Pacific National takes part in experimental blockchain delivery

17 tonnes of almonds have been shipped from Mildura in Victoria to Hamburg in Germany in a blockchain-based collaboration between Commonwealth Bank and five supply chain partners, including Australian rail operator Pacific National.

Using a platform underpinned by distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and the Internet of Things (IoT), Commonwealth Bank says its experimental shipment has demonstrated the value of blockchain in tracking shipments from packer to end delivery.

CommBank says its platform digitises three key areas of global trade – operations, documentation and finance – by housing the container information, completion of tasks and shipping documents, on a purpose-built blockchain.

Partners in the almond experiment were able to view and track the location of the shipment as well as view the conditions, such as temperature and humidity inside the container, via four IoT devices.

CommBank said this level of data provided partners in the supply chain with a greater level of transparency and efficiency regarding the location, condition and authentication of the goods being transported.

At the documentation layer, the blockchain-enabled supply chain allowed partners to upload and access key documents, such as bill of lading, certificates of origin and other documents required by customs, which streamlined these processes.

CBA partnered with Olam Orchards, Pacific National, Port of Melbourne, stevedore Patrick Terminals, shipping carrier OOCL, and Australian IoT provider LX Group to ship the almonds.

“Since the expansion of globalisation, global supply chains have continued to become more complex,” Pacific National chief financial officer Gerhard Ziems said.

“This project is unique as it looks to re-imagine how the supply chain communicates and shares information. Simple access to this information provides us with an ability to better utilise our assets and provide customers with better, more efficient services.”

Olam Orchards Australia supply chain manager Emma Roberts added: “Trade inefficiency can be extremely detrimental to our business. It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform.

“This project has shown that through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain that this can be achieved.”

CBA’s managing director of industrials and logistics in client coverage, Chris Scougall, said the blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent.

“We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers,” Scougall said.

“We thrive on the opportunity to work with our customers to help them adapt to changing industry trends, particularly technology. It was key to us that we partner with businesses across the entire supply chain, so we could get a holistic picture of how this technology could impact and improve the efficiency of the transport and logistics industry.”

Driverless Metro trains tested on elevated track

Sydney Metro Northwest trains are now being tested on the line’s elevated Skytrain section, including over the 270-metre long cable-stayed railway bridge over Windsor Road at Rouse Hill, with state transport minister applauding what he called an “historic” milestone for the project.

Testing of the driverless, automated trains was initially contained to the Sydney Metro HQ at Rouse Hill, but it is now expanding, with the new vehicles now going over Windsor Road and on to the Skytrain towards the new Kellyville Station.

“How incredible is this? That impressive new bridge over Windsor Road now has our driverless metro train doing test runs across it, meaning Metro is really becoming a reality,” Constance said.

“This is a historic moment that will help change the way we get around our great city for generations to come.”

The Skytrain section takes Sydney Metro Northwest between 10 metres and 13 metres above ground for four kilometres between Kellyville and Rouse Hill, both of which will be elevated stations.

Trains travelling on the Skytrain are being currently tested at 60km/h. Speeds will eventually go up to 100km/h before testing moves on into the new twin 15km railway tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping.

Nine of the 22 trains that will service the Metro Northwest line have now been delivered and are undergoing testing.

Constance said that 10,000 kilometres of train testing had been completed at Rouse Hill prior to the initiation of tests upon the Skytrain.

“Sydney Metro is on track to open in the first half of next year – we’re getting on with the job of testing our new generation trains and finishing our stations to deliver a world class mass transit system to Sydney,” he said.

Rio runs first AutoHaul train

Rio Tinto has reported the first official delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train in the Pilbara region, with the landmark operation taking place midway through last week.

An autonomous train, comprising three locomotives hauling roughly 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled more than 280 kilometres from Rio’s Tom Price hub to export facilities at Cape Lambert on July 10, 2018, the company said on Friday.

The train was monitored remotely by operators in Rio’s Operations Centre more than 1,500 kilometres away in Perth.

This follows the AutoHaul program’s approval from regulatory authorities, including the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, in May this year.

“This programme symbolises both the pioneering spirit and innovative talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and productivity,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s managing director for Rail, Port & Core Services Ivan Vella said.

“We will continue to ensure our autonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of conditions we experience in the Pilbara, where we record more than eight million kilometres of train travel each year.”

Vella said Rio would continue to “work closely” with drivers, who will be prepared “for new ways of working as a result of automation”.

