Hunt begins for trainee tunnellers

The Victorian Government has kicked off a recruitment push for drivers to operate the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig the Metro Tunnel beneath Melbourne’s CBD.

Premier Daniel Andrews on March 5 said six trainee drivers would be hired from across Victoria, with recruitment beginning this month and candidates to begin training in May.

Training will use a TBM simulator designed to provide a computer-generated replica of the control panel inside a TBM, and recreate the geologies and operating conditions beneath the surface.

“We’re recruiting Victorians to polit these machines because we’re putting Victorian workers first,” Andrews said. “These machines will operate like huge underground factories, with highly skilled operators working around the clock to build the Metro Tunnel.

Trainees will work under tunnels and stations contractor Cross Yarra Partnership, comprising Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital, with Metro Trains providing technical, service and operational advice.

Metro Tunnel’s first tow TBMs will be launched from North Melbourne midway through this year.

ARA names eight to Youth Leadership Advisory Board

The Australasian Railway Association has appointed eight rail professionals to its Young Leaders Advisory Board (Y-LAB), after almost 50 applications were made from around Australia and New Zealand.

ARA boss Danny Broad on Thursday said the naming of the new leadership group was an exciting way to engage the future leaders of the rail industry.

“Our industry is changing fast,” Broad said. “We need to engage the future leaders of our industry in key decisions and we are excited to do this through Y-LAB.”

The eight inaugural Y-LAB appointees are:

  • Neysa Arland, Control Communications Manager, Transdev Auckland
  • Tegan Ball, Program Manager, Principal Workforce Planner, Queensland Rail
  • Jessica Ghaleb, Track and Civil Engineer, Jacobs
  • Mike Groves, Infrastructure Maintenance Engineer, Network Rail Consulting
  • Abdul Jamal, Design Engineer, John Holland Group
  • Amy Lezela, Head of Engineering, Rolling Stock, Metro Trains Melbourne
  • Liam O’Shannessy, General Manager Maintenance and Operations, Downer (on secondment to Yarra Trams)
  • Jamie Ross Smith, Commercial and Compliance Manager, Unipart

In addition, four reserve Y-LAB members were also named:

  • Toby Briggs, Operations Manager, Martinus Rail
  • Jane Gillespie, Senior Consultant, Arup
  • Charlotte Moss, Project Engineer, Bombardier
  • Josh Steed, Team Leader Vehicle Services, SNC Lavalin

Broad said the successful applicants “demonstrated a breadth of vision with some innovative yet practical ideas to be progressed through the ARA for our industry”.

“The eight appointed individuals represent the diversity of roles and segments of the rail sector, bringing young engineers, planners, compliance and general managers from rail operators, manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and consultants to the table,” he said.

Sydenham to Bankstown line. Photo: Planning NSW

Sydenham-Bankstown metro conversion approved

Planning approval has been granted for the conversion of the existing rail line between Sydenham and Bankstown as part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.

Sydney Metro said on December 19 the conversion of the railway to a modern metro standard had received the tick of approval following extensive consultation with local communities and councils.

The Sydney Metro City & Southwest project is delivering a new underground train line between Chatswood and Sydenham via the Sydney CBD, but will utilise the existing corridor from Sydenham to Bankstown.

With planning approval now in place, the State said work will get underway to convert the line early next year.

The John Holland/Laing O’Rourke joint venture currently upgrading infrastructure at Sydenham station was recently appointed to undertake early works along the line, where work will soon begin to prepare, upgrade and make all 11 stations fully accessible.

Future work will include upgrades to tracks, stations and signals, with the contract to design the upgraded stations currently out to tender, the State said.

Recent work at Sydenham station to install a rail crossover will mean existing Sydney Trains services will not be impacted by the closure and conversion process, the State says.

But the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has criticised the project, arguing that by converting the railway and incorporating it into the new Sydney Metro line, the State is effectively privatising the rails between Sydenham and Bankstown.

“This is just another example of this Liberal Government putting their own privatisation ideologies ahead of commuter interests,” RTBU state secretary Alex Claassens said.

“The construction of the metro line is just a permit for overdevelopment in an area that is already suffering from congestion, and the metro won’t help that at all.

“If commuters think it’s gridlocked now, it’s only going to become worse when this heavy rail is removed and privatised. Tax payer money would’ve been far better spent by upgrading and extending our current rail network, not ripping it up.”

The union says the decision to make Sydney Metro trains driverless puts the safety of commuters “at serious risk”.

The State says the project will see an air-conditioned train arrive every four minutes at all stations along the line during peak, and an ultimate capacity of a metro train every two minutes in each direction under the Sydney CBD.

Sydney Metro said the Bankstown Line creates a significant bottleneck as it merges with other railway lines close to the Sydney CBD, including the Airport and South Line and the Inner West and Leppington Line.

By moving Bankstown Line services to the new standalone metro system, Sydney Metro says it will remove the bottleneck and provide more capacity on the existing network across Sydney.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest is targeted to open in 2024.

$232m Reservoir crossing removal awarded

Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Authority has awarded the $232 million contract to build an elevated rail bridge over High Street in Reservoir, as well as a new Reservoir station.

