Users, operators, manufacturers represented at Heavy Haul meet

A variety of leading experts representing heavy haul rail users, operators, manufacturers and analysts will meet at an Australasian Railway Association-supported conference in Mackay later this year.

The sixth annual Heavy Haul Rail Conference, produced by Rail Express publisher Informa Australia, will take place at the Mackay Convention & Exhibition Centre on August 24-25.

Speakers and panel members currently listed on the agenda – which is subject to potential change – include representatives from all key sectors of the heavy rail industry.

ARA boss Danny Broad will address the audience to commence the event.

Rail users will be well represented on the agenda by Queensland Resources Council infrastructure and economics director Andrew Barger and Roy Hill rolling stock maintenance manager Bruce Brymer.

Infrastructure and heavy rail operators will be represented by North Queensland Bulk Ports boss Steve Lewis, Aurizon’s acting executive vice president of operations Michael Carter and Pacific National’s general manager for Queensland Brett Lynch.

Covering the manufacturing, maintenance and technology sector will be UGL’s locomotive product manufacturer David McCabe, Biarri Rail CEO Tom Forbes, System 7 managing director Sam Botterill and Speno Rail general manager Bazil Miller.

Academic and research insight will be provided by BIS Shrapnel’s senior manager of infrastructure and mining Adrian Hart, CQUniversity’s deputy director of the Centre for Railway Engineering Maksym Spiryagin, and Institute of Railway Technology associate director Peter Mutton.

The event will conclude with a site tour of Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal.

For more information, check out:

Tracks at Hamilton Station. Photo: Creative Commons / Orderinchaos

Rail safety experts set to meet in Adelaide

Australia’s rail safety community is set to meet in Adelaide on April 4 and 5, for the 2016 Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference.

Rail Safety 2016, co-ordinated by Rail Express publisher Informa Australia, will kick off with a site tour of Genesee & Wyoming Australia’s wagon and locomotive maintenance centres at Dry Creek on Monday morning, April 4.

Delegates will then head to Stamford Plaza Adelaide for a day and a half of talks from rail experts and officials from around the country.

The conference agenda will feature opening remarks from RISSB chief executive Paul Daly.

In a recent interview with Informa, Daly said after a busy 2015 transitioning from being a part of ARA, RISSB is looking to consolidate its role in 2016, as the developer and facilitator of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and forms for the rail industry.

The development and maintenance of standards, Daly noted, are crucial factors in rail’s safety culture.

“The next generation of standards will be aimed at several areas including the continuing automation of the rail industry, light rail and manufacturing, as well as conducting reviews of existing standards and updating them as necessary,” Daly said.

“One of the main challenges that is facing the industry today is the constant innovation and development of new technologies in a 100+ year-old industry, and while this is a good thing for the industry RISSB has to work hart to stay (at least) alongside this development to keep the standards relevant and timely.”

A full agenda for April 4-5 conference can be found here:

Delegates at AusRAIL PLUS 2015. Photo:

AusRAIL 2016 Call for Papers

AusRAIL organiser Informa Australia has called for papers responding to the newly-announced theme for AusRAIL 2016, ‘Rail – Moving the Economy Forward’.

The theme for the conference, which will run alongside this year’s AusRAIL exhibition in Adelaide, is in response to Infrastructure Australia’s recently-released Australian Infrastructure Plan, and Infrastructure Priority List, which highlighted the crucial role rail will continue to play into the nation’s future.

The report showed that across the industry, from freight and passenger rail operations to manufacturing, construction, research, and technological innovation, the efficiency of rail directly impacts our social and economic prosperity.

In this light, Informa has announced the agenda for AusRAIL 2016 will address rail’s role in effectively enhancing Australia’s productivity, liveability and international competiveness, while exploring the policy, planning, funding, reform and collaboration required to ensure a better rail future for all.

Rail Express, as an official media partner of AusRAIL, invites readers to submit a technical abstract for the conference.

The organisers are welcoming 400-600 word abstracts for proposed technical papers in various areas of railway expertise. Areas of interest can include:

  • Track
  • Asset Management
  • Rollingstock
  • Signals/Communications
  • Electrical
  • Industry
  • Trade/Export
  • Management
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Project
  • Infrastructure

The deadline for abstracts is March 11 (this Friday). Visit to submit a form online or forward your abstracts directly to

Authors will be notified of their acceptance in May.

