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.

Reims tramway. Photo: Oliver Probert

From the mag: How a small French city helped inspire Sydney’s light rail transformation

Walking down the main street of Reims, the compact city in France’s historic Champagne region, you could be forgiven for not realising its tramway even exists.

Opened in 2011, Tramway de Reims moves passengers from place to place while barely interrupting the signature French lifestyle going on around it.

Quiet, aesthetic trams roll gently down the Cours Jean-Baptiste Langlet, past the railway station and towards the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, where generations of French Kings were crowned. They round the bend to Rue de Vesle, which hosts the Seventeenth Century town centre, fine art galleries, boutique retail outlets, and bars where tourists sip the sparkling white wine bottled just minutes down the road.

Of course, the tram line is not just there for tourists. At one end is the northern neighbourhood of Orgeval. At the other, the neighbourhood of Croix-Rouge and a general hospital. Between the two termini is the city centre.

Given a city footprint of just 47 square kilometres, Reims’ population comes in at a relatively dense 221,000. The opening of a TGV high speed line between Paris and Reims in 2007 – connecting the two cities in 45 minutes – drove a transformation of Reims’ economy from champagne and textiles to manufacturing, services and retail. In the five years up to 2011, 4000 new jobs were created.

Launching its first studies into a potential light rail line in 2003, public transport authority Reims Métropole had several problems to solve. An extensive bus network already served more than 100,000 trips a day, and clogged the main streets, severely detracting from the historic facades lining them. A light rail network would need to be able to handle the passenger base, while providing a cleaner, better-looking alternative to buses. Most important, it needed to be financially viable.

The solution was to form what is commonly referred to as a public-private partnership, something rather unique to France at that time. Through a contract signed in 2006, the authority delegated the entire management, and a substantial portion of financing, for the construction and operation of a light rail line, to a private concessionary consortium.

Known as MARS, the private consortium consisted of Alstom Transport, to provide rollingstock, systems, infrastructure works and maintenance; Bouygues, to provide civil works, buildings, roads and pavements; engineering firm SNC-Lavalin; operator Transdev; financial advisors and lenders Natixis and Caisse d’Epargne Lorraine Champagne-Ardenne; and long term investor CdC Infrastructure.

Reims Métropole provided €174 million (A$287 million in 2006 dollars) to the MARS consortium, made up of €75 million in a grant from the city, €45 million in a grant from the state, and €54 million in a 1.8% transport tax billed to companies in the region with more than eight employees.

The consortium’s financial partners, meanwhile, forked out €239 million (A$394 million) for the project, bringing the total value to €413 million (A$681 million).

Transdev took over as bus network operator at the start of 2008, as part of a plan to create an integrated transport network in the city. Construction on the light rail line began in May that year. The first tram arrived in March 2010, making way for testing and commissioning of the line in September 2010.

The network opened commercially in April 2011, with an opening ceremony which drew thousands of spectators; locals who had come to experience their town’s new asset. In 2014, the new line was put on the international stage, when the Tour de France cycle race went through Reims.

Alstom sees a lot of Reims in Sydney project

Two of the key consortium members in the Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail project are shared with the Reims project. Rollingstock, rail infrastructure and maintenance provider Alstom Transport is once again joined by operations specialist Transdev on the Sydney project, as part of the ALTRAC consortium.

It’s clear that in planning its pitch as part of the consortium in Sydney, Alstom and Transdev looked to leverage their experience in Reims. An Alstom representative confirmed to Rail Express that the French manufacturer learned a lot from, and drew comparisons to its work in Reims during the bidding process for Sydney.

Like in Reims, Alstom will install its catenary-free technology, which it calls Aesthetic Power Supply (APS), on certain sections of the Sydney network. APS features a ‘third rail’, which runs down the middle of the tramway, parallel to the main rails, providing power to the rollingstock through the ground, thus eliminating the need for overhead power.

More expensive to install than a traditional catenary system, APS is designed for instances like those down George Street in Sydney, and the Cours Jean-Baptiste Langlet and Rue de Vesle in Reims, where the goal is to provide a solution which complements the surrounding aesthetic, often historic architecture, the catenary-free solution is preferred.