The John Holland/KBR team that already removed level crossings in Frankston, Essendon and Campbellfield will form an alliance with Metro Trains Melbourne to remove the crossing in Reservoir, under the new contract signed this week.

The Reservoir level crossing will be removed by building a rail bridge over High Street and constructing a new Reservoir Station.

The Level Crossing Removal Authority says by elevating the rail line over High Street, direct connections will be created between Edwardes Street and Broadway, and a new public plaza can be built with improved shared user paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

The new station will include above ground platforms with access via lifts and stairs.

Roughly 36,000 vehicles currently travel through the crossing each day, with boom gates closed for 24 minutes during the two-hour morning peak.

Work on the crossing removal started earlier this year, with geotechnical investigations and the relocation of services.

Major construction is due to start in early 2019.

DPW automates compliance process with Assignar

Hiring a broad range of specialist rotating telescopic handlers and multi cranes since 2005, DPW Plant Hire is currently working with John Holland and other general contractors on the Sydney Metro Northwest project.

Sydney Metro Northwest, formerly the North West Rail Link, involves the construction of Australia’s first fully-automated metro rail system.

DPW’s specialist equipment, including HiRail telehandlers and Sennebogen multi crane, are being utilized to remove all preexisting scaffolding, and the company is also responsible for all overhead wiring of high voltage cables.

DPW Managing Director Paul Waters says the company differentiates itself from competitors because its machines are certified by WorkCover.

Waters says 90 per cent of competitors’ machines rely on outriggers or lifting attachments, but DPW’s machines are able to work on rail tracks without these additions due to their compliance certification which specifically includes EWP, RSO, and WorkCover.

Waters says that level of compliance is a result of automating the documentation process.

“We win work because all our machines meet every Rolling Stock Operator (RSO) certification and as founders of the HiRail system for Dieci telehandlers within the rail sector, it is paramount we are on top of all safety documentation for our systems and machinery,” he says.

“Maintaining these high compliance standards across the different rail networks took a lot of energy and time but now with Assignar we have one program that can manage all of this more efficiently.”

Assignar is a cloud-based SaaS platform, built to help construction contractors improve efficiency and safety by providing end-to-end real-time management of a company’s workforce, assets, and compliance and it allows contractors to use digital and mobile forms to enable scheduling, compliance, communication, and real-time tracking.

“For our operators, all their important site documents are submitted on their phones via the app. If anything goes wrong, we have a digital audit trail securely logged on Assignar, so we can track where all our operators are, what plant they are assigned to and what documentation they have submitted,” Waters explains.

“With our old paper system, collecting and processing physical dockets was a very time-consuming process. With many of our operators working on sites in different states and regions away from our head-office, we could expect to experience significant delays in getting the dockets back for processing. With Assignar, we built out a digital docket and worked closely with one of our Tier 1 customers on a major rail infrastructure project to get this approved.

“Transitioning from hard copy documents such as pre-start checklists and SWMS to digital has reduced the time we spent chasing up and processing these forms by 50 per cent.”

Construction operations software adoption is expected to boom in the next few years, off the back of the Federal Government’s $75 billion investment in Australian infrastructure projects, and increasing compliance rules and regulations.


Delegates at AusRAIL PLUS 2015. Photo:

Last minute tickets for AusRAIL 2018

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA)’s biggest annual conference, exhibition and networking event heads to Canberra next week, and it’s not too late to secure your ticket.

Over 700 delegates are already signed up to for the AusRAIL 2018 Conference & Exhibition, which kicks off next Monday, November 26 with the Welcome Reception, before the conference sessions begin on Tuesday, November 27.

This year’s conference program includes a keynote address from Frances Valentine, founder of Tech Futures Lab, who will present a customer-centric exploration of futureproofing the rail industry.

The conference also includes addresses from transport and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack, and shadow infrastructure, transport cities and regional development minister Anthony Albanese.

A round table on rail’s future will include Metro Trains Melbourne’s rollingstock head of engineering Amy Lezala, AECOM Track & Civil engineer Michelle Doolan, Unipart commercial and compliance manager Jamie Ross-Smith, V/Line regional manager Dallas Martin, and will be facilitated by author and digital strategist Dr Polly McGee, who will also address the conference on creating customer connections in a service economy.

The conference will also see the return of the massively successful Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition, with judges this year including Transport Canberra director general Emma Thomas, Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy, Arup Australasia rail business leader Anna Squire, and John Holland rail business group EGM Steve Butcher.

All delegates will also receive the 2019 Australian Rail Directory and the AusRAIL 2018 edition of Rail Express magazine as part of their delegate packs.

Accompanying the stacked conference program will be five technical streams, and of course the AusRAIL Exhibition, which this year will see more than 90 companies on show. Check out the full list of exhibitors here.

With the event now just days away, it’s not too late to reserve your ticket: Visit the AusRAIL website for more information, or head right over to the booking portal.

$1.4bn contract signed for Sydney Metro rail works

Sydney Metro has awarded a contract to deliver rail and overhead infrastructure, train stabling and tunnel and underground equipment, for the future railway between Chatswood and Sydenham.

