Aotea going underground brings big changes to central Auckland

The start of work underground on Aotea Station is said to be a significant milestone for the City Rail Link and for Auckland.

AN OFFICIAL spade in the ground celebration this morning marking the move underground to build City Rail Link’s Aotea Station also heralds the re-opening of one major road in central Auckland and the temporary closure of another as construction shifts focus.

Auckland mayor, Phil Goff, turned the first spade of soil to symbolically start underground construction.

“The start of work underground on Aotea Station is a significant milestone for the City Rail Link and for Auckland,” mayor Goff says.

“Aotea Station is expected to become New Zealand’s busiest train station after it opens and the CRL itself will be a game-changer for the city, doubling rail capacity and ultimately moving 54,000 people at peak hours, the equivalent capacity of three Auckland Harbour Bridges or 16 extra traffic lanes.”

Exact dates are still to be finalised, but Wellesley Street is expected to re-open first in June or July, followed a few days later by the closure of the Victoria Street / Albert Street intersection.

“It is time to start preparing for these changes by planning a better way into the city centre,” said Dr Sean Sweeney, chief executive for City Rail Link.

“As New Zealand’s largest-ever transport infrastructure project, disruption is unavoidable, but it is important to remember that the city centre around the Aotea site remains open for business and for leisure – it will always be a great place to work, to visit, and to support local.”

Sweeney said the project is also working with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and other organisations to minimise disruption, and to reschedule and redirect bus services.

“The easiest way to reach this part of town will still be by public transport, by foot, bike, e-scooter or another sustainable travel method,” he said.

Work proceeds on new rail bridge for Pacific Highway at Lisarow

THE duplication of the Pacific Highway at Lisarow, near Gosford, is proceeding, with concrete girders for a new rail bridge lifted into place recently, as part of the $178 million project to help improve traffic flow, travel times and safety.

Regional transport minister Paul Toole said 27 girders were loaded at the northern compound on the Pacific Highway using a crane and transported along the highway on oversized trucks to the new bridge, where they were installed using a 600-tonne crane.

“A crew of more than 70 workers was needed over the weekend and on Monday to install these girders in a complex operation while the rail line was closed for regular maintenance,” Mr Toole said.

“The duplication project has provided work for about 1,000 people since work started about two years ago, including more than 150 different suppliers and contractors.

“The concrete girders were lifted into place starting early on Saturday morning and crews worked around the clock to ensure work was completed by the time the rail line was due to reopen.”

Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the $178 million project would provide two lanes in each direction on the Pacific Highway between Ourimbah Street and Parsons Road.

“Work is also underway to install traffic lights at the Railway Crescent and Macdonalds Road intersections, as well as better parking access at Lisarow Station,” Mr Crouch said.

“In mid-2021 traffic will be shifted onto a new section of The Ridgeway so that work to widen the intersection can occur.”

Martinus

Martinus beginning major works on Carmichael Rail Network

Martinus is about to begin piling works for the first bridge on the Carmichael Rail Network.

Already, construction of the first of many waterway crossings has begun while bulk earthworks continue.

Chief operating officer Ryan Baden said the project involved a number of civil construction processes.

“We are delivering the port-side civil works, which is around 86 kilometres of the earthworks formation with 10 multi-span superstructures – one that spans 50 metres, 87 culvert structures and three-million cubic meters of cut to fill.”

The $340 million works program, announced in two separate contracts, covers rail laying to connect the Adani mine to the Central Queensland Coal Network, and the associated civil construction works.

To prepare the rail for installation, on-site flash-butt welding is taking place.

Martinus has 300 staff on site working on the project and is looking to involve locals wherever possible.

track inspection

A comprehensive solution to track monitoring and maintenance

Loram is building upon its history of providing the right services to the rail industry with sophisticated expertise in track and infrastructure monitoring technology.

For over 50 years, Loram has been providing rail grinding and track maintenance services to the Australian market. It has become only natural, then for the company to use its expertise in precision rail management to innovate and provide a comprehensive solution when it comes to the interaction of different rail infrastructure assets.