AusRAIL 2016 bottom banner

Corbell issues warning to Opposition over light rail threats

Capital Metro minister Simon Corbell has criticised the ACT Opposition for their promise to cancel the already-signed contract for a light rail line in Canberra, if they win the election in October.

Corbell addressed the Light Rail 2016 conference in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The minister gave an update on the progress of the Canberra project, which was appointed a preferred bidder earlier this month: Canberra Metro, a consortium which includes Deutsche Bahn and John Holland.

But despite the lining up of an international consortium up for the almost $700 million contract, the Opposition is still committing to cancel the project, should they win the Territory election later this year.

Asked about the Opposition’s commitment, Corbell – who wants a shovels in the dirt by mid-year – was clear in his views on the matter.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get light rail into our city,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for 30, 40, 50 years.

“If we miss this opportunity – if there is a reckless cancelling of a contract, and all the costs that will come with that, which will be substantial – then we miss the opportunity for better transport, we miss the opportunity for urban renewal, and we jeopardise Canberra’s reputation as a place to invest.

“We can’t deliver the construction we need for our city on our own. We need partnerships.”

Corbell said between 60 and 65% of people surveyed currently support the project, with the majority of support coming from younger to middle-aged generations.

He suggested the controversy surrounding the project was more of an issue of location, than of the virtue of the project itself.

“It’s very much a north-south debate, in Canberra,” he said. “Canberrans have this aversion to crossing the Molonglo River; ‘You have the south, you have the north, and never the twain shall meet’.

“This project is on the north, so that is causing some north-south parochialism to be exacerbated.

“Yes, it’s a live political debate. The Opposition have made their position clear and there’s an election in October.

“But when you look at the jobs opportunities, and when you look at what the surveys are telling us, it’s a contentious issue, but I think there will be bigger issues at play, at the election, when people ultimately cast their vote.”

Melbourne Tram. Photo:

More international talent to close Light Rail conference

Day Two of the Light Rail 2016 conference in Melbourne will include addresses by experts from Europe and the UK.

Following an engaging first day, the annual light rail event will wrap up on Thursday with a number more talks, and a site tour of Bombardier’s Dandenong plant.

Thursday’s schedule for the conference, at Pullman Melbourne on the Park, is as follows:

  • 0830 – Registration and morning coffee
  • 0855 – Opening remarks from the chair of the day; Dr Anjum Naweed, principle research fellow, Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation
  • 0900 – UK Tram – Innovation and Sharing Best Practice; Robin Wolfendale, rail projects manager, Trelleborg Offshore, UK Tram
  • 0930 – Trends in Light Rail in Europe; Regis Hennion, metro and light rail director, Keolis
  • 1000 – Understanding the Wider Value of Honor Based Ticketing in Light Rail; Professor Graham Currie, chair of public transport, Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University
  • 1030 – Global Technology Breakthrough for Light Rail; Ian Corfield, projects director, Bombardier Transportation Australia
  • 1100 – Morning Tea
  • 1120 – Financing Light Rail Projects; Darrin Grimsey, lead client service partner, TAS Government & Public Sector, infrastructure advisory, EY
  • 1150 – Presentation from Shane Ellison, NSW managing director, Transdev
  • 1220 – Applying Value Capture Funding in Australia – Current Opportunities and Obstacles; Joe Langley, technical director, infrastructure advisory, AECOM
  • 1250 – Lunch
  • 1330 – Sustainable Light Rail Delivery; Melanie McGaw, SQE director, KDR Gold Coast
  • 1400 – Practical Implementation of DDA Compliant Infrastructure on the Melbourne Tram Network; Mike Ford, senior rail design engineer, Jacobs
  • 1430 – Looking Beyond the Wall of Technology (A Light Rail X-Ray); Dr Anjum Naweed, principal research fellow, Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation
  • 1500 – Closing remarks
  • 1510 – 1830 – Site visit to Bombardier rail vehicles production site at Dandenong, Victoria.
Western Sydney light rail. Artist's Impression: Transport for NSW

Experts from UK, Jerusalem to headline Light Rail conference

The chief architect of Jerusalem Municipality, Ofer Manor, and the chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester, Dr Jon Lamonte, keynote the Light Rail 2016 conference in Melbourne on Wednesday and Thursday.