An unincorporated joint venture of CPB Contractors and UGL – both subsidiaries of CIMIC Group – won the $1.376 billion deal this week.

The winning bidder was selected from a shortlist announced in March, which also included a Laing O’Rourke and John Holland joint venture, and a Downer EDI and RCR O’Donnell Griffin joint venture.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest is the second stage of the Sydney Metro program, following on from the Sydney Metro Northwest project, which is due to complete in 2019.

The second-stage project will extend Sydney’s new metro-style rail line from Chatswood to Bankstown.

It requires greenfield construction from Chatswood to Sydenham, via the Sydney CBD. Existing track will be converted between Sydenham and Bankstown to complete the metro route.

With work underway to build the twin 15.5-kilometre tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham, Sydney Metro said the new contract would turn those tunnels into a working railway.

Dubbed the ‘Metro line-wide works’ contract, it includes:

  • 31 kilometres of underground railway track to be laid in the twin railway tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham;
  • 31 kilometres of overhead power equipment and 11 new substations to power the metro from Chatswood to Bankstown;
  • Installation of over 350km of high voltage, low voltage and tunnel service cabling;
  • Connecting the railway tracks from the end of Sydney Metro at Chatswood to the new tracks into the city;
  • The expansion of the Sydney Metro Trains Facility at Rouse Hill to accommodate 37 new trains for Sydney Metro City & Southwest;
  • The construction of the Sydney Metro Trains Facility – South at Marrickville; and,
  • Installation of tunnel equipment such as ventilation, drainage and emergency evacuation and monitoring equipment as well as the fit out of the tunnel ventilation and high voltage equipment in the seven new underground stations.

The $1.376 billion metro line-wide works deal is the latest contract awarded for Sydney Metro City & Southwest, following the award of the $2.81 billion tunnelling contract, the $301 million deal to upgrade Sydenham station, the $955 million contract to build new platforms and tunnels at Central Station, a $380 million contract to build the integrated metro station at Martin Place, and the $87 million lift and escalator contract.

Major contracts yet to be awarded include the metro train operations deal, the contract to upgrade the track between Sydenham and Bankstown, and station and development contracts for Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Pitt Street and Waterloo.

The Victoria Cross station and development contract was shortlisted this March, with Lendlease Development, a joint venture of John Holland and Charter Hall, and Dexus Funds Management in the running.

Formally established as a statutory authority in July 2018, Sydney Metro is delivering metro projects on behalf of the NSW Government. It is currently in charge of delivering the Sydney Metro Northwest, Sydney Metro City & Southwest, and Sydney Metro West projects.

Final work is underway to convert the Epping-Chatswood railway so Sydney Metro Northwest can open early in 2019.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest has a planned completion date of 2024.

No formal timeline has been established for Sydney Metro West, which will connect the Parramatta and Sydney CBDs with another new metro line.

Improving safety with a transparent, reliable platform

An Australian business helping machinery owners and operators ensure their equipment is safe to use has developed into the world’s largest plant and equipment safety platform.

Many in the rail industry who have witnessed the catastrophic results of incidents involving non-compliant or poorly maintained plant will agree: The significance of ensuring plant meets minimum safety standards cannot be overstated.

Thankfully, there have been several initiatives over the past decade to ensure high safety standards are met and maintained in the rail sector. Plant Assessor is one business that has helped establish these important benchmarks.

Founded in Australia in 2004, Plant Assessor is now used by more than 1,500 businesses and organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand to help capture and share machinery information, and create machine-specific risk assessments and SOPs, ensuring equipment is safe to use and is accompanied by the right safety information.

Major clients in the rail sector include Sydney Trains, V/Line, John Holland, McConnell Dowell, Downer Group, Lend Lease, CPB, Rhomberg Rail and many others.

This wide reach has major benefits: Plant Assessor’s database of more than 105,000 makes and models of equipment, specifications and safety requirements includes a broad range of equipment unique to rail; machines like tampers, ballast regulators, grinders, clippers, tensors, and so on.


Applying the RRV Standard

The company’s contribution to the rail sector also extends to its involvement in developing the AS/RISSB 7502:2016 Road Rail Vehicles Standard, released in mid-2016. Plant Assessor technical director Paul Dean sat on the committee responsible for developing the Standard.

Before the Standard was developed, compliance requirements for road-rail vehicles (RRVs) were determined by the numerous rail infrastructure managers across the country, leading to a proliferation of different compliance requirements.

To remedy this, the National Standard contains extensive detail across 31 sections covering every element of design, manufacture, use, inspection, testing and maintenance of RRVs.

Following its issue, Plant Assessor created new specific inspection surveys and risk assessments allowing users to apply the requirements of AS/RISSB 7502:2016 to their equipment.

Plant Assessor told Rail Express contractors and rail infrastructure managers are still approaching their application of the Standard cautiously, and the company is keen to help many in the industry come to terms with the practical aspects of compliance with it.


Sydney Trains: A success story

Plant Assessor counts Sydney Trains as a great example of an organisation that has revolutionised plant safety management in a crucial area of its business.

