News in brief ‘ 9-15 September 2009

FerrAus signs rail and port deal with Chinese firm
By Rob McKay
The outlook for more rail and port infrastructure supply in the Pilbara gained a boost on September 8th with iron ore explorer FerrAus announcing it had signed a deal with China Railway Materials (CRM).
In an alliance where CRM will take a $12.6 million, 12 per cent stake in the Australian firm, the companies have agreed to look at linking FerrAus’s existing Pilbara resources with new resources in the region.
CRM would then “receive a substantial entitlement, at market terms to be negotiated, for iron ore offtake”.
CRM has also agreed on a non-binding basis to assist FerrAus with sourcing finance for the construction of Pilbara rail infrastructure for iron ore exports from projects 25-65 kilometres from the Mount Newman line railhead at Jimblebar.
FerrAus is one of several of Pilbara iron ore juniors engaging heavily with Chinese customer firms and needs transport infrastructure for its product.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Oakajee Port CEO quits suddenly
By Sineva Toevai
Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR) chief executive Chris Eves unexpectedly resigned his position on September 9th after less than two years in the top job.
With the project now progressing into the engineering and construction stages of development, Eves said it was an “appropriate time” for him to resign, an OPR statement said.
Eves, who led OPR’s bid to develop the $4 billion Western Australian port, to be located about 22 kilometres north of Geraldton, was appointed chief executive in October 2007.
OPR supply chain director, Alwyn Vorster, will take over as interim chief executive until a replacement for Eves is found.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Alliancing rebuilding nation’s infrastructure, quickly

Infrastructure delivery partners from the public and private sector will meet at the AAA’s third annual national convention in Melbourne from October 21st-23rd to discuss how collaborative contracting is stimulating the economy and rebuilding infrastructure.
“There has been much talk of the need to fund shovel-ready projects so valuable flow-on effects benefit the general economy during tough times and create more jobs, sooner,” AAA executive director Alan Mignot said.
“And the Australian Government’s Building Our Nation Plan announced in December 2008 recognised the need to also look beyond the economic crisis for the long term capacity needed for the economy and to focus on infrastructure as one of the key drivers of productivity growth.”
Mignot said alliances play an important part in getting projects underway which are difficult to fully scope, particularly “brownfield” projects which boost the lifespan of existing assets, and deliver them to the community quickly and sustainably.
“These alliances are upgrading essential community infrastructure while operation of these ‘live” assets continues a complex feat,” he said.
For more information on the AAA national convention visit: www.alliancingassociation.org

Tottenham rail bridge span put in place
By Rob McKay
A span of Melbourne’s new Brooklyn Sunshine Triangle rail bridge was put in place on September 5th in an operation described by Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese as &quota massive engineering feat&quot.
The bridge, to be completed next month, is expected to help provide a seamless rail connection between Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane when the line comes into operation in 2010.
It should eliminate the need to shunt trains within Tottenham Rail Yard, which can add an hour to the transit time while also congesting the network.
The 100-tonne girder is 45 metres long and was installed as part of a $15 million project joint-funded by the Federal Government and its wholly-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).
Southern Improvement Alliance is building the bridge.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

MTM reaches financial close on Melbourne rail franchise
As a shareholder in Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) alongside MTR Corporation and John Holland, United Group Limited (UGL), said that it is pleased MTM has reached financial close with Victoria’s Department of Transport on the contract to operate and maintain Melbourne’s passenger trains.
UGL anticipates revenue from its share in MTM of $162 million each year, the company said in a statement. In addition, UGL expects to generate revenue from capital works projects associated with the Melbourne rail franchise, although specific details of the value of these works are not available at this time.
Separately from MTM, UGL has extended its contracts to supply maintenance services from its Ballarat operations to Melbourne’s metropolitan tram and train networks for at least three years. UGL anticipates revenue from these contracts of approximately $10 million a year.
In Hong Kong, UGL also provides fleet cleaning and maintenance services for the MTR’s Tseung Kwan O line.
Until MTM assumes operation of the Melbourne rail network, UGL will continue to providemaintenance services to outgoing franchise operator Connex through the MainCo joint venture. UGL acquired this contract as part of its acquisition of Alstom’s engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand in 2005.

Dublin’s light rail contract awarded to Alstom
Ireland’s Railway Procurement Agency has reportedly awarded the five-year maintenance contract for Dublin’s light rail system, Luas, to Alstom, to commence on October 1st.
The contract is worth over &euro30m for Alstom and its partner Dalkia, with Alstom’s share being &euro24m, it was reported.
Alstom and Dalkia have maintained the light rail infrastructure since the Luas started operating in 2004 Alstom is currently supplying 26 new Citadis trams to RPA, which will bring the number of trams in operation to 66 by the year 2010, it was reported.