Light Rail 2016, organised by Rail Express publisher Informa Australia, takes place at Pullman Melbourne on the Park this week.

The conference will cover light rail from the technical standpoint, as well as customer service, planning and financing.

Wednesday’s schedule is as follows:

  • 0800 – Registration and morning coffee
  • 0855 – Opening remarks from Professor Graham Currie, chair of Public Transport, Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University
  • 0900 – Welcome and opening address; Danny Broad, chief executive, Australian Railway Association
  • 0920 – Jerusalem Light Rail – Leading the City’s Regeneration; Ofer Manor, chief architect, Jerusalem Municipality
  • 0950 – Operating and extending the largest light rail system in the United Kingdom; Dr Jon Lamonte, chief executive, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • 1020 – Ministerial Address – The ACT Government’s strategic vision; Simon Corbell MLA, minister for Capital Metro (presenting on behalf of the ACT chief minister), ACT Government
  • 1050 – Morning tea
  • 1120 – Delivering a 20 minute neighbourhood: Route 86 tram extension; Nick Mann, director of infrastructure, City of Whittlesea
  • 1150 – Update on Gold Coast Light Rail; Campbell Mason, CEO, KDR Gold Coast
  • 1220 – Operating the World’s largest light rail network; Duncan Smith, director of network strategy and growth, Yarra Trams
  • 1250 – Lunch
  • 1330 – Transforming CBD transport systems; Glenn Bentley, CEO, ALTRAC Light Rail, and Andrew Summers, project director of Sydney Light Rail, Transport for NSW
  • 1350 – Transforming CBD transport systems (continued); Colin Innes, principal manager of safety, Transport for NSW
  • 1410 – Keeping Sydney Moving; Marg Prendergast, coordinator general CBD, CBD coordination office, Transport for NSW
  • 1430 – Preston Workshops – Australia’s latest piece of major light rail infrastructure successfully delivered by Coleman Rail, PTV and Yarra Trams; Bede Noonan, chief executive officer, Coleman Rail
  • 1500 – Multimodal public transport; Simon Humphrey, strategy and commercial director, Keolis Downer
  • 1530 – Afternoon tea

Following afternoon tea, the conference will split into a technical stream and a customer care and safety stream.

Technical stream

  • 1550 – Chair’s remarks; Allen Maciunas, unit manager, tram operations, safety and service, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
  • 1555 – Environmental challenges in maintaining low floor tram traction gearboxes; Dr Norbert Ritter, head of rail traction gearbox service, Siemens
  • 1625 – Understanding core reasons behind a valid business case for an energy storage system (ESS) in a light rail network; Caroline Phillips, area sales manager – DC Wayside, ABB
  • 1655 – Light rail transit systems and catenary-free solutions: Return of experience after a 10-year development period; Herve Mazzoni, tramway services manager, SYSTRA
  • 1725 – Closing remarks

Customer care and safety

  • 1550 – Chair’s remarks – Brian Brennan, general manager light rail operations, Transdev
  • 1555 – Platform-carriage interface risks: A semi-quantitative assessment case study addressing SFAIRP criteria; Mark Andrew, principal consultant – risk and asset management, GHD
  • 1625 – Taking the fluff out of safety culture: Lessons from oil and gas projects, Dr Emily Novatsis, principal human factors advisor, The Keil Centre
  • 1655 – Light rail collisions: A thing of the past; Stephen Rudakov, project manager, Robert Bosch Australia
  • 1725 – Closing remarks

Networking drinks will take place at the conclusion of the technical streams.

Lac megantic day of accident. Photo Creative Commons Sûreté du Québec

The Lac-Mégantic rail accident: When railway safety is taken for granted

Director of Investigations for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada, Kirby Jang, recently reviewed the catastrophic Lac-Mégantic rail accident, and how his team proceeded with their investigation.

Jang was among the keynote speakers at RISSB’s 2015 Rail Safety Conference.

In a speech at the conference he detailed the factors leading up to the incident, how his team conducted their objective investigation, and their respective findings and recommendations on railway safety for the company involved as well as the other relevant industries.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada was created under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act on March 29, 1990.

Formed as a result of several high-profile accidents, the TSB runs an engineering laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario, with its headquarters in Gatineau, Quebec, and eight other regional offices.

The TSB’s new watch list covers safety management oversight, a very prominent feature highlighted in the Lac-Mégantic accident.


