Waterloo station. Artists impression: Transport for NSW

NSW awards key Sydney metro station contract

John Holland and Mirvac will deliver the Waterloo metro station under a $299 million contract awarded by the NSW Government.

The contract includes the new Waterloo Station and an integrated development above it, drawing on both companies’ expertise in major transport infrastructure and community-oriented development and design.

The “Waterloo Metro Quarter” will comprise of five building envelopes including three towers and two mid-rise buildings above and adjacent to the station. The project is expected to be completed around the time Sydney Metro City & Southwest opens in 2024.

The residential part of the development will include five per cent affordable housing and 70 apartments for social housing. Two new public plazas will be built at Cope Street and Raglan Street.

“Drawing on our recent experience in delivering Sydney Metro Northwest, we are excited to deliver not only a landmark station, but also a revitalised precinct for the community,” John Holland CEO Joe Barr said.

“This project will transform Waterloo and improve community spaces in the inner city for generations to come. Our integrated team has worked together across development, investment and complex transport infrastructure to create an urban renewal project that will make commuting easier, create jobs, and improve community facilities.”

Mirvac CEO and Managing Director Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said that the “vision for this precinct extends beyond the bricks and mortar; we will be a long-term investor in Waterloo and we are wholly committed to realising the potential of this site to help drive meaningful social renewal and enduring value for the broader precinct.”

“The ability to deliver a progressive, urban development of this calibre, is underpinned by our wealth of experience at the forefront of the industry, together with our unique end-to-end capability.

“We have finely honed our approach to place making, design and construction over 47 years, and this, together with our thorough understanding of how our customers live, enables us to create thriving communities that support and enhance people’s lifestyles.”

Shortlists for Barangaroo, Crows Nest metro stations

Six applicants have been shortlisted across two tender process to build new metro stations at Barangaroo and Crows Nest as part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.

Sydney Metro has shortlisted AW Edwards, CPB Contractors and Laing O’Rourke for the contract to deliver Crows Nest station, and Hutchison, John Holland and Watpac for the contract to deliver Barangaroo station.

The six shortlisted parties will now all move on to the Request for Tender phase of their respective contracts.

The contractor selected to build Crows Nest station will deliver two separate station entrances and enabling works to support the future over-station development. A delivery partner for that over-station development will be chosen via a separate procurement process.

The state government said the station and over-station development packages had been separated so the station build can proceed in time for a targeted opening of 2024, while the government further considers community feedback regarding the above-station development.

“This also allows the over-station development to be further incorporated into an integrated planning outcome,” Sydney Metro said, “consistent with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s process to finalise the St Leonards and Crows Nest 2036 plan.”

The Barangaroo station plan will work to improve access to the Walsh Bay Arts and Culture precinct, and provide easy access to Barangaroo’s public, residential, commercial and entertainment areas and new ferry hub. The station will be built to improve pedestrian access to the northern part of Sydney’s CBD and The Rocks, and will aim to alleviate congestion at Wynyard station.

Specialised skills approach to service rail’s construction boom

With work ramping up across the rail sector, labour hire, recruitment, managed labour and safety management firm Category 5 is focusing on its unique, specialised offering for a stretched skills market.


The pipeline of rail construction and maintenance work is estimated at more than $100 billion over the next decade. After construction work rose 56 per cent in FY18 and another 5 per cent in FY19, BIS Oxford Economics estimates it will almost double over the next five years. One of the sector’s biggest concerns as work ramps up in cities and regions all around the country, is the supply of skilled labour to meet this surging demand. The Australasian Railway Association-commissioned Skills Crisis report, conducted by BIS Oxford Economics at the end of 2018, estimated that by the expected peak for rail construction in 2023, the sector could be left more than 70,000 workers short of the jobs needed.

Paul Tobin, Category 5 Labour Management’s General Manager for Australia’s East Coast and New Zealand, tells Rail Express the skills shortage is the single greatest challenge facing the sector in both countries as a result of the infrastructure boom.

“Rail can be a tough, physically challenging working environment,” Tobin says. “In recent times people have been steered toward careers requiring university degrees rather than these labour/tradebased roles.”

While the trend has been towards university degrees, Tobin says more and more rail construction projects are valuing workers with qualifications and skillsets that might commonly be seen as less prestigious and sought after than a university degree.

“Specific rail skills and experience have largely gone unrecognised in the past, but I think the industry is really shifting toward rail specialists, and understanding the value they can bring to a project,” he says. “The rail and infrastructure boom is going to be a game changer, and I think we are going to be left short of that specialist labour.”

Understanding where those gaps will emerge in the labour market is key to Category 5’s business. In recent years, the company has already responded to growth in demand in a number of key sectors, focusing on a deeper understanding of the needs of specific operators. Its Cat 5 Rail business has established teams serving a number of segments of the rail sector.

“Roles like traction overhead lineman, signalling technician and the like have come under real demand and set to continue,” Tobin says, citing an example.

With the significant growth in the traction overhead line sector, the company focused on providing highly skilled and experienced personnel for this part of the market. Subsequently, Cat 5 Rail has built specialty teams which have worked on the removal projects for nine level crossings on Melbourne’s Cranbourne- Packenham line. Cat 5 Rail also supplies specialist hi-rail plant and equipment for overhead wiring construction and maintenance.

“All our linesmen are nationally accredited and hold the competency on the Rail Industry Worker system,” Tobin says. “We have some of the most experienced and capable overhead support staff known throughout Australia and New Zealand.”

Cat 5 Rail has taken a similar approach to provide specialist support for signalling work, welding and track, as well as the supply of rail safeworking staff for a range of projects.

Tobin says the Cat 5 Rail team has become one of the most renowned, specifically for track work, in the Port Hedland and wider Pilbara Region. Across Australia and New Zealand, Cat 5 Rail’s track crews have worked with blue chip clients like BHP, Rio Tinto, Lend Lease, John Holland, Laing O’Rourke and Downer.

Training and education

While sourcing the right people for existing work, a critical element of solving the skills shortage for rail will be training and up-skilling workers. “For the industry to survive and excel throughout the boom, investment in training and education is going to be key,” Tobin says.

As a registered training organisation, Tobin says Category 5 is ready to help the industry meet these challenges. Sam Sycamore, Category 5’s CEO and owner, was born in Port Hedland and founded his business there after more than 15 years in senior mining and resources, oil and gas and industrial management positions. Gaining perspective from the customer side of the labour market, Sycamore identified a need for a more tailored solution than that offered by the biggest recruitment companies. He says seeing workers learn specific skills and develop into more specialised roles is one of the best aspects of the business.

“Someone might start off as a labourer, but some of these people who have worked for us for three years have become leading hands, machine operators, track machine operators,” Sycamore says. “They’re becoming specialists in their field, and that’s one of the joys of the job; seeing someone that has reached their potential or is beginning to reach their potential.”

Cat 5 Rail’s training business is partnered with Hedland High School and other organisations, to provide students the ability to undertake a Cert 2 in Rail Infrastructure.

Boosting presence

Looking to take advantage of its valuable offering for the rail sector, Category 5 has launched a new website and increased its social media presence on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Tobin says the company has an excellent reputation among its existing customers, and has managed to thrive since it was founded in 2009 by focusing on the needs of its customers.

