Hutt Line’s aging overhead wires to be replaced

KiwiRail has signed a $49 million contract with JV Rail (a partnership between Fulton Hogan and John Holland Australia) to replace the overhead line system that supplies power to Metlink trains on Wellington’s Hutt Line, which services five million commuter journeys every year.

The project is to involve replacing the existing timber poles with steel masts, renewing all the overhead wires and, simultaneously, replacing the system that supplies power to the signals on the Hutt line and with one that is situated underground.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, who signed the contract at Greater Wellington Regional Council offices this week, said the replacement of the systems was “vital” for the continued resilience of the network and a “big win” for Wellington’s commuters.

“Our infrastructure teams work incredibly hard to keep things running smoothly but the current systems are reaching the end of their life,” Reidy said.

“Without this replacement programme commuters would have faced increasing disruptions to the service as the wooden poles reach the end of their lives.”

The $49 million contract with JV Rail is part of a $98.4 million four-year project funded by the Central Government to replace the overhead power system between Wellington Station, Melling and Upper Hutt, and Ngaio and Johnsonville.

Expected to reach completion in 2021, the whole project will involve the replacement of 1274 existing poles and 38 kilometres of overhead wires.

Barbara Donaldson, the chairperson of the Greater Wellington Sustainable Transport Committee, called the signing a “major step forward” for the Hutt Line, but said more investment would be necessary for the network as a whole.

“Significant investment is needed on the infrastructure due to the aging nature of the network and we are hoping for further investment to upgrade the rest of the infrastructure to unlock capacity and provide a modern, reliable service for all commuters in the Greater Wellington region,” Donaldson said.

Adelaide to Tarcoola re-railing underway

Work is underway on the major upgrade of rail track between Adelaide and Tarcoola, part of the federal government’s $252 million project to improve the efficiency of freight movements between the South Australia and West Australia.

The re-railing works of approximately 600 kilometres of track on the Interstate network which supports intermodal freight traffic and heavy minerals rail freight between Adelaide and Tarcoola.

John Holland was awarded the multi-million-dollar contract to deliver the project in December last year.

The line’s capacity will be increased by moving the rail size from 47 kg per metre to 60kg per metre, while lifting the axle load from 23 tonnes to 25 tonnes, allowing for heavier and more efficient freight trains to operate at faster speeds.

“The project will vastly improve rail freight productivity by delivering more goods to markets faster, building local economies and creating local jobs,” said federal infrastructure and transport minister Michael McCormack.

“An estimated 110 workers are already employed on the project in Adelaide and Port Augusta and up to 70 more will be employed to help deliver this critical upgrade. Infrastructure company John Holland is on board and upskilling local workers through its own training program.”

Half of the total order of steel procured from Liberty OneSteel – more than 43,600 tonnes – delivered to the Port Augusta Flashbutt facility, while 324 kilometres of track has reportedly been delivered to site for installation.

“Site mobilisation and welding works started in February 2018 and rail installation is scheduled to take place through to the second half of 2019,” federal member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said.

“The project continues to deliver additional works such as level crossing and structural improvements between Adelaide and Tarcoola to support the planned increase in freight train axle load limits.”

Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel to be finished a year early

Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project will open a year earlier than initially planned, according to the Victorian government.

The newly released tunnels and stations public-private partnership contract indicates that the project’s twin tunnels and five new underground stations will be complete by September 2024, allowing track and signalling work – which will connect the tunnels to existing rail corridors – to be finished by the close of 2025. The project was initially slated to be completed in 2026.

“The Metro Tunnel is ahead of schedule, creating thousands of jobs and giving hundreds of apprentices a head-start on their careers,” premier Daniel Andrews said.

“This project will create space to run more trains, more often, right across Melbourne. We’re getting it done.”

The $6 billion tunnels and stations contract was signed in December last year with Cross Yarra Partnership – a consortium of Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – while the $1.1 billion contract for the rollout of high-capacity signalling in the Metro Tunnel was signed by a partnership of CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation.

The high capacity signalling will allow the new fleet of 65 High Capacity Metro Trains – being delivered by a Downer/CRRC team – to run from Sunbury to Cranbourne and Pakenham, through the new Metro Tunnel, at two-to-three trains per minute.

State transport minister Jacinta Allan hit out at the opposition’s suggestion – made just after the signing of the contracts – that, if voted into government, it would consider altering the project so that it linked the busy South Yarra Station with the twin underground tunnels.

“The biggest risk to this project is the Victorian Liberals who have said they will renegotiate this contract – delaying the project for years, costing billions and stopping more trains running more often,” Allan said.