The night of the Lac-Mégantic rail accident

On 6 July, 2013, at around 1:15 a.m., an unattended freight train transporting 72 tank cars of approximately 7.7 million litres of petroleum crude oil rolled downhill and derailed from its mainline at the resort town of Lac-Mégantic, resulting in a deadly fire and explosion which destroyed a large area of the downtown’s core and caused the death of 47 local residents.

Earlier in the night, late on July 5, a single-person-operated MMA train (Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic Railway) was parked on a descending grade on the main track right at the heart of the town of Lac-Mégantic.

After shutting down four of the locomotive brakes, the train’s engineer applied seven handbrakes.

As per railway rules, handbrakes alone must be capable of holding a train. But that must be verified by performing the “brake efficiency test”.

During the test however, the locomotive brakes were left running, which meant that the train was actually being held by a combination of handbrakes and airbrakes, giving the engineer the wrong impression that the handbrakes alone were enough to hold the train.

Before leaving the train, the engineer contacted two rail traffic controllers: one in Quebec to inform them that the train was secure, and another in Bangor, Maine, to report the smoking lead locomotive that had been showing some problems throughout the trip and the difficulties it might present the next crew.

With the excessive black and white smoke expected to settle, it was agreed to leave the train as it was and to deal with the situation the morning after.

Just a few minutes after the engineer left for the night, the Nantes fire department responded to a 911 call of a fire on the train.

Firefighters successfully extinguished the blaze on the lead locomotive by shutting the fuel off. Following railway instructions, responders turned the electric brakes off. After discussing the situation with the rail traffic controller in Farnham and an MMA employee dispatched to the area, everyone left for the night.

With all the locomotive brakes shut down, the airbrake system started to lose pressure, causing the brakes to be less effective.

Just before 1:00 a.m., air pressure on the train dropped to a point where the combination of airbrakes and handbrakes could no longer hold the train.

With practically no brake holding the train, it started rolling downhill to the downtown area of Lac-Mégantic, 7 miles away, picking up speed to up to 65 mph.

The train derailed at a crossing, and almost all of the 7 million litres of crude oil began pouring into the streets. Fire was almost instantaneous.

The ensuing blaze and explosions resulted in the death of 47 residents. In addition, more than 2,000 citizens were forced to evacuate from their homes and a huge part of the downtown Lac-Mégantic area was destroyed.


Why so much damage?

Jang explained that in North America, the primary tank car implemented for use for dangerous goods is the TLT U.S. DOT-111 tank car, whose specifications have been designed many years ago.

Most of the tank cars in Lac-Mégantic were built between 1980 and 2012.

Jang further explained how a tank car’s performance is assessed based on three categories, namely puncture resistance, top and bottom feedings protection, and thermal resistance.

An inventory of the Lac-Mégantic accident revealed the following figures: 63 derailed cars, 60% shell punctures, 50 head punctures, 32 top feedings, pressure release devices, thermal tears, among others.


Emergency response

On the night of the Lac-Mégantic incident, the provincial police were immediately dispatched as soon as 911 calls were made. With the mutual aid agreement between the 80 municipalities, thousands of firefighters were deployed on the site over the next few days, primarily focused on evacuating the residents and preventing the fire from spreading farther.

Unable to fight a petroleum-fuelled fire with water, emergency crews had to transport special fire-retardant foam from the Ultramar refinery in Lévis.

The foam considerably helped the firefighters, Jang reported.

He was quick to point out how well-coordinated the emergency response was, with the Lac-Mégantic fire chief essentially designated as the incident commander.

The TSB director admired how the unified command system and proper distribution of emergency tasks among the various agencies contributed to the entire effort being harmoniously carried out and implemented.

Jang said the investigation team was immediately deployed to the occurrence site to carry out their investigation.


TSB deployment activities and challenges

Jang described Lac-Mégantic as by far the largest investigation he’s handled in his career.

