Queensland transport agencies release ICT tenders

The Queensland government has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for digital workspace solutions and related services for the Department of Transports and Main Roads (TMR).

The RFI will allow for the government to gather information on potential end user compute digital workspaces.

The contract covers ICT assets across Queensland that belong to the TMR.

According to technology news site ARN, the department is moving towards a cloud first strategy, however the technology within the department varies considerably.

Solutions would focus on the 10,000 desktops, laptops, and tablets operating within TMR, which are currently transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Tenders must be submitted by Monday, March 23.

Also currently up for tender is Queensland Rail’s customer relationship management system. The system is directed towards Queensland Rail’s internal business units.

The Request for Offer (RFO) sets out a term of five years, with an optional two-year extension. Tenders must be submitted via the SAP Ariba Sourcing System.

The RFO is split into two parts. Phase one, which covers implementation must be fully costed by the prospective supplier. Phase two details possible future implementations.

Bumper year for ARA

Danny Broad shared some parting thoughts to the rail industry about the importance of smart rail technology and the need for young blood.

Outgoing Australasian Railway Association CEO Danny Broad hosted his last AusRAIL as CEO before handing over the reins to incoming CEO Caroline Wilkie.

Broad was elected ARA chair at the 2019 ARA Annual General Meeting (AGM), taking over from Bob Herbert – who will continue his contribution to the rail industry as Chairman of the ARA’s harm prevention charity, TrackSAFE Foundation.

“I thank Bob for his strategic leadership and achievements as chairman of the ARA, specifically the development of a new constitution, leading to improved governance and democracy within the ARA,” Broad said.

As part of his outgoing address, Herbert addressed some of the issues he considered significant to the rail industry.

“Rail is a victim of our federation. There is no one sovereign government calling all the shots for rail like there is for industries like defence or shipbuilding. Make no mistake, this holds rail back, with nine governments to deal with on key national issues,” Herbert said.

“It has stopped rail throughout its history, from the time the first rail tracks were carried. The cause lies in the way our political imperatives play out, it brings a natural cautiousness in decision making. Governments are always in different stages of the election process and rail is disadvantaged as a consequence.”

As an example, Herbert cites the operation of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC).

“This is the forum where transport ministers across the jurisdictions come together twice a year and are supported by a body of senior bureaucrats. Unfortunately, outcomes from this process can only be described as last common denominator.”

As such, he explained how trying to achieve a National Rail Plan is “still illusory”.

“The bureaucrats so often have differing priorities to industry, and they become entrenched within government departments. In some cases, meeting with industry seems to be anathema to them, so progress is at a snail’s pace and this is extremely frustrating for industry.”

In August 2018, members of the ARA met with the council so that companies could present their challenges to the council.

“These were telling representations from our members on challenges relating to skills, resources, and standards,” Herbert said. As a result, the council decided to develop the Rail Action Plan through the National Transport Commission.

“We’ve seen the first cut of this plan and so far, I regret to say, it falls a short of what we would like. So, there’s a lot more argy bargy to be doing with the National Transport Commission.”

However, he warned industry against relying on government to deliver “what we can deliver ourselves”.

As part of his own AusRAIL address, Broad recapped some of the ARA’s activities in what he called “an exciting and demanding year in all sectors of rail”.

The ARA, Broad said, spent 2019 advocating to governments about some of the biggest issues facing the industry.

“We have focused on advocating to governments on how best to address the skills shortage, resulting in the development in the National Rail Action Plan, by the National Transport Commission.”

The ARA has been calling on state, territory and federal governments to commit to a unified pipeline for major rail projects, to allow the private sector to better prepare itself with adequate skills and equipment to ensure contracts are executed as efficiently as possible.

As part of this, the organisation recommended the federal government resource the Australia & New Zealand Infrastructure Pipeline in its 2019-20 Budget Submission.

The ARA lodged seventeen submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries on behalf of the sector over the last year.

One of the key issues for a number of its submissions to government in 2019 included advocating for fairer rules for freight rail operators.

“As far as possible, domestic rail freight markets should operate on an even footing with other modal choices. This requires an environment with equitable regulatory settings to enable competitive neutrality between competing modes of transport,” says the ARA’s annual report 2019.

The ARA also called for an extension of the Inland Rail line, the largest freight rail project in Australia.

“The current project has the Inland Rail line ceasing at Acacia Ridge. The ARA calls for a commensurate project to ensure a freight rail line continues all the way to the Port of Brisbane. Research undertaken by Deloitte shows that building a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane could achieve a 30 per cent rail modal share, which would remove 2.4 million truck movements from the local road network,” according to the annual report.

Among other issues, the ARA also calls for a “pragmatic approach to fast rail that recognises the need to plan for an invest in elements such as modernised signalling systems, passing loops, track duplication, and other critical requirements to increase infrastructure capacity and speed of passenger services”.