Biggest decline on record for Germany’s rail cargo
Germany’s rail cargo traffic has reportedly seen the biggest decline on record in the first half as the recession curbed orders for goods made in Europe’s largest economy.
The German railway system transported 147.3 million metric tons of goods in the first six months of 2009, down 22.4 per cent from the year-earlier period the biggest drop since records began in 1950, it was reported.
The quantity of goods transported abroad declined 30.5 per cent, and imports by train fell 29.7 per cent, while inland traffic of goods declined 17.8 per cent, it was reported.

China to give rollingstock to Myanmar
China is to reportedly hand over 225 railway carriages, including 20 passenger, 200 freight coaches and five engines to Myanmar as part of a deal agreed by the two countries during the China-ASEAN Economic and Investment Summit in 2008. Myanmar currently has a reported 6,942 kilometres of rail tracks in the country.

Wheat exports slide in July
By Sineva Toevai
Wheat grain exports fell 584,000 tonnes in July to 1.1 million&nbsptonnes, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Western Australia was easily the largest exporting state, with 582,000 tonnes, followed by New South Wales with 282,600 tonnes.
Victoria exported the least wheat in July with 59,800 tonnes.
There were 2.9 million tonnes of wheat grain committed for domestic use or for export in July, representing a 21 per cent fall from the June estimate of 3.6 million tonnes.
Of the total wheat grain committed, 2.2 million tonnes, or 76 per cent, was reserved for export.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

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News in brief ‘ 2-8 September 2009

Broomhead confirmed as new Asciano chairman
By Rob McKay
Former Orica managing director Malcolm Broomhead will replace Tim Poole as Asciano chairman, the ports and rail firm said on September 4th.
There will also be two new non-executive directors added to its board – former ANZ Bank deputy chief executive Dr Bob Edgar and former Crown Ltd and Woolworths chief financial officer Geoff Kleeman.
“The Asciano board is extremely pleased to have three such high caliber directors joining the board,” Poole, said.
“The board changes, together with the recently announced senior management changes and now-completed capital raising, place the group in a strong position and enhance an already very positive outlook.”
Poole will step down from his current role at Asciano’s annual meeting on October 23rd.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Leighton seals Melbourne passenger rail contract
By Sineva Toevai
Listed project developer and contractor Leighton Holdings has finalised a deal with Victoria’s transport department to operate and maintain Melbourne’s passenger rail network.
The deal, due to begin an initial term of eight years in November, is expected to generate $162 million in annual revenue for Leighton’s John Holland subsidiary.
It follows Leighton’s contract for the $152m rail upgrade of the Hunter Valley coal chain.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

SNCF and Eurotunnel buy Veolia Cargo
French railway company SNCF and Groupe Eurotunnel have reportedly bought Veolia Cargo. SNCF has taken over rail companies based in Germany, the
Netherlands and Italy, while Eurotunnel is acquiring the French branch of Veolia Cargo — Socorail, Veolia Cargo France, Veolia Cargo LInk and CFTA Cargo, it was reported. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

AGIC National Conference for Infrastructure Sustainability
The Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC) is holding its inaugural national conference for Infrastructure Sustainability on October 7th.
The conference is a significant milestone in AGIC’s mission to develop a Rating Scheme that delivers sustainable solutions in the design, construction and operation of Australian infrastructure.
The conference will focus on the projects shaping the country’s future growth and the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing the infrastructure industry. It will also outline AGIC’s progress with the infrastructure sustainability Rating Scheme. Guest speakers include representatives from State and Federal government departments, investment and legal service providers and planning, design and construction companies.
The conference will be held on Wednesday October 7th at the Sydney Convention Centre from 7.30am to 5.00pm. For more information visit: www.agic.net.au

BBI confirms interim agreement with investor
By Sineva Toevai
Babcock &amp Brown Infrastructure (BBI) has revealed it has entered into an interim agreement with a potential cornerstone investor about a recapitalisation plan.
The shares of the infrastructure investor were halted las week pending an announcement about the discussions.
The two parties “continue to negotiate in good faith the development of a proposed transaction”, BBI said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“This agreement includes a non-solicitation obligation on BBI, a capped cost reimbursement provision in favour of the potential cornerstone investor and a three month right of first refusal over the sale of certain assets, if BBI chooses to sell those assets.”
BBI has been trying to sell several of its assets including its wholly-owned Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in Queensland.
The listed infrastructure investor said earlier this year that it had received several expressions of interest for the coal terminal.
BBI recently reported a net loss of $977 million for the year ended June 30th following a $44 million loss a year earlier.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

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Shortlist revealed for Sydney Metro construction contract

Line One: McConnell Dowell Corporation, Abigroup, Obayashi Corporation Metro Primo: Leighton Contractors, S.E.L.I Spa and Thiess/John Holland JV: Thiess, John Holland JV have been selected from a list of five who submitted detailed expressions of interest in June.
The three consortia will now compete for the contract to develop the Permanent Route Infrastructure (PRI) for the Sydney Metro, stage one, Central to Rozelle, NSW Minister for Transport David Campbell said.
“Reaching this major milestone in the contract process for the CBD Metro again emphasises that work on the project is steaming ahead,” Campbell said.
“Some of Australia’s, and indeed the worlds, leading engineering and construction companies are represented in the shortlist for the PRI contract.&quot
The PRI contract will involve major tunnelling work for the seven kilometre route between Central and Rozelle including constructing the structural lining and cross passages in the tunnel and excavating the underground stations and passenger entrances.
Campbell said that the tender process will open for the shortlisted consortia in the coming weeks and will close in December this year, with the contract to be awarded to the successful consortium in the second quarter of 2010.
“Once again business in NSW is showing it is resilient to the doom saying and negative talk from the NSW Opposition, which has blatantly tried to undermine this project,” Campbell said.

