Corbell issues warning to Opposition over light rail threats

Capital Metro minister Simon Corbell has criticised the ACT Opposition for their promise to cancel the already-signed contract for a light rail line in Canberra, if they win the election in October.

Corbell addressed the Light Rail 2016 conference in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The minister gave an update on the progress of the Canberra project, which was appointed a preferred bidder earlier this month: Canberra Metro, a consortium which includes Deutsche Bahn and John Holland.

But despite the lining up of an international consortium up for the almost $700 million contract, the Opposition is still committing to cancel the project, should they win the Territory election later this year.

Asked about the Opposition’s commitment, Corbell – who wants a shovels in the dirt by mid-year – was clear in his views on the matter.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get light rail into our city,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for 30, 40, 50 years.

“If we miss this opportunity – if there is a reckless cancelling of a contract, and all the costs that will come with that, which will be substantial – then we miss the opportunity for better transport, we miss the opportunity for urban renewal, and we jeopardise Canberra’s reputation as a place to invest.

“We can’t deliver the construction we need for our city on our own. We need partnerships.”

Corbell said between 60 and 65% of people surveyed currently support the project, with the majority of support coming from younger to middle-aged generations.

He suggested the controversy surrounding the project was more of an issue of location, than of the virtue of the project itself.

“It’s very much a north-south debate, in Canberra,” he said. “Canberrans have this aversion to crossing the Molonglo River; ‘You have the south, you have the north, and never the twain shall meet’.

“This project is on the north, so that is causing some north-south parochialism to be exacerbated.

“Yes, it’s a live political debate. The Opposition have made their position clear and there’s an election in October.

“But when you look at the jobs opportunities, and when you look at what the surveys are telling us, it’s a contentious issue, but I think there will be bigger issues at play, at the election, when people ultimately cast their vote.”

Melbourne Metro station plan. Graphic: Melbourne Metro Rail Authority

Three shortlisted for Melbourne Metro early works

Three bidders have been shortlisted to deliver early works for the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, the multibillion-dollar project to tunnel an extension to the city’s passenger rail network under the Yarra.

Public transport minister Jacinta Allan on Wednesday announced the bidders selected for the next phase of the early works tender were as follows:

  • CPB Contractors (formerly known as Leighton Contractors)
  • John Holland / KBR (joint venture)
  • Lend Lease / Coleman Rail (joint venture)

Allan said the shortlisted trio were selected following a rigorous EoI period, which delivered a high standard of responses.

The winning bidder will conduct “hundreds of millions of dollars” of works to prepare key sites along the planned route, according to a statement from the minister’s office.

Works include the relocation and protection of underground services, such as gas, sewer and water mains, the relocation of trees and other road features, and the design and construction of access shafts, according to the statement.

The main part of the project – which will be delivered by a separate contract – will develop twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels between South Kensington station north west of the CBD, to South Yarra station south east of the CBD.

Underground, the line will include five new stations, at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain.

Stations at CBD North and CBD South will connect with existing stations on the City Circle: Melbourne Central station and Flinders Street station respectively.

Melbourne Metro Rail Authority – the government body responsible for conducting the project – is undertaking site investigations along the alignment in preparation for the early works package.

Investigative work involves the excavation of narrow trenches at multiple locations.

The three shortlisted parties will submit a formal proposal in the second quarter, and a contract will be awarded by mid-2016.

“Melbourne Metro Rail will return up to $1.50 for every dollar invested, generate 4700 jobs during peak construction and create space for nearly 40,000 extra passengers every morning and evening peak,” Allan said.

“Today’s shortlist announcement paves the way for formal proposals and contract award by the middle of the year, the start of early works in 2017 and major construction in 2018.

“After four long years under the former Liberal Government, who ignored then abandoned this critical project, we’re getting on with it.

Level crossing boom gate removal, with David Andrews and Jacinta Allan. Photo: Level Crossing Removal Authority

First crossing gone, new station open under Andrews plan

Victorian premier David Andrews’ campaign to destroy 50 level crossings has officially claimed its first scalp, with train services resuming under the former Burke Road crossing in Glen Iris on Monday.

A consortium of John Holland and KBR removed the Burke Road level crossing as part of a four-crossing contract, the first awarded under the Andrews Government’s removal program in May last year.

After workers ceremoniously removed the level crossing’s boom gates and fully re-opened the road to cars and trams last week, the newly-rebuilt Gardiner Station served its first train on Monday, on tracks which have been sunk below road level.

The Burke Road crossing was listed by the RACV among Melbourne’s top 10 congestion hot spots every year since 2006, with more than 25,000 vehicles, 150 trains and 180 trams passing through the intersection every day, and the boom gates closed for up to 40 minutes between 7am and 9am each day, causing queues onto the Monash Freeway.