The Greens, too, have voiced their support of connecting a revamped South Yarra interchange to the Metro Tunnel, saying its inclusion was the only way to realise the “full benefits” of the project.

However, the government’s Melbourne Metro Rail Authority has rated the economic case for building the interchange and integrating it with the tunnel project as “very poor” – stating that the cost and the level of disruption would outweigh any benefits.

The government estimates that 7,000 jobs will be created by the Metro Tunnel project, which industry and employment minister Ben Carroll said would include 791 apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets who will work on the tunnels and stations package.

“We’re making sure Victorian apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets reap the benefits of our massive pipeline of major projects like the Metro Tunnel which are putting local jobs and businesses first,” Carroll said.

Work to begin on new Frankston Station

Work on the new Frankston Station is begin this month, with construction to get underway by the middle of the year.

The works – to be carried out by an alliance led by John Holland and KBR – are part of the Victorian government’s $63 million program to redevelop the Frankston station precinct, which acts as the terminus of, and interchange between, the Frankston and Stony Point railway lines, in Melbourne’s south.

Genton Architecture’s station design was selected from 39 competitors last year. It has since been refined and is to include a very contemporary canopy and station buildings, with upgrades to the entrance and subway access.

Station platforms will be raised to reduce the gap between the train and the platform, while new new public plazas and walkways are to be constructed.

“This new station will be bigger and better than before. It will be a community centre Frankston can be proud of,” state transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

Federal member for Frankston, Paul Edbrooke, said that the new station was long overdue.

“Our community is so excited for this new station,” Edbrooke said. “For too long Frankston has been neglected – we’re righting that wrong with this new station, which will create a more accessible, inviting area to live, work and visit.

“It will be a true gateway to the peninsula and a place our community can be proud of – something we’ve been looking forward to for over 40 years.”

The project is being overseen by the Level Crossing Removal Authority, who will co-ordinate work with Skye/Overton Road level crossing removal project to minimise disruption.

Utility service relocation and technical surveys begin this month and will be followed in the middle of the year by major construction works and a temporary station closure. During the demolition and reconstruction phase, buses will replace trains along the line.

Shortlists announced for Cross River Rail

The Queensland government has announced the shortlists of consortia bidding for contracts to build the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.

In all, five consortia have been shortlisted across two contracts, following evaluation of 89 expressions of interest for the project.

Three will be considered for the Tunnel, Stations and Development (TSD) public-private partnership: Pulse (led by Cimic Group and including Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, UGL, BAM, Ghella and DIF), Qonnect (QIC, Capella Capital, Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues), and CentriQ (Plenary Group, Acciona, GS Engineering & Construction, Salini Impregilo and Spotless Group).

Two others will be seeking the contract for the Rail, Integration and Systems (RIS) alliance: River City (Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction, GHD, Aurecon Australasia and Systra Scott Lister Australia) and Unity (CPB Contractors, UGL Engineering, Jacobs Group Australia, and Aecom Australia).

The shortlist was originally supposed to be announced in May 2017. According to acting premier Jackie Trad, the squabble between the Palaszczuk and Turnbull governments over the project’s funding caused the delay.

“If this process had occurred in May last year it would have occurred before there was money for the project,” Trad said.

The selection process determining which consortia will be awarded the contracts will take between 12 and 18 months.

“Shortlisted companies will now be required to prepare detailed bids that demonstrate innovation and offer Queenslanders the highest possible value for money,” Trad said.

“Once the assessment process is complete, the consortia selected from these shortlists will be building this project.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

“We are getting on with delivering this project and the calibre of the shortlist and the enthusiasm from the industry demonstrates how important Cross River Rail is to Queensland,” Trad said.

“We promised to build Cross River Rail and that is exactly what we are doing.”

Business woman. Photo: Ingram Publishing

New mentoring program aims to keep women engineers in transport

Transport for Victoria and the Level Crossing Removal Authority is partnering with 20 government and industry organisations to support and mentor female engineers across the transport sector.

The recently launched Women in Transport Mentoring Program will pair 58 female participants with experienced engineers in the industry.

The mentors will meet monthly with their mentees to guide them in identifying and realising their professional goals.

Funding for the program is coming out of the Victorian Government’s $1.1 million Women in Transport (WiT) Program.

The percentage of female engineers employed in the transport sector has grown from 8.2% in 2006 to 9.7% in 2011, while the currently females make up 16% of the workforce across the industry. The aim of the new program is to continue to boost these figures by helping to retain female engineers in the industry, and thereby contribute to he WiT aim of achieving a 25% female workforce by 2020.