Alstom says its APS is currently installed on 42km of track around the globe. As a tram passes over the ‘third rail’, power is supplied to its conductive segments via coded radio dialogue between the tram and the ground. This is designed to ensure power is not supplied to uncovered sections of track.

APS is therefore designed to be safe in all weather situations, including rain, snow, and heat. In Reims, grass surfaces 60% of the line, and this grass is watered from ground-based sprinklers – which spray directly onto the APS power line. It is thought natural grass won’t be practical in the Australian climate, so the same grass covering probably won’t be seen in Sydney, but it’s certainly an indication of Alstom’s confidence in the safety of the APS technology.

“The safety of the APS system has been proven through dedicated studies and confirmed by five certifying authorities,” Alstom reiterates on its website.

Aside from the need for catenary-free infrastructure, the Sydney project also shares a number of logistical similarities with Reims: A main road, clogged with buses, will be closed to traffic and passenger flows will be taken up by light rail. The project will be financed through a PPP. It will link tourist sites, utilities, and living areas, with the greater transport network.

Sydney’s new line will feature Alstom’s Citadis X05 trams, the latest evolution of the Citadis trams which already feature in Reims. Like in Reims – where Alstom’s designers created a suitable ‘champagne flute’ shaped front for the rollingstock – Sydney will receive its own unique outer design, as specified by Transport for NSW.

Local presence with global reach

The use of a global network of projects and experience, combined with a localised approach, is key to Alstom’s business strategy, according to the company’s new chief executive officer, Henri Poupart-Lafarge.

Poupart-Lafarge joined Alstom as in 1998. In 2004, when he was 35, he became chief financial officer. He moved to the role of president of Alstom Transport in 2011. With the ‘other half’ of Alstom, its Power Generation and Grid business, now sold to General Electric, Poupart-Lafarge will has taken up the role of chief executive of Alstom Group.

Rail Express spoke with Poupart-Lafarge, then in charge of Alstom Transport, in June at the UITP World Congress and Exhibition in Milan, Italy.

As is demonstrated through the Sydney light rail project, he said Alstom was focused on providing localised solutions to transport projects, based on the company’s globally-successful, tried and tested range of products.

“The winning formula – if you can manage it – in transport, is to try to combine localisation … with engineering products and solutions,” he told Rail Express. “We need solutions which are tailor-made for the customer.

“Why? Because the customer wants to have answers, and they also want to change things. They don’t want to have somebody 10,000 kilometres away, taking too long to answer.”

Proximity, he pointed out, is also important at times for political reasons: “A number of countries are asking for some kind of localisation,” he asserted.

“But at the same time, for example, our product for a metro, is a metro. So our product in Sydney [Metro] will be similar to our metros elsewhere in the world. You want to pursue a common technological platform, and common processes, so the way to manufacture is similar in one place to another.

“So that’s the formula: to be close to the customer, to answer to their needs, but at the same time, to benefit from the global coverage, through a common technological platform, common processes, and a common supply chain. That’s what we try to pursue.

“And so far, so good. I think the move that we have implemented in our organisation, which we just started a few years ago, has brought a lot of dynamism and momentum, and commercial momentum.”

The 46-year-old, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), replaced former Alstom CEO Patrick Kron when the sale of Alstom’s energy business to GE was finalised at the end of 2015.

Poupart-Lafarge said the new Alstom will be able to provide a more focused solution for the transport sector. He said the sale of the non-transport business units would benefit Alstom “in two ways”.

He said: “The first way is, I strongly believe by being re-focused on transport, by having all Alstom around the same type of activity, same markets, same world, same jargon, it will create much more cohesion, dynamism and momentum in the company, and people are waiting for that. It will simplify our processes, and make us much more agile.

“The second way is, through the disposal of all the energy-related businesses, we will strengthen our balance sheet, and this will enable us to participate in the consolidation of the industry, which you can see around the world.”

