First train arrives at Kangy Angy Maintenance Facility

The first train of the New Intercity Fleet has travelled to the Kangy Angy Maintenance facility on the NSW Central Coast from Sydney.

The journey is part of the testing phase of the new fleet of 55 10 car trains and is one of the first of many trips to the Central Coast that the fleet will make, said local member Adam Crouch.

“The Central Coast and Newcastle Line will be the first in NSW to benefit from the New Intercity Fleet, which will deliver safer, more accessible and comfortable journeys,” Crouch said.

“The 24-hour-run Kangy Angy Maintenance Facility was purpose-built for the New Intercity Fleet, where the trains will be washed, maintained and serviced. It is close to 500,000 square metres in size, has about six kilometres of electric rail lines, a new rail bridge and offices and amenities for staff.”

The maintenance facility was completed in late August and was constructed by John Holland. UGL Rail will operate the facility as part of the RailConnect consortium which has built and designed and will maintain the fleet.

There are currently the trains from the New Intercity Fleet that are undergoing testing ahead of a larger roll-out later in 2020. The Central Coast and Newcastle Line will be the first line to have the fleet introduced into passenger service.

The New Intercity Fleet replace the V-set trains and come with accessibility and comfort upgrades, said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

“Customers on the New Intercity Fleet will enjoy more spacious two-by-two seating, mobile device charging ports, modern heating and air conditioning, and dedicated spaces for luggage, prams and bicycles,” Constance said.

“Automatic Selective Door Operation, obstruction detection and traction interlocking are just some of the safety features on these new trains.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the trains are hoped to make public transport preferred for regional residents.

“These new trains are fully accessible for our less mobile customers, building upon our vision to help make public transport a first-choice option for people living in the regions,” said Toole.

Contractor announced for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 construction

John Holland has been nominated as the preferred contractor to deliver stage three of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

The $709 million joint local, state, and federally funded project, will extend the light rail line to Burleigh Heads from its current terminus in Broadbeach.

John Holland prevailed as the successful contractor over two competing joint ventures, one of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions and another between Fulton Hogan and UGL.

Stage three is expected to be completed in 2023 and adds eight stations and 6.7km of dual track to the network.

The Gold Coast light rail line has successfully increased public transport usage along the corridor, and was heavily patronised during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bailey said extending the line further south would improve on these figures.

“We’ve seen more than 50 million trips taken on light rail since it first opened, which shows just how hungry Gold Coasters and visitors to the city are for better public transport.”

Construction will come at a time when Queensland is looking to get people into job, particularly in areas such as the Gold Coast where tourism-reliant businesses have seen less demand due to COVID-19.

“Because Queenslanders have managed the health response of COVID-19, it means the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with the job of creating jobs and continuing the state’s plan for economic recovery,” said Bailey.

“For businesses and people on the Gold Coast that means building that all-important light rail connection between the city’s north and centre towards the south.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would support more local jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is already a key local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs, and the extension to Burleigh is expected to support more than 760 construction jobs.”

Keolis Downer will continue to operate the extended line.

Keolis Downer awarded $2.14bn Adelaide train operations contract

Keolis Downer has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain Adelaide’s train services.

The eight-year contract begins on 31 January, 2021 when Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s six lines and a fleet of 92 railcars.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the contract involved improvements for passengers.

“Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s train services for an initial eight-year period under a performance-based $2.14 billion contract focused on delivering significant improvements to the customer experience.”

Wingard said that Keolis Downer will implement a digitalised work platform for Passenger Service Assistants to enable them to spend more time with passengers.

The contract is the first heavy rail operations contract for the Keolis Downer joint venture. The company operates light rail in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Newcastle, as well as buses in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

According to David Franks, CEO of Keolis Downer, the operator hopes to improve customer services and increase the use of public transport in Adelaide.

“As a local public transport operator in South Australia for the past 20 years, we are excited to continue our partnership with DIT to deliver better train services in Adelaide,” Franks said.