“Motorists, passengers and locals have had to live with these boom gates for too long,” Andrews said. “They caused congestion, they put lives at risk, and now we’ve removed them.”

Acting transport minister Luke Donnellan said the new train stations showed the program wasn’t just about removing level crossings.

“The Andrews Labor Government’s removal of 50 dangerous and congested level crossings is not only improving safety and reducing congestion on our roads, it’s transforming train stations across Melbourne,” Donnellan said.

“The new Gardiner Station is safer, more accessible and better connected for the 1500 people who use it every day.

“It’s the first of many stations we will rebuild through the Level Crossing Removal Program, which will reduce congestion, create space to run more trains, and make local streets safer.”

Burke Road level crossing boom gate removal. Photo: Level Crossing Removal Authority

Video: Work underway at Burke Road level crossing

WATCH: Victoria’s level crossing removal project reached a major milestone last week, with the first set of boom gates removed from a crossing at Burke Road in the south-east Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris.

The Burke Road level crossing was one of the first to have work underway, as part of the state’s plan to remove 50 of the most dangerous and congested crossings over the next 7-8 years.

Work at Burke Road started six months ago, and with the boom gates now gone, cars are free to travel over the junction without having to wait for passing trains.

The Burke Road level crossing is being removed by a consortium of John Holland and KBR. The gates were removed on January 2, 2016.

Buildings and platforms at Gardiner Station are currently being demolished and the team will soon start installing the new train and tram lines for when services resume, the Level Crossings authority said last week.

Tram stopped at Southport South on the Gold Coast Light Rail. Photo: Creative Commons / David Ansen

Three shortlisted for Gold Coast Stage 2

Three consortia have been shortlisted to deliver the second stage of the Gold Coast’s light rail network.

Minister for transport and the Commonwealth Games Stirling Hinchcliffe on December 24 announced the Request for Tender for the 7.3km extension had resulted in a trio of shortlisted bidders:

  • Leighton Contractors
  • John Holland Queensland
  • GamesLinq (a joint venture of Downer EDI Works and BMD Constructions)

The planned extension will run from the existing light rail line at the Gold Coast University Hospital, to the Helensvale heavy railway station and bus interchange.

Hinchcliffe said the government looked forward to choosing from “among the industry’s best”. He said the state was hoping to receive three “value for money bids,” and assurances that the line can be constructed in time for use during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“The 12 week competitive tender phase was an interactive process designed to maximise innovation, time-saving and design development with more than 80 meetings held with tenderers, including 27 interactive workshops, and more than 260 formal answers and 3,000 project documents supplied to the tenderers,” he said.

“Stage 2 is a vital infrastructure project for the state that is expected to generate 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.”

John Witheriff – chairman of GoldLinQ, the consortium which delivered and now operates stage one of the light rail line – said his team would now evaluate the detailed proposals against a range of criteria to ensure a well-informed decision is made.

“Following GoldLinQ’s rigorous evaluation process and recommendation to the Queensland Government the announcement of the successful tenderer is expected to be made by April 2016, with construction commencing shortly after,” Witheroff detailed.

The selected bidder will be required to engage with local individuals and businesses to work on the project, the government said. The final cost of Stage 2 will not be known until GoldLinQ has completed the competitive tender process, it added.

Level crossing removal project. Photo: Department of Transport Victoria

Four more level crossing removals announced

Daniel Andrews has announced the four level crossings which will make up the next tender for removal, as part of the Victorian Government’s massive level crossing removal program.

Andrews wants to remove 50 level crossings over two terms in government. Over the weekend he announced the four crossings which will be added to the 19 already set to be removed in the first four years of his government:

  • Melton Highway in Sydenham
  • Abbotts Road in Dandenong South
  • Thompsons Road in Lyndhurst
  • Kororoit Creek in Williamstown

The Abbotts Road crossing was the site of a fatal collision in 2012, where a train collided with a truck resulting in a derailment and the death of a train passenger.

Three contracts have already been awarded for the removal of 10 total crossings in Victoria.

A consortium of Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder consulting holds one four-crossing contract, and a consortium of John Holland and KBR holds another four-crossing contract. An alliance of Laing O’Rourke, Fulton Hogan and Aecom has been selected as preferred bidder for the removal of two more crossings.

A pair of consortiums are also shortlisted for a 9-crossing contract along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.

The contract announced this past weekend means a total of 23 crossings will be removed by 2019 under the government’s plans. The four-crossing contract will go to tender in 2016, after community consultation is undertaken.

“These level crossings are dangerous, congested and suffocate our train system,” Andrews said. “They are relics of the past and they need to go. We’ve already awarded more than a billion dollars in contracts for level crossing removals.