According to Thomas Smith, director business development, cost and consistency are two major issues that are facing rail networks. Having a rich and understandable picture of the track asset can allow for better decisions to be made when it comes to maintenance.

“Having an advanced diagnostic profile of the current health of your track and identifying trends over time allows our customers to migrate to a preventative maintenance program which can save significant money by extending the life of their assets,” said Smith.

Having provided rail grinding, ballast cleaning, and track maintenance equipment and services for decades around the globe, Loram has seen where the gaps are when infrastructure managers are seeking to optimise the upkeep of their network.

“For decades, Loram has had the equipment for repairing and/or maintaining the rail and drainage, including ballast and ditches. Having the ability to know exactly where and how to apply that equipment has been a development process leading Loram to create or acquire the technology it offers today,” said Smith.

This technology has taken Loram’s knowledge of the dynamics affecting track condition and brought a level of precision engineering. For the past 30 years, Loram has been refining its rail grinding through the use of high-speed measuring and analysis, which uses laser camera technology. To analyse track for substructure maintenance, Loram has deployed cutting- edge technology for the last 15 years.

These developments in inspection services have been crystallised into three major areas. The first is rail inspection services, which use rail inspection vehicles (RIV) to collect rail profile, wear, gauge, and cant data. This data is then used to refine a rail grinding program, said Smith.

“Collected data is mapped to exact track locations to positively match the grind plan and applied to the grinder.”

The second area is Loram’s Aurora Track Inspection services. These use imaging technology to scan and reveal the exact condition of below rail infrastructure. Manual detection methods can only detect so much and are limited in terms of the speed at which they can be conducted.

“Aurora can perform inspections at over 65km/h and plays a critical role in prioritising and streamlining our customers’ capital maintenance programs,” said Smith.

Loram’s third area of inspection services are in the field of geotechnical inspection services. These services use tools such as ground penetrating radar and LiDAR scanning technology to measure and analyse geotechnics and substructure. The equipment that performs these scans can be mounted on the vehicle platform most suited to the task, including geometry cars, rail grinders, hi-rail trucks, or other track vehicles.

Taking the results of these services together, Loram can build a solution for a rail infrastructure owner or manager that includes track maintenance as well as formation analysis and remediation. With experience working in many different environments, Loram’s services are able to be delivered in any circumstance.

“Loram hasn’t found a location yet where we couldn’t deploy and manage our services. We recently conducted a geotechnical survey in South America where there wasn’t even rail infrastructure present, only formation. Our technology is set up to be deployed in many situations and can be customised to help meet our customers’ demands,” said Smith.

With the data collected through a combination of these technologies, the next step is to ensure that it is presented in a way that enables actions to be taken and decision to be made. To simplify this, Loram is working on combining data from its various services into a comprehensive track maintenance platform, said Smith.

“The data we collect is technical, time consuming to analyse, and can be overwhelming. That is why the final output that Loram provides our customers simplifies the information into easy-to-understand reports that are customised to our customer’s specific needs.”

With these insights in hand, maintenance can be conducted in a way that uses resources in the most efficient way possible.

Loram’s scanning technology can be fitted to the vehicle required.

“Having the ability to accurately measure the condition of your track assets allows our customers to intelligently and precisely plan maintenance activities with regards to subgrade, ballast, sleepers, components, and rail,” said Smith. “When our customers understand the conditions of these assets and how they degrade over time, then they can take actionable measures to prevent degradation and truly maximise the life of their investments.”

What makes Loram unique, however, is that not only can it identify and monitor issues related to track and infrastructure management, but it has the ability to fix and remedy the issues.

“With all of these inspection and maintenance solutions provided by one company, we have the experience, expertise and historical data to understand how all of the different rail infrastructure assets and dynamics affect each other,” said Smith.