“We are committed to partnering with local stakeholders and organisations to create value in South Australia and deliver the Government’s vision of a sustainable, revitalised train service for the people of Adelaide.”

Adelaide has seen steady growth in patronage on the rail network since 2014, when the Seaford and Tonsley lines were electrified. Further electrification of the Gawler line is currently underway.

“The electrification of the Gawler line is underway and through this project we will be introducing new electric trains with increased capacity,” said Franks.

The Tonsley line is also currently being extended, connecting Flinders University and Medical Centre to the rail network.

“These initiatives are real game changers and will transform the rail network. We are proud to be part of this journey with DIT,” said Franks.

Wingard highlighted that the state government retained ownership of infrastructure and and controls over aspects of the service.

“The state government still owns all the rail assets including tracks, trains and stations and will continue to have control of fare price, revenue, and standards for service levels.”

Keolis Downer was one of three consortiums shortlisted for the contract. The others were Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Torrens Connect

Torrens Connect takes on Adelaide tram operations

Torrens Connect has now assumed control over operations of Adelaide’s tram network and selected bus lines.

Announced as the successful tenderer for the outsourced operation of Adelaide’s tram services and some bus services in March, Torrens Connect took over operations from July 5 under an eight year contract.

The consortium of Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland partnered with technology provider Trapeze Group to smoothen the transition process, occurring during the height of COVID-19.

Trapeze worked with Torrens Connect through the bid process and roll out of services, said Ben Dvoracek, Trapeze general manager for rail in Australia and New Zealand.

“We are proud to be part of this changeover, with Torrens Connect selecting Trapeze Group for both the bidding process and long-term roll-out of the planning and scheduling software solution. It was a pleasure to work with the team and facilitate implementation in less than four weeks.”

Trapeze, which provides planning and scheduling platforms as well as enterprise asset management and intelligent transport systems solutions for rail operators, was used to test plans ahead of operations. This testing and modelling process ensured that the transition occurred without any disruption or delay to services, schedules, or rosters. Torrens Connect staff received training from Trapeze locally to enable the smooth handover.

“Using the Trapeze software to run simulation models, Torrens Connect provided accurate optimised timetables that were quickly implemented without impacting operations,” said John Holland service delivery manager Rachel Parkin.

The contract covers 24 tram sets, 200 buses, and employment of over 250 staff.

As part of the privatisation of Adelaide’s public transport, operators are expected to undertake service improvements, with public consultation held earlier in 2020.

Port Botany

Tender released for Port Botany Rail duplication

The design and construct tender for the Port Botany Rail duplication has been released to the three shortlisted contractors.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which is leading the project, has released the documentation to CPB Contractors, Laing O’Rouke Construction Australia, and John Holland, who were shortlisted in January.

Once complete, the $400 million federally funded project will allow for more freight to be transported to and from Port Botany via rail, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

“The Botany Rail Duplication will upgrade and duplicate the current single freight rail track between Mascot and Botany to increase the capacity of Sydney’s freight rail network while bolstering operational efficiency, flexibility and reliability for freight customers,” he said.

“This will create more than 400 jobs during construction and provide a welcome boost to all the hard-working local businesses who use the rail line to get their products to markets.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the project would enable a reduction in trucks travelling through local roads in Sydney.

Australia’s freight requirements are set to grow significantly over the coming decades. While this is great news for the industry and the Australian economy, it will place increasing pressure on our roads,” he said.

“I look forward to this transformative project getting underway so that Sydney, New South Wales and our national supply chain can reap the benefits.”

The Cabramatta Loop Project tender, which will allow freight trains to pass each other on the Southern Sydney Freight Line, will be released separately.

The Port Botany Rail duplication project was recently approved by the NSW government in its fast track process.

The project was also added to the Infrastructure Australia Infrastructure Priority List in August, 2020, recognising the need for greater freight rail capacity to and from Port Botany.