“We have been progressing the smart rail and technology agendas, working with industry and governments on improving accessibility, advocating for rail and supporting rail careers through programs such as the women in rail pilot mentoring program and the formation of the young leaders advisory board, a potential attraction and retention campaign and the future leaders program to name just a few,” Broad said.

“I’m very proud of where the ARA is now, and feel it is the right time to pass on the reigns to our new CEO,” Broad concluded.

Doha Metro nears completion

Doha, the capital city of Qatar, is closing in on opening its automated metro network in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The network is designed to do the heavy lifting for the expected one million visitors who will attend the World Cup, as well as increasing the share of journeys via public transport in Qatar from 0.5 per cent to 21 per cent.

Electrical systems provider Thales is supplying both major elements of the metro system and providing project management services as the interface between civil works providers and electromechanical suppliers.

Thales will supply the train control system – in this case Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) driverless signalling – as well as the Operational Control Centre, passenger information and announcement systems, CCTV, and automatic fare collection.

Sustainability is a core component of the project, both in shifting commuters from cars to metros, and by reducing the network’s consumption of energy.

“The Doha Metro will be a real solution to traffic congestion, and the Metro’s efficient operations will save energy. Furthermore, Thales signalling systems will enable operators to adjust operations depending on consumption of electricity,” said Arnaud Besse, marketing and communications director for Urban Rail Signalling at Thales.

When complete, the metro network will cover 85km via 37 stations. A fleet of 110 fully automated trains will traverse the network, connecting Hamad International Airport, the Old City, and the inner suburbs of Doha.

“The Red Line has already started operating. It will be the longest line, with 18 stations over more than 40 kilometres. The Gold Line, made up of 11 stations, is also in service. Both lines have already enabled the operator to serve commuters and tourists,” said Jean Saupin, general project manager for the Doha Metro.

The last metro station, Legtalifiya Station is expected to open later in 2020, to connect the Metro with the to be finished Lusail Tram.

Light Rail 2020 agenda to engage with current project pipeline

With one week left until Light Rail 2020, the conference agenda and proceedings are firming up, with light rail projects around the country passing milestones and announcing major components of their delivery.

Newcastle Light Rail recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, after carrying its one millionth passenger in December, 2019. In Sydney, the CBD to Randwick line carried two million passengers in just two months, with the spur to Kensington expected to open in March.

In the ACT, the government has announced that trams will travel along wire free tracks to preserve heritage vistas, and will travel over grassed sections, further committing the project to sustainable outcomes, having already sourced its power from renewable energy.

In Melbourne, an upgraded tram terminus opened to serve the city’s expanding fleet of new vehicles.

With these announcements occurring in the lead up to Light Rail 2020, the conference will be the forum for the discussion of the variety of operational approaches, and the appetite for Australian governments and transit authorities to continue to invest in the transport mode.

Confirmed sessions include seminars on data, integration, and customer service; safety and accessibility; corridor design to reduce collisions; on-board energy storage; and updates on key projects.

As these projects move into operational stages, the next generation of rail professionals will be needed to ensure their longevity, and young rail professionals under 35 receive a 50 per cent discount on registration.

Key sessions are:

  • Data, integration and customer service;
  • Modernising safety; operational excellence and accessibility: Adapting to melbourne’s growing needs;
  • Global safety developments and innovation in light rail;
  • Tram corridor design, configuration and strategies to minimise tram collisions;
  • Sustainable innovation in power and automation: On-board energy storage systems (OESS) in light rail;
  • Light rail and rejuvenation industry panel;
  • Parramatta Light Rail: The contract model and key learnings to date;
  • Sydney Light Rail;
  • Successfully delivering technology to the Sydney Light Rail project;
  • Canberra spotlight;
  • Canberra’s light rail network: Lessons learnt, stage 2 and beyond; and
  • Benefits of early collaboration and system integration.

To register, click here.

One-stop-shop for LRV operations

Tehnika’s Matt Burey explains the benefits of a single supervisory interface for light rail vehicle operations.

Brisbane-based software firm Tehnika will be showing off its t-visor RAIL platform at the Australasian Railway Association’s Light Rail 2020 conference in Canberra in March.

Already used extensively on the Canberra Light Rail and Gold Coast Light Rail systems, t-visor aims to provide a single platform for a range of different systems, including Automatic Vehicle Location, traffic light and priority management, signalling, timetable and performance monitoring and automatic vehicle location, and interface with external software applications, traction power SCADA, infrastructure SCADA, passenger information, public address, CCTV, and platform information displays. Feature rich, t-visor also has comprehensive performance monitoring to assist operators manage KPIs, network monitoring and stray current monitoring.

Modern and highly scalable, the t-visor RAIL software platform is described by Tehnika chief technology officer, Matt Burey, as “the most advanced supervisory platform designed for light rail currently available on the market”.