Michelle Griffin, director of People, Culture and Organisational Development at the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), said she saw the mentoring program as an opportunity to “make a difference” in attracting and retaining women to work in transport.

“What we’ve got over the course of a 12-month period are three structured development programs, which both parties can attend,” Griffin said.

“Outside of that, it’s up to really the mentor and mentee to establish that relationship and decide what works for them.”

21 mentee and 18 mentor organisations are partnering with the program, with 59% of the former being directly involved in the transport industry. The mentoring organisations are evenly divided between government and private industry.

Some of the organisations involved include the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, Public Transport Victoria, VicTrack, the North East Link Authority, IRE Interface Rail Engineering, John Holland, CPB Contractors, and Laing O’Rourke.

Sarah McDermott, a senior project manager with the Level Crossing Removal Authority, said it was a “fantastic opportunity” to be taking part in the program as both a mentor and mentee.

“I chose also to be a mentee as I’ve never really had a formal mentor and I feel that I can actually learn things, as well from hearing someone else’s perspective and viewpoint,” McDermott said.

“The fact that it’s focusing on women in transport will hopefully help to encourage women to get into the transport sector, to retain them and then offer them the progression and career opportunities that they need and want.”

Metro Tunnel construction, signalling deals signed

More than $7 billion in contracts for the Metro Tunnel project in Melbourne have been signed, with the Andrews Government announcing major deals for the tunnels and stations package, and the rail systems contract on Monday, December 18.

$6 billion in contracts to deliver the tunnels and stations package of works have been signed by the Cross Yarra Partnership – a consortium of Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital.

“This is an amazing project and we can’t wait to deliver it for the people of Melbourne,” John Holland chief executive Joe Barr said.

“There will be revitalised open space above ground at all stations and additional entrances to reduce crowding on CBD streets. By enabling more workers easy access to the busy city area, the benefits will flow to businesses, employees, and the economy at large.”

A further $1.1 billion contract for the rollout of high-capacity signalling in the Metro Tunnel was signed by a partnership of CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation.

The high capacity signalling will allow the new fleet of 65 High Capacity Metro Trains – being deliverd by a Downer/CRRC team – to run from Sunbury to Cranbourne and Pakenham, through the new Metro Tunnel, at two-to-three trains per minute.

“We are building the world-class turn up and go train network Victoria deserves,” Premier Daniel Andrews said,” with more jobs, more stations and more trains, more often. We don’t just talk about building the big roads and public transport Victoria needs – we’re getting it done.”

“We’re not wasting a minute delivering the Metro Tunnel, which will create jobs and a new community on the doorstep of the CBD,” transport minister Jacinta Allan added.

CPB Contractors parent company CIMIC Group welcomed the signalling contract news, saying it would add approximately $312 million to the company’s revenue.

“With a strong history of delivering major rail infrastructure in Australia, CIMIC Group has brough together a team with extensive local knowledge and international experience to ensure the project’s objectives are realised,” CIMIC boss Michael Wright said.

New Intercity Fleet

Downer EDI awarded intercity network modifications contract

Downer EDI has been awarded the contract to carry out modifications to Sydney’s suburban and intercity network to make way for the new intercity train fleet in 2019.

To enable the trains to operate on existing networks, modifications will be undertaken by Downer EDI to stations and signalling systems, with works to include platform extensions, overhead wiring adjustments and train location technology.

“Work will get underway early next year and where possible it will be completed as part of the existing rail maintenance schedule and track work weekends so we can minimise the impact on our customers,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

The new trains will carry passengers between Sydney and the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and the South Coast. Dubbed “state-of-the-art” by Transport for NSW, they will reportedly feature improved on-board technology, including CCTV cameras, customer help point alarms and fire detection, as well as providing customers the ability to charge their mobile phones.

Two-by-two seating, tray tables, cup holders, digital screens, air conditioning, accessible toilets and dedicated space for luggage, prams, bicycles and wheelchairs are among other features of the carriages, over 500 of which are to be constructed by RailConnect NSW, an unincorporated joint venture between Hyundai Rotem Company, UGL Limited and Mitsubishi Electric Australia.

A train maintenance facility designed specifically for the trains is to be built at Kangy Angy on the Central Coast by John Holland Rail, which was recently awarded the contract.

The first trains will be delivered in 2019, with the rest of the fleet being subsequently rolled-out progressively through to 2022.

NSW awards $240m Sydenham station deal

A joint venture of John Holland and Laing O’Rourke has taken out the contract to upgrade Sydenham Station for the next stage of the Sydney Metro project.