“After years of inaction, we’re getting on with it.”

In addition to the 23 crossing removals now set to be completed by 2019, the government has committed to get to work on a further eight crossings by 2018. Andrews announced the package of crossings along the Frankston line in November.

7 News | Level crossing overhaulA dangerous level crossing in Dandenong is set to be upgraded, three years after a deadly collision.7 News reporter Laurel Irving has the details.Latest from 7 News: News video: news on Twitter:

Posted by 7 News Melbourne on Saturday, November 28, 2015

Level crossing in Melbourne. Photo:

Victoria outlines next level crossings to go

A contract to remove eight more level crossings will be awarded before the end of the current Andrews Government term in Victoria, the premier announced on Sunday.

The contract will be awarded in 2017, and will address the removal of eight “dangerous and congested” level crossings on the Frankston line.

The eight identified crossings are on top of the 19 already under contract to be removed, or already part of a tendering process.

Two contracts have been handed out for the removal of four level crossings each. A consortium of Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting holds one, and a consortium of John Holland and KBR holds another.

An alliance of Laing O’Rourke, Fulton Hogan and Aecom has been selected as the preferred bidder for another contract, to remove two crossings in Bayswater.

And a pair of consortiums have already been shortlisted for another contract, to remove nine level crossings along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.

The new contract, announced on November 8, will likely see the removal of eight crossings under a single package of works. Crossings are on the Frankston line, at:

  • Station Street/Bondi Road, Bonbeach
  • Station Street, Carrum
  • Charman Road, Cheltenham
  • Edithvale Road, Edithvale
  • Skye/Overton Road, Frankston
  • Balcombe Road, Mentone
  • Eel Race Road, Seaford
  • Seaford Road, Seaford

The government said community consultation and detailed planning will be “critical” during the process, with “some of the most complex” crossings in the Andrews Government’s 50-crossing plan involved in this deal. Geotechnical investigations began recently.

Community consultation will continue through 2016, in preparation for contract award in 2017 and start of construction in 2018, the government said.

“Combined with the removal of all nine level crossings between Dandenong and Caulfield [the Cranbourne-Pakenham package], getting rid of these crossings will transform Melbourne’s south east, delivering more trains, less congestion and safer roads,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Level crossing removal project. Photo: Department of Transport Victoria

Contract signed for four level crossing removals

The preferred bidder for the removal of four level crossings in Melbourne has formally signed a $481.2 million contract with the state government.

In June, the Andrews Government named the consortium of Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting as preferred bidder for level crossing removals at Heatherdale Road in Mitcham, Blackburn Road in Blackburn, and Main and Furlong Roads in St Albans.

Andrews announced on Tuesday the contract for that work had been finalised with the alliance. Works on two of the four crossings will begin within weeks.

“These level crossings have already claimed lives, and continued to put lives at risk,” Andrews said. “They have to go and we’re getting on with it, finalising the contract so work can begin.”

The $481.2 million contract will see work begin at Main and Furlong Roads in October. That work should be completed in 2017.

The removal of the Blackburn Road and Heatherdale Road level crossings will start later this year and will take 12-18 months to complete, Andrews explained.

The contract is the second four-crossing deal to be formalised so far in the Andrews Government’s drive to remove 50 of the state’s ‘worst’ level crossings over the next eight years.

Major construction began in July at Burke Road in Glen Iris – the first of four level crossings to be removed under the first contract. Held by a consortium of John Holland and KBR, that deal will also see the removal of crossings at Centre Road in Bentleigh, North Road in Ormond, and McKinnon Road in McKinnon.

The biggest deal so far in the removal program, for seven level crossings along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, is currently up for grabs. Two groups are shortlisted for the deal, each of which features businesses that are already handling one of the two four-crossing deals:

  • the consortium of John Holland, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), McConnell Dowell Constructors and Jacobs (known as the Excelerate consortium)
  • the consortium of Lend Lease Engineering, Leighton Contractors, Aurecon Australia and Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia

A major part of the funding for the level crossing removal program is to come from the proposed sale of the Port of Melbourne, which is being challenged by the state Opposition in Parliament.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas implored all parties to approve legislation to sell the port.

“Leasing the port means we can create thousands of jobs, get Victorians home safer and sooner and still protect our AAA credit rating,” Pallas said.

Perth Stadium Station construction. Graphic: new Perth Stadium

Work begins on Stadium Station

VIDEO: The consortium which won the contract to build a new, six-platform railway station at the new Perth Stadium has begun construction, and the Department of Transport has released an animation detailing the process.

A consortium of Laing O’Rourke and AECOM was awarded a $100 million contract to build the new Stadium Station in March, beating out two competitors in the final procurement stage: John Holland, and a consortium of Brookfield Multiplex and Downer.