“Good old-fashioned customer service, a sense of urgency and a passion for what we do has been the fuel to our growth and success,” he says. “Our work in the Pilbara has provided the opportunity to work with a number of tier-one companies and we have been able to replicate this across the country.”

Over 10 years, the company has grown from a sole operator to a team of more than 20 dedicated professionals within Cat 5 Rail alone, servicing markets in Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand, and soon in other states across Australia. While Category 5 works across several sectors, Tobin says rail represents the “roots” of the business.

“Cat 5 has been built from our work in the rail sector and the business has been built from a real personalised family, local type atmosphere whereby we know our clients and employees as our family and friends,” he says. “A lot of the Cat 5 clients are long term clients that have been with us from the start. We have varying lengths of contract, but our relationships continue on for the long term.”


Contact: catfive.com.au

Construction teams benefit from leasing model

CFCL Australia’s Matthew Roberts says more construction consortiums are relying on leasing the equipment they need to deliver projects on time and under budget.


CFCL Australia (CFCLA) has fingers in many pies when it comes to rail asset leasing. From a large fleet of locomotives, to wagons servicing a range of industries, to heavy machinery capable of laying and maintaining track, CFCLA can service the needs of just about any rail owner or operator.

One thing CFCLA is not, however, is a rail operator. “We don’t want to compete with our customers,” CFCLA Rollingstock Operations Manager, Matthew Roberts, explains to Rail Express. “We want to work with them and provide them with a stakeholder who’ll take a long-term approach to the rollingstock they rely on.”

Supplying rail operators with locomotives and wagons has been a core business for CFCLA for more than 20 years. Its fleet in Australia includes 78 locomotives and roughly 1,700 wagons, including intermodal, grain, and bulk. Its core business is leasing those pieces of rollingstock to operators and shippers, so they can do their business without taking on the burden of long-term ownership.

But Roberts says an increasing source of work for CFCLA in recent years has been large consortiums and construction firms who are bidding for major contracts to build new infrastructure.

“There are more companies coming to us that aren’t rail operators; they’re the people going out to try to win big projects,” he says. “Obviously, we think everyone should lease, but in the past, it would have just been the rail operators. Now, it’s the consortiums coming to us.”

The benefits of leasing to these firms are simple: it means they don’t actually need to own all the equipment they need to bid for any given project, and once they win such a project, they don’t need to buy it. “The thing is, jobs of that scale might only come up every few years for any given company,” Roberts explains. “Between jobs you’ve got to be able to store the equipment for long periods. When we buy a locomotive, it’s got to have over a 35- to 50-year life cycle, maybe even longer. Wagons are the same. Whenever we buy anything, we always take the long-term ownership view.

“When a project consortium comes together, they want to get that job done and then disperse. Through a leasing model we essentially hold the equipment, and then bring it out again for the next job. That also means we’ll keep the expertise we need to maintain that fleet.”

Further simplifying things, CFCLA has its own accreditation with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, so customers know a high standard is being maintained across the fleet. “That means when they take our equipment, and we sign off to say it’s ready to go, they can be sure that it’s ready to go.”

A typical contract will include, in CFCLA’s fee, all the necessary maintenance on the locomotives and the wagons. Lessors can find comfort knowing it’s in CFCLA’s best interest to do a good job of that, too, and CFCLA will even activate its flexible workforce to set up shop in close proximity to a project, if it’s being done in a remote place.

One example of this was for John Holland’s construction of the Roy Hill railway in the Pilbara. CFCLA supplied heavy equipment for that work, and supported that contract with a team on the ground to keep the equipment maintained.

CFCLA recently put together two locomotives and a ballast rake for work on the Inland Rail construction project from Parkes to Narromine, and Roberts says the company is well-equipped to do more of that work as the project ticks along. “We’ve got the rail equipment that was used to make the Roy Hill line a couple of years ago,” he says, “equipment that can build a greenfield railway. We’d anticipate that could help assist with the Inland Rail project.”

Growing business

Increased interest from construction teams is a welcome growth area for CFCLA, but the company still does well with its core business leasing locomotives and wagons to shippers and operators.

The CFCLA fleet operates across the national standard gauge network, including locomotives and rail maintenance trains in the Pilbara Region, servicing iron ore rail operators.

When it comes to general freight, Roberts notes some specific contracts are shorter build, such as solar power station construction or other project work.

While CFCLA can handle these short term contracts, he says it can also offer improved economies to customers in the longer term.

“When it comes to general rail freight, contracts can be shorter, or they can be a five- or a seven-year contract,” Roberts says. “Regardless of contract length, it’s better for them to come and lease it from us. At the end of the contract, if they don’t win it again, we’ll take the assets back, for them to be maintained in the long-term.”

The synergy then for CFCLA is if a contract changes hands from one rail operator to another, CFCLA can simply offer the assets to the new contract holder, and an easy transition can be made.

In terms of the impact Inland Rail will have on the freight market, Roberts doesn’t expect a sudden increase in demand for CFCLA’s services; instead he expects steady growth over time.

“I think it will take time,” he says. “The way freight transport works, it might take three years for contracts to end and more freight to move from roads to rail. But we’re there to help with that transition, and to take on the role of rollingstock supplier in the long-term. Should an operator or shipper need to ramp up slowly to multiple trains or locomotives and wagons we are there to help a business as it grows.”

CFCLA’s newest locomotives are the CM Class, built by Motive Power (Wabtec) in Boise, Idaho. The fleet also includes locomotives from other North American firms EMD and GE. The key benefit of this, Roberts explains, is the US-built machines are already accredited for use in Australia. “Ours were out running the moment they arrived,” he says.

Notably, a significant portion of CFCLA’s wagon fleet was built in Adelaide, the site of the larger of two CFLCA Maintenance workshops – the other being in Goulburn. CFCLA Maintenance is not only used to maintain CFCLA’s fleet but also services locomotives and wagons owned by other companies, including passenger rollingstock like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific, which are worked on in Adelaide.

“We do passenger car work, locomotive work, wagon work, track maintenance equipment work. Being positioned in Adelaide, in particular, means we’re able to work on rollingstock being used on the east-west and the north-south corridors,” Roberts concludes.


Contact: cfcla.com.au

North East Line Upgrade awarded

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has appointed a main works contractor for its North East Rail Line Upgrade project in Victoria.

ARTC chief executive John Fullerton announced on December 9 John Holland will deliver the multi-million-dollar main works package for the line between Melbourne and Albury.

John Holland was among three parties shortlisted for the $235 million contract in June.

Work will include ballast depth improvements along the entire rail corridor, mudhole removal and track resurfacing, drainage upgrades, and around 100 level crossing and rail bridge upgrades.

Fullerton said the work would push the North East line one step closer to improved reliability, smoother journeys and reduced delays.

“Over the previous months we have been following a rigorous competitive tender process,” he said. “We are thrilled to award the contract to John Holland and are confident that their extensive experience delivering large scale rail infrastructure projects will ensure the best outcomes for the project.”

John Holland’s executive general manager for rail Steve Butcher said the team was thrilled to have won the contract.

John Holland’s Rail Infrastructure Services team is well equipped to deliver this important project that will reinvigorate a large part of regional Victoria,” Butcher said.

“We understand the upgrades are a key priority for those living in north east Victoria and look forward to delivering these improvements and the benefits they will bring to the local community, businesses and economy.”