The $240 million Sydenham Metro Upgrade deal involves upgrading Sydenham Station to be able to operate as part of the new metro line, with work covering signalling, utility relocations and train control systems installation.

The contract is expected to commence in 2018.

Station platforms 1 and 2 will be upgraded to Sydney Metro standards, while existing platforms 3, 4, 5 and 6 will continue to be used by Sydney Trains.

When metro services begin at Sydenham in 2024, customers will have two new station entrances at Burrows Road and Railway Parade, a and new concourse over the station with lifts and stairs to each platform, including the two Sydney Metro platforms, leaving Sydenham with two concourses – one at each end of its platforms.

The project will also straighten the Sydney Metro platforms, and add platform screen doors.

The contract also includes the reconfiguration of existing track and rail systems to segregate the T3 Bankstown Line and the goods line, installation of metro tracks and rail systems including crossover and turnback facilities.

John Holland chief executive Joe Barr said the company was looking forward to continuing its partnership with the NSW Government in the major Metro initiative.

“The Sydenham upgrade project will help support economic and social development in Sydney, and improve the ease with which people move around in their day-to-day lives,” Barr said.

“We have already been chosen to work with the Government on the new harbour rail crossing for Sydney Metro City & Southwest.”

Barr said over 100 people would work on the Sydenham project.

Laing O’Rourke’s Australian managing director Cathal O’Rourke said the deal added to the company’s “proud history” of delivering major rail infrastructure projects in NSW and Australia.

“We are currently engaged on a number of projects across the Sydney Trains network, all of which are delivering an improved experience for commuters,” O’Rourke said.

“This city-shaping project is a critical part of the transformation of the overall Sydney Metro project, and the key meeting point of the new Sydney Metro and existing Sydney Trains networks.”

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Engineers set to benefit from projects boom

A surge of major infrastructure projects is set to drive up wages in the engineering sector, with almost two-dozen multi-billion-dollar projects on the cards around the nation.

Engineers Australia executive general manager Brent Jackson, who spoke with the AFR, says the body’s data suggests the infrastructure boom could last longer than the mining boom, with more than $100 billion of projects planned around Australia.

“The jobs data is clear as a bell, we’re on the up,” Jackson was quoted as saying.

“Because we’ve got so many projects on the boil, we’re not going to see this boom back off for an awfully long time.”

Projects on the cards around Australia include the Sydney Metro, new intercity train fleet, WestConnex tunnel and interchange, Western Sydney Airport, Western Harbour Tunnel, Beaches Link Tunnel, Western Sydney Metro and F6 expansion in NSW.

South of the border, there’s more projects in Victoria including the Metro Tunnel, the West Gate tunnel, the High Capacity Metro Trains project, and a rail link to Melbourne Airport.

And in Queensland, there’s Cross River Rail, the expansion of the Port of Gladstone, and the vast portion of the work required for the nationally-relevant Inland Rail project.

All that work is good news for engineering professionals, who would most likely see rising wages as a result of higher demand for their services.

“There’s no doubt it’s a competitive market out there,” John Holland chief executive Joe Barr told AFR. “The east coast is experiencing an unprecedented infrastructure boom.

“At this rate we’re hiring in around 100 people a month to meet demand, and that will continue with major projects coming online like Sydney Metro, Melbourne tunnel and West Gate Tunnel.”

Jackson added: “Unlike mining projects where the requirement for engineers is intensive at the front-end of the project then tapers off dramatically when the project becomes operational, rail projects tend to have more of a need for engineers throughout their lifecycle.”

Sydney Metro at Campsie. Artist's impression: Transport for NSW

Arcadis j/v wins Sydney Metro design deal

A joint venture of Arcadis and BG&E has won a lead design role on the second stage of Sydney Metro, which will extend the line from Chatswood to Bankstown via the CBD.

The joint venture will provide civil and structural design services as part of the construction of the twin 15.5km long tunnels which will run from Chatswood, through the CBD and on to Sydenham, including a crossing under Sydney Harbour.

The contract, announced on August 3, is with the John Holland/CPB/Ghella joint venture, which was awarded the $2.81 billion Sydney Metro City & Southwest Tunnel and Station Excavation Works contract by the State Government on June 22.

Arcadis Australia Pacific Infrastructure managing director Phil Kajewski said the company was “very proud” to be working on the transformational project.

“With our joint-venture partner BG&E, we will bring a combination of our global metro experience together with a long Australian heritage, going back to the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Kajewski said.

“We are in the business of designing Australia’s future cities and project wins like this underscore our strong continued growth and commitment to creating sustainable cities.”