On August 5, WA minister for transport Dean Nalder announced the PRISM Alliance – of Laing O’Rourke, AECOM and the state’s Public Transport Authority – had begun construction at the station site.

In coming months, a pair of tower cranes will be erected on the site to enable the PRISM Alliance to start work on four of the platforms (i.e. two of the islands), and a second set of tracks.

Trains on the existing Armadale/Thornlie Line will then be swapped over to use the new tracks, so work on the final two-platform island can be completed.

“The station itself will cost about $40 million to build, with a further $60 million to be spent on the 11 kilometres of complex overhead wiring and track to support this world-class piece of infrastructure,” Nalder said.

Stadium Station will feature six platforms spread across three islands, connected with 11 lifts and a concourse which will take around 340 tonnes of steel to build.

Nalder released an animation of the planned construction program.



“This government is focused on delivering a smart transport solution for the new Perth Stadium with a series of integrated infrastructure including bike paths, a pedestrian bridge and a new train station,” the minister said.

Some work has already been completed near the station site, with Lend Lease Engineering contracted for work on Victoria Park Drive, where a bridge must be extended for new rail lines to cater for the new rail lines being built.

Electronic Authority. Photo: 4Tel

Electronic Authority functionality a success on CRN

4Tel’s recent work installing Electronic Authority functionality on a NSW rail network is just one example of where digital technology can help the industry, managing director Derel Wust says.

A telecommunications engineer by trade, Wust says the rail industry can benefit significantly through the use of modern digital technologies to solve railway safety and operational problems.

“One issue the rail industry generally doesn’t understand is ‘digital’ communications, and the safety and efficiency benefits that can be derived from digital solutions,” Wust said in a Q&A with Rail Express affiliate Informa Insights this week.

“For example, the rail industry will often refer to the need for ‘vital communications’ to protect safety for the carriage of signalling data.

“However, in the digital world, communications are not vital as all communications use connectionless packets of data. Communications can be interrupted at any time.

“Therefore, safety is achieved by safe processes, not any given communications path used. The only common methodology between the two concepts is that systems need to ‘fail-safe’.”

4Tel develops and maintains systems as a subcontractor on John Holland’s Country Regional Network in NSW.

As part of its most recent work for John Holland, 4Tel has delivered Electronic Authority functionality within the Train Management and Control System’s computer-based Train Orders System.

Under the new system, Wust explained, an Electronic Authority is transmitted to the train as an encrypted digital message, and is then displayed on the train-fitted radio screen.

“Prior to this enhancement, a Movement Authority was issued by the Network Controller, initiating a voice telephone call to the train driver, and reading out the Electronic Authority contents for the driver to write down onto a form,” Wust explained.

“Voice-based authorities are time-consuming to issue and prone to human error. By digitising this process, we have increased safety and efficiency of both above and below rail operations without the need to fit any new equipment to a locomotive.”

This project went live on June 25 this year, and uptake has been very high, according to Wust.

“Just last week [July 19 to 25], we had an average of 91% of Electronic Authorities for the week and we anticipate reaching closer to 100% in the near future,” he said.

“The response from John Holland Network Controllers and the train drivers to the implementation of Electronic Authorities has been very positive.”

Wust will speak at the Telecommunications and Train Control Forum in Sydney next month. Click here for more information.

Burke Street level crossing removal. Graphic: VicRoads

First level crossing removal work begins

Work has begun at the first level crossing set to be removed under the Andrews Government’s program, at Burke Road in Glen Iris, Melbourne.

Premier Daniel Andrews and roads minister Luke Donnellan visited the site on Tuesday to announce that major construction has officially started on the Level Crossing Removal Project.

“This is the start of the most important road, rail and community safety projects in Victoria’s history,” Andrews said, “the removal of our most dangerous, deadly and congested level crossings.”

The Burke Road level crossing is said to be one of the worst on the list of those set to go; its boom gates are down for an average of at least 40 minutes for every morning peak (7am to 9am), and more than 26,000 vehicles and 150 trains use the crossing every day.

The RACV has named the intersection in its top 10 for congestion hot spots in Melbourne, every year since 2006. This resulted in many frustrated motorists driving unsafely, and many frustrated pedestrians ignoring barriers and warning signals, to rush to catch their train or tram, the Premier’s office said.

A consortium of John Holland and KBR is in charge of the removal: Burke Road was among four sites the consortium was awarded in May after a competitive tender process – the first such process undertaken by the Andrews Government in its plan to remove 50 level crossings in eight years.

“Victorians have been held hostage by these relics of the past for too long,” Andrews said this week. “They need to go, we’re getting on with it, and major works start today.”