AutoHaul is a $940 million program directed by Rio, with the final goal of fully automating its train services to and from port facilities on WA’s north-west coastline. Rio currently operates roughly 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometres of track.

The average round trip for Rio’s trains covers about 800 kilometres, including loading and dumping, and takes around 40 hours.

Under the new program, locomotives carry the AutoHaul software and are fitted with on-board cameras for constant monitoring. All public crossings on the network are fitted with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded “to the highest safety standards,” Rio said.

Lendlease awarded Gawler electrification Stage 2 contract

The electrification of Adelaide’s Gawler Line is set to be complete in late 2020, after the South Australian government approved an extension to Lendlease’s contract for the construction of Stage 2.

Lendlease was already contracted to deliver Stage 1 of the project, which covered the first 20 kilometres of the 40-kilometre Gawler Line, between Adelaide and Salisbury. Lendlease will now also deliver the construction works for the project’s Stage 2, which will see the electrification of the line from Salisbury to Gawler.

The expected cost of the second stage is approximately $462.5 million, towards which the previous South Australian Labor Government committed $242.5 in its 2017-18 state budget. $220 million in federal funds was committed in the Turnbull Government’s 2018-19 budget for both stages.

Federal urban infrastructure and cities minister Paul Fletcher said that the new Marshall Liberal Government and the Turnbull Government would be working together closely to deliver the project, with works expected to begin on Stage 1 in the coming months.

“This project will improve travel times for Adelaide’s commuters, while supporting population growth in the region,” Fletcher said.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to tackling congestion and getting South Australians where they need to be sooner and safer – whether it be a parent trying to drop the kids off at school on time or a tradie trying to get to five jobs in a day rather than three.”

Lendlease commenced design works for the Adelaide to Salisbury section of the project earlier this year. Following the signing of the Stage 2 contract project planning and design will now incorporate the full line to Gawler.

SA’s premier Steven Marshall indicated that his government saw the project as a priority upgrade for Adelaide’s passenger rail network.

“The Gawler Line is one of Adelaide’s busiest, enabling around five million passenger journeys each year and that number has been steadily increasing for the past decade,” the premier said.

“This major project will deliver faster, safer and more reliable rail services for the northern suburbs which, we hope, will encourage more people to leave the car at home and take public transport.”

The Gawler rail electrification works will include:

  • Installation of the overhead wiring system including masts and gantry supports
  • Installation of a new signalling system
  • Installation of an Automatic Train Protection system
  • Installation of a new fibre optic communications system cable
  • Installation of protective works and modifications to existing infrastructure
  • Service relocations, vegetation trimming and removal and other works necessary to enable the electrification to proceed

Included in the works is the electrification of the Dry Creek Railcar Depot, the construction of a new electricity feeder station at Kilburn, and the installation of pedestrian level-crossing enhancements and fencing along the rail corridor for improved safety. Fifteen additional three-car electric trains will be acquired as part of the project.

Huawei/UGL win $136m WA comms deal

Huawei Australia and UGL have been awarded a $136m contract to build and maintain digital radio systems to deliver voice and data services across Perth’s rail network.

Huawei said on July 6 it will deliver the Radio Systems Replacement project for Western Australia’s Public Transport Authority, as part of a joint venture with UGL. The project begins this month, and is due for completion in 2021.

The project targets a total end-to-end digital radio solution across the PTA’s 180 kilometre electrified rail network, and the new Forrestfield Airport Link twin tunnels.

The joint venture will design, install and commission the service, and maintain the new digital radio system for an initial five-year period, with two options for a further five years each.

Huawei Australia chairman John Lord said the PTA contract reinforced the company’s strong long-term investment focus in the Australian market.

“Huawei is extending its trusted portfolio of solutions towards industry and strengthening its customer base in mission critical market segments,” Lord said. “We are modernising the Australian transportation sector through digital technologies developed for the global market.”

Lord said Huawei has been providing similar communications technology services to Sydney Trains and Ambulance NSW safely and securely for nearly a decade.

“We thank the PTA for the trust they have placed in Huawei and their support for WA local businesses, as we work closely together over the coming years to realise this substantial project,” Lord said.

The project will use local WA labour, and local steel will go into the outdoor cabinets and towers required.

Huawei said the new systems will operate over a 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) network using the PTA’s existing 1800MHz spectrum.