The project win follows the announcement that an Arcadis/Mott MacDonald-led consortium won the Underground Station Design and Technical Services (USDTS) contract for Stage 2 of Sydney Metro.

Sydney Metro at Campsie. Artist's impression: Transport for NSW

IA approves Sydney Metro City & Southwest business case

Infrastructure Australia has promoted the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project to its High Priority Project list.

The list, which was updated on July 24, now has eight High Priority Projects, and twelve Priority Projects, along with dozens of other projects with less-progressed, “initiative” ratings.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest is the second phase of the Sydney Metro project. It will extend the Sydney Metro Northwest rail line from Chatswood to Bankstown, via new stations on the lower North Shore and the CBD.

The project’s business case, evaluated by Infrastructure Australia, calculated a benefit-cost ratio of 1.3 (i.e. $1.30 of economic returns for every $1 invested). When wider economic ‘city shaping’ benefits are also included, the project’s BCR increases to 1.7.

“Sydney Metro City & Southwest is an important step in ensuring that Sydney remains a competitive, global city and an attractive place to live and work,” Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies said.

“The strategic merit of this project lies not just in its ability to increase Sydney’s productivity and rail network capacity but its potential to reshape the urban profile of the city. The project will enable higher density residential development along the rail corridor; providing more direct and rapid connections between where people live and work.”

Davies said the positive assessment of the project’s business case reflects it is a “sound” investment for Sydney.

The Infrastructure Australia business case says the project is necessary to stop Sydney’s CBD rail network from extreme overcapacity.

“The rail network servicing Sydney’s CBD is currently near capacity at peak periods, and some key routes are expected to reach capacity in the early 2020s,” the business case says. “By 2036, demand is expected to exceed network capacity, causing material impacts on service accessibility, dwell times, and crowding on stations and trains.”

The business case says the complexity of Sydney’s rail network around the CBD constrains the utilisation of individual lines, and complicates operations.

“Transport for NSW is addressing operational constraints through timetabling changes where possible, and a medium-term plan to further untangle parts of the network,” the business case says.

“However, in spite of these operational improvements, the capacity of the rail network will remain constrained.”

A consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella won the NSW Government’s $2.81 billion tunnelling contract for the second stage of the Sydney Metro urban rail project in June.

The contract is one of seven major contracts to make up the project, which is expected to cost between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion in total.

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Metro Tunnel signalling contract signed

Just days after announcing the winner of the major construction contract for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, the Victorian Government has named the consortium to lead the $1 billion high-capacity signalling works.

Premier Daniel Andrews and public transport minister Jacinta Allan on Tuesday announced CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation will deliver the Rail Systems Alliance contract.

Andrews noted the contract would include the first roll-out of a high capacity signalling system on an existing rail network anywhere in Australia – given the signalling work will take place not only along the new tunnel route, but along the existing railway at either end of the tunnel.

“High Capacity Signalling means more trains, less waiting and services so often you don’t need a timetable – you just turn up and go,” the premier said. “It’s cutting edge technology that will get people home safer and sooner, every day.”

Allan added: “This is the next major piece of the puzzle – high-tech signalling to run bigger trains, more often through the Metro Tunnel. After years of inaction from the former Liberal Government, we’re building the train network passengers need and deserve.”

The Rail Systems Alliance contract is the third of five major works packages to be awarded under the Metro Tunnel project.

The Early Works package was contracted to John Holland, and the $6 billion tunnel and underground station contract was awarded to a consortium of Lendlease, John Holland, Bouygues and Capella Capital on Sunday.

The remaining contracts are the Rail Infrastructure works package, for which expressions of interest will be called this week; and the Wider Network Enhancements work package, which is being issued on a case-by-case basis.

There’s also the major rollingstock contract, which includes 65 new high capacity metro trains, and was awarded to a Downer/CRRC/Plenary joint venture last year.

High capacity signalling is designed to allow trains to safely run closer together, meaning they can run more often. Andrews says the technology will enable trains every two to three minutes on the Sunbury to Cranbourne-Pakenham line via the Metro Tunnel.

Dedicated control centres will be built in Dandenong and Sunshine to support the new signalling.

Andrews said the Rail Infrastructure works package – set to go out for EoIs this week – will be a $1 billion deal to design and construct the eastern tunnel entrance in South Yarra, the western tunnel entrance in Kensington, and associated works across the Sunbury to Cranbourne-Pakenham corridor, including upgrading track power and conventional signalling.

Metro Tunnel builder announced

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium to build the Metro Tunnel and five underground stations through the Melbourne CBD.