The first work to be undertaken is the demolition of the Gardiner Station car park, and the lowering of the rail line under Burke Road. Gardiner Station will be rebuilt to provide access to platforms below street level.

Andrews said the new station will be safer, more accessible and more user-friendly than the old station, and a new tram super-stop will be built near the entrance, making it easier to transfer between trains and trams.

Donnellan emphasised the project was as much a roads project as it was a rail one.

“Getting rid of [the level crossing] will get motorists, passengers and local residents home safer and sooner,” he said. “Works are ramping up at Burke Road and at other sites across Melbourne as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to unclog our roads, make communities safer and build a bigger, better public transport system.”

Major works on the weekend of July 24 to 26, including the  demolition of station platforms and buildings, will require the closure of the Glen Waverley rail line, with buses replacing trains between Burnley and Darling, the department said.

Buses will also replace the Route 72 tram on Sunday, July 26 and the intersection of Burke Road and Carroll Crescent will be closed from later this month until early next year.

Fairfield Airport line - WA PTA

Perth airport link gets environmental nod

WA’s Environmental Protection Agency has approved the planned extension to Perth’s rail network, the Forrestfield Airport Link.

The EPA on Monday recommended the state’s environmental minister, Albert Jacob, formally approve the project, which will build a rail line from Bayswater Station on the Midland Line, to Forrestfield via three stations – Airport West, Consolidated Airport and Forrestfield.

The project includes twin bored tunnels of about 8km passing under the Swan River, a re-alignment of Dundas Road, cross passages and emergency exits, the EPA noted.

State transport minister Dean Nalder on June 29 invited three consortia to participate in a Request for Proposal to design and construct the project:

  • Forrestfield Connect – consisting of Acciona Infrastructure, BAM International and Ferrovial Agroman
  • JHL JV – consisting of John Holland and Leighton Contractors
  • SI-NRW JV – consisting of Salini Impregilo and NRW

The three consortia were among the five which expressed interest in the project, as Nalder announced in March. The two consortia which didn’t make it past EOIs were CRCC-BGC-VDM JV (consisting of China Railway Construction Corporation, BGC and VDM), and Connecting Forrestfield (consisting of Lend Lease and Ghella).

The EPA did note that as part of the project is on Perth Airport Land, it is subject to a separate assessment and approvals process under Commonwealth legislation and did not form part of the proposal assessed by the EPA.

But the rest of the project is ready to go, the authority said, with two key conditions (among others):

  • the creation of a Flora and Vegetation Monitoring and Management Plan to ensure no adverse direct or indirect impacts to Threatened Ecological Communities (TEC) outside of the Forrestfield Development Envelope, at Poison Gully Creek and Lot 12 Ibis Place – from the temporary dewatering and recharge activities; and
  • the creation of an offset strategy to counterbalance the direct loss of 1.6 hectares of a TEC and 25 plants of a rare flora species.

EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said potential environmental impacts on flora and vegetation at the Forrestfield station were identified as the key factor requiring evaluation by the EPA.

Offsets were also specified to counterbalance the significant residual impacts to flora and vegetation.

“The proposal directly impacts on the ‘Banksia woodlands over species rich dense shrublands’ community, identified as a threatened ecological community because it is very restricted,” Dr Vogel said.

“As a result of EPA’s assessment of these potential impacts, we were able to conclude that the proposal could be managed to meet our environmental objectives, subject to the implementation of several conditions.”

The EPA said detailed management plans for construction dewatering, acid sulfate soils and spoil would be managed by the Department of Water and the Department of Environment Regulation.

The EPA’s report to the minister is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing July 27.

Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at The full report can be viewed here, on the EPA website.

Ringwood station upgrade, artist's impression. Graphic: Metro Trains

Work progressing on $66 million Ringwood upgrade

Metro Trains has shared a work-in-progress photo of John Holland’s upgrade at Melbourne’s Ringwood station, and is telling customers to expect an expanded, attractive bus interchange with new and improved facilities.

Ringwood railway station services Melbourne’s Lilydale and Belgrave lines via three platforms – two together on an island and a third beside the track. As part of a major station upgrade, Metro is replacing the footbridge which spans over the station, connecting passengers to platforms and roads on either side.

Also being installed are new bus shelters, toilets, secure bike storage facilities, furniture, signage, information, lighting, CCTV, and a signalised raised pedestrian crossing between the bus interchange and railway station entrance, Metro Trains said.

Metro Trains shared the following image on Thursday last week.

Work began at the station late in 2014, with the first order of business being the rebuild of Platform 3 – the standalone side platform – at which time trains which usually visited Platform 3 were diverted to Platform 1 or 2.

For the upcoming work, buses will replace trains at the station between July 19 and August 10, while Platform 1 is  rebuilt, and the old footbridge is demolished. Pedestrian detours will be in place from July 19, Metro Trains said.

