transport research.
9.40am Herbert moves on to another issue he sees as key: the cost of tendering. He advocates for a best practice regime to be established, and a register of companies’ key capabilities.
Another key issue he sees impacting the industry is an ongoing labour shortage in the sector. He says with a rapid increase in new transport and freight projects, there will likely soon be a significant labour shortage, which could lead to talent poaching and an unsustainable blowout in industry wages. He encourages training and education institutions to work to prevent this potential shortage.
“We will work with all stakeholders to achieve industry solutions,” he says. “With your support, we can achieve great things.”
9.38am The ARA chairman turns his attention to Inland Rail. “In the court of public opinion, the term Inland Rail is not necessarily understood,” he says. “It’s not just a direct link between Melbourne and Brisbane, it’s much more than that.” He highlights the feeder lines that will benefit from the inland route, and the communities that he says must be “heard loudly in Canberra”.
He says a precursor to Inland Rail “we need a fairer road-rail pricing regime”.
9.35am Herbert announces three scholarships for postgraduate work into level crossing safety, which TrackSAFE is administering in conjunction with CQUniversity.
He also addresses the new relationship between TrackSAFE and suicide intervention group Lifeline.
9.32am Herbert addresses debate over the ongoing local-content issue facing the sector, congratulating the recent commitment of 60% local content for the High Capacity Metro Trains being delivered to Melbourne by a Downer-led consortium. “Despite what the sceptics may say [the local content commitment] will be advantageous for the Australian economy,” he says.
9.30am Herbert says Infrastructure Australia and relevant state-level bodies, as well as some state governments, had responded well to the ARA’s ‘infrastructure pipeline’ concept. But Herbert encourages industry and government to bring all their work together for a nationally-recognised pipeline.
Herbert is looking forward to the upcoming infrastructure priority announcement from the Commonwealth, saying he hopes it will be a positive one for the ARA’s freight and passenger rail members.
9.25am ARA chairman Bob Herbert reiterates the message from Broad on Day 1: “The transitional stage of the ARA is complete,” he said. He goes over the newly-installed ARA Board, made up of the chairman (himself), Broad, eight general directors and four industry sector directors.
He pays tribute to the transitional Board which ended its duty upon the announcement of the new ARA Board.
9.15am Shadow infrastructure, regional development and cities minister Anthony Albanese addresses the conference via a video message from Canberra. He first pays tribute to former ARA chief executive, the late Bryan Nye, for the “critical” role he played during his career in the rail sector.
He then reflects on the advances made by the Labor Party while it was in power, and criticised the Coalition for cutting back on a number of projects, specifically urban rail projects.
He says light rail in Adelaide is a crucial project that could be rolled out at comparatively low cost.
9.10am ARA chief executive Danny Broad recaps Day 1 of the conference and exhibition, and welcomes delegates to the Plenary session of Day 2.