Sydney Trains’ Plant Hire Services Division is responsible for procuring and scheduling more than 1500 pieces of specialised plant and equipment from a panel of more than 200 suppliers. It conducts extensive maintenance and construction activity across the network each year.

Prior to choosing Plant Assessor, Sydney Trains maintained a traditional plant safety inspection regime via a team of inspectors who assessed each piece of equipment on a rotating basis using a generic, paper-based inspection process.

Plant Assessor says the Sydney Trains team found this process difficult, because:

  • it relied heavily upon subjective judgements by inspectors who had different experience and training;
  • the manual process resulted in slow inspection times, and;
  • the generic nature of the inspections resulted in significant gaps of key information.

Suppliers were often frustrated by the variable and subjective nature of the assessments, and this led to disagreements at times, over the true safety status of certain machines.

On top of this, administrating a paper-based system was understandably time-consuming, and cumbersome.

Plant Assessor’s platform aims to solve these issues. Outdated systems that make it difficult to ensure the minimum standard for plant and equipment safety is being effectively upheld, are replaced with a more consistent, efficient, and transparent system.

For Sydney Trains, Plant Assessor replaced the manual inspection system with its cloud-based safety inspection platform. It tailored this platform to Sydney Trains’ needs, accommodating organisation-specific safety requirements to ensure all equipment was suitable for work in the rail corridor, as well as meeting Sydney Trains’ specific additional safety requirements for different types of equipment.

The Plant Assessor platform was also integrated with the existing Sydney Trains Plant Hire Services database, so inspections could be quickly and easily shared with suppliers.

Plant Assessor says the new system provided Sydney Trains with a system improved in multiple ways:

  • Consistency: The new platform ensures inspections are consistent over time and between different inspectors.
  • Accuracy: Plant Assessor ensures inspections are up to date with the latest developments in legislation, along with relevant technical and manufacturer standards.
  • Mobility: Inspectors undertake inspections using tablet computers supplied by Plant Assessor, minimising paperwork and facilitating faster inspections.
  • Transparency: All corrective actions identified during an inspection can be updated and managed online, allowing plant safety status to be checked 24/7 on any web-enabled device.
  • Collaboration: Plant Assessor allows the sharing of comprehensive inspection and safety information with the owner/supplier of each item of plant inspected. This information includes hazard details, risk ratings and risk treatments along with details of the required legal and manufacturers standards related to each risk treatment.

Plant Assessor has made Sydney Trains’ complex plant hire and service task easier and faster, and reduced disagreements between the various parties involved in the supply of equipment. Most importantly, it has helped make working in the rail corridor, and travelling on Sydney Trains, safer for everyone.



Construction works to begin on Metro Tunnel entrances

Work is ramping up on the western and eastern entrances to Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel and other upgrades on the wider rail network, with workers currently preparing the sites for construction.

The works to build the tunnel entrances in Kensington and South Yarra, as well as a new platform at West Footscray and associated suburban rail upgrades, form part of the $1 billion Rail Infrastructure Alliance (RIA) works package.

A turnback will be built at West Footscray station to allow services to start and end at the station during timetabled peak periods for the first time, instead of travelling further down the line.

A consortium comprising John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM will deliver the RIA, in partnership with Rail Projects Victoria and Metro Trains Melbourne.

Roughly 50 workers are engaged in the preparatory works. Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said over 150 workers will be onsite by the end of October.

The works will reportedly be completed in 2025. The $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project is to build nine kilometres of twin tunnels beneath the CBD in an effort to ease congestion on the City Circle and surrounding lines.

Innovation Hub, swathe of new exhibitors highlight AusRAIL 2018

The exhibition hall at AusRAIL 2018 will be packed with big names and fresh faces, and leaders at the cutting edge of rail will be presenting their ideas at the event’s free Innovation Hub.

AusRAIL, the official annual conference and exhibition of the Australasian Railway Association, heads to Canberra in 2018, with a two-day event on November 27 and 28.

Located on the first floor of the exhibition, the Hub will be an innovation destination for all to enjoy, featuring live presentations, industry resources and an interactive social media experience.

Speakers from Transport for NSW, the Level Crossing Removal Authority, Sydney Trains and the Australian Centre for Rail Innovation will feature at the Innovation Hub, which is sponsored by Jacobs.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 exhibitors will be showing off across the two floors of exhibition space.

This year’s exhibition will showcase a broad range of products and services from the many annual exhibitors from Australia, and around the globe.

Names like John Holland, Wabtec, Ansaldo STS, CRRC, Laing O’Rourke, Speno, Progress Rail, Kennards, KH1, Trapeze Group, 4Tel, Sunlec, Noske-Kaeser Rail & Vehicle NZ highlight the program.

And with work in the rail sector booming the show has also see a jump in ‘first-time’ exhibitors, including Davidson, Huawei, Cooltek, Pyrotek, tm stagetec systems, Fränkische, Baden-Württemberg International to name a few.

Visit for more information on the exhibition and conference. Rail Express’ November-December issue will be the official magazine of the AusRAIL event.