Construction work on NSW rail facilities pass major milestones

The new maintenance facility to serve NSW’s New Intercity Fleet (NIF) regional trains and utility relocation for the Parramatta Light Rail have been completed.

The maintenance facility, located at Kangy Angy on the NSW central coast, includes six kilometres of electric rail lines, spread across seven tracks at its widest point, as well as a rail bridge, access roads, offices and amenities.

Constructed by John Holland for Transport for NSW, the maintenance facility will be operated by UGL Rail as part of the RailConnect consortium which has built, designed, and will maintain the new fleet.

UGL is now hiring staff for the facility, said Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

“The maintenance facility has created employment, skills development and business opportunities on the Central Coast during construction and that will all continue into operation,” he said.

Testing of the NIF fleet has begun in Australia on the Blue Mountains with three trains having arrived so far. A total fleet of 55 trains with 554 carriages will be delivered to NSW and maintained from the facility at Kangy Angy.

In Parramatta, work is continuing on the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail. A micro tunnelling machine is boring 10 metres a day under Church Street, in the Parramatta CBD, also known as Eat Street.

Program director Anand Thomas said that since February 2020, 300 utilities have been identified and relocated to allow for the streets to be prepared for the light rail line.

“The relocation of utilities in Eat Street, including high-voltage power cables that power the CBD, Sydney water mains, Jemena gas crossings, 500 metres of stormwater pipes and thousands of metres of conduit, is complete,” said Thomas.

“This is a major achievement that enables us to get on with the all-important job of building the network.”

Work to install street lights, tree pits, and drainage on Church Street is continuing ahead of the reopening of the street on November 1 for a three month period.

“From 1 November 2020, as part of our commitment to the community, construction on Eat Street will cease, hoardings will come down, outdoor dining will be temporarily restored and we will deliver activities and events to attract people to the CBD,” said Thomas.

Claremont

Contract awarded for tracklaying at Claremont Station

The Western Australian government has announced the successful tenderer for the $36 million contract for tracklaying at Claremont station.

John Holland is the successful contractor and will complete the works at the station, part of the Metronet project.

Scheduled for completion in late 2021, with rail infrastructure operational by mid 2021, the work involves installing turnbacks west of Claremont Station on the Fremantle line.

The turnbacks will allow trains to travel back towards the city after stopping at Claremont. This will allow greater frequency services on the Fremantle and Forrestfield-Airport Link lines. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that local and city-wide works required the new infrastructure.

“We know significant development is taking place around Claremont Station – which is currently the third-busiest on the Fremantle Line – and we expect patronage of this station to increase significantly, which is why this upgrade is so important,” she said.

“Claremont Station is located halfway along the Fremantle Line, so is ideally positioned to host turnbacks – it’s a vital part of ensuring our rail network is well-placed to deal with future demand particularly when the Forrestfield- Airport Link comes online in late 2021.”

During normal peak periods turnback one will be used every ten minutes. Turnback two will be used during peak periods and special events as required, or when there are planned or unplanned service disruptions.

In addition to the new track, Claremont station will be upgraded to meet accessibility standards and a new underpass will be constructed. Bus facilities and pedestrian connections are also part of the project.

Saffioti said that works would support the local economy.

“This $36 million contract will help support 300 local jobs in the community, an excellent outcome for the project.”

Work begins on $1.1bn Auckland rail upgrade

Construction has begun on major upgrades to the Auckland rail network, with improvements between Wiri and Quay Park, south of Auckland, the first works to kick off.

The work is part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme’s NZ$1.1 billion ($1.02bn) rail package, which in Auckland will include electrification of Papakura to Pukekohe, and new train stations at Drury. Once complete in 2024, the upgrades will enable greater capacity for the City Rail Link (CRL) in central Auckland and a commuter service from Hamilton to Auckland.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the work complemented each other.