Related story: Steve Butcher on rail’s ‘unprecedented boom’

The ARTC said significant early works have already been completed on the line this year, including a significant scope of work during a recent 60-hour works shutdown. Further targeted works are planned to help address some current V/Line services performance issues.

“We know the reliability of North East line services is a real and on-going concern for passengers, and we continue to work with the Victorian transport agencies to find ways of improving the track condition ahead of the commencement of the upgrade’s main works,” Fullerton said.

“Recent works undertaken in September enabled the removal of six temporary speed restrictions (TSRs). Since then we have procured a high-speed tamper which is stabled at Benalla.

“A further 11 TSRs have been removed and 60 kilometres of track tamped. We plan to continue targeted resurfacing works over the coming months as well as ballasting and mudhole removal.”

AusRAIL: Rail adapting to ‘unprecedented boom’

In this exclusive Q&A, John Holland’s executive general manager for rail, Steve Butcher, tells Rail Express about the shifting rail landscape, the benefits of an integrated offering, and the challenges facing the sector.


Rail Express (REX): How is the landscape shifting for operations and maintenance contractors in the rail sector?

Steve Butcher (SB): There is an unprecedented increase in the investment governments are making into mass transit systems across Australia. As a result, Australian rail operators are adapting to a level of demand that has been lacking for a generation.

The demand has been greatest for mass transit systems in urban centres, where population density has driven an increase in funding for rail projects along the east coast.

The other shift we are seeing is a renewed focus on the customer, which is something we thrive on.

People-centred transport systems are now what governments expect, and our performance is tied to how well we design and manage the customer experience. Governments are also increasingly introducing KPIs for operators, which has driven better customer outcomes.

The importance of integrating the customer experience across modes and ensuring comfort, safety and reliability is now part of rail planning from the design stage.

Public transport increasingly becoming a data business has also created a range of new opportunities for operators, such as linking to on-demand services, and sharing real-time information with customers about reliability and patronage on services.


REX: What are the challenges faced by John Holland and others in this space, and how is John Holland adjusting to these challenges?

SB: This is a really exciting time for the Australian rail industry – it is a time of great transformation, both in terms of massive physical infrastructure and technological developments to reduce congestion and improve the customer experience.

We are very lucky to be in the thick of some of the most significant rail projects in Australia’s history, but
it is important we keep pace with the sheer volume of work that is out there.

Our rail business now makes up 47 per cent of John Holland’s total revenue, and with more than $100 billion worth of projects in the Australasian rail pipeline, we expect the demand on our people to continue to grow.

Adjusting to the increase in work has meant a very consistent recruitment strategy, where we have seen our rail employee numbers increase by 31.6 per cent since December last year.

Separately, we are working hard to improve work-life balance for people across all John Holland projects. This includes a pilot of flexible working arrangements across different projects.

During a boom, we know that we are in fierce competition for the best people – so we need to ensure we are the best place to work, both to attract new hires and to retain our expert rail people.

Other challenges in rail relate to bringing existing infrastructure up to modern standards. This covers everything from ensuring stations and platforms are accessible, to upgrading track to improve speed and reliability – which forms the bulk of the work we perform on the Country Regional Network in NSW.

Making rail competitive with road travel means maximising the performance of existing networks, both for passengers and freight operators.

To keep pace with technological advancements in the operations and maintenance space, we are seeking to draw on our in-house capacity and expand the pool of companies we joint venture with.

John Holland has a specialised internal technology, engineering and knowledge business which we can draw upon to drive innovation for our customers.


The bulk of John Holland’s work on the Country Regional Network involves upgrading track to improve speed and reliability.


REX: John Holland had an integrated involvement throughout the design and delivery of Sydney Metro Northwest. What are the benefits of that to the contractor, and what are the benefits to the customer?

SB: The clearest benefit of an integrated offering is that you take a whole of life view of what you are delivering, which means better customer outcomes and better value for money. In projects like Sydney Metro and Canberra Metro, where we have been involved in design, construction, through to operations and maintenance we were able to ensure the project was delivered on time.

With major projects there are daily risks that need to be managed. The benefit of having a consistent partner through all phases of a project means that you have an ability to accelerate or adjust the program to accommodate any changes you need to make. It also means that the design and construction is delivered with decisions being made that are in the best interests of the asset long term, and with consideration being given to the long-term maintenance needs of the project.


REX: Tunnelling has been identified as a difficult element to properly cost ahead of time in major infrastructure projects. What are some lessons learned from recent tunnelling projects that John Holland has been involved in, and what can be done to minimise risk?

SB: All major construction projects present different challenges, and it is our job to manage them. We should never underestimate this, however, on the Sydney Metro Northwest tunnels – the largest railway tunnels ever built in Australia – we were able to deliver them two months ahead of schedule.

We are currently delivering the Sydney Metro City and Southwest tunnels under Sydney Harbour which are more than 70 per cent complete.


REX: With a lot of major rail projects planned, in procurement, or under construction around Australia, how does a diversified, major contractor like John Holland balance its ambitions and avoid getting stretched too thin?

SB: The volume of work in the Australian rail industry shows no signs of slowing down, with mega projects like the Sydney Metro West and Greater West on the horizon. In other industry booms, you can generally see a tapering off, but there is no end in sight to Australia’s current infrastructure boom.

Every prospect is carefully assessed against our current and future pipeline, to make sure we have the people and expertise to deliver the best results for our customers. We also make sure that we match the growth in our projects to the growth of our people.

Since December, our rail team has grown steadily, to keep up with the number of projects we are bidding and delivering on.


REX: The rail sector has repeatedly called for a more clear and adhered-to pipeline for major projects, coordinated between state and federal governments. Do you think this is a realistic goal? How would it help a company like John Holland serve the industry?

SB: A consistent major project pipeline is crucial for the long-term viability of major infrastructure companies.

We are in an unprecedented boom at the moment, with tens of billions being spent on new rail infrastructure all along the east coast of Australia. As a business, we have had to be smart about what we bid for, and just as importantly, what we don’t bid on.

The biggest benefit of a long-term major project pipeline is that it allows companies like John Holland to better plan careers for our people. Not having a clear timeline means that people might move cities to work on committed projects, without knowing that there is a major opportunity in their hometown right around the corner.

The biggest benefit of this to our customers is consistency in the people and expertise delivering major projects.


Visit John Holland at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 39.

AusRAIL: Fiber reinforced sleepers aim to achieve best track quality

Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd. (SEKISUI) has refined its Fiber reinforced Foamed Urethane synthetic railway sleeper, designed to provide the best qualities of wood and high performing synthetic technology in a single product.

As freight, heavy haul and passenger rail networks have grown in Australia and New Zealand, the sector has become more focused on not only the capital cost, but also the ongoing cost of maintaining its fixed assets.

Track owners take upfront and ongoing costs, along with a range of other factors, into account when choosing railway sleepers. While the choice has primarily been between wooden and concrete sleepers, a growing market for alternative materials has emerged over time.

One manufacturer operating in this space is Sekisui. Sekisui uses Fiber reinforced Foamed Urethane (FFU) to manufacture a synthetic railway sleeper, designed to be light and workable like a wooden sleeper, but consistent and durable, making it far more resistant to wear and tear and environmental factors over the long term. The core design feature of an FFU sleeper is its collection of continuous glass fibres which run from one end to another. These fibres reinforce the thermosetting resin foam comprised of rigid urethane resin, which is poured over the glass fibres and then sets during the manufacturing process.