“Having a single user interface means operators don’t need to log into multiple different systems,” Burey said. “This saves time and ensures operators can be focused on the task at hand and not get distracted or interrupted by having to switch systems.”

Furthermore: “Front line operators only need to be trained on one system and not each individual sub-system – there’s no need to remember different passwords and the unique way each disparate sub-system functions.”

This single-platform approach also means the LRV operator is not bombarded with unnecessary information.

“Only relevant and system critical information needs to be displayed or made visible to operators which results in them being better focused on their operational role.”

Tehnika’s in-house team to build and develop its systems, and Burey believes this is a key differentiator and a major advantage working within the local rail sector.

“Having local resources means we have the flexibility and the agility to respond immediately to changes in client demands or project scope,” he said. “Our significant investment in research and development means Tehnika is able to develop, test, and deploy proven and fit-for-purpose solutions that are unique to the Australian market.”

Burey told Rail Express the supervisory platform was designed specifically to provide light rail operators with a single, seamlessly integrated solution for a full range of control and monitoring systems.

Interfacing with passenger information, t-visor allows for fully programmable messages with both automatically recurring and custom, one off messages, images, and videos, Burey explained.

“By integrating public address systems, operators are able to record and play specific messages on demand as well as record one off messages for special events,” he said.

Along with PA systems, t-visor can also incorporate situationally aware CCTV feeds which automatically start when the emergency help or information button is pressed or other alarms are raised.

The platform’s Automatic Vehicle Location function uses a combination of GPS, vehicle odometers, and trackside equipment to display the exact location of a light rail vehicle. The AVLS also presents a real time view of rail signalling, point positions and track occupancy.

“Each LRV trip is tracked against the planned timetable providing the operator with an interactive display that clearly shows service punctuality and/or headway,” he said. “t-visor’s traffic signalling priority system (TSPS) is fully integrated with SCATS and STREAMs. The TSPS function provides detailed intersection status and request priority when an LRV approaches an intersection. It also allows operators to request a manual White T from the OCC.”

Additionally, light rail vehicles and any other equipment such as radio handsets can be tracked using a geolocation map, Burey added.

The system’s traction power SCADA feature allows operators and users of the system to remotely monitor electrical traction supply and perform isolation/energisation. The system also provides power quality and stray current monitoring and energisation status including DC overhead lines and AC feeder lines.

Tehnika’s team is exhibiting at the ARA Light Rail 2020 event in Canberra on March 2-3.

Building human and customer focused digital rail systems

As rail organisations around Australia move towards their digital future, ways of working and approaches to implementation will vary, as has been the case of Australia’s distinct rail network since its foundation.

During the second day of the Train Control and Management Systems summit, these divergent paths towards digitalisation were laid out.

Showcasing what this means in New South Wales was Andrew Constantinou, deputy executive director of Digital Systems Business Integration at Sydney Trains.

Constantinou outlined how the newly opened Rail Operations Centre (ROC) near Green Square in Alexandria, Sydney is one element of digitalisation in rail. The ROC is designed to organise the complex Sydney Trains network which condenses 15 train lines running 120 trains per hour into six CBD tracks.

The purpose built control centre being outside of the traditional location of alongside the rail corridor introduced a new concept of operations, which, according to Constantinou, “Starts with bringing all your people together”.

Beginning from a human factor driven design principles, the team utilises a systems engineering approach to organising the new centre. Constantiou acknowledged the human element of shifting operations control.

“One of the biggest challenges was simply bringing everyone on board for the concept of operations,” he said.

This challenge was in part resolved through technology, and in part through understanding how people would respond to their new environment.

The concept design was driven by simulated scenarios which could demonstrate how a new operational layout would affect performance. Current operations staff used a VR walkthrough to determine what their future workspace would look like. This approach would overcome the issue of distinct rail operations control centres effectively competing with one another.

At the other end of the scale, Gary Evans, operational readiness manager of ARTC’s Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) showcased how the new system would allow Australia’s vast freight network to increase frequency, throughput, reliability, service reliability, while reducing operational and maintenance costs.

The new system, which is currently being trialled, enables virtual block authority management. However, rather than being an end in itself, the system can allow ARTC’s customers to find efficiencies.

“ARTC wants to be an enabler for its customers,” said Evans.

Digitalisation key to future of rail

As Transport for NSW (TfNSW) begins work on its new digital systems facility in Chullora, delegates at the Train Control Management Systems conference heard how the installation of digital systems can lead to a rail system fit for the future.

The conference, held on February 20 was opened with a presentation from Joern Schlichting, head of the ETCS programme at Deutsche Bahn, who described how through digitalisation, Germany was building a “fundamentally new rail system”.