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Strong interest shown in Sydney Metro contracts

NSW Minister for Transport David Campbell said these companies had formed seven consortia to submit an expression of interest in the Integrated Metro Operations (IMO) contract, which covers the supply of the metro trains, track, station fit-out, operating systems, operation and maintenance.
“Industry continues to show great enthusiasm for the Sydney Metro project, stage one Central to Rozelle,” Campbell said.
“Sydney Metro will now shortlist up to three consortia and will call for detailed proposals from them later this year.
“This strong business interest is a slap in the face for those political opportunists who have tried to talk down the Sydney Metro project and those people know who they are.”
Campbell said consortia who responded to the expression of interest phase were required to prepare detailed submissions addressing key criteria, including their capacity and experience in building and operating metro systems.
“The IMO contract is on schedule to be awarded in 2010 to the successful consortia following evaluation of the expressions of interest and subsequent detailed proposals.
“Construction of the underground metro rail system will begin late in 2010 – with stations to be built at Central, Town Hall Square, Martin Place, Barangaroo-Wynyard, Pyrmont and Rozelle.”

The IMO contract includes:
.Safety, management and operating systems
.Provision of trains, tracks and signalling systems
.Train control and maintenance facilities
.Mechanical and electrical systems including high voltage power supply
.Control, monitoring, communications and security systems
.Station platforms, structures and station fit-out
.Integration, testing and commissioning of the Metro
.Ongoing operations and maintenance of the Metro.

The seven consortia that have responded to the expressions of interest phase are:
.Harbour City Metro: Ansaldo STS Australia, Thiess, John Holland, RBS Group (Aust)
.Kujika Consortium: Keolis Australia, Downer EDI Rail, Thales Australia, Bovis Lend Lease, McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust)
.SVB Consortium: Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Veolia Transport Australasia, Bouygues Travaux Publics SA
.MetroLine Consortium: Alstom Australia Holdings, Alstom Transport SA, Leighton Contractors, RATP Development SA, Macquarie Capital Group
Supported by:
Alstom Limited, AECOM Australia, Aedas Limited
.Metropolitan Transport Solutions: Chilli Engineering Design, China South Locomotive &amp Rolling Stock Corporation, Metropolitan Transport Solutions
Met One: Serco Australia, Bombardier Transportation Australia, Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction, Hastings Management
Supported by:
A.W. Edwards, Woodhead, Tony Meadows Associates, Aurecon Australia, Mitsui &amp Co, Serco Group plc, Bombardier Inc, Laing O’Rourke Corporation
.SNC Lavalin: SNC – Lavalin Australia
Supported by:
United Group Infrastructure, UGL Rail, Baulderstone, Westinghouse Rail Systems Australia, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, Caldis Cook Group

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Construction on Minimbah Bank third rail project moves into full swing

The Federal Government’s $1.2 billion National Building package included a contribution towards the $134 million first stage of the project, known as the Minimbah Bank Third Rail Line.
This project involves the construction of approximately 10 kilometres of third rail track from Minimbah, west of Belford to Whittingham.
ARTC chief executive David Marchant said the construction work for Stage One is expected to be completed by early 2010.
“This is a vitally important project…to meet the forecasted increase in demand for export and domestic coal in the Hunter Valley,” Marchant said.
“Without the upgrade to the Main Northern Rail network, coal exported from the Hunter Valley through the Port of Newcastle could start to be constrained from 2015.”
ARTC recently formed the Hunter 8 Alliance with John Holland Pty Ltd and GHD Pty Ltd (GHD) to design and build the new track with the project involving two concurrent stages.
Stage One, from Minimbah to Whittingham, received approval from the Minister for Planning under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 on May 22nd.
The Alliance is currently undertaking an Environmental Assessment and preliminary design work for Stage Two, a third track of 32 kilometres from Maitland to Minimbah, known as the Maitland to Minimbah Third Track.
Marchant said ARTC was committed to the rail infrastructure upgrades as part of their Hunter Valley Capacity Improvement Strategy.
“Our strategy seeks to keep the rail system capacity ahead of industry demands and we have taken another important step…with construction of the Minimbah Bank Third Rail Line Project moving into full swing,” he said.
The Hunter 8 Alliance has prepared a number of Environmental and Community Management Plans to identify specific measures to reduce impacts to the environment and the local community during construction.