The aim of using FFU is to combine the best features of a wooden sleeper with those of a high performing synthetic sleeper. The FFU synthetic sleepers are a similar weight to natural lumber.

Bending strength is stronger than natural lumber, and maintains this strength for a long period, and the FFU manufacturing process means sleepers can be fabricated to a specific height, width, and length.

“The light weight makes it easy to work on site,” Sekisui’s Yuri Otsuka tells Rail Express. “Like a wooden sleeper, we can also do pre-drilling of holes or grooves for cable protection, for example, and we can paint it a specific colour as well.”

Meanwhile, the glass fibre used gives the FFU sleepers high durability. Sekisui says the anti-corrosive material that constitutes the sleepers is extremely resistant to acids, alkalis, chlorine and sea water. Also like composites, the FFU sleepers are uniform in their quality, and the continuous pultrusion method used makes it possible to manufacture FFU sleepers up to 10 metres long, providing an ideal and reliable solution for transoms and other large and complex pieces of rail infrastructure.

Ongoing cost savings

The overall benefit, Sekisui Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific and the Americas Masaki Hayashi says, is in ongoing costs for the operator.

“The difference between timber and FFU is that FFU has longevity,” Hayashi says. “FFU doesn’t rot like timber, and it comes with uniform quality. When you work with timber it’s very difficult to obtain uniform quality over a large batch.”

According to the test report ‘Follow-up Survey on FFU Synthetic Sleepers after 30 Years in Service’ in 2011 by Railway Technical Research Institute (Japan), the expected life of an FFU sleeper is around 50 years.

“While timber might last that long under specific circumstances. A natural unprotected timber sleeper in some environments may have to be replaced up to seven times during the lifetime of an FFU sleeper,” Hayashi says. “Installation costs including labour, track equipment and safety measures are generally higher than material costs, so with 50 years without replacement, FFU works out much better than natural timber in many applications. FFU also allows for very precise sleeper dimensions compared to wood, making the sleepers even easier to install exactly.”

Proven life cycle

FFU was originally developed in 1974; the railway sleeper application was not developed until 1980. Since then, FFU synthetic sleepers have been used in more than 1,500 kilometres of track. All are still in service after 39 years. Since 1988, they have been used on Japan’s high speed lines, a.k.a. Shinkansen, with service speeds increasing year by year, and currently around 300km/h on FFU sleepers.

“The sleeper has been installed in both passenger and freight applications,” Otsuka says. Australian operators using the FFU sleepers include Queensland Rail, Sydney Trains, CRN John Holland, WA’s PTA and TasRail. It is approved by Queensland Rail and Transport for NSW, and has provisional type approval from CRN John Holland. “It has been specified in transom design by Transport for NSW since December 2018, meaning during sleeper replacement on bridges, operators can use FFU sleepers,” Otsuka adds.

The FFU sleeper has been approved by many other railways, including EBA and Deutsche Bahn in Germany, Network Rail in the UK, and more. Surveys of the FFU sleeper in the field show the same density (0.74g per cubic centimetre) when the product is manufactured, and after 10 years, 15 years and 30 years of use. The follow-up testing also showed FFU sleepers were much above Japanese Industrial Standard levels for a range of strength and flexibility measurements, even after 30 years.

Another technical element Hayashi says separates the FFU sleeper from alternative options is its low thermal expansion coefficient.

“There are different composite sleepers in the world,” Hayashi says. “One greatly unique advantage of FFU is very low thermal expansion due to the continuous long glass fibre pultrusion technology. Many composite sleepers have much larger thermal expansions – so they will change length/gauge as the temperature gets much higher or lower. This makes it difficult to keep the correct gauge – a very important aspect. An FFU sleeper is very reliable for maintaining gauge width.”


Find Sekisui at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 190.


Contact: sekisui-rail.com

Victoria awards $542 million for level crossing removal and station build

A $542.4 million contract has been awarded for the removal of four level crossings and the build of two new stations in Melbourne’s inner north, the Victorian government announced on Sunday.

Level crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street and Moreland Road will be removed and two new modern stations built at Coburg and Moreland.

The contract for the project has been awarded to an alliance of John Holland Group, Kellogg Brown & Root and Metro Trains Melbourne, which has removed 6 crossings and built Frankston Station.

“The contracts are now signed and our hardworking team will get on with the job of removing these four dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne’s north,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan

According to a government statement, Bell Street is the busiest east-west arterial road in Melbourne’s north, frustrating more than 40,000 drivers held up at the level crossing each weekday.

Removing the four crossings will enable trains to run more frequently on the Upfield line once the Metro Tunnel is complete. As part of the North East Link Project, the government is working to free up traffic and take vehicles off local roads in Melbourne’s north by 2027.

“It is not just locals who want this level crossing gone. People from right across Melbourne get frustrated every time they travel through the northern suburbs and get stuck here,” said Allan.

The team is currently removing the level crossing at High Street, Reservoir, and building the new Reservoir Station.

The two new stations will be connected to other transport offerings, will be more readily accessible, with a landscaped civic plaza and 132 new bike parking spaces.

“Investigative works and service relocations will now ramp up in preparation for major construction next year. The level crossings will be gone in late 2020 and the open space ready for locals to enjoy in 2021,” the government said in a statement.

Pacific National class 92 locomotives hauling a coal train over a rail bridge crossing the Hunter River at Singleton, NSW. Photo: Creative Commons / Bluedawe

ARA Heavy Haul Rail: Final days for tickets and interview with ONRSR

Just days out from the Australasian Railway Association’s Heavy Haul Rail conference in Newcastle, featured speaker Sue McCarrey discusses the challenges of rapid change in the sector.

McCarrey, Australia’s National Rail Safety Regulator, says the speed of disruption in the heavy haul sector brings with it a heightened need for vigilance.

“As the adoption of advanced systems becomes more widespread, the need to monitor and maintain safety-critical rail assets is ever-important,” McCarrey said in a recent interview ahead of ARA Heavy Haul, set for October 29-30 in Newcastle.

“We must never fully rely on machines. The best safety and asset management strategies, in my opinion, are ones which have the precision of technology, but which are underpinned by human care and empathy.”

Check out the full interview here.

The two day ARA Heavy Haul Rail event will feature presentations an panel sessions from high level decision makers from companies like the ARTC, Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto, the Port of Newcastle and AECOM.

There will also be site tours to choose from at Pacific National’s Greta Train Support Facility, the Port of Newcastle, and John Holland’s Country Regional Network (CRN) Control Centre.

For tickets and more information visit the event website.

Newcastle coal infrastructure. Photo: Southern Cross Maritime

ARA Heavy Haul Rail: Agenda set for Newcastle summit

All the big names in coal haulage and a trio of site tour options are among the highlights at next week’s Australasian Railway Association Heavy Haul Rail conference in Newcastle.

Rail Express is a proud media partner of the ARA Heavy Haul Rail event, which will take place in 2019 at Newcastle City Hall on October 29 and 30.

On day one, after a welcome and opening from ARA CEO Danny Broad, a market outlook will be provided by Commonwealth Bank of Australia Associate Director for Mining and Energy Commodities Research, Vivek Dhar.

