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.

Metro Trains Parliament station in Melbourne City Loop. Photo: Creative Commons / Teknorat

City Loop riders connected to new mobile coverage

The Andrews Government has announced mobile phone coverage is now available in Melbourne’s city loop.

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan was joined by transport operators and mobile phone carriers at Parliament Station to confirm last week that, after days of testing, passengers now have access to high-quality 3G voice and 4G data coverage throughout Melbourne’s 12 kilometres of rail tunnels and underground stations.

Allan said the new mobile phone service emulates mobile carrier coverage in the Hong Kong, Singapore and Montreal underground rail systems, and exceeds the quality of coverage found in many other capital cities around the world.

“The Andrews Labor Government has achieved what the Liberals promised but never delivered,” she said. “Mobile coverage in the city loop.”

The coverage is being delivered by Victorian rail asset owner VicTrack.

“This ends years of frustration for passengers, who would be in the middle of a conversation only for their phone to cut out when they entered the loop,” Allan continued.

“Passengers can now text, talk and stream from their phones or tablets anywhere in the city loop.”

The minister said further work was scheduled for the next 12 to 18 months, intended to enhance 4G data services, increase capacity and improve data speeds even further.

Rural NSW level crossing, Photo: Creative Commons

Level crossing warning as harvest begins

Transport for NSW has reminded regional road users to be alert around level crossings over the coming months, as harvest seasons gets officially underway.

“It’s around this time of year when grain trains will be operating on lines that see little or no traffic for much of the year, so motorists will have to be extra cautious,” Centre for Road Safety acting executive director Bernard Carlon said.

At least one driver has already been killed in a collision with a grain train in the state so far this season, with a fatality reported by NSW Police after a collision on September 23 near Tullamore, in central NSW.

“Heavy and long vehicles require longer distances to slow down,” Carlon continued.

“Some trains can take up to 14 rugby fields to stop and can’t swerve to avoid a pedestrian or a motorist who has ignored the level crossing controls, so we need all road users to pay attention and obey the rules.”

Between 2001/02 and 2014/15 there were 122 collisions involving trains and road vehicles at level crossings throughout NSW.

Longer working hour during harvest season – which starts in the state’s north in October and extends south until early 2016 – increase the chance of fatigue, one of the biggest killers on Australian roads, Carlon added.

“Fatigue is a common factor in rural crashes, so drivers need to plan their rest and be aware of any signs that they might be tired.”

GrainCorp spokesperson Angus Trigg stressed the importance of community awareness during an unusually busy time on grain railways, noting some rail lines in farming areas are used only to transport harvested crops and will be busy with trains heading in both directions during the harvest months.

“In the harvest rush, we all have somewhere to get to and it’s easy for us to forget the need to stop and look before moving machinery and other vehicles when level crossings are on your farm,” Trigg said.

“The harvest period is a very active time for farmers and many have their tractors and harvesters running almost 24 hours a day. This is not a time for us to be complacent – patience and understanding will ensure that we all get there safely. Don’t rush to the other side.

“Farmers are normally very cautious about driving on roads and we make sure we maximise visibility with lights and signs on our vehicles.

“However, we urge everyone in rural communities to exercise extra caution during the season to help make it a trouble-free harvest.”

Transport for NSW has allocated $29.2 million – $7.3 million a year – to its Level Crossing Improvement Program over the four years from 2014/15 to 2017/18.

The program aims to accelerate engineering safety improvements to level crossings at priority sites.

Transport for NSW says the program will also raise community awareness of level crossing safety issues, support police enforcement initiatives, and promote new technology to improve level crossing safety.

Sydney buses. Photo: Creative Commons / Hpeterswald

Not quite busmageddon

See how Sydney commuters responded on social media to the bus route overhaul in preparation for the construction of the city’s new light rail network.

With a raft of new routes installed on Sunday, and a public holiday on Monday, Tuesday morning was the first peak period Sydney’s new bus setup was truly put to the test.

With the city’s busiest street for buses abandoned, many predicted chaos. NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley predicted a “nightmare” morning for commuters.

On Elizabeth – one street taking more of the traffic burden – Foley said: “We’ll see long tailbacks of buses and, of course, traffic for other motor vehicles confined to one lane in each direction.”


Related story: Media hammering light rail is short-term view of long-term benefit


We will have to wait for formal statistics to come in to truly know the impact of the changes.

But the reaction – at least across social media – was far from chaotic.

In fact, tweets and other commentary ranged from pleasantly surprised, to mildly annoyed; rarely venturing into ‘total meltdown’ territory.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted one “forlorn-looking” customer who was prepared for the changes, but said the timetable was “annoying,” because “it’s going to take me about 20 minutes longer to get to work”.

But those heading to Twitter to revel in the chaos were not rewarded:

 

 

 

 

 

The transition wasn’t entirely smooth for everyone, however.

One commenter on the popular social sharing site Reddit said the removal of his bus stop had left him “lost on how to get to work”. Later in the morning, he updated: “I arrive, with Uber. 6.5x the cost of bus.”

Others on Twitter encountered some issues:

 

 

 

Sydney CBD transport coordinator general Marg Prendergast urged commuters to plan their journey from scratch under the new conditions, as many bus routes are impacted by the changes.

“We have been pleading with bus customers for weeks to plan for this change, but despite handing out more than 300,000 flyers and brochures, there will be some customers who still need to get across the changes,” Prendergast said on the eve of the overhaul.

“With any major change, it will take some time to bed-in, so we expect some issues will present themselves in the first days and weeks, but we will overcome that, improve the network where we can and support customers and staff.”

 

A big thank you to everyone who planned their trip ahead of the #SydneyCBD bus changes. This image shows the Joint…

Posted by Transport NSW Info on Monday, October 5, 2015

 

“Habits are hard to break,” Prendergast continued, “and there’s every chance a bus might take a wrong turn at some point – that’s why these changes are happening now, before we begin to close sections of George Street for light rail construction.

“If you’re frustrated with the changes, don’t take that out on the bus drivers – they are doing a great job learning new routes to ensure they keep delivering great service.”

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Hunter Valley to shut down for maintenance

The Australian Rail Track Corporation will close the Hunter Valley coal rail network for three days next week as part of scheduled maintenance work.

The network-wide maintenance shutdown will kick in at 6am on Wednesday, October 7, is timed to finish late on Friday, October 9.

ARTC said the shutdown will mean limited train operations to allow maintenance to be delivered in a safe and efficient way; nearly 1000 ARTC and contract staff will be on the rail corridor during the works.

“By ‘closing down’ the network and with fewer trains running we can ensure we get the maximum amount of rail maintenance done efficiently in the safest possible environment for our people,” ARTC executive general manager for the Hunter Valley Jonathan Vandervoort said.

Typical rail maintenance tasks like replacing sleepers, cleaning and compacting ballast, improving the condition of level crossings as well as technical jobs like signalling work are scheduled to take place throughout the Valley.

“Unfortunately, with work of this scale there will be some disruption and we would like to ask motorists and members of the community to be aware of changed traffic conditions and heavy work vehicles entering and exiting sections of the corridor,” Vandervoort added.

“We would like to thank the community for the patience and understanding while the works take place as we appreciate it does cause inconvenience.”

Maintenance work will take place throughout the Hunter from Newcastle to Narrabri and from Muswellbrook to Ulan, ARTC said.

The next network-wide shutdown is scheduled between November 10 and 13.