As such, he and his TSB team was bombarded with a number of challenges that he needed to resolve for the successful completion of the investigation:

  • Jurisdiction Coverage. One of the largest challenges that Jang faced in Lac-Mégantic was on the matter of jurisdiction. At the national level, the company involved was an American business operating on Canadian soil, which means various provincial and federal organisations were involved and had interests with the incident.
  • Parallel Criminal Investigation. The Lac-Mégantic incident was treated as a crime scene where parallel criminal investigations were carried out. Many parts of the area where the incident happened had to be cordoned off as there was a need to preserve evidence.
  • Temperature and Location. The Lac-Mégantic disaster happened in the middle of summer where temperatures rose to around 40°C, making it more difficult and strenuous for the responders on site to go about their duties.
  • Workers’ Occupational Safety. The TSB likewise had to keep into consideration the occupational safety of all the workers involved, ensuring that everyone had appropriate personal protective equipment on. They had to make sure policemen, firefighters, engineers, and all the other workers were properly protected against the hazards of the investigation that included physical, chemical, heat, biohazards, and other minute particles.
  • Media Coverage. The Lac-Mégantic rail accident was a huge media story. TSB was overwhelmed with the large number of information requests and third-party experts that swarmed the area. As an investigation agency, Jang explained, the TSB needed to talk factually about what happened without getting into any speculations or analyses. They had to implement some damage control to ensure the information that the media publicized was objective and concrete instead of being purely theoretical.
  • A Complex Investigation. The TSB had to examine all aspects of the incident in detail from the train operation to the train brakes, the use of single-person train operator, tracking equipment maintenance, tank car performance, product characteristics, the properties of crude oil, etc.
  • Logistics. Because Lac-Mégantic is a small resort town, finding decent hotel accommodations for the thousands of the emergency responders deployed for the accident was a big challenge. Meetings and other briefings had to be conducted at the command post.
  • Communications. Right after news of the incident reached the TBS, several communications advisers were immediately deployed to the site. Live media events had to be organised, and this went nonstop for the next few days and over the three-week period after the tragedy.


Keeping the people informed

Jang admitted that part of their responsibilities during an investigation is keeping the public well informed.

To do this, they had an active investigation page on their website that was regularly updated in terms of statistics and figures related to the incident. Questions and other queries were also accommodated and answered through TSB’s social media accounts.

Over the 13-month investigation, the TSB made sure that they were able to promptly hand out safety communications, advisory and information letters, and recommendations prior to releasing their final report.


Lessons learned

In closing his talk Jang enumerated the specific recommendations that the TSB submitted in its August 2013 report:

  • Proper auditing of safety management systems. The TSB suggested that Transport Canada must regularly check their railways’ safety management systems and ensure that they are working effectively and that they are being implemented as designed.
  • Enhanced protection standards for Class 111 tank cars. The TSB recommended all DOT-111 tank cars to be retired, noting that the tank cars used in the Lac-Mégantic incident were old DOT-111 railcars.
  • Route planning analysis. The TSB proposed that railway companies conduct strategic route planning as well improve on train operations particularly for those trains carrying dangerous goods. This could mean identifying and using those routes with less risk for those operations with multiple routes available or identifying ways to medicate the risks along those operations with single routes available.
  • Creation of emergency response assistance plans. The TSB wants regulators to put Emergency Response Assistance Plans in place in the event that accidents and other untoward incidents happen when transporting hazardous materials, ensuring that appropriate emergency equipment and personnel are readily available along the route.
  • Physical defences to prevent runaways. The TSB advised Transport Canada to require the use of wheel chocks for parked trains or the installation of state-of-the-art braking technology to keep parked trains in place.
Plane Michael Kileen. Photo: Ingram Publishing

Over the air – what rail can learn from Qantas

Michael Killeen says the asset management experiences of the aviation industry can act as learning examples for the Australian rail industry.

Currently Qantas’ 747 and 767 fleet manager, Killeen will deliver the opening keynote address at the inaugural ARA Asset Management in Rail Conference, which will take place between July 8 and 9 at the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney.

Killeen  sat down with Rail Express publisher Informa Australia to discuss his background and to give some insight into his presentation ahead of the event.


Michael, can you tell us a bit more about your background and your role at Qantas?

Over the last 20 years I have worked in a range of blue chip companies, including Qantas, as well as major consulting organisations. My experience has been across procurement, supply chain, asset optimisation and ICT.

From an industry perspective, I worked in manufacturing, mining and aviation.

At times I have been responsible for asset bases of over $2.5 billion, costing nearly $1 million per day to operate.


What’s in store for your keynote address at the Asset Management in Rail Conference?

The work I will discuss relates to my role as 747/767 fleet manager.