Later, delegates will hear from speakers from the ARTC, Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto, the Port of Newcastle, before a safety-focused afternoon session with speakers from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and the TrackSAFE Foundation.

A workforce safety panel with representatives from Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto and Speno Rail Maintenance will round off the first day of action.

That night’s conference dinner at the Fort Scratchley Historic Site will feature guest speaker Jason Clarke, founder of Minds at Work.

The morning of day two will focus on developments in automation and artificial intelligence, with presentations from GS1 Australia, the ARTC, AECOM, 4Tel, and Wi-Tronix.

In the afternoon, three concurrent site tours will be available for delegates to choose from:

  • A site tour of Pacific National’s Greta Train Support Facility: Pacific National’s coal business transports coal from mines to ports, power stations and steelworks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and attendees will visit Pacific National’s state-of-the-art train servicing facility at Greta, which was built to help in response to the expanding operational needs in the Hunter Valley. The Greta Facility encompasses best practice engineering and design to provide innovative solutions and systems to improve safety and operational efficiencies not yet seen in the Australian rail industry.
  • A site tour of the Port of Newcastle: With a deepwater shipping channel and berthside connections to the heavy rail network, the Port of Newcastle is the largest port on the East Coast of Australia.
  • A site tour of the John Holland Country Regional Network (CRN) Control Centre: This is a unique opportunity to gain insight into the technology used and operational procedures applied for managing Transport for NSW’s Country Regional Network (CRN). The CRN is operated and maintained under contract to Transport for NSW by John Holland Rail via its Network Control Centre in Mayfield, Newcastle. Covering 2,386 route kilometres of operational passenger and freight rail lines and 3,139 route kilometres of non-operational lines, the CRN links broad areas of regional NSW to interstate and metropolitan rail systems, supporting customers, transporting coal, grain, cotton, minerals and containerised freight to domestic and export markets.


For more information on tickets and how to book, visit the conference’s official website.

Contractors listed for Bendigo upgrade

A shortlist of contractors has been named to deliver signalling upgrades at Bendigo in central Victoria aimed at improving passenger services in the region.

The state government says the signalling works, part of the Bendigo and Echuca Line Upgrade, will allow for faster and more frequent services to Echuca and more services between Epsom, Eaglehawk and Bendigo.

Two teams have made the shortlist to deliver the project. The first, VicConnect, is comprised of UGL Limited, Decmil and Arup. The second group is comprised of CPB Contractors, John Holland, WSP and SMEC.

The winning bidder will deliver a modernised signalling system between Epsom, Eaglehawk and Bendigo to deliver Bendigo Metro 2, which provides for more frequent services within Greater Bendigo.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2020, with a target completion in 2021, subject to planning and environmental approvals.

Another contractor will be appointed later this year to improve accessibility and comfort at Bendigo Station. Using designs put together by Bendigo company e+ Architecture, the upgrades include lowering ticket counters to improve access for people with disability, improving the waiting and customer service areas, upgrading the toilets, and installing a new Changing Places facility.

Works are also underway to upgrade the car park and forecourt at Eaglehawk Station, including 60 new car spaces and new accessible parking, as well as a new taxi rank, bus bays and a drop off zone.

The station improvements are part of a state government $15.8 million project, included under the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival program.

“We’re getting on and delivering the infrastructure needed to run more trains more often between Epson, Eaglehawk and Bendigo,” transport infrastructure minister – and member for Bendigo East – Jacinta Allan said.

“The upgrades to the waiting room and car parks will make it easier for all passengers to access services, particularly those with reduced mobility.”

AusRAIL program tackles growth, opportunity and technology

After months of meticulous planning, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA)’s AusRAIL PLUS 2019, the southern hemisphere’s largest rail conference, has released another diverse and informative agenda.

With the Conference theme ‘Delivering Growth; Creating Opportunity; Embracing Technology’ in mind, the agenda focusses on broad topics such as: Making Cities Livable; Supporting Employment; Technology for the Future.
Delving deeper, the event features several keynote addresses, panel discussions, technical streams and much more; including the exciting Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition, which sees five rail industry professionals (30 and under) present their revolutionary idea to the AusRAIL audience.

“AusRAIL PLUS 2019 provides the opportunity for all sectors of the rail industry to come together and network in an environment conducive to engagement, discussion, learning and debate over three full days of informative speeches and panel sessions, technical presentations, networking dinners and exciting exhibits.” Danny Broad, CEO, ARA

AusRAIL PLUS 2019 commences on the 2nd December with a Welcome Reception from 4pm giving delegates the opportunity to beat the morning rush the following day, pick up their conference passes and begin networking with other attendees in a relaxed environment.

The official day one of AusRAIL commences on the 3rd December with a welcome from ARA CEO, Danny Broad before Eleni Petinos MP provides a NSW Transport outlook. Prior to the first networking break, representatives from Sydney Metro, CFB Contractors, John Holland, UGL and Northwest Rapid Transit will hold a panel discussion regarding ‘Delivering Innovation in Industry Partnerships,’ primarily focusing on the new Sydney Metro and North West Rail Link.

Following the morning tea break, Bernard Tabary, International CEO, Keolis Group will speak to ‘Innovation in Integrated Transport’ before delegates hear insights into three nation-shaping project updates from Cross River Rail, Melbourne Metro and NZ City Rail Link.

The Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition completes the mid-morning sessions prior to the lunch break in the exhibition halls, giving all attendees the opportunity to vote for the most innovative pitch.

The conference program will then split into five technical streams – RTSA, RTAA, IRSE, Rail Suppliers and the ONRSR, affording delegates to choose the sessions that align with their areas of interest. The first full day concludes with exhibition networking drinks sponsored by McConnell Dowell.

Day two begins with an Inland Rail update from Richard Wankmuller before a special keynote presentation on the Future of High-Speed Rail.

Two industry panels looking into supporting employment takes us to the lunch break prior to four technical streams. The second day concludes with the first of the two networking dinners, the RTAA Yellow Tie Dinner sponsored by Bombardier, to be held in the Grand Ballroom at the ICC Sydney.

The final day of AusRAIL PLUS 2019 begins with an address from Bob Herbert AM, ARA Chairman, closely followed by a presentation on the benefits of digital transformation for rail freight from Deutsche Bahn. Back-to-back industry panels covering working with customers to make rail more competitive and investment: what’s needed to continue to fund rail infrastructure for the future? take us to the ARA Future Leaders Program Project pitches. Again, these innovative pitches from some of the brightest young professionals in the rail industry will be judged in part by the conference audience via the event app. Discussions on these exciting and worthwhile projects often continue through informal networking during the lunch interval.

Presentations in the afternoon session will delve into technology for the future, headlined by a keynote from Ian Jefferies, President & CEO, Association of American Railroads (AAR)* as he gives a talk on rail’s role in keeping the economy on track and an update on how technology fuels the American rail network. The conference concludes with the Gala Dinner, sponsored by Downer to be held at Luna Park Sydney.

400+ Exhibiting Organisations

In addition to the conference agenda, AusRAIL PLUS 2019 features the largest rail exhibition in Australasia. With over 400 organisations on display, visitors will need the full three days to take it all in.
Entry to the exhibition is free should you wish to browse. Exhibitors range from large multinational companies to small-medium local businesses all with interests in the Australasian rail industry.
A selection of organisations that are participating in the exhibition includes Alstom, Downer, McConnell Dowell, CAF, Loram, Thales, ABB, Broadspectrum, CRRC, Faiveley Transport, Liebherr-Australia, Knorr-Bremse Australia and John Holland.