“Building the third main rail line will remove a key bottleneck for freight and commuter services, as well as give more capacity for the increased services expected once the CRL is completed. The CRL along with the other upgrades will shave off up to an hour of the daily commute for thousands of people,” said Twyford.

The work will also improve the movement of freight through the urban area.

“Auckland is already the busiest rail freight corridor in New Zealand, with around six million tonnes coming to, from or across the city each year – the equivalent of 400,000 truck trips. This work will make freight services more reliable and make our roads safer by taking trucks off them and moving more freight to rail,” said Twyford.

State-owned operator KiwiRail announced that Downer NZ won the contract for the third main rail line between Wiri and Quay Park. Electrification works will be completed by eTRACS, a consortium of McConnell Dowell and John Holland. KiwiRail will lead on track and signals for both projects.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said that it was good to see work beginning.

“This is a major investment in Auckland’s metro network, and we’re excited to be getting these projects underway,” he said.

“In the years ahead, rail will continue to play an increasingly important role in helping reduce New Zealand’s emissions for transport. KiwiRail also wants rail to be the mode of choice for freight movers, commuters and tourism opportunities. All those are underpinned by a modern, resilient network and that’s what this work will deliver.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said there would be clear local benefits.

“Hundreds of local contractors will be needed for this work and there will be spin-off benefits for local businesses, from lunch bars to local hardware stores. The vast majority of the materials used will be coming from the Auckland region – that’s creating work for quarries, concrete suppliers, steel fabricators and drainage companies.”

In addition to the new works, renewal around the network is also part of the transport upgrade program. This includes replacing 60km of track, tens of thousands of sleepers, and more than a hundred thousand tonnes of trackbed.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Go-ahead for business case for Gold Coast Light Rail stage four

The Queensland and Gold Coast governments will jointly fund the business case for stage four of the Gold Coast Light Rail line.

Stage four, previously known as stage 3B, would see the light rail line extended for 13 kilometres from Burleigh to the Gold Coast Airport at Tugun, at the southern tip of the Gold Coast.

The $7 million business case would be funded in a 50/50 split between the state and local governments, said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“This business case will support the next critical steps needed to push major transport investments on the Gold Coast forward which is vital for Queensland’s economic recovery,” the Premier said.

“This is about building a pipeline of projects that can continue to support and create jobs, boost our economy and improve transport for locals, particularly those living on the southern end of the Gold Coast.”

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said that the connection would provide the public transport backbone for the region.

“It will result in a 40km public transport spine linking key employment, transport, health and education nodes, with an opportunity to also connect with the growing northern New South Wales economic region,” he said.

As part of the business case, options for future spur lines on east-west corridors will be investigated, and whether these should be served by light rail or feeder buses.

Currently, the Gold Coast light rail ends at Broadbeach. Stage 3A, which would extend the line from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, is awaiting the final announcement of the chosen contractor to build the link. In February, three contractors were shortlisted, John Holland, a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and UGL, and a joint venture between CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.

Tate said that he hopes construction of stage four would begin once stage three is complete.

“Ideally we will finish Stage 3 and immediately break ground on Stage 4.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that the community preferred an alignment which travelled down the Gold Coast Highway. Other options suggested taking the light rail line west and using the existing heavy rail corridor, however 87 per cent of local respondents wanted to retain the option of future heavy rail to the airport.

Circular Quay

Feedback sought on new train station at Circular Quay

The NSW government is seeking community feedback on a redesigned Circular Quay, including a new train station.

Community input is being sought as part of the Circular Quay renewal project, which is currently in the design and planning phase.

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is leading the project and has shortlisted two consortia to develop the early design ideas. CQC Partners is led by Lendlease and its public private partnership arm Capella Capital. Plenary Group has tipped John Holland as its construction contractor.

A TfNSW spokesperson said that the redevelopment of Circular Quay will amount to a wholescale renewal.

“There will be a reimagining of its public spaces, new ferry wharves and an upgraded train station which will see this area become a place that all Sydneysiders can be proud of.”