During a period of rapid transformation within Qantas, including the retirement of the 767s, I led an asset management reform which touched a number of parts of the business.

I hope to be able share some key lessons learned, including those things that worked well and some that we would do differently.

Asset management has a lot to offer in terms of not only its technical content but also as a lever for change. I will show how we applied asset management as a framework for business change.


What were some of the challenges you faced transforming the Qantas asset management system?

The problems we faced were similar to the problems that many of the people in the rail industry undoubtedly face.

These included clearly communicating and explaining the need for significant change and engaging closely with our people through each stage of the process.

Many people involved in aviation have been so for a long time so change is going to be challenging for a lot of people.

Getting people on the journey was extremely important.


How do you optimise your assets?

Our asset optimisation was underpinned by focusing on the value that assets deliver rather than the interests of the organisational silos that contribute to their success.

We encapsulated this in our asset management plans which defined what needed to be done for the assets, not for the organisational silos.


What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

My experience across a broad range of industries has taught me that no one industry has all of the answers – some industries do things better than others despite the perception – so I am not only interested in sharing experiences with people in the rail industry but, I am also looking forward to meeting the people and learning something from the rail industry that I can bring back to aviation as a better way to approach a problem.


Killeen will be joined at the ARA’s Asset Management in Rail Conference by a number of other prominent speakers, including:

  • Maria Palazzolo, CEO, GS1 Australia
  • Warwick Talbot, General Manager, Engineering and System Integrity, Maintenance Directorate, Sydney Trains
  • Rob MacGregor, Business Development Manager, Inspired Systems
  • Paul Reichl, Senior Research Engineer and Data Scientist, Institute of Railway Technology, Monash University
  • Simon Ratcliffe, General Manager – Maintenance, Reliability & LCC, Downer Rail
  • Tony Frazer, GM Asset Management, Interstate Division, ARTC
  • Christopher Stinchcombe, Director, Rolling Stock, Yarra Trams
Asset Management conference speaker Photo Gnangarra

Tackling Australia’s massive rail asset management task

The scale of the asset management task in Australia’s rail industry is enormous, and it’s essential for the industry to understand the need to adopt consistent and interoperable standards, director of asset management at Network Rail Consulting Australia and New Zealand Philip Chalk says.

Chalk, who will speak at Informa’s upcoming Asset Management in Rail Conference, joined us to discuss his experience and give some insights into Network Rail Consulting’s asset policies.


Can you tell us a bit more about your background, your role at Network Rail Consulting and Network Rail Consulting as a company?

I have been involved in the planning, design and management of transport infrastructure for almost 40 years, during which time I have worked in numerous countries around the world starting in New Zealand.

I joined Network Rail Consulting a little over a year ago following a two year stint working as a strategic asset management advisor at Network Rail’s Milton Keynes complex.

Known as the Quadrant, it’s a striking new building that houses over 3000 mainly technical and engineering resources under one roof.

During my time there, Network Rail was preparing its strategic business plan for Control Period 5 which runs from April 2014 to March 2019. A critical part of this work was developing asset policies to justify its projected investment in maintenance and renewals.

Network Rail Consulting was launched in 2012 as the consulting arm of Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s rail infrastructure. Our goal is to provide high-level technical consultancy services using skilled resources with hands-on rail experience to help clients improve their railway.

We operate only outside of Britain but can draw on the full range of skills and resources within Network Rail – a total of around 8,000 technical staff across all disciplines.

Our first permanent location, other than our London headquarters, was established in Sydney in 2013 to serve the Australian and New Zealand markets. This was followed by offices in the USA and, more recently, Saudi Arabia.


Network Rail has developed asset policies to drive maintenance and renewal interventions over the next 35 years – can you tell us a little bit more about these policies and how often will they be reviewed?

In a nutshell, the asset policies set out the major requirements and decision-making criteria for asset maintenance, inspections and renewals.

They take a risk-based approach while minimising whole life costs.

The policies also set out the specific asset outputs that will be achieved for the funding available in Control Period 5 (some $17 billion for maintenance and renewals) in terms of safety, availability and sustainability.

They form an important part of Network Rail’s asset management system and, as such, are subject to continuous improvement. However they will undergo a major review in the two years leading- up to Control Period 6 which starts in April 2020.


What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Sharing experiences. One of the reasons I really enjoy working in asset management is that it is very collaborative and the practitioners tend to be very open about the challenges they face.