The exhibition also features the Innovation Hub, sponsored in 2019 by Jacobs, where attendees can listen in on the exciting interactive sessions during exhibition opening times across all three days.

“Clear your calendar now and join us in Sydney, December 3-5, for AusRAIL PLUS 2019. This event is not to be missed!”


For more information and to book your place at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 visit: www.ausrail.com

*subject to final confirmation

3 asked to tender for Denny Avenue crossing removal

Three companies have been invited to take part in a six-week request for tender process for the $69 million removal of the Denny Avenue level crossing in Perth’s southeast.

WA transport minister Rita Saffioti said on September 17 three companies – Downer EDI, Decmil and John Holland – have been approached to provide tender submissions for the rail contract, one of the two design and construction contracts under the Denny Avenue crossing removal project.

Under the rail contract, more than 800 metres of track and associated infrastructure 170 metres south of the Denny Avenue site, to make way for a new road underpass at Davis Road.

The road package tender is expected to open in November.

“The removal of the Denny Avenue crossing is a major Metronet project and the release of this tender is a significant step forward,” Saffioti said.

“Once completed, this project will not only reduce road congestion, it will also improve the safety of all road users and promote a lively Kelmscott Town Centre.

“With construction set to start later this year, this project marks the first part of Metronet’s level crossing removal program and commitment to improving safety for our communities.”

Armadale’s local member Tony Buti said the crossing removal was something he’d advocated for since 2010.

“The removal of the Denny Avenue level crossing will greatly improve the daily lives of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, improving safety and decreasing road congestion in the area,” he said. “I am pleased to see the tender for the rail component has been released and work is expected to begin later this year.”

Team picked to kick off Sunbury Line Upgrade

The Victorian Government has awarded a $215 million contract to begin the $2.1 billion upgrade of the Sunbury line ahead of the opening of the Metro Tunnel.

John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM will team up with Metro Trains Melbourne on the initial package of works, which will extend platforms, boost accessibility and build new stabling at stations along the line.

The state said site investigations for the platform extensions and stabling yards will start in late August.

This first package of works awarded on August 10 is the first under the Sunbury Line Upgrade program, funded in the forward estimates of the 2018/19 state budget.

Overall the upgrade program covers platform extensions at every station between Sunbury and Footscray, wheelchair boarding platforms at eight stations, traction power upgrades and improvements to train stabling at Sunbury, Calder Park and Watergardens.

The project is designed to facilitate the operation of a fleet of 65 new high-capacity metro trains (HCMTs) to run all the way to Sunbury once the Metro Tunnel is opened in 2025.

The tunnel will connect the Sunbury line under the CBD with the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, freeing up capacity across the wider network. Platform extensions are necessary for the new HCMTs, which will be 20 per cent larger than the current trains on the metropolitan network.

Victorian transport minister Jacinta Allan said with the contract signed, the first package of works would begin within weeks.

“We’re not wasting a moment delivering these vital upgrades, which will pave the way for new, high-capacity trains on the Sunbury line,” Allan said. “Sunbury passengers will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Metro Tunnel and new high-capacity trains – and this project is a critical part of delivering those benefits.”

Turnkey rail signalling, level crossing tech from Australian provider

Rail Express speaks with Aldridge Railway Signals experts David Aldridge and Phil Anderson about the group’s turnkey rail signal offering, and a new approach to the design and manufacture of automated railway crossings.

Aldridge Railway Signals has supplied signals in Australia since 1989. Today, it exports signals to New Zealand, Ireland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar, where it has opened an office. In another turn of growth, the company has established an arm dedicated to the complete design, construction, testing and commissioning of signalling projects, named Aldridge Signal Infrastructure (ASI).

Established by Aldridge in 2015 with a small team boasting more than 100 years of collective experience in rail, ASI has continually developed its internal team of specialists.

ASI Managing Director Phil Anderson says the business has gone to great length to engage leaders in the signalling field, particularly around the benefits of a single provider to administer the design, installation, testing and commissioning of turnkey signalling solutions.

“This approach can help minimise a client’s exposure to variations, lower their project management and administration costs, and can provide them with tighter control over project outcomes,” Anderson tells Rail Express. “It also mitigates the client’s exposure to project delays which can arise when they must engage multiple stakeholders to deliver the work. Additional time and cost savings come in a similar way when it comes to WHSE, Quality and Environmental issues; a single provider means uniformity of project control systems.”

ASI breaks each project into eight discrete steps: client concept design and specification; rail signal functional specification; supply and manufacture; site installation; testing; commissioning; site demobilisation; warranty. The aim is to ensure all projects are delivered on time and on budget with zero harm, meeting the client’s project coals.

Anderson says ASI puts a team of highly skilled professionals behind each step of this turnkey process. During peak work periods, ASI also engages a pool of highly experienced, trusted and respected subcontractors.

“ASI has a network of subcontractors that are engaged on a needs basis,” he explains. “These subcontractors are a critical part of project delivery and as such regular open communication is in place with all subcontractors providing early warning of upcoming works. ASI acknowledges that the rail industry has limited qualified resources and as such shares its resources with other subcontractors if an when required. This willingness to assist others attributes to the high level of cooperation and support ASI receives in return.”

Since its launch in 2015, ASI has delivered a number of projects. At Moorebank in Sydney, ASI upgraded the existing Westrace MKI Interlocking to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)’s first Westrace MKII interlocking through the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) Terminal.

Regional work has included the Georges Plains Crossing Loop; a new loop between Bathurst and Newbridge on the Main West Line. The project, delivered for John Holland CRN, included four new level crossings and in-section controlled signals for following movements in the Georges Plains to Newbridge section.

ASI has also upgraded eleven level crossings throughout New South Wales for the ARTC and John Holland CRN under the Level Crossing Improvement Project.

New regional offices

Recognising the importance of upplying services to the Southern and South Western districts of NSW, ASI opened an office and manufacturing facility in Goulburn in June 2019.

The facility’s team includes four Signal Engineers, four Signal Electricians, a Workshop Supervisor and many Signal Installers.

Aldridge says the facility will provide engineering and support services to all clients, and lead the building of signalling location cases, walk in huts and ancillary equipment.

Recognising the importance of supplying its services to Inland Rail, Aldridge says it won’t be long before offices will be announced in other regional locations.

A better solution for rural crossings

Automated railway crossings traditionally come at a significant capital and ongoing cost. The installation of remote track sensors often means kilometres of trenches must be dug trackside for cabling.

Ongoing costs and inconveniences can arise particularly in rural areas, where traditional track circuit based solutions can be made unreliable due to oxidation of rail surfaces, and other failures due to materials on the tracks such as oil, leaf litter, crushed ballast and sand; factors all exacerbated by the range of environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures and rainfall. Additionally, traditional track circuits have high power requirements requiring mains infrastructure for continuous operation.

These sorts of factors can make automated railway crossings prohibitively expensive for many rural locations, leading to the use of passive systems, unpowered in many situations.