Alliance gets to work on $1bn Metro Tunnel contract

The trio of engineering firms awarded the $1 billion Metro Tunnel contract to build tunnel entrances at South Yarra and West Footscray has begun preparatory works.

A team of John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM is now performing geotechnical, service and site investigations ahead of construction of the western and eastern tunnel entrances.

The trio make up the project’s Rail Infrastructure Alliance, announced as the preferred bidder in July. The RIA is working in partnership with Rail Projects Victoria and rail franchisee Metro Trains Melbourne.

The package of works will also deliver a turnback and a new platform at West Footscray station, as well as track enhancements near Hawksburn station.

John Holland and CPB Contractors are equal construction partners on the contract, while AECOM is the design partner.

CPB Contractors said its share of the $1 billion contract was $400 million.

Michael Wright, chief executive of CPB Contractors parent company CIMIC Group, noted the company was even more involved in the project, given CIMIC subsidiary UGL is 20% owner of Metro Trains Melbourne.

Wright said: “Investment in major transport infrastructure in Victoria is providing CIMIC Group and CPB Contractors with a strong pipeline of project opportunities.

“Through our in-house engineering business, EIC Activities, we are supporting our Alliance partners and client with expert insights into all geotechnical and civil engineering challenges and providing solutions that will ensure a cost-effective construction program.”

CPB Contractors managing director Juan Santamaria said the group has a “very strong presence” in Victoria, allowing it to support major projects with locally-based engineering and technical teams.

“Bringing local knowledge and international experience, we are committed to ensuring all client and community expectations are realised, including local employment and business opportunities and socially inclusive procurement strategies,” Santamaria said.

Construction of the tunnel entrances is expected to commence in late 2018, and be completed in 2025.

Roughly 50 workers are engaged in the preparatory works. Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said over 150 workers will be onsite by the end of October.

“We’re not wasting a minute delivering the critically needed transport infrastructure projects required to keep Victoria moving,” Allan said.

Brightest young minds to shine again at AusRAIL

The 2018 Young Railway Professionals Innovation Pitching Competition will be a highlight on the first day of the Australasian Railway Association’s annual AusRAIL conference and exhibition taking place in Canberra on 27 and 28 November 2018.

The first day of the conference will feature pitches from five professionals under 30, all with bright ideas for innovation within the rail sector.

This year’s pitching competition received a record number of entries reflecting the skills, passion and creativity of an inspiring new generation of talent across the sector.

Presenting at AusRAIL will be:

  • Tyler Plowright, Operational Technology Engineer, Pacific National| Regional freight deliveries
  • Pranoy Banerjee, Advisor, CWG Project Services | Gamification of rail safety
  • Jessica Ghaleb, Track and Civil Engineer, Jacobs | Hands-free ticketing
  • Owen Plagens, Asset Strategy Engineer, Downer | Intelligent Seating Recommendation System (iSRS)
  • Henry Swisher, Strategic Consultant – Energy Markets, Jacobs | Producing hydrogen for Australia’s long distance freight network

Judging this year’s event are Transport Canberra and City Services Director General Emma Thomas, Queensland Rail Chief Executive Officer Nick Easy, Arup Australasia Rail Business Leader Anna Squire, and John Holland Rail Business Group Executive General Manager Steve Butcher.

In addition, the two leading group projects completed through the ARA’s Future Leaders Program will also be presented. The ARA Future Leaders Program is a six month program completed by the industry’s brightest talent. As well as developing their leadership skills, the participants complete group projects to address and issue or opportunity in the industry.

Other highlights of the recently released agenda include:

  • Consecutive speeches from Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Michael McCormack MP, and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
  • A discussion on supply chains including NSW Ports Chief Executive Officer Marika Califas, KiwiRail Chief Operations Officer Todd Moyle, and Pacific National’s FreightPresident Andrew Adams
  • A keynote speech from Tech Futures Lab founder Frances Valintine on futureproofing the rail industry
  • A site tour of the Canberra Metro Light Rail Depot
  • A welcome address from the ACT Government’s Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris MLA
  • An address from Australasian Railway Association Chairman Bob Herbert AM
  • And much, much more.

Conference places are available with special rates for ARA members and Young Rail Professionals. Full information available here.

Unpacking the Melbourne Airport ‘Super Train’ proposal

The investment firm which owns a stake in Melbourne Airport and Southern Cross Station says it will pitch a $15 billion PPP to the state and federal governments, aiming to start work on a rail line to the airport by 2020. Here’s what we know…

What’s the plan?

A consortium called AirRail Melbourne is proposing a “world-class, fast, reliable and competitive” rail link between Melbourne Airport and the CBD.

The plan would turn Sunshine Station into a ‘super hub’ connecting the existing Metro Trains Melbourne network, and the regional network, to the new rail line.

The new line would provide 20-minute travel between the CBD and the Airport, with one-way tickets costing less than $20 “in today’s prices”.

Custom-built trains would include luggage racks and a high level of accessibility.

Trains to and from the airport would run 24/7, and would depart every 10 minutes at peak periods.