For more information about the project visit: www.hunter8alliance.com.au

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News in Brief ‘ 10-16 June 2009

Kerang rail disaster: truck driver cleared
By Rob McKay – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au
The truck driver involved in the Kerang level crossing disaster in Victoria two years ago has been cleared of criminal charges arising from the accident.
The collision killed 11 people on a V/Line train travelling from Swan Hill to Melbourne.
In a Melbourne court last week, the driver of the truck, Christian Scholl, 50, was found not guilty on 11 counts of culpable driving, eight charges of driving negligently and other charges of dangerous driving causing death.
His defence argued that the crossing was dangerous.
The Transport Accident Commission is expected to meet any civil claims which may yet arise.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Alliance announced for Victoria’s Springvale road rail project

Work on Victoria’s $140 million Springvale road rail separation at Nunawading is on track with the VicRoads alliance partners announced on June 10th and preconstruction work underway.
Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas said the project to remove the busy Springvale Road level crossing and construction of the new grade separation was complex and required a strong alliance partnership to successfully complete the works.
“I’m pleased to announce that John Holland and designers Arup and KBR Pty Ltd will join VicRoads to design, deliver and manage works for this key project, funded with $80 million from the Federal budget and $60 million from the State budget,”&nbspPallas said.
The alliance, which also includes the Department of Transport and Connex, would deliver the project by 2010.
Federal Member for Deakin Mike Symon said the project will reduce traffic congestion through the intersection and boost road safety by removing the boom gates that are the source of the traffic problem.
“In the past five years alone there have been 50 crashes causing injury and death,” he said.
The project includes a new railway station for Nunawading, with station access to be boosted by a new pedestrian underpass that will allow commuters and locals to avoid crossing Springvale Road.

First level crossing upgrades nearing completion in Queensland

The first eight of 66 level crossing upgrades funded in Queensland under the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package will be completed by the end of June.
In just three months, boom gates and flashing lights have been installed at eight high-risk level crossings across Queensland.
Last year alone there were 18 collisions, five fatalities and four serious injuries at level crossings in the State.
The following projects that are being upgraded with flashing lights and boom gates that are nearing completion are:
.Maher Road – Gordonvale
.Bluewater Drive – Townsville
.Toolakea Beach Road – Townsville
.Ellis Road – Bellenden Ker
.Schillings Road – Calliope
.Edgewood Drive – Emerald
.Toomulla Beach Road – Toomulla
.Hencamp Road – Kinduro

Hunter coal chain receives innovation accolade
By Sineva Toevai –www.lloydslistdcn.com.au
The Hunter coal industry has won the inaugural New South Wales Government award for supply chain innovation.
The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logisitics Team (HVCCLT) was presented with the award for excellence in supply chain innovation in NSW at the Smart Conference Awards, held in Sydney on June10th-11th.
State Development Minister Ian Macdonald said that team’s efforts to improve the efficiency of the Hunter Valley coal chain made it a &quotvery worthy&quot recipient of the award.
The Hunter Valley coal chain handles about $15 billion of export revenue annually, making it among the largest and most complex coal operations in the world, Macdonald said.
&quotThe HVCCLT has proven that, by working together with the aid of smart planning and technology and treating the Hunter coal chain as a single system, significant improvements can be achieved,&quot he said.
&quotStreamlining this massive operation has involved intensive end-to-end coal chain planning, scheduling and coordination encompassing about 1,000 kilometres of rail track, more than 15,000 annual train deliveries, 35 coal mines, the berthing and loading of more than 1100 export vessels (in 2008) and the handling of 80 different coal blends.&quot
HVCCLT helped the Hunter region export 92 million&nbsptonnes of coal in 2008, an&nbspeight per cent jump from 2007, he said.
Macdonald also praised HVCCLT’s $6 million integrated planning system and its continued efforts to further improve efficiencies.
Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

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News in Brief ‘ 22-28 April 2009

Delayed priority list causing problems for Victoria
Infrastructure Australias later than expected release of its final priority list of projects is reportedly causing problems for the Victorian Government.
Recent media reports that the Federal Government is expected to respond to the national priority list before handing down its budget on May 12th however Victoria is due to release its budget before this, on May 5th.
Sources reportedly said that Victorias task of prioritising projects, allocating spending and planning debt programs was very difficult without knowing how much money they will be receiving from the Federal Government and for which projects.
What projects do make the final priority list could have major implications for Victoria the States $4 billion plus regional rail link is reportedly tipped as a likely candidate for Federal Government funding.