With projects like Inland Rail set to boost traffic on regional rail, Aldridge’s Managing Director, David Aldridge, says the company’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) business, has been developing the Wireless Level Crossing (WLX) solution, which takes on the challenge of designing a better, safer and cheaper automated level crossing system for rural intersections.

Aldridge says the WLX avoids the problems and high costs associated with track circuits and cabling for automated level crossings by incorporating low power high security radio technology with inductive sensor technology to detect trains approaching a level crossing.

Wireless technology communicates information about the approaching rail vehicles to wayside equipment which provides a warning to road users. System power is derived from solar panels, and communication back to a central server uses 3G/4G to log and manage system data. User access is managed from the central server.

Should sensors need to be located in cuttings or on bends, relay towers (repeaters) can be set up between the sensor transmission tower and the railway crossing to prevent transmission loss.

“There are no cables between any warning devices which electrically isolates the warning elements, further increasing the resilience of the system,” Aldridge explains. “The inductive wheel sensor’s detection electronics are integrated into the main controller, increasing the reliability and reducing the cost of the system. Battery and solar powered technology also significantly reduces the costs for remote sites that have no power.”

This suits the primary aim of the WLX system: to provide a low-cost and low-maintenance alternative for delivery of safety-critical warnings to road users at railway level crossings. In addition, the WLX provides back-to-base monitoring and real-time reporting of every installed device thus allowing for increased efficiency in maintenance activities.

“The WLX system is designed to SIL3 standards, and has two independent RX5 warning signals per level crossing, further increasing resilience,” Aldridge adds.

A pre-production version currently being installed for type approval with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) at a rural NSW site. Subject to receipt of that final approval, the WLX product will be ready for commercialisation to other RIMs in Australia and overseas from early 2020. This new system represents a completely new approach to the design and construction of automated railway crossings, making them particularly attractive to remote, rural locations.

The WLX System is built and tested in the Aldridge manufacturing factory in Sydney. The WLX System is extensively tested before shipping to site. Very little work on site is required to install and commission the WLX System greatly reducing the installation and commissioning costs compared to a traditional level crossing system.

Contact: www.railsignal.com

Agenda set for Inland Rail 2019

Deputy PM and minister for transport infrastructure Michael McCormack, and Labor’s shadow minister Catherine King, will both address the Australasian Railway Association and Australian Logistics Council’s upcoming Inland Rail Conference.

The program for the 2019 edition of the Inland Rail Conference is set, two weeks ahead of the event in Toowoomba on August 21 and 22.

Danny Broad and Philip Davies, CEO of the ARA and chair of the ALC respectively, will welcome delegates this year’s Inland Rail event before handing over to McCormack who will deliver the conference’s opening address.

King, Labor’s transport and infrastructure spokesperson since Anthony Albanese was elevated to party leader after the federal election, will speak just after morning tea.

The politicians will be joined on the program by a range of rail and economic experts, along with key executives from stakeholder industries and infrastructure.

The full agenda is available here.

Speakers include:

  • John Fullerton, CEO, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Dr John McVeigh MP, Federal Member for Groom
  • The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
  • The Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
  • Danny Broad, CEO, Australasian Railway Association
  • Philip Davies, Chair, Australian Logistics Council
  • Kirk Coningham, CEO, Australian Logistics Council
  • Richard Wankmuller, CEO, Inland Rail Project, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Geoff Smith, Managing Director, SCT Logistics
  • Andrew Huckel, Head of Corporate Affairs, Pacific National
  • Craig McElvaney, CEO, Seaway Group
  • Carlo Cutinelli, Executive General Manager, Customer and Business Development, LINX Cargo Care Group
  • Adrian Hart, Associate Director, Construction and Maintenance, BIS Oxford Economics
  • Ben Newton, Head of Transport Development, Woolworths Group Supply Chain
  • Ian Macfarlane, CEO, Queensland Resources Council
  • Heath Baker, Acting CEO, Export Council of Australia
  • Brendan Bourke, CEO, Port of Melbourne
  • Peter Keyte, COO, Port of Brisbane
  • Craig Carmody, CEO, Port of Newcastle
  • Campbell Mason, General Manager, Commercial and Business Development, NSW Ports
  • Ali Davenport, CEO, Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise
  • Cr Paul Antonio, Mayor, Toowoomba Council
  • Ian Smith, Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development, NSW Government
  • Peter Wilson, Inland Rail Business Development Manager, Wagner Corporation
  • Brad Jackson, Director Program Delivery, Inland Rail Project, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Steve Butcher, Executive General Manager, John Holland Group
  • Phil Smith, Executive Director, Inland Rail and Rail Policy, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development
  • Rebecca Pickering, Director, Engagement, Environment and Property, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Graham Clapham, Chair, South Darling Downs Consultative Committee
  • Andrew Higgins, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO
  • Artie Stamatoudis, Network Integration and Operations Director, Cross River Rail Delivery Authority
  • Naa Opoku, General Manager, National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy Taskforce, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Cities
  • Simon Ormsby, Group Executive Strategy and Corporate Development, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Steve Kanowski, Partner – Transport and Infrastructure, Deloitte
  • Priscilla Radice, CEO, Infrastructure Association of Queensland
  • Anna Wylie, Economic and Business Development Manager, Parkes Council
  • Jo Sheppard, Director Stakeholder Engagement, University of Southern Queensland
  • Belinda Coleman, Regional Lead Queensland, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Aurecon
  • Garry Button, CEO Freight Victoria, Victorian Department of Transport

For tickets and more information, click here.

Three shortlisted for North East line upgrade

Major upgrade work on Victoria’s North East line is expected to begin later this year after the list of candidates to deliver the $235 million project was shortened to three.

Shortlisted candidates John Holland, McConnell Dowell, and a Coleman Rail/Rhomberg Rail joint venture were named this week to potentially deliver the main works contract for the federal government project.

Work includes ballast depth improvements, track resurfacing, drainage upgrades, level crossing upgrades and rail bridge upgrades.

The overall aim of the North East Rail Line Upgrade is to improve track reliability, provide smoother journeys and help reduce major delays to passenger services between Melbourne and Albury. Once complete, the line will be up to the same standard as other long-distance passenger railways in regional Victoria.

Ed Walker, general manager for the Australian Rail Track Corporation, said the shortlist was generated from a rigorous expressions of interest process, which drew an “extremely high standard” of responses.

“We expect to award the contract and for main works to start by the end of the year, with project completion in 2021,” Walker said.

Early work is already underway.

“So far this year over 1900 metres of priority mudholes have been removed, as well as the completion of a 15-day track tamping program. Further mudhole removal works and tamping will be carried out in parallel with the main contract development.”

More than 110 level crossings and 120 bridges will be improved along the line to ensure it meets a Victorian Class 2 track standard. The ARTC has already upgraded eight bridges and nine crossings towards those totals.

The scope of the project is the railway between Spencer Street Junction in Melbourne and the state border at Albury-Wodonga.

Federal funding was granted in October 2018, and early works began early in 2019. The trio of shortlisted parties has now been asked to submit a formal tender for the upgrade program. A winner is expected to be announced in November or December.

Melbourne summit shines light on Australia’s mid-tier contractors

Prominent mid-tier Australian contractors want a better opportunity to contribute to state infrastructure projects being led by larger international conglomerates.