In implementing the ETCS programme, Deutsche Bahn will respond to two major challenges the industry is facing, and which are shared by operators in Australia. These are the need to enable the rail network to carry larger volumes of people on existing tracks and overcome the issue of high numbers of staff reaching retirement age. Rather than an end outcome, said Schlichting, “ETCS is a tool in order to think about completely new redesign of the railway system”.

As part of the ETCS migration strategy in Germany, a wholescale digitalisation of the rail network will be undertaken. These include digital interlockings and railway vehicles, and will ultimately provide a platform for the future integration of other technologies, such as automatic operations, and the ability for trains to recognise obstacles and the environment on their own.

“ETCS is not a technology, it is a language,” said Schlichting.

While these technological changes will allow for more frequent and efficient services, the migration to digital platforms is also thought to attract a new generation of rail workers, as many involved in train control reach retirement age.

These are concerns shared by the Australian rail industry, as it adopts ETCS. In NSW, TfNSW is upgrading its infrastructure to ETCS level 2 as part of its Digital Systems project. In Queensland, ETCS will be integrated into the Cross River Rail project.

Year in Infrastructure

International infrastructure awards open for nominations

Nominations are now open for the Year in Infrastructure 2020 Awards.

Hosted by Bentley Systems, a software provider for design, construction, and infrastructure operations, the awards are independently judged and recognise projects that have committed to digital innovation to improve project delivery and asset performance.

Projects that are at any stage can be nominated, the only requirement being that the projects have used Bentley Systems software.

The awards will be presented at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Conference, held in Vancouver from October 12 to 15. Finalists in each of the categories will be flown to the conference to present their projects before the judges, thought leaders, and media.

The categories are:

  • 4d digital construction;
  • Bridges;
  • Buildings and campuses;
  • Digital cities;
  • Geotechnical engineering;
  • Land and site development;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Mining and offshore engineering;
  • Power generation;
  • Project delivery;
  • Rail and transit;
  • Reality modelling;
  • Roads and highways;
  • Road and rail asset performance;
  • Structural engineering;
  • Utilities and communications;
  • Utilities and industrial asset performance;
  • Water and wastewater treatment plants; and
  • Water, wastewater and stormwater networks.

In addition, there are three broader categories which go beyond the sector categories. These are; advancements in digital twins for project delivery, advancements in digital twins for asset performance, and advancements in sustainability and resilience.

Seven surefire tricks for estimating with confidence

Estimators, are you ready to work smarter and not harder? For too long you have been consumed with manual repetitive tasks instead of using that precious time to analyse bid proposals. Learn to tackle that issue and many others when you read Seven Surefire Tricks for Estimating with Confidence.

Estimators spend far too much time trying to figure out complex specifications and crunching numbers only to be left with two possible outcomes. Either they don’t win the job, or they do, but “leave some money on the table” relative to the next-lowest bidders. With the growing complexity of capital projects, estimators must find ways to invest their time more wisely and harness the growing amounts of project data to form quality bid proposals. Fortunately, there are several best practices that can enhance their work efforts, ensuring they are working smarter, not harder.

To read more, fill out the form below:

Using digital systems to cut project cost

If you thought that the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne were congested, spare a thought for the commuters of Kuala Lumpur. Ranked by the Asian Development Bank as the second most congested city in Asia, after Manilia, the region of Greater Kuala Lumpur is home to 7.25 million people, and is in the process of opening a three-line rapid mass transit system.

The first line, the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, opened in 2017 and the project team at MRT Corp wanted to take what they found in the process of constructing this line and apply it to the next two lines.

First is the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line, which is forecast to begin operating in July 2021.

One angle of improvement was time and cost certainty. Similar to other projects around the world, construction management was a key area, as the team identified the use of building information management (BIM) workflows as a way to improve this aspect of the project.

MRT Corp chose to adopt digital twins using Bentley solutions. This software enabled the project team to create and visualise its digital assets. From there, information on the status of elements of the construction process can be found, and the team can perform analysis and leverage insights through the system.

The BIM system from Bentley adopted by MRT Corp was able to leverage the projects Asset Information Management (AIM) system. This integrated documents, asset tags, equipment, maintenance class and frewquency, manufacturer’s name, and contact details, with the asset visualisation program.

This system will not only be of use during the construction phase of the project, but by having a Master Asset Register (MAR), operations and maintenance teams can easily access information on assets and equipment throughout the operational life of the railway.

“Going digital with Bentley, including our use of a digital twins approach, is helping MRT Corp to implement the business processes and systems it needs to spearhead the digital future of construction in Malaysia,” said Aswadi Yusof, BIM champion with MRT Corp.

During the construction phase of the project as asset data is introduced to the digital twin, assets can be visualised and located within the 3D model. This enables the project team to understand how this asset and equipment fits with other elements of the project. Bentley estimates that this will reduce the whole life cost of the railway.