The $66 million project is being handled by VicRoads on behalf of Public Transport Victoria. The key $40.5 million contract was awarded to John Holland on April 7, 2014 for the design and construction of the upgrade.

“Customers are advised to follow directional signage; customer service staff will be on hand to assist customers during the Maroondah Highway closure,” Metro Trains advised in June.

Aside from not stopping at Ringwood, train services will be unchanged throughout the upgrade.

Cranbourne Line. Photo: Creative Commons

Key players to duke it out for major crossing removal tender

John Holland and Leighton Contractors, each already part of their own four-crossing removal contract in Victoria, are pitted against each other in the bidding for the next contract, which will remove nine more crossings and rebuild four stations.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday announced a pair of consortia had made the shortlist for the contract to remove the nine level crossings on Melbourne’s Cranbourne-Pakenham line, and to rebuild four stations:

  • the consortium of John Holland, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), McConnell Dowell Constructors and Jacobs (known as the Excelerate consortium)
  • the consortium of Lend Lease Engineering, Leighton Contractors, Aurecon Australia and Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia

The contract is the third major level crossing tender announced by the Andrews Government since it came to power in 2014. Part of a scheme to remove 50 of the state’s most dangerous crossings over the next eight years, the government has doled out contracts first for two packages of four crossings, and is now preparing to select a contractor for the biggest contract so far.

And while not incredibly surprising, it is interesting to note that key players from each of the shortlisted consortia are each responsible for one of the four-crossing contracts already handed out.

A consortium of John Holland and KBR was picked in May to remove the first four level crossings, at Centre Road in Bentleigh, North Road in Ormond, McKinnon Road in McKinnon and Burke Road in Glen Iris.

A consortium of Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting was selected as the preferred contractor to design and construct level crossing removals at Heatherdale Road in Mitcham, Blackburn Road in Blackburn, and Main and Furlong Roads in St Albans.

And now John Holland and KBR, and Leighton Contractors and Aurecon, are pitted against each other for the contract which appears to be the most valuable so far.

The package will remove all nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong, rebuild four stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Clayton and Hughesdale, and roll out significant power and signalling upgrades, the Government said.

“These nine level crossings are crippling local roads, slowing down trains and putting lives at risk,” Acting Premier James Merlino said.

“Announcing the shortlist brings us closer to starting work and getting rid of these congested death traps on our busiest rail line once and for all.”

As part of the process, each proponent will be required to demonstrate adherence to significant local content targets, including the use of local steel, and a workforce comprising of 10% apprentice-based employees, he said.

Transport minister Jacinta Allan said the level crossing removal along this specific line is part of a targeted program to improve service on the corridor, which is Melbourne’s busiest.

Together with signalling upgrades and 37 new high capacity trains (Expressions of Interest sent out last week), the level crossing removals are hoped to increase capacity on the line by 42%.

“Removing every level crossing on our busiest line is critical for our train system and our economy,” Allan said, “unlocking major economic centres in the south east and supporting thousands of local jobs.”

Level Crossing Victoria. Photo: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Preferred bidder named for next four level crossing removals

The Victorian Government has named a consortium as preferred bidder for the removal of four more level crossings as part of its multi-billion dollar crossings removal plan.

An Alliance including Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting has been selected as the preferred contractor to design and construct the level crossing removals at Heatherdale Rd in Mitcham, Blackburn Rd in Blackburn, and Main and Furlong Roads in St Albans.

The alliance also includes VicRoads, Public Transport Victoria and Metro Trains Melbourne.

State premier Daniel Andrews joined transport minister Jacinta Allan at Heatherdale Station on Tuesday to announce that the package of works will cost around $480 million, including $151 million from the Australian Government, and will create nearly 200 jobs.

At each location, the rail line will be lowered under the road. St Albans, Ginifer and Heatherdale stations will be re-built with platforms below street level and Blackburn Station will be upgraded.

Works will begin on Main and Furlong Road in the coming months and be completed in 2017. The removal of Heatherdale and Blackburn Road level crossings will start later this year and these crossings will be gone by 2018.

The Heatherdale Rd, Blackburn Rd and Furlong Rd projects have been funded by the Victorian Government, which has partnered with the Australian Government in funding the Main Road level crossing with savings from the Regional Rail Link project.

“These level crossings clog roads, risk lives and stop us running more trains. They’ve got to go – and we’re getting on with removing them,” Andrews said.

“These four level crossings will all be removed by 2018, and are part of our $2-2.4 billion commitment in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget to remove at least 20 of these congested death traps over four years.”

“This package of works will get rid of four of our worst level crossings, rebuild three stations, upgrade another and create nearly 200 jobs,” Allan added.