The project would rely on new, dedicated track between Southern Cross Station and Sunshine, and then more new track to the airport.

The dedicated track would also improve travel times for regional passengers to the CBD, and would unlock more frequent, electrified services, and the future development of high speed rail to Geelong.

Who’s pitching this plan?

AirRail Melbourne is a consortium of fund manager IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia, and Southern Cross Station.

IFM Investors owns, operates and maintains Southern Cross Station under a public private partnership (PPP) with the Victorian Government.

IFM Investors also owns a stake in Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, the privately-held corporation which owns and operates Melbourne Airport.

Metro Trains Australia is the holding company of Metro Trains Melbourne, and is a consortium of Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation (60%), John Holland Group (20%) and UGL Rail (20%).

How much would it cost?

Figures released by the consortium equate to a $15 billion PPP.

The consortium wants to provide $5 billion to match the $5 billion already committed by the Federal Government, and the $5 billion committed by the Victorian Government.

Why now?

Just four days before AirRail Melbourne made its plans public, the Victorian Government opened the Registration of Interest period for those looking to help deliver the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

The consortium says it can execute its plan and begin construction work by 2020, “two years earlier than currently planned”. The State Government plans to spend roughly 18 months to pick a winning bidder for the contract by 2020, meaning construction wouldn’t begin until 2022.

The state has called for interested designers, engineers, rail systems providers, rollingstock providers, investors, financiers, developers and other rail infrastructure providers to take part in the RoI.

The RoI announcement followed a recent decision by the Andrews Government to develop a business case for the project.

It also followed the Government’s blockbuster announcement for a Suburban Rail Loop project, which would build a ring of rail connecting each of Metro Trains Melbourne’s suburban corridors.

“If re-elected we’ll build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and Suburban Rail Loop our state needs,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on September 12.

What are they saying about it?

IFM investors boss Brett Himbury said the ‘Super Train’ plan represented a good opportunity for the seven million Australians whose superannuation funds invest in IFM, to invest in a nation-building project.

“This ‘Super Train’ will help grow the superannuation accounts of millions of Australians through a dependable long-term crucial infrastructure investment,” Himbury added.

Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said: “As we expand our runways and terminal facilities [over the next 20 years] we also need world-class linkages between the airport, city and regional Victoria. Our vision is for a seamless passenger experience at the airport, properly integrated between the train carriage and the terminal.”

Acting Metro Trains Australia managing director Leah Waymark said Victorians and visitors would benefit from being able to plan their journey with precision.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is an essential part of an interconnected public transport services for our growing international city,” Waymark added.

Finally, Southen Cross Station chief executive Colin Chanter said the station was uniquely positioned to take part in the project.

“Our design enhances the capacity of Melbourne’s broader rail network from day one, allowing more trans to run more often, and supercharges future upgrades to metro and regional rail lines,” Chanter said.

Major Martin Place construction contract awarded

The NSW Government has awarded a $380 million contract to build Sydney’s first integrated metro station development at Martin Place as part of the Sydney Metro project.

The government awarded the construction deal to Macquarie Group on September 12.

The $378.6 million deal is expected to transform Martin Place into a modern railway station incorporating the existing station and the new Sydney Metro platforms, with a landmark integrated transport development above it.

Under the deal, the government is getting $355 million from Macquarie for the air rights above the new metro station.

In return, Macquarie will deliver new commercial buildings, pedestrian connections and retail space.

The metro station will be owned by the NSW Government.

The state said Macquarie’s unsolicited proposal for the integrated station development was evaluated and found to provide a unique positive outcome for the state.

Macquarie has appointed Lendlease as its design and construction contractor to deliver the new station, retail space, pedestrian connections and the buildings above the station.

“Sydney Metro tunnel builders John Holland CPB Ghella will excavate the southern site of the station and the twin metro tunnels before handing over to Lendlease to finish construction of the station,” the State Government said.

“Lendlease will be granted early access to the northern site to undertake demolition and excavation work later this year, before station and building construction starts.

“As the new Martin Place Station is built underground, the integrated station development will be able to be built above at the same time. This helps reduce community impacts, and allows for the buildings to be completed close to when Sydney Metro services start in 2024.”

Martin Place is one of five new stations planned to be integrated with the areas around them, under the second Sydney Metro stage, Sydney Metro City & Southwest.

Other stations with planning underway are Crows Nest, Victoria Cross in North Sydney, Pitt Street and Waterloo.

Piling works to begin in Melbourne CBD for new Town Hall Station

Major piling works are set to begin at City Square in Melbourne for the building of the new underground Town Hall Station, one of five being built for the Metro Tunnel project.

The works will be carried out in the large shaft at the site created following the demolition of the three-storey car park beneath City Square and subsequent removal of around 5,000 tonnes of debris.

Early next year, an acoustic shed will be erected over the work site prior to the beginning of 24-hour excavation and tunnelling works.

“We’re getting on with the job of building a world-class rail system for Melbourne with turn-up-and-go services that will get you home safer and sooner every day,” said premier Daniel Andrews, who was visiting the site today.

