Rail track. Photo: Shutterstock

Siemens joins push for private Inland Rail

The group advocating a private sector alternative to the Inland Rail project has added a major ally, with German multinational Siemens entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the push.

National Trunk Rail is a proponent of a private sector-funded inland rail line between Brisbane and Melbourne it says is shorter, straighter, flatter and faster than the current project being worked on by the Federal Government.

Siemens, in the MoU announced on Tuesday, has agreed to become a core member of the NTR team.

“We are dedicated to powering Australia’s rail networks into the future,” Siemens Australia chief executive Jeff Connolly said.

“This MoU strengthens our intelligent infrastructure solutions portfolio in rail networks and operators across Australia.”

NTR chairman Martin Albrecht said an alliance with Siemens would be crucial to NTR delivering a 21st century solution to meet the needs of industries that could benefit from an inland rail line.

“The need for an inland freight rail line is now, and a competitive integrated transport supply chain solution will be critical to achieving the national productivity required to deliver sustainable prosperity from Australia’s recently negotiated Free Trade Agreements,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht also welcomed the government’s recent moves to investigate the privatisation of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, and the acknowledgement of the role the ARTC has to play in the potential delivery of an inland rail route.

“NTR is encouraged that the government’s terms of reference will specifically look at the delivery and/or operation of inland rail by a party other than ARTC,” he added.

“NTR stands ready to deliver a superior private sector inland rail solution … should the government open up its vision for inland rail to an efficient private sector solution, without the need for investment of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds.”

The NTR team also announced on Tuesday the addition of former Queensland director general of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Jon Grayson.

Burke Road level crossing boom gate removal. Photo: Level Crossing Removal Authority

Video: Work underway at Burke Road level crossing

WATCH: Victoria’s level crossing removal project reached a major milestone last week, with the first set of boom gates removed from a crossing at Burke Road in the south-east Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris.

The Burke Road level crossing was one of the first to have work underway, as part of the state’s plan to remove 50 of the most dangerous and congested crossings over the next 7-8 years.

Work at Burke Road started six months ago, and with the boom gates now gone, cars are free to travel over the junction without having to wait for passing trains.

The Burke Road level crossing is being removed by a consortium of John Holland and KBR. The gates were removed on January 2, 2016.

Buildings and platforms at Gardiner Station are currently being demolished and the team will soon start installing the new train and tram lines for when services resume, the Level Crossings authority said last week.

Newcastle coal terminal. Photo: Chris Mackey / Southern Cross Maritime

Flooding subsides, Hunter network re-opens

A staged return to service for trains on the Hunter Valley network began on Thursday afternoon, after bad weather and flooding led to the network’s closure earlier in the week.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation confirmed just after 1pm on Thursday that trains have started to run again on the network between Maitland and Newcastle.

A statement from the ARTC on Thursday morning said the track operator was planning a staged return to rail services after heavy flooding at Sandgate subsided overnight.

Water damage to some of the equipment between Sandgate and Warabrook was reported, with repairs scheduled. No major track infrastructure damage has been reported by the ARTC at this time.

“We will return services gradually and in line with the conditions throughout the afternoon,” ARTC said on Thursday morning.

“There remains sporadic flooding across the network and at the port [Newcastle], so we will continue to work closely with the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator to ensure a planned and safe return to coal services.”

NSW TrainLink passenger services have been replaced by coaches in many cases, with a return to service for passenger trains included in the ARTC’s staged return plans.

The network was closed after flooding started to impact services around 6pm on Tuesday, January 5.

Operators and the ARTC will no doubt be pleased the flooding appears to not be as bad as the period of bad weather midway through last year, which saw much of the network shut down for more than a week, and several major ballast washaways and other instances of track damage.

Christmas reading: Rail Express AusRAIL edition

In case you missed it, Rail Express published a digital edition of its AusRAIL magazine in November. You can read the magazine, which includes features, interviews, analysis and comment covering the Australian and New Zealand rail industry, in digital format on our website.

The 92-page magazine can be viewed in digital format by clicking here.

Instructions: simply use your mouse to drag the pages just like you were reading a magazine. Alternatively, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. To zoom in on a page, use the magnifying glass icon on the bottom left menu.

We hope that you enjoy the magazine. If you have any feedback, please feel free to email our editor: oliver.probert@informa.com.au

For more information about advertising in Rail Express, please click here.

V/Line train. Photo: Victorian Government

Victorian regional rail mobile plan to go ahead

$18 million will be spent to fix mobile blackspots along rail lines in regional Victoria, with procurement to begin this year.