Rio Tinto train - Photo Rio Tinto

Rio’s AutoHaul set to be operational in 2018

Rio Tinto expects its iron ore operation’s AutoHaul autonomous rail program to be fully commissioned by the end of 2018, as part of its continued efforts to remove the bottlenecks presented by its rail network to its mining and export operation.

Chris Salisbury, Rio’s iron ore boss, told reporters on June 18 the miner expects to spend roughly $2.2 billion on replacement mines over the next three years.

“We have an extensive pipeline of future development options,” Salisbury said. “In 2018, our 700 kilometre drilling programme will provide both ongoing reserve replenishment and significant optionality to optimise operations.”

But Salisbury said Rio was not only focused on maintaining high volumes, it was focused on exporting those volumes as efficiently as possible.

“Our strategy is to optimise our Pilbara assets to deliver value for our shareholders,” he said.

“Our pioneering autonomous rail project, AutoHaul, is on schedule to be implemented by the end of the year, and is already delivering benefits to the business through an uplift in rail capacity.

“Removing our bottleneck in rail and increasing flexibility remain a key priority. This work is progressing well and rail and mine capacity should be in line with nameplate port capacity by the end of 2019.”

The first of Rio’s major capacity replacement projects, Koodaideri, is progressing through the feasibility study phase, Salisbury said. Koodaideri would be the first of three major capacity replacement projects for Rio Tinto in its WA iron ore business.

The board of Rio’s major iron ore contemporary, BHP, last week approved the $4.49 billion development of its South Flank project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

BHP said last week it is targeting 80 million tonnes of annual production from the South Flank project, which is largely expected to replace output from the aging Yandi mine. South Flank will extend BHP’s existing infrastructure at its Mining Area C site.

The BHP project will construct an 80 million tonne per annum crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, and stockyard and train loading facilities. Product from South Flank will increase BHP’s Pilbara operation’s average iron grade from 61% to 62%, and will boost the overall proportion of lump from 25% to around 35%.

BHP’s move followed an announcement by Fortescue last month, for plans to spend $1.5 billion building 30 million tonnes per annum of new mining, processing and rail infrastructure.

Aurizon worker. Photo:

Aurizon applicants likely had personal data stolen

Rail operator Aurizon says people who have used its online careers portal since 2009 may have had their personal data accessed by an unknown entity.

Aurizon last week said PageUp, its cloud-based software vendor for its online recruitment portal, had informed it of a security breach, but at that time Aurizon said there was “no evidence” yet of any personal data being accessed.

The rail operator provided an update on June 14, however, saying PageUp now believed “on the balance of probabilities” that personal data has been accessed.

Aurizon says it’s advised all employees of the breach, and is in the process of getting in touch with all previous applicants who have used the system.

It is directing past applicants to guidance on protecting themselves from identity fraud, and is recommending they contact IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support service.

Personal information that may have been accessed includes applicants’ name, email address, physical address, telephone number, gender, date of birth, maiden name, nationality and residency status.

“Aurizon is taking the matter seriously and has taken the recommended actions to minimise any further risks,” the rail operator said.

“Aurizon is continuing to engage with PageUp, the Australian Government and relevant authorities regarding this incident.”

PageUp has told Aurizon it has eliminated the threat from its online system, and says the system is now safe to use.

“Further security measures have been implemented to help guard against any similar incident in the future,” Aurizon said.

Queensland to fund modern contactless payments

The Queensland budget, announced on Tuesday, includes funding for contactless payments on public transport via smart phone and bank card, in what will be a $371 million program.

The 2018/19 budget includes roughly $90 million in the upcoming year to begin to implement ticketing technology that will allow public transport users to pay their fare using their credit or debit card, or their smart phone.

State treasurer Jackie Trad said on June 12 the plan wasn’t aimed at completely phasing out the existing Go Card contactless payment system, but said the overhaul was a step to reduce the system’s reliance on a single ticket solution.

“We know that when we make public transport more convenient, more people get on board,” Trad was quoted by the Courier Mail. “Part of that is making paying for a fare easy and accessible.

“New technologies including using wearable devices, your smart phone or credit and debit cards to pay for public transport are all on the table in addition to the existing Go Card and paper ticket options.

“We are finalising a global procurement process and expect to be able to announce the successful proponent in the near future.”

Driverless minibuses could be ideal first-mile solution

It might not be effective now, but the development of self-driving vehicles could be a game changer for public transport services, John Disney writes.