CYP – a consortium of Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction, and Capella Capital – was named to deliver the $6 billion contract on Sunday.

Premier Andrews said the decision followed an extensive competitive tender process with the world’s most experienced construction and tunnelling contractors. A consortium of Downer, Acciona, Ferrovial Agroman, Honeywell and Plenary, and a consortium of CPB Contractors, Salini Impregilo, Pacific Partnerships, Ghella, Serco and Macquarie Capital, were shortlisted alongside the CYP consortium in April.

“We’re building the turn-up and go train system Victoria has been waiting for,” Andrews said. “We’ve chosen the design, we’ve chosen the builders and we’re getting on with it. We don’t just talk about it – we’re building the train network Victoria needs and creating thousands of local jobs.”

Andrews says the Tunnels and Stations PPP will create more than 5,000 jobs, including apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets.

The contract includes building five new underground stations at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain in Melbourne, along with associated walkways and station entrance infrastructure.

“The Metro Tunnel will free up space in the City Loop to run more trains, more often across Melbourne,” public transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

“The Metro Tunnel will change Melbourne forever with a world class design that will see new open space, terraced seating and sweeping arches.”

The CYP is one of five major packages of work which make up the Metro Tunnel project: The Early Works package was already contracted to John Holland; expressions of interest will be issued to market midway through this year for the Rail Infrastructure works package; bids are under evaluation for the Rail Systems work package, and the Wider Network Enhancements work package is being issued on a case-by-case basis.

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Irrelevant information contributed to train smashing through barrier: Report

A report on a 2015 incident in Western Australia has stressed the need for effective communication to ensure train staff can properly carry out operations and avoid safety dangers.

The incident occurred in September 2015 on a Brookfield Rail line and involved a freight train carrying bulk grain between Avon Yard and the port at Kwinana.

According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s report, track re-railing work (contracted out to John Holland) was in progress along the route, involving the closure of the Up Main line between Moondyne and Jumperkine and the diversion of train movements to an adjacent track. Single line block working was thus implemented under the rules applicable to train order working.

The freight train crew received a train order to proceed from Moondyne to a station limits board, and along with this order they received additional instructions regarding their approach to worksites beyond this limit point.

On the approach to the limit point, the train crew were reportedly discussing the additional instructions when the driver suddenly sighted a station limits board and a track closed warning device (marking the limit of the authority).

With little time to respond,” the report states, “the driver applied an emergency brake application … The train collided with the track closed warning device before coming to a stop approximately 400 metres past the limit of authority.”

The ATSB investigation found that the additional information attached to the train order had distracted the crew and led to their failure in stopping the train at the appropriate location. Furthermore, the report states that no visual cues had been erected on the approach to the authority limit point which could have warned the train crew that they were nearing the location.

“Communication of information through non-standard practices and/or the addition of information irrelevant to the intended task may reduce clarity and introduce a source of distraction,” the report states.

“In an operational environment, effective communication, crosschecking and shared understanding by train crew, together with appropriate environmental cues contribute to ensuring the effective performance of tasks.”

As a result of the incident, Brookfield Rail reportedly set up non-crossing indicator boards on all approaches to the station limits board. Moreover, infield protection on both ends of the section of closed track was added, including three track-warning devices 20 metres apart on each rail in advance of the track closed warning sign.

In March last year, Brookfield also introduced a new system of safe working rules and procedures consistent with the Australian Network Rules & Procedures, which means that it similar protective measures have and will be repeated.

The train operator, Watco, has also reportedly worked on emphasising a Crew Resource Management (CRM) program in the aftermath of the incident, which includes “cab situational awareness monitoring” carried out through periodical locomotive data downloads, and has provided additional checkpoints to their already existing Operational Check Ride form that also relates to cab situational awareness.

Winner announced for $518m Ballarat upgrade

A preferred party has been selected from five finalists for the Andrews Government’s $518 million upgrade to the Ballarat line.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday that a consortium of Lendlease, Coleman Rail, and SMEC had been selected as preferred bidder for the contract.

The news comes a week after Andrews claimed a victory over the Federal Government, securing $1.4 billion in Commonwealth funding for regional rail projects – half a billion of which will go towards the Ballarat upgrade.

The upgrade will duplicate 18 kilometres of track between Deer Park West and Melton, paving the way for future electrification to Melton, the premier said.

The Lendlease, Coleman Rail and SMEC consortium was one of the five shortlisted parties announced for the contract in June.

A consortium of John Holland, Arcadis and KBR; a consortium of Laing O’Rourke and AECOM; a consortium of CPB Contractors and WSP; and a consortium of McConnell Dowell, RCR O’Donnell Griffin, Arup and GHD were also shortlisted.