There is no right or wrong way so by sharing our stories we can all learn from each other, improve our approaches and move towards the goal of finding the optimal asset investment regime to deliver the agreed outputs to our customers – sustainably.


Chalk will deliver a Keynote Presentation on ‘Optimising maintenance and renewal interventions in Network Rail’ at the Sydney conference in July.

The conference will provide an essential forum to assess efforts towards collaboration, improving the sharing of data and standardising asset tracking, leading to massive cost efficiencies and significant improvements in levels of service.

Additional speakers will include:

  • Michael Killeen, 747 & 767 Fleet Manager, Qantas Engineering Operations, Qantas Airways
  • Maria Palazzolo, CEO, GS1 Australia
  • Warwick Talbot, General Manager, Engineering and System Integrity, Maintenance Directorate, Sydney Trains
  • Rob MacGregor, Business Development Manager, Inspired Systems
  • Paul Reichl, Senior Research Engineer and Data Scientist, Institute of Railway Technology, Monash University
  • Simon Ratcliffe, General Manager – Maintenance, Reliability & LCC, Downer Rail
  • Tony Frazer, GM Asset Management, Interstate Division, ARTC
  • Christopher Stinchcombe, Director, Rolling Stock, Yarra Trams

Asset management banner

Sydney Train

Collins: Customer experience will drive patronage

Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins is set to speak at this year’s New Zealand Rail conference in Wellington. He sat down with Informa Transport to discuss Sydney Trains, the future, and the role rail can play in growing cities.

Howard, tell us a little about your background and how you came to your role at Sydney Trains.

I started as chief executive in the new organisation Sydney Trains in July 2013.

Previously I held the position of chief operating officer of the London Underground, having had a 35-year career with London transport, from front-line roles to major projects.

I also held part-time appointments with the British Transport Police, Pension Fund Trustee and London Transport – Heritage.

The theme of the conference this year is “Rail as the driving force behind economic growth”. What do you think this means for New Zealand?

We know that rail can be a driver of economic growth and productivity as it is an efficient and economical way to move people and freight.

Rail can also generate growth by facilitating new development and allowing access to markets – essentially improving the connectivity and accessibility of people to other people, opportunities, goods and services.

It’s all about “mobility”. I have seen many global cities and countries transform their “mobility” through sustained rail investment.

What are the major concerns for Sydney Trains this year and looking forward to 2016?

Our goal is to keep Sydney moving and our customers are at the centre of everything we do. We are focused on customer satisfaction, reducing travel times, improving punctuality and all the things that will help improve the customer experience and grow patronage.

In less than two years, customer satisfaction has improved 10% to 88%, so we know our customers are happier with safety, cleanliness, journey times, air-conditioning and improved connections.

Looking forward my concern is to maintain this trajectory of improved performance and to continue to adapt our organisation to meet the needs of our customers.

We are also making changes which will accommodate future passenger growth and ready our network for the not too distant future when new railways feed into the existing network.

In addition, whether we are in the public or private sector, creating greater efficiencies by reducing costs and improving revenue streams, are a key focus going forward.

What interested you in the conference?

The rail conference is the annual and primary forum for the rail industry to focus on the development and growth of rail operations.

Being held in New Zealand this year it is an opportune source of directly engaging with stakeholders such as rail industry leaders from Australia and New Zealand, government agencies (i.e. NZ Transport Agency and, NZ Ministry of Transport), rail customers and wider transport participants such as construction companies and major engineering project consultants.

New Zealand Rail will take place in Wellington, New Zealand, from June 4 to 5. Key speakers include:

  • The Hon Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport
  • Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland
  • Howard Collins, CEO, Sydney Trains
  • Peter Reidy, CEO, KiwiRail
  • Bryan Nye, CEO, ARA
  • Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Council
  • Philip Chalk, Director Asset Management & Maintenance, ANZ, Network Rail
  • Megan Drayton, Foundation Manager, TrackSAFE
  • Simon Wood, Associate Director, AECOM
  • Brent Efford, NZ Agent, Light Rail Transit Association
  • Anthony Eid, Operations Director, Sydney Trains
  • Noel Burton, Head Engineering NZ, Siemens Rail Automation
  • Ken Shirley, CEO, Road Transport Forum

View the full agenda and more information here.