The idea of free public transport has clear appeal. Cities in France and Germany are already considering such proposals, to reduce traffic and air pollution. And in the UK, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that he would introduce free bus travel for under-25s, to complement the passes already available to senior citizens.

But the evidence suggests that offering free public transport causes headaches for local authorities – and may not be an effective way of getting commuters to stop driving cars. Tallinn, capital of Estonia, introduced free public transport for residents in 2013. But a 2014 survey showed that most of the people who switched to public transport had previously walked or cycled, rather than driven. A further survey in 2017 showed that patronage had increased by only 20% over four years.

In the April 2018 edition of German trade publication Stadtverkehr, Naumann claims that the only cost effective way to get car drivers to switch to public transport is to couple reasonably priced transit with severe traffic restraints. For example, in the English city of Sheffield, attractive bus fares and timetables used to keep cars out of the city centre. From the 1970s, until the service was deregulated in 1986, there was simply no need for residents to drive into Sheffield.

Finding the funds

The biggest drawback to free public transport schemes is the lack of funds from fares to cover maintenance and upgrades. In Tallinn, for example, the city’s inadequate tram system will eventually require capital for a complete renewal – or face closure. Hasselt, a Belgian town with a population of 70,000, offered free bus travel for 16 years until 2013, but eventually scrapped it when costs became unsustainable.

Paris, meanwhile, has already banned the most polluting vehicles and offered free public transport for a few days each year when pollution has reached dangerous levels due to atmospheric conditions. But according to Haydock, writing in the June 2018 edition of Today’s Railways EU, traffic is rarely reduced more than 10% on these days, and the long term shift to other forms of transport is minimal.

In the UK, free bus travel for senior citizens has hastened the demise of many rural and intercity services. Many local authorities have diverted support away from rural, evening and weekend services, to the concessionary fares budget. During interviews with BBC Radio 4, younger people – who rely on buses to get to work or go out on the evenings and weekends – complained that services had been axed to offer senior citizens free travel during daytime on weekdays.

But irrespective of your age, health or prosperity, there is no point in having a free bus pass if there are no buses to use it on. As bus services are further deregulated in the UK, there will continue to be pointless oversupply on some corridors, while other areas struggle to see more than a few buses per week – if any at all.

Driverless minibuses

The development of autonomous electric minibuses could be a game changer, especially if a manufacturer is prepared to lease them on favourable terms. Local authorities could pilot a scheme whereby the bus is “hailed” by smart phone 15 to 30 minutes before departure. Indeed, tests for autonomous on-demand services are already underway in cities across the US, UK and Europe.

Once the expensive and restrictive labour element is removed from the operating costs, there is no reason why such services could not be offered free of charge to all users. In the urban core – within a 10km radius of a city centre – these services could run 24/7. Further afield, in the suburbs, a daily service from 6am until midnight would probably be sufficient to compete with the private car.

Autonomous minibuses could automatically connect with city buses and trains, which would continue to be staffed and paid for by fares. The minibuses would provide a “last mile” service, taking people within easy walking distance of their destination. In urban areas, all residential and business premises would be within 200m of a minibus stop, extending to 500m in suburban areas and 1km in rural areas.

At off peak times, the minibuses could replace some conventional bus services to avoid the inefficiencies created when a 70 passenger bus is used to transport only ten people on an evening or Sunday service.

To prevent abuse of the minibuses, passengers would scan their phones on boarding to confirm the booking. If they didn’t, a penalty could be collected automatically from their phone. CCTV could identify any disruptive passengers and refuse further bookings. Meanwhile, taxis would continue to prosper from those people willing to pay for a personal door-to-door service.

The ConversationPublic transit systems, as we know them today, would struggle to deliver a sustainable free service. But there’s a real possibility that the autonomous vehicles of tomorrow could do just that.


John Disney is Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent UniversityThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Federal budget, tenders update, R&D highlight May-June issue

The latest edition of Rail Express magazine is now available to read in its digital, true-to-print format.

Highlights of this issue include a full review of the federal budget, including a $5 billion splash for Melbourne Airport rail, funding for Queensland’s north-south rail corridor and controversy over a new import levy.

There’s also a feature on tendering, which looks at some big wins in recent months for key firms like Arup, Mott Macdonald and Aecom.

And don’t miss our supplement on Below Rail Infrastructure & Network, where we hear from Siemens on how signalling can help Australia’s struggling passenger networks cope with rapid demand growth.

Click here to read the May-June edition of  Rail Express