“The Andrews Labor Government is investing billions of dollars in the transport infrastructure we need to get Victorian’s home safer and sooner.”

And federal assistant minister for infrastructure and regional development, Jamie Briggs added: “The Australian Government is delivering world class infrastructure upgrades across Victoria, with $151 million committed to remove the level crossing at Main Road, St Albans.”

The second four-crossing contract follows the announcement in May that a John Holland and KBR consortium would remove the first four level crossings, at Centre Road in Bentleigh, North Road in Ormond, McKinnon Road in McKinnon and Burke Road in Glen Iris, under a $524 million contract.

Next up will be the Cranbourne-Pakenham package – a bundle of nine level crossing removals that will see every level crossing between Dandenong and Caulfield removed, as part of a multi-billion dollar upgrade of the busy line, which also includes four station rebuilds and the purchase of 37 high capacity trains.

Level crossing removal project. Photo: Department of Transport Victoria

Cranbourne-Pakenham crossing removals released to market

Expressions of Interest are being welcomed for the removal of nine more Victorian level crossings under the Andrews Government’s plan to remove 50 crossings over the next eight years.

The tender for the removal of the first four level crossings was awarded earlier this month, to a joint venture of John Holland and KBR.

Transport minister Jacinta Allan on Monday night hinted that the EoI for the next nine level crossings was coming “very, very soon”.

And that was confirmed on Wednesday, with the EoI released for the nine identified crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong.

The package also includes rebuilding four stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Clayton and Hughesdale, and the roll out of power and signalling upgrades along the line.

Delivering the works as a single package will allow works to be coordinated, saving money, reducing disruption and removing the crossings sooner, the government said.

The Cranbourne-Pakenham line is Melbourne’s busiest, but boom gates along the line are closed for up to 87 of the 120 minutes that make up the morning peak period on weekdays, according to government research.

While this slows down road commuters, level crossings have the added effect of making the rail network less productive, as trains often have to slow down significantly as they pass through them.

The inherent safety risks associated with level crossings also add to the desire to have them removed.

“Some of these boom gates are down for more than 80 minutes every morning,” Allan said. “They are choking our city and putting our lives at risk – they have to go.”

She said the removal of the level crossings, as well as the plan to buy 37 new high-capacity trains for the network, will boost capacity by 42% – creating space for an additional 11,000 passengers in peak hour.

An industry briefing will be held next week to provide more information for the EoI, which will close in late June.

Applications will be evaluated by the Level Crossing Removal Authority, which will then narrow them down to a shortlist of two bidders to continue through the process.

Work on the removal of the level crossings is expected to commence in 2016, and all nine level crossing removals will be completed by 2018, the government said.

“Removing every level crossing between Caulfield and Dandenong will reduce road congestion, make local communities safer, create jobs, and allow for more trains from Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland,” Allan said.

Level Crossing removal video. Photo: Premier Victoria

Allan talks rolling stock, level crossing EOIs

Victorian transport minister Jacinta Allan has given some insight into the state’s plans in the near future, identifying expressions of interest stages about to begin on a pair of major contracts.

“As part of the Budget, the treasurer outlined the intention of government that high capacity trains will be procured through a public private partnership,” Allan told an industry dinner on Monday, May 25.

The state has committed significant funding to purchase new rolling stock across its transport network.

“We will be looking to the private sector to manufacture, maintain and finance the 37 high capacity trains that will run on the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail corridor,” Allan explained, adding a successful partner would also be tasked with constructing “a new maintenance depot, and to conduct maintenance upgrades”.

“We will very shortly be announcing details of some information sessions – market soundings, if you like – to find out a little bit more about what we can expect to see through the expressions of interest process that is only a few weeks away,” she detailed.

As well as the update on the state’s rolling stock plan, the minister signaled that another major expressions of interest stage could be just weeks away.

Allan and state premier Daniel Andrews last week announced the contracts for the removal of the first four level crossings under the program, which went to a joint venture of John Holland and KBR.

And the government will soon embark on the next batch of level crossings, with Allan saying the nine identified crossings on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line will go to an expressions of interest stage “very, very soon”.

“This will see the removal of every level crossing between Dandenong and the City of Melbourne,” Allan said, “providing such tremendous opportunities for us to increase capacity along Melbourne’s busiest rail corridor.”

Roughly 240 people attended Monday’s event, which was hosted by the Australasian Railway Association.

Level Crossing removal video. Photo: Premier Victoria

Andrews details 4 level crossing removal sites

WATCH: The Andrews Government in Victoria has released a video detailing the works to be undertaken at the first four level crossings to be removed by the new government.