The state’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will commence a procurement process in December 2015, to find a mobile carrier partner to co-invest in the project with the government.

The government on Monday announced the five busiest rail corridors – between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon on V/Line services – will get the mobile blackspot upgrades.

Small business, innovation and trade minister Philip Dalidakis said the project was expected to boost productivity for regional business commuters, resulting in an estimated $20 million addition to the Victorian economy every year – $2 million more than the capital expenditure expected in the project.

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to fixing mobile blackspots throughout the state and particularly along our major regional train lines,” Dalidakis said.

“We’ve listened to regional commuters and we’re taking action.

“With more than 14.3 million passenger trips per year made between Melbourne and Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon, improved mobile coverage will mean regional commuters can use their mobile and smart devices.”

Dalidakis was joined by regional development minister Jaala Pulford to announce the spending at Ballarat railway station.

Pulford said the spending would put regional rail commuters on equal footing with their city counterparts.

“I know how intensely frustrating this is for commuters who have work to do, or who want to send a text message or tweet to the world,” Pulford said.

“The Labor Government is investing in the future of our regional cities through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, and this project will be a big productivity boost for the state.”

Contracts will be awarded and construction of the mobile towers will commence in mid-2016, the government expects.

Your digital edition of Rail Express AusRAIL PLUS 2015 has arrived!

The electronic version of Rail Express AusRAIL 2015 magazine is now available to read online, free of charge.

Click here to read our AusRAIL 2015 edition.

Instructions: simply use your mouse to drag the pages just like you were reading a magazine. Alternatively, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. To zoom in on a page, use the magnifying glass icon on the bottom left menu.

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.

We hope that you enjoy the magazine. If you have any feedback, please feel free to email our editor: oliver.probert@informa.com.au

For more information about advertising in Rail Express, please click here.

Melbourne Metro train. Photo: Creative Commons / Marcus Wong

AusRAIL: Gender-sensing camera aims to improve passenger experience

EXHIBITOR PROFILE: Technology provider Micromax will present a unique angle on enriching the passenger experience, with demographic-sensing camera and signage system on display.

Micromax will display seven key products tailored to the rail industry at the AusRAIL PLUS exhibition and conference in Melbourne between November 24 and 26.

Among them is the Smart camera with gender recognition.

Micromax’s Marilyn Lopez told Rail Express the Smart camera utilises “a video-based audience measurement system that documents the gender, age group and ethnicity of those in the vicinity whilst still complying with the Privacy Act”.

The system is designed to help operators tailor signage and other information systems to the passengers in need of information.

“This product is particularly useful for marketing and communications professionals,” Lopez continued.

“The product allows companies to tailor digital signage at railway stations or on trains based on the predominant demographic in the area at any given time, creating a truly engaging experience.

“It also allows companies to sell digital signage advertising space based on evidence and boosts RoI.”

Lopez told Rail Express the camera was one of several pieces of unique technology Micromax had to show the Australasian rail industry.

“Visitors to the Micromax stand can expect to be introduced to concepts and products they may have never seen or thought existed,” Lopez said.

Another key product Micromax will feature at AusRAIL is its non-destructive ballast assessment technology, which uses ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to non-destructively detect objects and types of material, several metres beneath the earth’s surface.

“The tool will be of great interest to rail maintenance teams and companies given its early maintenance detection and precise location identification,” Lopez said.

“It will help the rail industry reduce track possession time, increase track safety and improve cost savings.”

Micromax, which distributes for a number of global companies including JAQUET Technology Group, Siebert Group and ADLINK, will exhibit at stand 224 with ADLINK.

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Cables Photo: Chevron Australia

AusRAIL: Live fibre optics on show at HUBER+SUHNER

EXHIBITOR PROFILE: Cable and cable systems provider HUBER+SUBNER will give AusRAIL visitors the opportunity to see its technology in action.

HUBER+SUHNER, a long-time AusRAIL participant, has taken part in the Australian rail market for more than four decades. This year, it will feature a live fibre optic network designed for rail applications at its AusRAIL stand.

“It is fully populated with fibre optic cables and inter-connected with screens, passenger information system, active equipment and antennae,” HUBER+SUHNER (Australia) sales and marketing director Peter Marjasin told Rail Express.

“This is addressing the current demands for fast communication and passenger information within the demanding rail infrastructure.”

Alongside the exhibit itself, Marjasin said experts from the company would be on hand to take visitors through the details of what the company has to offer.