Citing a recent trend towards international players, several mid-tier contract companies involved with the rail industry such as BMD, Daracon, Bielby, and Georgiou ⁠— in addition to other civil, mining and construction contractors ⁠— have established Australian Owned Contractors, a group designed to bring attention to what Georgiou Group chairman and AOC founding director John Georgiou referred to as the current “walls in the market”.

Gerogiou was in attendance for a forum at the 2019 AFR National Infrastructure Summit at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne on June 13, where he explained that the AOC came about through detailed analysis of federally funded, major (defined as having a worth over $500 million) transport and infrastructure projects.

The results of this research found that about 85 per cent of major infrastructure contracts in Australia were being awarded to international Tier 1 contractors, and that once Australian property and infrastructure major Lendlease was removed from this equation, the figures jumped to 97 per cent.

This is in part because construction contractors that seem to be Australian on their face are actually foreign-owned subsidiary companies.

CPB Contractors, for example, which is one of Australia’s other largest construction contractors alongside Lendlease, is a subsidiary of the CIMIC Group, which is 70 per cent owned by German company Hochtief (Hochtief is in turn 66.5 per cent owned by Spanish company ACS Group). John Holland Group, meanwhile, was purchased by Chinese-state owned company China Communications Construction in 2015 for $1.15 billion.

“For us we expected the number to be high but not that high, so we looked at other data and said, ‘What happens in their respective foreign countries?’,” Georgiou said.

“The numbers over there were 70-75 per cent done by local companies. Our data focused around $500m plus [projects] and we said, ‘There’s something wrong with this data’.

“In some cases it’s because these big local Tier 1 companies have been purchased by overseas interests, which from our point of view is fine, but it’s more about how we shift that balance […] and that’s really the narrative we’ve been supplying to the Federal Government.”

Also present at the panel, entitled Infrastructure and Australia’s National Interest, was Lindsay Le Compte, executive director of the Australian Constructors Association (ACA), who explained that re-examination of project risk profiles was necessary to see how they could be put into component parts to gain the benefit of local participation as well as the expertise brought by international companies.

“What we’re seeing at the moment through the Construction Industry Leadership forum that the ACA has joined with is a sea change in relation to how government and industry work together to achieve positive outcomes for the community through these large projects,” he said.

Tudge to open Infrastructure Summit

Newly re-appointed cities, urban infrastructure and population minister Alan Tudge has been added to next week’s National Infrastructure Summit in Melbourne, joining Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and NSW transport and roads minister Andrew Constance.

Tudge, who last week told a Sydney conference the Coalition was putting congestion-busting infrastructure spending at the top of its population agenda, was on Wednesday added to the AFR’s National Infrastructure Summit agenda.

Tudge will open the two-day event on June 12.

Speaking with the AFR on Tuesday, the minister stressed the importance of Australia maintaining its infrastructure pipeline.

“We’ve got a massive pipeline of $100 billion of infrastructure expenditure and absolutely that supports jobs creation and economic growth,” he said. “This was identified in the Productivity Commission as well a couple of years ago.”

Tudge said the Coalition would continue look to the advice of Infrastructure Australia for its major spending commitments, but he said the Government will not commit to always follow the independent advisor.

“We don’t put any money into any major project unless Infrastructure Australia has assessed it and given it the thumbs up from a business-case perspective,” he said.

“Their priorities will always be influential on government policy but governments will always ultimately make the final decision.”

Infrastructure Australia will also be represented at next week’s Summit, with new CEO Romilly Madew slated to speak.

For the rail sector specifically, the agenda includes names like ARA CEO Danny Broad, Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller, Sydney Metro CEO Jon Lamonte, John Holland CEO Joe Barr and more.

The full agenda and ticket information is available here.

Rail well represented at next Infrastructure Summit

Key politicians and rail leaders from passenger and freight sectors are part of a packed agenda for the Australian Financial Review’s National Infrastructure Summit set for June 12-13.

Australia has witnessed an unprecedented level of infrastructure spending in recent years, with major projects unveiled regularly by state and federal governments. But how are these projects really fairing?

This and other key questions will be discussed at the Summit, which will be hosted by the Australian Financial Review in association with Deloitte at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on June 12 and 13. Political debate, exclusive industry perspectives and a comprehensive overview of the project pipeline will be provided by a strong lineup of speakers and panellists.

More than 300 investors, planners, contractors, advisers and policy makers are expected.

Speakers include:

  • The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria
  • The Hon. Andrew Constance MP, NSW Minister for Transport and Roads
  • Romilly Madew, CEO, Infrastructure Australia
  • Richard Wankmuller, CEO, Inland Rail
  • Graeme Newton, CEO, Cross River Rail Delivery Project (QLD)
  • Joe Barr, CEO, John Holland
  • Brendan Bourke, CEO, Port of Melbourne
  • Marion Terrill, Transport and Cities Program Director, Grattan Institute
  • Craig Carmody, CEO, Port of Newcastle
  • Duncan Edghill, Director-General, Transport Canberra
  • Dr Jon Lamonte, CEO, Sydney Metro
  • Matina Papathanasiou, Deputy Head of QIC Global Infrastructure
  • Marika Calfas, CEO, NSW Ports
  • Angela Davis, GM Technology – NSW & Westconnex Transurban
  • Andrew Head, CEO, WestConnex
  • Leilani Frew, CEO, IPFA
  • Michel Masson, CEO, Infrastructure Victoria
  • Kyle Mangini, Global Head of Infrastructure, IFM Investors
  • Jayne Whitney, Chief Strategy Officer, John Holland
  • Dr Sheelan Vaez, Head of Spatial Insights and Analytics, VicRoads
  • Sam Sangster, CEO, Western City & Aerotropolis Authority
  • Jim Betts, CEO, Infrastructure NSW
  • Henry Greenacre, Head of Operations, Uber Australia & New Zealand
  • Chris Birrer, First Asst Secretary, Defence Estate and Infrastructure Group
  • Adrian Dwyer, CEO, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
  • Marco Assorati, Executive Director APAC, Salini Impregilo
  • Bede Noonan, Managing Director, Acciona Geotech Holdings
  • Derek Lai, Belt and Road Global Leader and Vice-Chair, Deloitte China
  • Peter Durante, Managing Director – Technology & Innovation, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (UK)
  • Daniel Adams, Project Manager and Economic Development Coordinator, City of Prospect, SA
  • Jon Davies, CEO, Queensland Major Contractors Association
  • Benedicte Colin, Director – Infrastructure Investments, CDPQ
  • Michael Cosgrave, Executive General Manager, Infrastructure Regulation Division, ACCC
  • Camilla Drover, Executive Director, Motorways, RMS
  • Martin Cutter, CEO, City of Geelong
  • Lorie Argus, Chief of Parking & Ground Access, Melbourne Airport
  • Alison Roberts, CEO, A4NZ
  • Nik Kemp, Head of Infrastructure, Australian Super
  • John Georgiou, Chairman, Georgiou Group
  • Kylie Rampa, CEO, Property Australia (Lendlease)
  • Professor Peter McDonald, Professor of Demography, University of Melbourne
  • Aneetha De Silva, Managing Director – Government, Aurecon
  • Rob Stewart, Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners
  • Richard Timbs, Senior Director/Sector Lead, Infrastructure Ratings, S&P Global Ratings
  • Louise Adams, Managing Director – Australia & New Zealand, Aurecon

To find out more and to register, visit AFRinfrastructure.com.au