Work begins on Tasmania’s biggest transport project
By Rob McKay
Tasmania ‘s largest ever transport infrastructure project is on its way to becoming a reality with the first sod turned on April 21st, on the $243m Brighton Bypass and the Brighton Transport Hub.
Two joint ventures have been selected to carry out the work – VEC/Thiess has won the contract for the northern section of the bypass and John Holland/Hazell Bros the southern section, which includes the Brighton Transport Hub.
The $79m hub is expected to be operational by September 2011 and the $164m bypass is scheduled for completion by June 2012.
These projects will significantly improve connections to the developing Brighton Industrial Estate and future Brighton Transport Hub,” Tasmanian premier David Bartlett said.
This is of fundamental and long-term importance for the future of transport in southern Tasmania.
Bartlett said the Brighton Transport Hub would provide a modern road-rail interchange and freight distribution hub to improve efficiency of freight movement into and out of southern Tasmania.
Source: Lloyds List Daily Commercial News www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Train services resume in Blackwater system
By Jennifer Perry
Rail services in the Blackwater coal system in central Queensland were disrupted for four days following the collision of two coal trains West of Rockhampton, on April 22nd.
The incident occurred at 12.50am at Grantleigh, about 150km west of Rockhampton, causing damage to wagons and locomotives, as well as the track and overhead wires. No one was injured in the collision.
A QR spokeswoman told Rail express that a single line between Blackwater and Rockhampton was opened at 6pm, April 24th, and a second line was opened at 3.45pm, April 25th, a day earlier than QR had anticipated.
There are some speed restrictions on the track other than that trains are up and running, she said.
QR National Coal, executive general manager, Marcus McAuliffe said that QR is continuing to liaise with port and shipping authorities to minimise interruptions.
It is not yet known what caused the collision and the incident is still being investigated.

Genesee &amp Wyoming finishes Eyre Peninsula rail upgrade
By Rob McKay
Genesee &amp Wyoming Australia has completed major track renovation on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
The $30m project, which began in 2007, saw 116 km of track tamped and regulated, 12,030 joints removed, 16 km of track replaced and 84,250 sleepers inserted, project manager Kym Fullgrabe confirmed on April 24th.
The section of track between Port Lincoln and Cummins takes the greater amount of traffic on that part of the peninsula system, which predominantly carries grain.
Source: Lloyds List Daily Commercial News www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Conlon opens first facility in Port Adelaide Bulk Precinct
By Rob McKay
South Australian Infrastructure Minister Pat Conlon launched the first phase of Flinders Ports’ $50m Port Adelaide Bulk Precinct project on April 27th, when he opened a $6m, 2500 sq m fully-enclosed storage facility, adjacent to Berth 29 in the Inner Harbour.
Flinders Ports said that once complete, the common-user precinct would include:
. A $5m private rail link and interface with the national rail network
. Purpose-built, fully enclosed storage facilities
. Best practice environmental performance, with overall design to focus on minimising environmental impacts including dust, and water conservation and re-use across the site
. State-of-the-art materials handling systems including reclaim conveyor systems to and from the storage facilities
. Upgraded or improved ancillary facilities including new roadways, site services and environmental systems
The 160,000 square metre site will take advantage of both the improved road system, linking Port Adelaide to the major traffic routes, and the bulk shipping wharf at Berth 29, Flinders Ports chief executive, Vincent Tremaine said.
The master plan for the precinct includes a private rail connection from the nearby national network into the area to ensure those who use the facility enjoy cost efficiencies across all major transport modes.
Source: Lloyds List Daily Commercial News www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Conlon to respond to Port Bonython feasibility study
By Rob McKay
The South Australian Government will respond soon to the Port Bonython feasibility study, a spokesman for transport minister Pat Conlon said on April 28th.The spokesman confirmed that Conlon had received the report several weeks ago but it was, a large document that the minister’s department had had to examine.
He was unable to be more specific on the timing of the response but denied that the time taken had related to present or proposed federal infrastructure spending announcements.
Earlier, State opposition infrastructure spokesman David Ridgway urged the SA Government to show leadership to enable a deep-sea port to be developed at Port Bonython.
“”We’re in a catch-22 situation and what we really need is for the government to show some leadership and either underwrite the development or facilitate the Federal Government or even some overseas companies coming in to help underwrite the development,”” the ABC quoted Ridgway as saying.
Source: Lloyds List Daily Commercial News www.lloydslistdcn.com.au

Melbourne port rail signals, crossing upgraded

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The three-stage $37.9m modernisation and rationalisation of rail links around the port of Melbourne has completed another step with signals and a level crossing now upgraded in the Dynon precinct. </span> <p>By Rob McKay</p><p>The Dock Link Rd level crossing was the busiest in the precinct, with a daily average of 1000 truck movements, the Australian Rail Track Corporation said on January 24th.<br />The $10m second stage involved the removal and replacement of 9400 sq metres of track, ballast and signaling infrastructure with 18 sets of points, 18 new signals and 18.5km of cabling.<br />“The Missing Link project is a landmark upgrade of the infrastructure in the Melbourne Ports precinct,&quot ARTC chief executive David Marchant, who dubbed it “one of the most significant infrastructure improvements to the interstate rail network in modern history.<br />“It represents a major milestone in improving the efficiency of freight movements through the ports precinct.”<br />The upgrade is expected to help allow a more flexible operating environment at South Dynon which will result in increased yield and greater capacity, efficiency and reliability for both freight and passenger traffic. <br />“It will also result in reduced maintenance costs and improved travel times,” Marchant said.<br />The third and final stage of the project involves duplication of the single dual-gauge track which currently services the port. <br />The duplication will result in double dual gauge track linking the port with the interstate rail network as well as a direct broad gauge connection between North Dynon and the port, aimed at allowing passenger and freight traffic to coexist more efficiently.<br />The work was undertaken with ARTC’s partners South Improvement Alliance (SIA) with the primary contractors being John Holland, MVM and O’Donnell Griffin.</p><p>Source: Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News – <a target="_blank" href="http://www.lloydslistdcn.com.au">www.lloydslistdcn.com.au</a></p><p>&nbsp</p>