Poupart-Lafarge is interested in the urban sector in Australia.

“[South East Asia and Australasia] is a booming region,” he said. “Australia, as you know, has a number of projects going on, particularly in the urban area.

“We have in Australia some mining and freight activities, although we do have to see how the macroeconomics will work out for mining and freight … but the urban market is moving quite well.”

Oliver Probert visited the Reims tramway courtesy of Alstom Group.

This article originally appeared in the AusRAIL 2015 print edition of Rail Express. To read the full magazine, click here.

Aurizon freight train. Photo: Aurizon

IA road-rail reforms could be “game changers”: Hockridge

Aurizon chief executive and managing director Lance Hockridge has praised Infrastructure Australia’s 15-year infrastructure plan, saying its recommended reforms could be “game changers” for the Australian transport sector.

Infrastructure Australia’s report, released last week, has been praised by many in the transport and logistics sector, and criticised by others.

Hockridge, chief executive of Aurizon since the government floated it on the ASX in 2010, has planted himself firmly on the positive side of the fence.

“Many of these reforms are long overdue and have potential to be game changers in the Australian transport sector,” Hockridge said.

“We can unlock significant productivity upside and deliver benefits to consumers and Australian producers through more competitive freight pricing, lower transit times and improved customer service.

“Research released by the Australian Logistics Council shows that just a 1% percent improvement in our supply chains would boost national GDP by $2 billion.

“The task now is for governments, policy makers and the transport industry to work collaboratively on a sensible and timely implementation plan for key reforms. This is especially important when the Australia economy is facing multiple challenges.”

Aurizon said key priorities in the plan for it include the protection of key freight corridors and road freight reform, to drive better supply chain efficiency.

The company has been a long-time advocate for the policy of user-pay road infrastructure charges for heavy vehicles, saying such reform would increase funding streams for the nation’s critical freight infrastructure corridors, and underpin productivity improvements and more competitive transport freight markets.

IA’s report recommends Australia should commit to full implementation of heavy vehicle road user charging that reflects the true costs imposed on the road network within five years – a move Aurizon has recommended to ‘level the playing field’ in the competition between road and rail freight modes.

“Freight rail will need to play a growing role in the movement of goods between ports and inland freight terminals, and in the movement of containerised and general freight over longer distances,” IA said in its report.

“The absence of effective heavy vehicle user charging distorts the efficient movement of freight across the economy and undermines the economics of freight rail for some cargo profiles, meaning modal choices and pricing outcomes for freight are not always optimal.”

Further, Aurizon pointed out the report recommends the government should support a “transition to less emissions-intensive modes for freight modes where feasible; shifting freight from trucks to trains – especially for longer trips – reduces emissions and improves the efficiency of freight networks.”

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Safety the focus of three-day Hunter shutdown

Australian Rail Track Corporation executive general manager Jonathan Vandervoort has urged workers, motorists and community members to maintain a safety focus during a three-day shutdown of the Hunter Valley rail network from Tuesday.

A network-wide maintenance shutdown is taking place in the Hunter Valley from 6am on Tuesday, February 23 to 6am on Friday, February 26.

“We have over 1000 ARTC and contract staff in the rail corridor during these shutdowns and with moving equipment, trucks and machinery it’s crucial everyone remains vigilant about safety,” Vandervoort said last week.

“In particular, 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 rail corridor and to pay particular attention around level crossings.”

According to the ARTC, level crossing incidents have been 82% more likely to occur in regional areas, rather than in metropolitan areas, over the last five years.

Furthermore, 76% per cent of reported near hits occur in a rural location, according to the ARTC’s statistics.

“We want this year’s first network-wide shutdown to start off right, and are urging everyone to apply a safety-first frame of mind to everything they do,” Vandervoort said.

The rail corporation is conducting around 100 individual projects during the 72-hour network shutdown. Tasks include replacing sleepers, cleaning and compacting ballast, improving the condition of level crossings as well as technical jobs like signalling work.

“By ‘closing down’ the network and with fewer trains running, we create a safer environment for our people and provide the opportunity to get the maximum amount of rail maintenance done in an efficient amount of time,” Vandervoort said.