Loram’s own rail grinding and friction management equipment can be deployed to areas of track where defects have been found by rail inspection vehicles. When ballast maintenance is identified as an issue, Loram has an entire fleet of ballast maintenance equipment and geotechnical services that are designed to manage track drainage and quality, or material handling solutions that can pinpoint where extra ballast is needed.

Sleeper maintenance is another area where inspection technology can be used to determine the quality of individual sleepers and components, with the data management to deliver customised reports to the required specification.

“We have this broad range of track data and knowledge from seeing just about any track issue that allows us to help our customers precisely plan, prioritise, and execute track inspection and maintenance on their networks,” said Smith.

TBM handed over for work on Auckland CRL

The City Rail Link (CRL) project in Auckland, New Zealand, has officially accepted ownership of its tunnel boring machine (TBM).

The machine has been assembled in Guangzhou, China and after a number of tests is ready to be shipped to New Zealand, said Francois Dudouit, project director for CRL’s tunnels and stations delivery consortium Link Alliance.

“The TBM successfully underwent more than 500 tests to make sure everything works as it should. There is now great excitement that we are ready for the next step – to bring the TBM to Auckland.”

The TBM has been designed to meet the unique challenges of tunnelling under Auckland, where it will dig the tunnels, transport the excavated spoil, and install the concrete panels that will line the tunnels.

“It is a unique, world class machine – an underground factory – purpose built to carve its way through Auckland’s sticky soil,” said Dudouit. “Just about everything that moves was tested to make sure it can do the transformational job it’s been designed for.”

While the CRL project has been slightly hampered by restrictions on travel for key personnel, and the delivery of the TBM was delayed due to the factory closing in China, the successful handing over of the TBM demonstrates that the project can continue during COVID-19, said Sean Sweeney, chief executive of CRL.

“The successful factory assessment tests and the handover of the TBM to the Link Alliance is a very clear and strong indication that the CRL project can meet critical milestones in a Covid-19 world.”

The TBM will carve out the twin, 1.6km-long tunnels between Mt Eden and central Auckland where it will connect with tunnels from Britomart. Delivery is expected in October and it will begin tunnelling in April. Each tunnel is expected to take nine months to complete.

The TBM will be named in honour of Māori rights champion Dame Whina Cooper.

Tracklaying

Tracklaying in progress on Perth’s future Airport Line

With tunnelling complete on the Metronet Forrestfield-Airport Link project, tracklaying has now begun along the 8-kilometre-long tunnels.

Martinus Rail will install the 40 kilometres of rail needed to form the track in each tunnel, along with tie-ins at Bayswater and stowage at High Wycombe.

The first kilometre of track has already been laid, and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said that this was a significant milestone on the project.

“Tracklaying is one of the final major events on the construction of a rail line – it’s an exciting milestone for this $1.86 billion project, with more than 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel being prepared.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the project was coming together.

“We’re at an exciting time for this major infrastructure project – the tunnel-boring machines have finished creating our tunnels, our three new stations are taking shape and tracklaying is now underway.”

The 27.5m long pieces of steel are flash-butt welded into 220 metre strings. The Martinus teams have been working simultaneously to weld the rail, transport it and lay it along with the sleepers to form the skeleton track, before concrete is poured to complete the slab track.

Other work is also underway to install the overhead line equipment and the communications and signalling systems.

Roughly 100 jobs are supported by the tracklaying and rail infrastructure stages of the project.

Once complete, the Airport Line will link the Perth CBD with the airport and the eastern suburbs, including Redcliffe and High Wycombe. Thousands of commuters expected to use the rail link each day when trains begin running in late 2021.

New crossover for Upfield line

A new crossover will be installed near Anstey Station on the Upfield line, and then be moved to north of the new Coburg Station.

Construction has begun today on the 24/7 project to remove four level crossings on the Upfield line in little more than three months.

To minimise disruptions for commuters south of the project site, the crossover will enable trains to keep running. The crossover will first be installed near Anstey Station, to allow services to continue between the stop in Brunswick and the city while level crossing removal work is underway.

This new infrastructure will enable 60 per cent of commuters on the Upfield line to continue to catch trains.