In addition to public input, TfNSW is also current in early stages of consultation with local stakeholders. Six principles have been identified to guide the redevelopment, including the area’s flow, effectiveness and vitality.

Future demand for daily transport and the capacity to handle major events will be part of the precinct’s design. The interchange is expected to handle a 40 per cent increase in visits by 2041.

“Circular Quay needs generous spaces for the 15 million visitors and 64 million public and active transport trips; not to mention the enormous crowds that flock to events like Vivid and the New Year’s Eve fireworks each year,” said the TfNSW spokesperson.

Plans for the $200 million upgrade of the area have been underway since 2015 and was originally planned to have begun construction in 2019. The project is now expected to break ground in 2023.

The elevated rail line at Circular Quay and the Bradfield Expressway, which sits above it, has long been a target for renewal. Proposals to lower the rail line or turn the expressway into a high-line style park have been raised in the past. In the current renewal plan major changes to the road and rail corridor are not expected.

Contracts announced for More Trains, More Services infrastructure upgrades

The NSW government has announced the two successful tenderers as part of the next stage of construction on the $4.3 billion More Trains, More Services upgrades.

The Next Rail partnership of John Holland and Jacobs will fulfil the contract between Central and Hurstville, and Transport for Tomorrow – made up of Laing O’Rouke and KBR – will work from Mortdale to Kiama. Each contract is worth about $300 million.

The program of works includes upgrades to rail infrastructure such as stabling yards, signalling, track, station platforms, and power supply on the South Coast, Illawarra and T8 Airport Lines.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that the works would enable better services on each line.

“The work will support the introduction of new suburban and intercity trains and allow us to deliver more frequent train services, with less wait times and a more comfortable journey for customers on the T4 Illawarra, T8 Airport and South Coast lines,” he said.

“We’re prioritising these lines because they are among the busiest on the network, catering for 440,000 trips in a typical day, which is around one third of daily rail customers.”

Construction will begin in the middle of 2020 and be completed ahead of the service improvements, which are scheduled for late 2022.

Passengers will see a 20 per cent increase in peak services on the T4 Illawarra Line, with space for up to 3,600 more travellers, equivalent to an extra three services an hour in the peak from interchanges such as Hurstville and Sutherland. There will be a 60 per cent increase on the T8 Airport line at the International, Domestic, Mascot, and Green Square stations with the capacity for an extra 2,400 passengers.

On the South Coast Line station platforms will be lengthened to accommodate the 10 car trains of the New Intercity Fleet trains as well as an extra off peak service each hour between Wollongong and the Sydney CBD, bringing frequency to a train every 30 minutes.

Constance said that the work will allow for an employment boost across a number of professions, including engineers, trades workers, and apprentices.

“Today’s announcement means we are keeping people in work and creating about 350 direct new jobs and around 200 indirect jobs located either in Sydney or on the South Coast.”

Tamworth

Work begins on Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line

Work has begun on the Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line, with the first sod turned on May 5.

The work involves rehabilitating the West Tamworth to Barraba Rail Line, which will allow for the construction of an intermodal terminal on the edge of Tamworth that is connected to the main North-South rail line running from Tamworth to Armidale and south to Sydney and Port Botany.

According to Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson, the construction work includes rebuilding six kilometres of track, a level crossing, bridge and signalling work, service relocations, and drainage improvements.

“The work will be completed on behalf of Transport for NSW by John Holland Rail, and includes early procurement of rail and sleepers, installing fencing at selected locations along the rail corridor and removing redundant infrastructure such as existing rail and sleepers,” he said.

The announcement that work has begun follows years of waiting for those in the New England region, since $7.4 million in funding from the NSW was confirmed in November 2017. The hope is that by re-opening the rail line, producers in the region will have freight rail access to Port Botany, said Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole.

“Reactivation of the non-operational rail line between West Tamworth and Westdale will facilitate freight train services to the Tamworth Regional Freight Terminal, opening the gateway with direct rail access to vessels at Port Botany.”