“There’s a lot of planning that goes into these shutdowns, but each and every staff member and contractor also has a responsibility to our value of No Harm, to look out for each other and find safe ways to do things.

“These shutdowns are planned more than a year in advance and we closely work with the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator and our customers to make sure we minimise impact on the Hunter coal chain.

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

The next major maintenance shutdown will be between April 27 and 29.

Moorebank Intermodal Terminal final EIS layout. Graphic: Moorebank Intermodal Company Limited

Rail changes included in Moorebank’s final EIS

Significant adjustments to rail access are included among a number of changes in the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal’s final environmental impact statement, released earlier this month.

Overall volumes remain the same in the final version of the report compared to earlier versions – 1.05 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for import/export (IMEX) freight, and 500,000 TEUs for inter-state containerised freight – but the respective locations of those parts of the terminals have been changed around.

The terminal’s IMEX component will now be located along the southern section of the project site, adjacent to Moorebank Avenue.

The interstate terminal will now be located along the eastern section of the project site, also adjacent to Moorebank Avenue.

Warehousing, up to 300,000 square metres, moves from the eastern to the western side of the site, next to a dedicated access road.

Rail access has changed significantly, in that the project will now be connected to the Southern Sydney Freight Line by a southern access point. Northern and central rail access options will not be considered any further.

Roadworks will be carried out to create a new Moorebank Avenue / Anzac Road intersection via the M5 motorway, which will create vehicular access to the site. Meanwhile, modification of the M5 motorway intersection, with widening and upgrading of Moorebank Avenue to the new intersection will take place.

A conservation area alongside the Georges River on the western side of the project site will be increased by four hectares in the northern part of the conservation zone.

Two parallel planning processes – the Commonwealth and the State – are currently running. Planning approvals are still being sought from the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment who will give a final federal decision. However, there may still some way to go in the State planning process.

Development of an intermodal terminal has been considered for some time – at least from September 2004 when the then Federal government announced it would consider the development of a site at Moorebank. The need for the project is based on a variety of growth and bottle-neck projections.

Continued growth is forecast for containerised import export freight, with growth averaging 7% annual over the last 15 years and growth is forecast by the Federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE 2020) to be an annual compound growth rate of 4.25% until 2030.

Meanwhile, the EIS repeats concerns that there is a need to ease a “bottleneck” of containerised freight at Port Botany: “to cope with future growth in containerised freight, more freight needs to be moved to and from Port Botany by rail”.

Also driving the need for expansion is forecast demographic change within Sydney as the population – and therefore the ultimate demand for freight deliveries to the ultimate consignee – moves out to the west and south-west of Sydney.

“The Moorebank IMT would handle a significant proportion of the expected growth in containerised IMEX and interstate freight moving through Sydney,” the EIS states.

“As the Project would enable more containerised freight to be moved by rail, it would respond to Sydney’s need for more freight handling capacity without the limitations posed by Sydney’s congested road network.

“The Project is one of a number of IMTs required to manage the increased number of containers expected to come through Port Botany in the long-term.

“The Project site is well located, considering two-thirds of the container freight arriving at Port Botany is bound for western Sydney.

“The railing in of containers from Port Botany to the Project site would assist in reducing regional Sydney traffic congestion, particularly along the M4 Motorway from Port Botany,” it concludes.

This article originally appeared in the February 18 print edition of Rail Express affiliate Lloyd’s List Australia.

Noble Park crossing, elevated railway. Graphic: Level Crossing Removal Authority

Allan spruiks new elevated rail plan

VIDEO: Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan says the newly-released plan to elevate sections of the rail corridor on Melbourne’s Cranbourne-Pakenham line will not only remove dangerous level crossings from the area, but will also provide new community spaces.

Allan visited Noble Park railway station on Monday, as the government announced it among five stations along the line which are to be completely rebuilt, as part of a $1.6 billion package of works handed to a consortium of Lend Lease, CPB Contractors, WSP|Parsons Brinkerhoff, and Aurecon this week.