Along with the duplication, the project aims to deliver extra passing loops, new train stabling, better stations, and more car parking. It will also relocate stabling at Bacchus Marsh station to Maddingley.

“We’re not wasting a moment upgrading the Ballarat line, and every regional passenger line in Victoria,” Andrews said. “We won the fight to revive regional rail and now we’re getting on with building the projects that regional Victorians need.”

The state says the upgrade project will enable more trains to run more often in Melbourne’s west. It says the project will create up to 400 jobs during construction.

Over 200 site investigations have been conducted and nearly 90 boreholes have been dug since February, to help the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority understand ground conditions along the Ballarat corridor.

$2.8bn Sydney Metro tunnel contract awarded

A consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella has won the NSW Government’s $2.81 billion tunnelling contract for the second stage of the Sydney Metro urban rail project.

The first of five tunnel boring machines (TBMs), to build the new twin metro rail tunnels under Sydney Harbour and the CBD, will be in the ground by the end of next year, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and transport minister Andrew Constance announced on Thursday, June 22.

Ahead of awarding the tunnelling contract, Transport for NSW took rock soil samples from more than 50 boreholes beneath Sydney Harbour, which determined a specialised TBM will be required to tunnel through a combination of sandstone, clay and sediments between North Sydney and the new metro station at Barangaroo.

The other four TBMs required for the project are more standard, hard rock TBMs.

“Today’s historic milestone unlocks a generational change to the way people will get around Sydney,” Berejiklian said.

“The scale of this project and what it will do for the ease and speed of travelling across Sydney is hard to comprehend. We’ve done the hard yards and now it’s delivery time for the next stage of Sydney Metro.”

With first trains expected to operate on the first stage of Sydney Metro by 2019, the second stage of the project will take the rail line under Sydney Harbour, through the CBD and on to Bankstown.

“This new metro line will eventually stretch 66 kilometres and connect dozens of suburbs along the way,” Constance said. “When services through the City start in 2024, the tunnels will move more people than the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel combined.”

The contract signed on Thursday involves:

  • delivering four double-shield, hard rock, gripper type TBMs and one specialised TBM for tunnelling under Sydney Harbour;
  • building twin 15.5km metro rail tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham; and,
  • the excavation and civil works for six new metro railway stations at Crows Nest, North Sydney, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street and Waterloo.

The Government expects the tunnelling contract work to be completed in 2021, at which point work will continue along the 30-kilometre length of the second stage to lay tracks, fit out stations and upgrade the existing rail line from Sydenham to Bankstown to metro rail.

Seven major contracts will make up the project, with Thursday’s tunnelling contract the first to be awarded. The Government says the massive scale of the project means the tunnelling contract value may vary, due to ongoing fine-tuning and optimisation involving the six other major Stage 2 contracts, for which tenders are yet to be received.

The total project cost for Sydney Metro City & Southwest has been set between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion, compared to the $8.3 billion price tag for stage one of the project, called Sydney Metro Northwest.

John Holland’s chief executive officer Joe Barr said the joint venture was honoured to be selected to help “build a lasting legacy that will transform Sydney”.

“This iconic project will build the first ever rail tunnels under Sydney Harbour – a crucial transport connection to meet the ever growing needs of our global city,” he said.

“This one-in-a-generation project will transform the rail network in Sydney, delivering a step-change in public transport capacity and customer experience, and it is a privilege to be trusted to build it.”

Barr said the joint venture’s construction solution addresses the challenges of intricate underground construction in the heart of the Sydney CBD, where new stations will be built at Barangaroo and Pitt Street, and new metro platforms will be built beneath existing infrastructure at Martin Place and Central.

The project also includes new stations north of the bridge, at Crows Nest and Victoria Cross.

John Holland’s NSW/ACT executive general manager Scott Olsen said the tunnelling project continued a great relationship between the engineering firm and the NSW Government.

John Holland won the $1.15 billion tunnels and stations civil works contract for the first stage of Sydney Metro, as part of a joint venture with CPB and Dragados, and is also working with Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation, CPB and UGL Rail on the $3.7 billion Operations, Trains and Systems contract for Stage 1.

“We bring vast local and international expertise in tunnelling and the delivery of major infrastructure in urban areas,” Olsen said.

“We are focussed on delivering a world-class project in partnership with Transport for NSW, with sustainable design, opportunities for local employment and a socially inclusive procurement strategy.”

Construction is scheduled to commence on the new tunnelling contract in the coming weeks, John Holland said in a statement.