He was joined by state transport minister Jacinta Allan and Michele Dix, the managing director of London’s Crossrail 2. Dix was visiting the Metro Tunnel project to share her experience working on the massive transport infrastructure project in the UK.

Approximately 7,000 jobs are expected to be created by the Metro Tunnel project, including tradespeople, crane operators and tunnel boring machine crews, and 800 apprentices, trainees and cadets.

“The Victorian Liberals had four years and built nothing – we haven’t wasted a minute with over $40 billion to transform our transport network to get Victorians where they need to go safer and sooner,” Allan said.

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project will build nine kilometres of twin tunnels beneath the CBD in an effort to ease congestion on the City Circle and surrounding lines. It is being carried out by the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital.

Town Hall Station will be located under Swanston Street, between Flinders Street and Collins Street. The station will include an underground passenger connection to the platforms at Flinders Street Station, allowing commuters to conveniently interchange between Metro Tunnel and City Loop train services.

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Metro Tunnel jobs centre now open

A centre providing training and job opportunities on Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project has opened on St. Kilda Road, near the future Anzac Station.

Called “MetroHub”, the centre is a partnership between Yarra Partnership and Holmesglen Institute, based at the TAFE’s Southbank campus.

Approximately 7,000 jobs are expected to be created by the Metro Tunnel project, including tradespeople, crane operators and tunnel boring machine crews, and 800 apprentices, trainees and cadets.

The Victorian government has invested $6 billion in a package that will provide for 5,000 of those jobs. It also funds training at the MetroHub for 500 apprentices, trainees and cadets, in programs designed for those seeking careers in construction.

Industry and employment minister Ben Carroll, who visited MetroHub on Monday, said jobseekers will be able to register their interest in Metro Tunnel jobs both in person at the centre and online via Seek.

“MetroHub is an example of industry and education working together to link the right candidates to the right jobs, by opening up career pathways, construction industry training and workforce development opportunities,” Carroll said.

“The Metro Tunnel Project is the biggest public transport project ever undertaken in Victoria. Not only will it transform our rail network, it will also offer job and training opportunities for thousands of Victorians.”

The opening of the MetroHub jobs centre follows that of Metro Tunnel HQ on Swanston Street, across the road from the Melbourne Town Hall, and which features a learning centre featuring an education programme for Victorian teachers and schoolchildren detailing the project’s construction techniques as well as the range of roles available in large infrastructure projects.

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, now in the beginning stages of its construction – carried out by the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – will link the Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a 9-kilometre tunnel, with five new stations.

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Winner announced for $1bn Metro Tunnel contract

The $1 billion contract to deliver the twin tunnel entrances for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel has been awarded to a consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM.

The consortium was announced as the preferred bidder for the Rail Infrastrcuture Alliance (RIA) contract, the final major contract to be awarded for the $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project, which is to build nine kilometres of twin tunnels beneath the CBD, in an effort to ease congestion on the City Circle and surrounding lines.

The RIA contract is to build the entrances for the twin tunnels at South Yarra and Kensington. CPB Contractors and John Holland are equal construction partners in the contract, and AECOM is the design partner.

The Alliance also includes project owner Rail Projects Victoria (formerly the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority) and operational franchisee Metro Trains Melbourne.

“We’re continuing to build the critical infrastructure needed to help Victorians get home safer and sooner every day,” Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

“The Metro Tunnel will deliver more trains, more often to the outer suburbs and slash travel times to some of Melbourne’s key health, education, jobs and tourism hubs.”

Construction is expected to commence in late 2018 and be completed in 2025.

John Holland is a subsidiary of Chinese firm CCCG. CPB Contractors is part of CIMIC Group, whose parent company is German construction firm Hochtief. AECOM is an American multinational engineering and design firm.

CIMIC chief executive officer Michael Wright said rail investment in Victoria was providing CIMIC and its CPB Contractors with “a strong pipeline of opportunities,” noting CPB Contractors was part of the Metro Tunnel’s $1 billion design and construct contract.

“CIMIC’s in-house engineering consultancy, EIC Activities, is also playing a key role in assessing all geotechnical and civil structure designs and challenges, to offer quality, cost-effective construction methodologies and solutions for the Alliance,” Wright said.

NSW to overhaul major projects tender model

New South Wales will change the way it develops tenders for major infrastructure projects, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announcing plans for a more “collaborative” approach.

The announcement comes as the NSW Government faces a major dispute over the Sydney CBD & South East Light Rail Project, with key contractor Acciona reportedly seeking over $1 billion in extra fees after it was tasked with utilities relocation work – an expensive role it says it was not told about before the contract was signed.

“Fortunately, I’ve been around long enough to know the life cycle of projects,” Berejiklian told the AFR National Infrastructure Summit on Tuesday, June 5. “Every major project has its challenges. Sometimes you might slip on a milestone by a few months, but then make that time up further downstream.

Berejiklian was unable to say when the light rail project will be complete. ALTRAC has told the Government it will be ready by March 2020, but Berejiklian says she’s told the consortium, “You can do better than that”.

The new scheme for major projects, outlined by the premier, will look to have a more collaborative relationship with contractors throughout the tender process, and should move away from contracts based around a fixed price, and lump sum payments.

