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:

*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.


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

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.