Five named to Ballarat upgrade shortlist

Five firms have been named by the Andrews Government to deliver Labor’s $518 million upgrade to the Ballarat Line.

Public transport minister Jacinta Allan on June 16 said the following five firms would compete for the upgrade contract:

  • John Holland, Arcadis, KBR
  • Laing O’Rourke, AECOM
  • Lendlease, Coleman Rail, SMEC
  • CPB Contractors, WSP
  • TRANSFORM (McConnell Dowell, RCR O’Donnell Griffin, Arup, GHD)

Allan said evaluation of the firms’ bids was “well-advanced,” and a decision will be made shortly on the preferred bidder, with a contract expected to be awarded later this year.

The project will duplicate 18 kilometres of single track between Deer Park West and Melton, install extra passing loops, and build new stabling facilities, station platforms and car parking.

“Australia’s best construction firms are lining up to build this critical project for the growing communities along the Ballarat Line,” Allan said.

The project will see the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority move existing stabling yards at Bacchus Marsh station to Maddingley, instead of constructing new stabling at Melton and Rowsley. This will mean staff will work from one location, away from urban areas, Allan explained.

Nearly 90 boreholes have been dug since February as part of preparatory works for the project. Further work including geotechnical drilling, service locating and ecological assessments will be carried out in the coming months to inform the project’s detailed design, the minister explained.

“We’re investing more than half a billion dollars to give commuters in Ballarat, Melton and Melbourne’s West more trains, more often,” Allan said.

The Government says the Ballarat Line Upgrade will create up to 400 jobs during construction. It has committed to 10% of labour hours for apprentices, trainees, and engineering cadets.

Trio of firms listed for Central tunnel

Three groups have been shortlisted to deliver the NSW Government’s Central Station revitalisation project, which includes building a new underground concourse linking the station with future Sydney Metro platform.

Transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance announced the shortlist earlier this week:

  • Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd
  • CPB Contractors Pty Ltd and John Holland Pty Ltd joint venture
  • Lendlease Engineering Pty Ltd/Lendlease Building Pty Ltd

The winning bidder will be given the contract to build the Central Walk, and the new Sydney Metro platforms under Central.

The contract is expected to be awarded in the first quarter of next year as part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project, which is Stage 2 of Sydney Metro.

“Central is the backbone of our public transport network with more than 250,000 people passing through the station every day,” Constance said. “But that number’s expected to grow to 450,000 in the next two decades, and we need to ensure better transport connections are in place to help people get around.”

The 19-metre wide Central Walk tunnel will open to Chalmers Street.

“This is the first step towards revitalising Central Station,” Constance said. “We want to unleash its potential as a world class gateway, on par with some of the grand stations of the world, and Sydney Metro is the key enabler in making that happen.

“By combining the works of the metro platforms and Central Walk we can deliver both projects at the same time and minimise the disruption to customers.”

Jobs Hub opens for Mernda Rail Project

The Victorian Government has announced the launch of a dedicated Jobs Hub for the Mernda Rail Extension Project.

The Jobs Hub has been established to provide information and support for those seeking work on the project, including information regarding training and qualification requirements.

The Hub can also be used by subcontractors and suppliers that are working on the project to find available employees suitable to their requirements.

It is expected that the rail extension project will create approximately 1,200 direct jobs, including 600 in construction. The creation of a further 1,800 indirect jobs is also projected in businesses and industries supporting the project. Positions will be available in areas such as engineering, construction, administration, and catering.

Under the Victorian government’s Major Project’s Skills Guarantee (MPSG), work opportunities will also be made for 50 apprentices, trainees, and engineering cadets.

The Hub will connect jobseekers with a network of industry specialists, including job service providers, employment agencies, training organisations and social enterprises. These groups will be involved in providing pre-employments support, securing training opportunities, and matching prospective candidates with available jobs on the Mernda Rail Extension Project.

Moreover, those with a disability, long-term unemployed individuals, and workers that are transitioning from the auto industry will be able to access suitable employment service providers.

While jobs can be applied for online via the Hub website, jobseekers are able to to visit the Jobs Hub in person at the Mernda Rail Extension Project’s main office in Epping.

The $600 million Mernda Rail Extension Project is being delivered by John Holland in concert with Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) and Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM). The project’s construction works will include three new stations (at Mernda Town Centre, Marymede Catholic College, and Hawkstowe Parade), three rail bridges, two road underpasses, 2,000 car parking spaces, and a new walking and cycling path.

Construction work on the Mernda Rail Extension project is currently underway and the line is expected to open in early 2019.