Westvic dumps El Zorro rail freight service

<p>Stevedoring company Patrick will take over the Warrnambool-Melbourne rail freight services from Melbourne company El Zorro after rail freight terminal operator Westvic Container Handling dumped the service provider last week.</p> <p>El Zorro business manager Geoff Tighe told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that the company had been given about two weeks’ notice and would carry its last load this Friday.</p> <p>Patrick has direct rail access into Melbourne dock.</p> <p>Mr Tighe said that Westvic Container Handling managing director Warrick Loft had not only complained about El Zorro’s services but was critical of everyone involved in the logistics operation.</p> <p> &#8220It’s included problems with Connex and V&#47Line when they have been doing maintenance work and line upgrades, and that has caused late running trains,&#8221 he said.</p> <p> &#8220Our train had a very tight turning time &#8211 it only had about two and a half hours for the people at P&#38O in the North Dynon rail yard to reload the train and get it running with empty container boxes back to Warrnambool.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Tighe said his company had &#8220bent over backwards&#8221 to provide Mr Loft with the best service possible.</p> <p>&#8220Every time there has been a problem we have put trucks in place to carry his boxes from Warrnambool to Melbourne,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220We have even run trains on the weekend, which was not in the original deal.&#8221</p> <p><em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> has been trying to contact Mr Loft for two days.</p> <p>Mr Tighe said that the loss of the service was a blow to the company, but it would free up broad gauge equipment to allow it to take up business that it had been unable to handle.</p> <p>El Zorro runs about five trains a fortnight for mineral sands company Iluka Resources and country maintenance trains for V&#47Line and John Holland.</p> <p>&#8220People have been knocking on our doors and we haven’t been able to help them for lack of equipment so we can now go back and talk to the,&#8221 he said.</p> <br />

Queensland submits $13bn infrastructure wish list

<p>The Queensland Government has petitioned Infrastructure Australia for a 30% slice of the Rudd Government’s $20bn Building Australia Fund to help pay for projects such as a planned multi purpose port at Abbot Point near Bowen.</p> <p>The official submission, elements of which the <em>Australian Financial Review</em> obtained, shows the State Government had created a &#8220wish list&#8221 of vital infrastructure projects it wants help to fund, including some projects which it said were beyond its capacity to fund alone.</p> <p>Key projects rated of national importance at the top of the list included:</p> <p>&#8226 A doubling of Brisbane’s inner city rail network for both passenger and freight movements, worth $14.2bn</p> <p>&#8226 The Abbot Point project, which is already under way and </p> <p>&#8226 The development of Curtis Island at Gladstone Port for the liquefied natural gas industry.</p> <p>Melbourne construction company John Holland recently won the $287m construction project for the expansion of Abbot Point, which will involve the construction of a second 500-metre long berth about 2.9 km offshore.</p> <p>The expansion will also comprise the construction of the jetty conveyor and transfer towers, including structural, mechanical and electrical works.</p> <p>The State Government hopes the expanded Abbot Point will take some strain off Gladstone, 650 km to the south, as a centre for heavy industry.</p> <p>Abbot Point is presently used for coal exports from the nearby Bowen Basin.</p> <p>Queensland infrastructure minister Paul Lucas called on the federal infrastructure body to allocate the money based on projected economic and population growth instead of just population distribution, the <em>AFR</em> reported.</p> <p>Queensland has been a top performer in both areas of growth, consistently outstripping Victoria and New South Wales in recent years.</p> <p>Attempts to further clarify the State Governments submission were not successful at press time. </p> <br />

New passing lanes to improve rail efficiency: ARTC

<p>Work has begun on two new passing lanes &#8211 each 7 km long &#8211 to speed up rail traffic on the main Sydney-Melbourne line between Wagga Wagga and Albury.</p> <p>Site works underway on the passing lanes, at Gerogery and Culcairn, includes bulk earthworks, services and drainage works.</p> <p>Funded under the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) $2 bn North South Investment Strategy, the new passing lanes make a total of four on the line.</p> <p>Over the next two years, a consortium will construct 17 new passing lanes, also 7 km in length, between Junee and Melbourne. </p> <p>ARTC chief executive David Marchant said the use of the regularly spaced 7-km long passing lanes will remove the present restriction on the Sydney- Melbourne line caused by irregularly spaced crossing loops with maximum lengths of only 1.5 km.</p> <p>&#8220The passing lanes will allow trains to pass and cross at speed along the 472 km of single-line track between Junee and Melbourne, by providing double track passing lanes at around 40-minute running time intervals,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>The civil and signalling work is being undertaken under the North South Strategy’s $560m Southern Improvement Alliance (SIA), an alliance between ARTC and John Holland Rail, MVM Rail and O’Donnell Griffin supported by sub-alliance partners Kellogg Brown and Root, and CW-DC.</p> <br />