A 2.7 kilometre elevated rail line is proposed over Corrigan, Heatherton and Chandler roads.

“Not only will we get rid of the dangerous, congested crossings at Corrigan, Heatherton and Chandler Roads, we’ll deliver a brand new Noble Park Station and a huge new community space,” Allan said.

“Whether you’re in your car, on the train or walking to the shops, the Andrews Labor Government is making it safer, quicker and easier to get around,” Allan added.

Premier Daniel Andrews, who is also the local member for Mulgrave, which includes Noble Park North, said locals will love the government’s plans.

“This tired and ugly rail corridor will become one of Melbourne’s largest community open spaces, with room for parks, playgrounds, netball courts and thousands of new car parks,” the premier said.

Another local member, Keysborough MP Martin Pakula, said: “This design will make it easier to get to the local RSL, Ross Reserve and the Noble Park Aquatic Centre. The new station will also revitalise Douglas Street, making a better more vibrant community centre.”

Black-throated finch. Photo: Creative Commons / Chris Williamson

Adani mine reapproved after Land Court recommendations

The Queensland Government has added nine conditions to the environmental approval of Adani’s proposed Carmichael mega-mine, after its initial approval was challenged in the Land Court by an environmental group.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection issued a final environmental authority (EA) for the mine project on Tuesday afternoon.

The new EA features roughly 140 conditions. Nine of the conditions relate to the black-throated finch, a species of estrildid finch found in north-eastern Australia, which was the primary subject of conservation group Coast and Country’s challenge, which was ultimately rejected by the Land Court in December.

“The EA application was vigorously assessed by EHP and acted on recommendations made by the Land Court,” the department said on Tuesday.

“EHP is confident the strict conditions placed on the EA, including extra requirements based on the Land Court’s recommendations, will ensure this mine will not pose an unacceptable risk to the environment and any potential impacts will be closely monitored.”

Adani’s $16 billion mine, rail and port project has endured multiple legal challenges. Along with the Land Court challenge, the mine’s federal approval was set aside in August due to a bureaucratic error, which saw two vulnerable reptile species the subject of a legal challenge.

Another challenge from the Australian Conservation Foundation is before the Federal Court, and traditional owners of the land have also challenged the approval of the mine by the National Native Title Tribunal.

Carmichael still needs a mining lease to go ahead.

If it does get off the ground, the Adani project would mean an expansion of the Abbott Point coal export terminal, the construction of a rail line to connect to the mine, and of course the construction of a 60mtpa thermal coal mine in the north of the Galilee Basin, in Central Queensland.

An Adani spokesperson, quoted by the ABC, reportedly urged the state government to grant the final mining lease as soon as possible.

“While a welcome development, it is now critical that the state government works actively with us and ensures no further delays can be made to final approvals such as the granting of a mining lease,” the spokesperson was quoted to have said.

“Progress on these approvals is crucial in ensuring the jobs and economic benefits from these projects can flow to regional Queensland at a time these opportunities are sorely needed.”

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Floating drill rig gets to work on Melbourne Metro

Geotechnical drilling has begun on Melbourne’s Yarra River, testing for construction of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project.

Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino joined acting public transport minister Luke Donnellan this week to announce the beginning of works on what the government is calling one of the largest public transport projects in the state’s history.

The newly-launched floating barge will allow the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority to gather information from deep under the Yarra.

From the floating worksite, 12 boreholes will be dug up to 35 metres below the riverbed, providing key information about ground conditions.

A similar barge system was used last year during geotechnical assessment for the proposed Metro tunnel under Sydney Harbour.

Merlino said the information gathered on the Yarra would help determine the exact technical specifications of the twin tunnels and how they will be built.

“Melbourne Metro Rail will create a true underground metro, and unlock the centre of our train system to create space for more trains running more often, every single day,” he said.

Donnellan added: “The new tunnels under the Yarra River will carry high-frequency, high-capacity trains into the heart of the city and enable 20,000 extra passengers to catch the train in peak hour.”