As part of a long-term plan to remove the state’s 50 ‘worst’ railway level crossings, the Andrews Government has announced funding to remove 20 in its first term.

17 of those level crossings have been named, and on Tuesday, Andrews announced the winning contractor – a consortium of John Holland and KBR – to remove the first four.

As he has in the past, Andrews (or perhaps an assistant working under Andrews’ moniker) answered questions on popular community site Reddit about the plans.

“Removing level crossings can speed up trains, particularly at crossings like Burke Road where speed restrictions apply when train tracks cross tram tracks,” Andrews told one user, who was concerned the projects might only improve road services.

“[A level crossing] normally reduces the speed of trains to less than 30km/h (e.g. Burke Road is 15km/h).

“Other benefits include the ability to run more frequent train services, as well as more reliable services that won’t be impacted by level crossings being damaged (e.g. damage to level crossing equipment by traffic is relatively common). It also means delays to Burke Road trams will be reduced.

“Also, in case you missed it,” he added, “Budget 2015/16 provides $55.6m for Stage 1 of Victoria’s first trial of High-Capacity Signalling.”

The high capacity signalling project is expected to significantly boost the Melbourne rail network’s peak capacity.

Level Crossing Victoria. Photo: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Contract awarded for first four level crossing removals

The Andrews Government has announced the winning contractor to remove four level crossings, the first in a plan to remove 50 of the state’s most dangerous.

A John Holland and KBR consortium will remove the four level crossings, at Centre Road in Bentleigh, North Road in Ormond, McKinnon Road in McKinnon and Burke Road in Glen Iris, under a $524 million package.

At each location, the rail line will be lowered under the road, with Bentleigh, Ormond, McKinnon and Gardiner stations rebuilt to provide street level access down to the platforms.

“These level crossings frustrate motorists, hold back our train system and put lives at risk every day. The only way to fix them is to get rid of them, and we’re getting on with it,” Andrews said on Tuesday.

“We’ve awarded the contract for the first four crossings. Works will start within weeks and in a few years they’ll be gone.”

Minister for transport Jacinta Allan gave some insight into the methodology behind awarding the first four crossings together.

“Delivering the works at the four sites as one package means safer roads, better stations and more trains sooner, with less disruption,” Allan said.

“The new stations will be safer, more accessible and easier to get to, with better connections to trams and buses.”

At Burke Road, where significant community consultation has already taken place, construction will kick-off in the coming weeks.

Community engagement will be carried out at Centre, North and McKinnon roads over the coming months, with construction to start later this year.

This consultation will start with an information booth at Bentleigh Station in the afternoon of May 20, where interested locals can discuss the project with team members.

Andrews said the projects will create more than 350 jobs, and will be complete by 2018.

The contract for the next four level crossing removals and an Expression of Interest for level crossings along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line will be announced shortly.

The Labor Government provided $2.4 billion in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget for the removal of at least 20 level crossings in its first term.

Fairfield Airport line - WA PTA

Three shortlisted for Forrestfield-Airport link

WA has shortlisted three consortia for the contract to build the $2 billion Forrestfield-Airport rail line, leaving two candidates out of the process.

The three shortlisted consortia are:

  • JHL JV – John Holland and Leighton Contractors
  • SI-NRW JV – Salini Impregilo and NRW
  • Forrestfield Connect – ACCIONA Infrastructure, BAM International and Ferrovial Agroman

Five consortia were reported in late March as having submitted “strong” Expressions of Interest. Two of those five were not shortlisted:

  • Connecting Forrestfield – Lend Lease and Ghella
  • CRCC-BGC-VDM JV – China Railway Construction Corporation, BGC and VDM

The three shortlisted candidates will now respond to a Request for Proposal for the project, WA minister for transport Dean Nalder said on Thursday.

“The level of interest in designing and constructing this transformational rail line to Perth’s foothills via the Perth Airport has been high,” Nalder said.

“The five proposals that were submitted were from leading national and international contractors, but only a maximum of three respondents can progress to the next stage.”

The Request for Proposal put out to the three finalists by Public Transport Victoria will result in three fully-costed proposals, Nalder said.

A contract will be awarded to the winning bidder midway through 2016, and will be a single construct package including tunnel and civil infrastructure, track, stations and rail systems with signalling, communications and power.

Enabling legislation for the project, titled Railway (Forrestfield-Airport Link) Bill 2015, was introduced to WA Parliament last week.

The Forrestfield-Airport Line is a $2bn project to build an 8.5km rail spur from the Midland Line out to Forrestfield via Belmont and Perth Airport.

The new rail line will run underground for 8kms in twin-bored tunnels beneath the Swan River and the airport, a move Nalder says will significantly reduce impacts on the local community and the environment.

If all goes according to plan, first trains are expected to run in 2020.