Freight Link calls for major new investor to take over

<p>Alice-Darwin rail operator Freight Link has jumped into the rail sale fray, calling for $360m from new investors in exchange for an equity stake in the railway.</p> <p>The size of the stake will be negotiated once the new cash has been offered. </p> <p>Rail industry experts said that the deal would have to be priced against QR’s and Babcock and Brown’s purchase of ARG, with QR buying the above ground rail business for $450m.</p> <p>Freight Link and the track operator and lessee Asia Pacific Transport are to be merged together for the stake sale. The $360m figure is expected to add up to a majority stake in the combined operation. </p> <p>The railway cost $1.4bn to build, including a $460m grant from federal and state governments. </p> <p>Freight Link has a large number of relatively small investors involved in building and financing the project, including Barclay Mowlem with 13.9%, John Holland with 11.4%, Macmahon with 7%, as well as National Asset Management, and Colonial First State.</p> <p>US engineering giant Kellogg Brown and Root is the largest shareholder in Freight Link with 36%. </p> <p>It is expected that a lot of smaller shareholders will exit as a result of the stake sale. </p> <p>Freight Link has got in before Toll has to sell off 50% of Pacific National, expected to go for around $1.2bn, and which has to take place within nine months of settling the Patrick purchase. </p> <p>Freight Link already has 85% of the freight business on the Adelaide-Darwin route.</p> <p>It lost $53m in 2004&#4705, which still included considerable ramp-up costs. </p> <p>This year, the railway began moving road fuel tankers on specially built rolling stock, and more importantly began moving bulk minerals from the OM manganese mine at Tennant Creek.</p> <p>Future business growth is expected to come from more mineral development along the route in South Australia and the Northern Territory.</p> <p>Media speculation suggests that infrastructure and rail players such as Toll, Babcock and Brown, QR, Macquarie, and Hastings Fund Management might be interested depending on ACCC approval. </p> <p>The funds will be used for both expansion and retiring debt. </p> <br />

Pass on cost savings from Sydney-Melbourne rail upgrade: ARTC

<p>The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is asking train operators to pass on some of the productivity gains from imminent track improvements to the Sydney-Melbourne rail route.</p> <p>On Friday, ARTC signed an agreement with the Australian Rail Consortium &#8211 led by John Holland MVM Rail and O’Donnell Griffin &#8211 for $560m worth of upgrade work to the line between Australia’s two biggest cities.</p> <p>As part of those improvements, train operators will be able to increase train length on the route from 1,500 metres to 1,800 metres, ARTC chief executive David Marchant said.</p> <p>"We would like the train operators to pass on those productivity gains [going from 1,500 metres to 1,800 metres&#93," Mr Marchant said.</p> <p>ARTC is still in discussion with operators about passing some of those savings on, he said.</p> <p>Train operators will save at least 8% on present costs with the shorter running times &#8211 from 13 hr 10 min to 10 hr and 40 min (1,500 metre trains) and 11 hr and 30 min (1,800 metre trains) &#8211 and fuel savings, he said.</p> <p>Works will include 220 km of new passing loops, revamped track infrastructure and modernised signalling systems.</p> <p>The upgrade will create additional capacity on the line and that could give rise to greater competition on the route &#8211 if anyone can afford it.</p> <p>"All the opportunity is there for people who can afford to enter the market," Mr Marchant said.</p> <p>"New entrants will need to be very well cashed up."</p> <p>Finding sufficient terminal space in either Sydney of Melbourne to put an 1,800 metre train was "a big problem", he said.</p> <p>With the time and cost savings to train operators, ARTC is hopeful that rail can increase its share of the Sydney-Melbourne freight market from the present 11% to around 30% when the works are completed in about four years time.</p> <p>The upgrade is being planned to minimise disruption to present services.</p> <p>However, the industry would benefit from the building of additional capacity as the works progressed, he said. </p> <br />

NZ rail upgrade contract decision imminent

<p>The decision on who gets the job of fixing New Zealand’s rundown rail network is expected later this month.</p> <p>Three bidders have been shortlisted for the work and they are Australia’s Transfield Services &#8211 the present service provider &#8211 and two consortiums, John Holland&#47Fulton Hogan and Leightons&#47Queensland Rail.</p> <p>The New Zealand government had already described the track issue as "an appalling situation", the <em>Dominion Post</em> reported.</p> <p>The former track owner, Tranz Rail, now known as Toll NZ and controlled by Toll Holdings, had previously outsourced track maintenance work to Transfield.</p> <p>In 2004, the government bought back the track, agreeing to invest NZ$200m in exchange for Toll NZ agreeing to invest NZ$100m in new rollingstock.</p> <p>The government set up the organisation, Ontrack, to manage the network, including retendering the track work contract.</p> <br />