Two tunnels will be excavated under the river using tunnel boring machines, roughly seven metres below the riverbed.

Geotechnical investigations will continue for the next six weeks at various points on the river, ahead of enabling works in 2017 and the start of major construction in 2018, the government said.

Julia Creek first freight train. Photo: Queensland Rail

Services re-open on Mt Isa line following sulfuric acid derailment

WATCH: Freight and passenger services have resumed on the Mount Isa rail line in north-west Queensland, after a train carrying 817,000 litres of acid derailed last month.

“Constructing this deviation has been our number one priority,” Queensland Rail regional asset manager west Brett Leo said on Tuesday.

“Two shifts have worked tirelessly around the clock to construct the deviation. We’ve used around 4,000 tonnes of rock, 2,000 tonnes of road base, around 900 sleepers, a thousand metres of rail and around 2,000 cubic metres of ballast.

“The deviation is now operating safely and efficiently.”

Queensland Rail shared video of the first freight train going through the deviation at around 6pm on Tuesday, January 12:

The first passenger train is expected to pass through the deviation at some point on Thursday.

The Mount Isa line was shut after an Aurizon locomotive and all 26 of its wagons derailed near Julia Creek at around 10.20am on December 27, 2015.

Police reported that one of the train’s wagons had ruptured, leaking roughly 31,500 litres of sulfuric acid, some of which reached the nearby Horse Creek and contaminated it, according to Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage.

Fortunately no serious injuries were reported following the derailment.

Workers treated the acid spill with limestone powder, which was placed in the river and on the surrounding landscape to neutralise the strong industrial acid.

Meanwhile the rail deviation was constructed around the derailment site, so services could resume while wagon and locomotive recovery work takes place in coming weeks.

“Following the completion of the rail deviation, freight trains resumed on the Mount Isa line,” Queensland Rail said. “Queensland Rail recognises the importance of the Mount Isa line to the local economy, particularly in shipping freight to the Port of Townsville, and will continue to work closely with freight companies to accommodate additional freight movements on the Mount Isa line where possible.

“We are confident we can complete any additional movements before the end of this financial year.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has opened an investigation into the derailment, which has not yet been explained by Aurizon or Queensland Rail.

Aurizon is working with Incitec Pivot to recover the train and wagons from the site.

Rail deviation being built at Julia Creek. Photo: Queensland Rail

Construction begins on deviation at Julia Creek derailment

WATCH: Work to build an 800 metre rail deviation around a derailment site of a sulphuric acid train on the Mount Isa line in north-west Queensland began late last week.

Queensland Rail’s regional general manager for North Queensland Michael Mitchell said on Friday, January 8, that conditions had greatly improved and the ground was drier and more stable, allowing for construction work to begin.

On December 27 an Aurizon-operated train hauling around 810,000 litres of Incitec Pivot sulphuric acid derailed, causing at least one wagon to breach and spill out its contents.

Workers have treated the surrounding land and nearby creek with lime, and now work has begun on bringing the line back into service via a rail deviation, so the lengthy wagon and locomotive recovery process can take place.

“Following site specific safety and environment assessments, the crews we had on standby to build the track have now mobilised on site and will be working around the clock to build the deviation and resume rail services,” Mitchell explained.

“We know that Queenslanders rely on the Mount Isa line for rail services and our priority is to build the deviation as quickly and as safely as possible to ensure we reopen the line.”

Conditions permitting, construction of the deviation could be complete as early as midway through this week, he added.

“More than 50 Queensland Rail staff will work around the clock constructing the track, which will involve laying more than 1000 sleepers, 1.6km of rail and 2800 tonnes of ballast.”

Mitchell said he was confident that while the temporary forced closure of the line had caused disruption, Queensland Rail would be able to provide freight companies with the required capacity to make up for lost time and complete all necessary movements by the end of the financial year.

“We recognise the importance of the line to the local economy and shipping freight to port,” he said.

“We are in regular communication with freight operators to ensure they are well informed of the progress of recovery works and to ensure we can process outstanding movements as quickly as possible.”