The turnback will allow trains to terminate at Anstey Station and then return to the city circle.

While the turnback is installed buses will replace trains on the entire length of the Upfield line. Buses will continue to replace trains for passengers travelling north of Anstey. Passengers are advised to change at Brunswick.

Once the construction blitz on the Upfield line is complete, the turnback will be removed and replaced with a permanent crossover north of the new Coburg Station to allow greater flexibility for trains on the line in the future.

The construction blitz will remove four level crossings by late 2020, with new stations at Coburg and Moreland to open after that. Crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street, and Moreland Road will be removed.

As part of the work on the Upfield line, two custom-built 90-tonne gantry cranes are being used in an industry first. The cranes will move up to 14 bridge beams a day, enabling the project to be completed faster.

Local manufacturers have been producing the concrete elements of the rail bridge, including 268 L-beams for the 2.5km rail bridge. The project also requires 53 crossheads and 49 precast piers sourced from local suppliers.

MBRP should be delivered as originally planned: VFF

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has called for the Murray Basin Rail Project (MBRP) to be delivered as originally promised.

VFF Grains Group President Ashley Fraser said that the delivery of upgrades to regional rail lines in the north-west of the state would be a critical for the region to come out of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Rural Victoria is crying out for major infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy and provide much needed local jobs. This is a nation-building project and a no-brainer to give the green light,” he said.

“This project is also key to unlocking the agricultural potential and prosperity of North West Victoria and Sunraysia and will help Victorian agriculture and the grains industry lead the nation’s economic recovery.”

The MBRP has been stalled since funds ran out and a dispute between V/Line and the contractor increased costs. Stage one of the project is complete, however stage two is only partially complete, with further stages unclear.

A new business case has been submitted by the Victorian government to the federal government for funding, however a decision is yet to be made.

Fraser said that farmers and industry needed the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines to be standardised.

“We supported the project as it was slated in 2014 and we support it today, but that support is for the full project as promised, including the standardisation of the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines.”

The two lines are currently remnants of Victoria’s broad gauge network, which requires freight to be swapped from broad gauge to standard gauge to get past Maryborough and access the ports of Melbourne, Geelong, and Portland. Standardising these lines would also future-proof Victoria’s rail network, said Fraser.

“Failure to standardise the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines would effectively isolate them from the rest of the Victorian and interstate network, including the Inland Rail, which goes against the benefits of the entire project,” said Fraser.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project was always about growing capacity, improving efficiency and providing better access from Victoria’s key grain and horticulture growing regions to major ports. We must not lose sight of this and now is the time is now to do the job properly.”

Adelaide Metro app canned, third-party apps encouraged

Adelaide Metro will discontinue its metroMATE app and provide customer information through third-party apps.

The South Australian government is encouraging passengers to use three privately-developed apps instead, and the existing metroMATE app will be discontinued after early July.

Minister for Transport Stephan Knoll said that the new apps will give customers better information.

“By providing better, faster and more accurate information we are empowering public transport customers to make better decisions about their journeys, providing a better service.”

The new apps include real time data, alerts, and countdowns, as well as the ability to save trips and suggest new routes combining transport modes. All three are available on the Apple App Store, however only Moovit and Transit are available for Android mobile operating systems.

As part of the digital restructure, Adelaide Metro’s website will also be redesigned.

“The Adelaide Metro website is one of South Australia’s highest trafficked websites, averaging over 3 million users and 50 million-page views annually,” said Knoll.

“The new-look website will deliver a simplified home page which will require fewer clicks to find the information customers use the most.

“It will also be visually easier to navigate and will provide greater accessibility for people who have a disability, as well as the wider public.”

Knoll said the decision to move to third-party apps was due to the low ratings of metroMATE and its limited features.

The new apps are one part of the roadmap released by Adelaide Metro and the South Australian government to get commuters back on public transport after the coronavirus (COVID-19). Services were also increased on the Gawler line along with other measures.