Industry Infrastructure, Operations & Maintenance, Passenger Rail, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Signalling & Communications

John Holland sends the right signals

john holland signals

John Holland is involved with rail projects from design and construction, testing, signals and commissioning, through to operating and maintaining world- class transport systems.  

So, what sets John Holland’s Rail and Transport team apart?  

It’s the in-house skills and knowledge of their people, along with the specialist plant and equipment required to deliver rail services and maintenance that truly creates value and certainty for clients.  

John Holland’s capability in rail services and maintenance spans:
• Track work
• Overhead wiring
• Power and electrical
• Signalling and communications
• Signalling design, testing and commissioning.  

John Holland’s Executive General Manager – Rail and Transport, Steve Butcher, tells Rail Express that the organisation’s people are delivering complex signalling projects, upgrades and maintenance to critical rail infrastructure right across Australia and New Zealand’s major cities.  

“We’re a national team with the flexibility to serve clients everywhere. We have rail services teams based in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Wellington and Auckland, meaning we can deliver works across Australasia,” he said.  

“The rail services signalling team works across the disciplines of track and civil, power systems and electrical and overhead wiring.  

“This means the team can offer comprehensive solutions and services to customers and projects.  

“Often our clients turn to us for the more technical or complex works because they know we have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver with certainty.”  

The Rail and Transport team covers all facets of signalling, from off-site manufacturing and testing of signalling equipment housings, through to all site installation and testing works – cable installation and termination, trackside signalling equipment installation, mechanical points installation (including all rodding), and trackside equipment box modifications.  

This is supported by a local civil team who can install equipment foundations and undertake route works.  

Butcher said that what sets John Holland’s rail services team apart from others is that it also has its own plant division that supplies in- house cable trucks, winch utes, elevated work platforms (EWPs) and a variety of small plant and tooling to support all aspects of signalling construction works.  

In Victoria the signalling team has the competence to work on all three Accredited Rail Operator (ARO) networks – Metro Trains Melbourne, V/Line and ARTC.  

“The team’s major client is Metro Trains Melbourne, through a number of alliances including those of which John Holland is a joint venture partner – Rail Network Alliance (RNA), North Western Program Alliance (NWPA) – as well as working on Western Program Alliance, Metropolitan Roads Program Alliance and Southern Program Alliance, as a subcontractor,” Butcher said.  


North Metropolitan TAFE (WA)
METRONET Trade Training Centre

In WA, the expertise of John Holland’s signalling team provides a one-stop-shop for clients, with the capability to deliver all types of signalling services.  

The John Holland team was integral in the delivery of the College’s Signalling Training Facility, and was involved in:

  • Stage 1: Early Contract Involvement (ECI). This saw the team provide signalling expertise to help the client develop the signalling solution for the training facility 
  • Stage 2: Design of the signalling facility and the key signalling system for training purposes
  • Stage 3: Procurement of materials after design approval
  • Stage 4: Fabrication of signalling location cases and associated systems in the Canning Vale signalling depot
  • Stage 5: Site construction, both civil and electrical stages
  • Stage 6: Testing and commissioning of the signalling system
  • Stage 7: Handover and training to TAFE staff 

The facility is the first of its kind in WA, which provides a specialist, multi-use training facility allowing students to study and gain access to specialised and local knowledge, without the need to travel interstate.  



North Metropolitan TAFE’s training facility, built to support the METRONET program, is more than delivering a signalling project – it’s about supporting the WA Government to invest in the state’s future of rail.  

In the past students had to travel to the east coast for training, but they now have
a purpose-built facility on their doorstep, eliminating the need to travel interstate and retaining local talent within WA.  

“I’m really proud of the role John Holland played in delivering this state-of-the-art facility. We’re committed to investing in the future of the rail industry and the talent of tomorrow – and facilities like these do just that,” Butcher said.  

This project was able to draw on the expertise of the WA signalling team to partner with the client to deliver this project.  

As one of the only rail providers in WA with dedicated signalling and communications experts in-house, John Holland was well- equipped to both understand the fundamental requirements for such a facility, and develop solutions and innovations to deliver a state-of- the-art rail training centre.  

As a result, John Holland was selected for the ECI process, which included the design, procurement, and management of donated materials for the training centre.  

Following the ECI, John Holland was awarded the contract to construct and commission the training facility, which is operated by North Metropolitan TAFE (Midland campus).  

The facility provides students access to high quality, simulated practical training in rail signals. This provides opportunities to upskill internal staff as well as the WA railway community.  

John Holland’s focus on customer service and unique end-to-end in-house capability helps to streamline project delivery, reduce interfaces, and ensure value for money.  

This was seen in the building of the METRONET Trade Training Centre, which was delivered safely, ahead of time and on budget.  

“Our proactive communication approach strengthened relationships with the client and key stakeholders, and facilitated seamless delivery of the project. Positive feedback
was received from client representatives throughout the entire life of the project,” Butcher said.  

“The John Holland rail and transport team are proud to work with the WA Government to ensure that the future of our rail industry remains strong, while transforming the  

lives of public transport users as well as the wider community.”  

  • Transport for NSW digital systems program  

In New South Wales, John Holland’s signalling team is delivering the digital systems program for Transport for NSW.  

This project will transform the Sydney Rail network using world class technology to create high capacity, turn-up-and-go services to meet growing demand.  

In the coming decade the project will replace legacy signalling and train controls with modern, internationally-proven intelligent systems based around European Train Control Systems (ETCS) Level 2 technology.  

“Our expertise to deliver all of the installation works to provide certainty of delivery meant
we were successfully named the installation subcontractor to Siemens,” Butcher said.  

The works that John Holland is delivering include upgrading existing interlockings, installation of Radio Block Centres, lineside equipment housings and lineside cabling, and installation and modification to existing cable routes.  

In addition, crews are upgrading existing train detection to axle counters, and points interface circuit modifications.  

Butcher said it was John Holland’s capability to deliver on all parts of rail that first drew him to the company.  

“I’m really proud to lead a team that can connect all parts of the rail and transport life cycle,” he said.  

“As a leading end-to-end provider of
rail and transport, we not only deliver the design and construction, but also have the in-house capability – skilled and experienced people, specialist equipment and innovative solutions – to deliver value and certainty for our clients.  

“Experience in all of these areas means that we’re thinking of the whole project lifecycle
– to create better outcomes for our people, our customers and project partners, and the communities in which we work.”