“Not only will they have the chance to view our system in action but also to interact with people attending the show from Europe with intimate knowledge of these solutions,” he said.

“We are also offering our visitors a comprehensive USB catalogue with an updater function to always ensure the latest documentation available.”

HUBER+SUHNER will be found at Stand 118 at AusRAIL PLUS in Melbourne from November 24 to 26.

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4D Global. Photo: XPlore Technologies / Youtube

AusRAIL: 4D Global to show off cutting edge software

EXHIBITOR PROFILE: Mapping and imagery solutions provider 4D Global will look to impress at this year’s AusRAIL with a variety of new hardware, software and services on display at its stand.

Describing itself as an “end-to-end GPS based solutions and field mobility provider,” 4D Global aims to help companies who want to improve the maintenance and management of their assets, and the capabilities of their workforce out in the field.

Business development manager Heath Trapani-Brown spoke with Rail Express ahead of AusRAIL PLUS 2015, which will be the company’s first AusRAIL exhibition, and is set to take place in Melbourne next week.

“Staff from all our partners will be available each day on our stand to demonstrate real life applications of the technologies we offer and how these relate to the rail industry,” Trapani-Brown said.

“On our exhibition stand you can fly through stunning 3D imagery of rail networks, discover how to mobilise asset, property or environmental maintenance, coordinate workforces to deliver smarter more productive and risk free services in the future, and explore rail asset management systems as used by London Underground and many world class, profitable owners and operators.”

Technologies to be featured on 4D Global’s stand:

Motion & Xplore Technologies Rugged Computing Devices: “Devices designed for the real world to enable and improve field mobility and reduce TCO for an organisation,” Trapani-Brown says.

Hexagon Geospatial: “With decades of experience in the geospatial industry, Hexagon’s dynamic geospatial portfolio gives confidence in and total control of entire workflows.”

AEROmetrex, who Trapani-Brown says provide full aerial mapping services and products by exploiting both existing and emerging air and ground imaging technologies.

And Navcom: “A subsidiary of John Deere who manufactures GPS receivers for Survey, RTK, Machine Control, GIS, Military, Offshore, Aerial, Transport and Agriculture Applications.”

4D Global will exhibit at AusRAIL PLUS stand 774.

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Metro Trains chief executive Andrew Lezala. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Metro boss excited for ‘rail renaissance’

Melbourne Metro chief executive Andrew Lezala says the 2015 AusRAIL conference and exhibition will come at “a really exciting time for rail”.

Lezala, who spoke with Rail Express a month ahead of the event in Melbourne from November 24 to 26, said major projects in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane headline a positive period for the rail sector.

“In Victoria, we’ve got the Cranbourne-Pakenham line upgrade project,” he said, “which will see big, big Metro trains – seven-car vehicles in a metro-style operation.

“It will also include nine grade separations along that corridor, so getting rid of all of the level crossings between Dandenong and Caulfield.”

The Cranbourne-Pakenham grade separations (a.k.a. level crossing removals) are among the 20 committed to so far by the state government, with the long-term plan to remove 50 across the state.

“We’ve got the high-capacity signalling, CBTC trial coming up on the Sandringham Line,” Lezala added, “and we’ve got the Metro Tunnel, which is coming, too.”

Meanwhile, north of the border, Sydney is kicking off its light rail construction, and work on the new Metro line is well underway, he pointed out.

“We’re going to see the first driverless passenger train in the country in the North West Rail Link in Sydney.

“That’s an exciting game changer.

“And in Brisbane, we’re about to see the first of the PPP trains delivered by the consortium including Bombardier.”

Together, he said, the projects – along with several others around the nation – signal a great new era for Australian passenger rail.

“It’s a renaissance of rail,” the Metro boss said. “There’s an investment in public transport, and a realisation that cities are growing, and they need to have rail infrastructure.

“That is a fantastic, fantastic environment, and people should recognise that and celebrate it.

“We are in rail, in Australia, at a great time.”

Lezala will use his presentation on the first day of AusRAIL to discussing the role the private sector plays in the industry. He will also take part in the highly-regarded CEO Forum on November 26.

“I’ll talk about capacity, because we can do more with what we’ve got with high-capacity signalling, and bigger trains,” he said.

“The strategic issue of that is also getting people to trains. Feeder buses, more car parking; that is the next issue to manage.

“Also about the role of the private sector in the rail environment: I’ll be talking about not only the ability to bring money to the PPPs, but also bringing world’s best practice; bringing contractual rigour.”

Rail Express is the official media partner of AusRAIL. Visit http://www.ausrail.com/ for more information.