Alice-Darwin rail link project scoops award trifecta

<p>The Alice Springs-Darwin rail link has won its third major award for 2004 &#8211 this time for project of the year.</p> <p>The $1.4bn project won the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia Award, which follows earlier wins in the 2004 Australian Construction Achievement Award and the 2004 National Engineering Excellence Award.</p> <p>Kellogg Brown &#38 Root led a consortium of engineering firms &#8211 Barclay Mowlem, John Holland and MacMahon &#8211 which finished the 1,420 km rail link five months ahead of schedule. </p> <br />

WA signs major MetroRail contract

<p>Western Australia has signed a $310m contract for the construction of the Perth-Mandurah rail link.</p> <p>The contract was awarded to the joint venture group of John Holland, MacMahon Contractors and Multiplex Constructions.</p> <p>The contract includes 70 km of track and associated infrastructure and it is part of WA’s $1.52 bn New MetroRail project.</p> <p>Another three major contracts for the construction of nine stations along the route are for tender and will be awarded at the end of the year, the WA government said.</p> <br />

Work on last stage of key WA rail tunnel begins

<p>Work has begun on the final stage of the $440m Kenwick rail tunnel, the Western Australian Government said.</p> <p>The government has awarded John Holland the $14.2m construction contract for the tunnel, which is part of the railway spur being constructed from the Armadale line to Thornlie.</p> <p>Construction work also involves the relocation of around 1.4 km of the Woodbridge-to-Kwinana freight railway.</p> <br />

QR to build line for new coal export contract

<p>QR has won a $200m contract to build a rail line from Blackwater to Rolleston to service MIM’s new thermal coal mine in central Queensland.</p> <p>The 100-km rail line will link the Rolleston mine to an existing rail link to the port of Gladstone.</p> <p>It is the first rail contract put out to open tender since national competition laws were introduced. </p> <p>Four major rail operators were shortlisted for the contract, including Pacific National and Freight Australia.</p> <p>A consortium involving QR, Abigroup and John Holland was selected to design, finance and construct the rail line.</p> <p>The mine is set to open late next year and QR will start hauling 6m tonnes a year of coal from Rolleston to Gladstone when the mine opens late next year. </p> <p>MIM plans to ramp up production to 8m tonnes a year in 2006&#4707.</p> <p>MIM said on Thursday (March 6) that it would proceed with the Rolleston development after a 17-month feasibility study.</p> <p>A MIM spokesman said trial shipments of 250,000 tonnes were conducted with power companies in South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia, which have expressed interest in purchasing Rolleston thermal coal. </p> <br />

Work starts on Victoria’s regional fast rail project

<p>Victorian premier Steve Bracks turned the first sod on the Ballarat line last week to mark the beginning of work on the state’s $550m regional fast rail project.</p> <p>The project is expected to deliver faster and more frequent rail services between Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and the Latrobe Valley, with 29 new trains travelling at speeds of up to 160km&#47h.</p> <p>All four lines are now being tested to determine the condition of track foundations and where new or upgraded track will be needed.</p> <p>Contractors are also set to begin laying fibre optic cable for the new signalling system.</p> <p>Mr Brack said the project would be built "on time and on budget by mid 2005".</p> <p>But Victorian opposition leader Robert Doyle said costs could blow out to $1bn.</p> <p>The turning of the first sod does not signal the start of work, Mr Doyle said.</p> <p>The Thiess-ALSTOM consortium will upgrade the Ballarat and Geelong lines, while a joint venture between John Holland and Transfield will upgrade the Bendigo and Latrobe Valley lines.</p> <p>The fast rail project is the centrepiece of the State Government’s $3.5bn Linking Victoria transport strategy.</p> <br />

Leighton has record order book.

<p>A number of major rail construction contracts has helped Leighton Holdings end the financial year with a record $8.4bn order book.</p> <p>Awarding of other major projects in the next few months should push work in hand to $9.5bn.</p> <p>Leighton Holdings subsidiary Thiess was part of the consortium chosen to construct the Epping-Chatswood segment of the Parramatta Rail line in Sydney. Thiess’ share of this work is estimated at $430m.</p> <p>Thiess was also part of the group awarded two of the design and construct packages of the Victorian Regional Fast Rail project. </p> <p>Another Leighton subsidiary John Holland was part of the joint venture which won the other two. </p> <p>Combined this work should add around $300m to the coffers.</p> <p>Another division, Leighton Contractors will be paid $300m over three years to build Melbourne’s Spencer Street Station.</p> <p>The company will also be part of the consortium winning the $1.5bn Western Sydney Orbital project. </p> <p>Two bidders have been shortlisted and each contains a Leighton Holdings subsidiary.</p> <br />