“If we can work harder, collaboratively, to improve the interface between government, industry and all the major parties in a project, then of course we should do that,” the premier said.

The premier addressed the Sydney conference a day after John Holland chief executive Joe Barr said contractors were too often being lumped with all the risk in major infrastructure projects.

Barr, responding to a question about the light rail project in question – but without directly referencing it himself – said underground utilities are a good example of a project component which remains largely unknown to all parties, until the project is underway, so it’s only fair that at least some of the risk would be shared in that case.

Barr’s comments echoed those of Aecom risk boss Regis Damour in April.

Damour told the AFR the NSW and Victorian Governments, specifically, have grown too fond of lumping their private sector partners with the bulk of the risk in major projects.

“The current model is not in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Damour was quoted as saying. “When you end up with projects with a billion dollar claim, how can that be good for anybody? An adversarial-type approach is always making only lawyers rich.

“Nobody is going to convince me that using an adversarial model with full risk transfer can be the right approach because nobody has any clue what’s underground.”

Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples, speaking on June 4, conceded governments “make mistakes” at times when it comes to risk allocation. He said utilities operators have, understandably, become more protective of their networks, and stricter about how they are managed.

Pics: Final Metro Tunnel Station designs revealed

The final designs have been unveiled for Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel five new underground stations, each with their own distinctive characteristics.

Releasing the concept images on Wednesday, state transport minister Jacinta Allan said she hoped the stations for the $11 billion project would become “landmarks” of inner-city Melbourne.

“These new underground stations obviously have to work well from a passenger point of view — we need to make it easy for people to access these stations and to move around the train system,” Allan said.

“But we also recognise there’s a special and unique opportunity to create new landmarks with these five new underground stations and that’s why a lot of effort, a lot of thought, a lot of time and energy went into the design of these five new underground stations.”

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, now in the beginning stages of its construction – carried out by consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – will link the Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a 9-kilometre tunnel, with five new stations.

The designs have been developed by a collaboration of the architects Hassell, Weston Williamson and Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners.

North Melbourne Station, located near the corner of Arden and Laurens streets, is to feature a brick arched entrance (to reflect the area’s industrial heritage) and skylights that will enable natural light to filter down on the platforms and concourse.

Parkville Station, to be built below Grattan Street between Royal Parade and Leicester Street, will feature a glass roof that provides passengers with a leafy view of outside trees and a liberal dose of sunlight as they make their way to and from the trains.





Click to enlarge. Source: Rail Projects Victoria


The entrances of the State Library Station (located under Swanston Street, between La Trobe Street and Franklin Street) and Town Hall Station (under City Square on Swanston Street) will include redesigned laneways including cafes and retail shops. The State Library Station will also feature an underground passenger connection to Melbourne Central Station.

Anzac Station, situated underground on St. Kilda Road next to the Shrine of Remembrance, will feature an architecturally designed canopy reaching up from below ground, providing both natural light and weather protection for passengers.

“The final designs for the Metro Tunnel’s five new underground train stations will deliver the best passenger experience in stunningly designed and spacious settings,” Allan said.

“The Metro Tunnel will deliver five new architectural landmarks for Melbourne and the turn-up-and-go train system our city needs.”

Stacked program set for infrastructure conference

Next week’s AFR National Infrastructure Summit includes addresses from deputy PM Michael McCormack, shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese, new Inland Rail boss Richard Wankmuller and many, many more key names from around the infrastructure sector.

Rail Express will provide live coverage of the event, which runs on Monday and Tuesday next week at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney.

Tickets are still available here.

The full schedule includes speeches and panel sessions including the following key rail transport figures:

  • Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
  • Anthony Albanese MP, Shadow Minister for Cities and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
  • Senator Janet Rice, The Greens
  • Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW
  • Cameron Dick MP, Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, QLD
  • Joe Barr, CEO, John Holland
  • Guy Templeton, President & CEO, WSP Australia & New Zealand
  • Aneetha de Silva, Managing Director, Government, Aurecon
  • Graeme Newton, CEO, Cross River Rail Delivery Authority
  • Julieanne Alroe, Chair, Infrastructure Australia
  • Richard Wankmuller, CEO, Inland Rail
  • Philip Davies, Chief Executive, Infrastructure Australia
  • Adrian Dwyer, CEO, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
  • Michael Masson, CEO, Infrastructure Victoria
  • Rodd Staples, Secretary, Transport for NSW
  • René Lalande, CEO, Transdev Australia
  • David Franks, CEO, Keolis Downer
  • Emma Thomas, Director-General, Transport Canberra and City Services
  • Nick Merritt, Global Head of Infrastructure, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Grant Smith, Senior Managing Director, Macquarie Group
  • Anissa Levy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Head of Investor Assurance, Infrastructure NSW
  • Kim Curtain, Executive Director Infrastructure & Structured Finance, NSW Treasury
  • Joanne Paterson, Director, Market Led Proposals Team, Queensland Treasury
  • Anthea Antonio, Executive Director Technical Delivery, Yarra Trams

Check out the full program and find out more about the event here.