Once complete, the rail line and intermodal terminal will form part of a logistics hub next to the Tamworth regional airport, which is tipped to be an airfreight hub for agricultural produce.

“The NSW Government is committed to moving more freight via rail and is investing in the rail freight network to increase capacity and meet future demand,” said Toole.

“The train line is expected to start operating next year which will also help to support ongoing employment in the region.”

Investigation work was completed last year, and work will maximise the use of rail infrastructure already present, said Anderson.

“The plan to deliver the Tamworth Intermodal Rail Line involves making the most of the existing infrastructure, which will provide a significant cost saving, and minimise the frequency of trains crossing Denison Street, reducing the impact on local traffic.”

Port Botany freight network upgrades added to IA Priority List

Infrastructure Australia will add the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop project to the body’s Infrastructure Priority List.

The recognition signals the project as a significant one for not just the rail freight network, but wider, national supply chains. Chief Executive of Infrastructure Romilly Madew highlighted how the project is critical.

“Port Botany handles 99 per cent of NSW’s container demand, making it a critical international gateway for Australia and a backbone asset for economic product within Sydney and New South Wales,” she said.

“With demand only increasing, it is vital that Port Botany maintains throughput capacity to meet container growth over the long term.”

The dual projects provide for an increase in the capacity of rail to deliver containers to Port Botany. The project involves duplicating 2.9km of the line and constructing a passing loop at Cabramatta on the Southern Sydney Freight Line.

Moving more containers by rail will also benefit surrounding suburbs and road networks, said Madew.

“Currently more than 80 per cent of containers to and from Port Botany are transported by road.

“This worsens congestion on the Sydney road network, particularly in and around the already constrained Port Botany precinct, which includes Sydney Airport and the M5 Motorway.”

The project would further improve supply chains by increasing capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line and the Port Botany rail line, which are forecast to exceed capacity by 2023 and 2026, respectively.

A number of intermodal terminals are also planned for the Sydney basin, including at St Marys and a future site near Western Sydney Airport, and demand for greater rail capacity is also being generated by the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and the Enfield Intermodal Terminal.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s determination on the $400 million project.

“It’s great to see job-creating infrastructure and freight initiatives such as these recognised as priority projects by Infrastructure Australia, particularly at a time when getting goods to consumers is so essential.”

An upgrade of the existing line to Port Botany was also recently completed.

John Fullerton, CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which is overseeing the project, highlighted that efficient supply chains are more important than ever.

“We have all seen how critical our transport and freight sector is during the current COVID-19 crisis.

“These two projects are essential to helping Sydney, and New South Wales, in meeting its future freight demands. Containers are expected to grow from 2.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to 8.4m TEUs by 2045. Rail can and needs to carry more of the freight task, not only through Port Botany – but across the country.”

CEO of NSW Ports, Marika Calfas, said that work should begin as soon as possible on the duplication and passing loop.

“Having been under development for many years, this project is ‘shovel ready’ and should be progressed as a priority to deliver long term port supply chain productivity benefits and provide needed economic stimulus for NSW.”

Calfas highlighted that Port Botany is hoping to significantly increase the number of containers moved by rail.

“Port Botany is the only container port in Australia with on-dock rail at all three of its container terminals and, together with the stevedores, we are making significant investments to increase port-side rail capacity to meet this goal. The first stage of investment of $190 million commenced in 2019 and will be complete by 2023.  This will double existing rail capacity at Port Botany.”

CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Kirk Coningham, said that the organisation is ready to progress the project.

“ALC hopes governments will now work with industry to expedite the delivery of this priority project, to strengthen the efficiency of our supply chains and help provide economic stimulus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In January this year, ARTC announced that it had shortlisted three contractors for the Botany Rail Duplication project, and that John Holland has been shortlisted for the Cabramatta Loop project.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Preparation works continue for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A construction

Queensland’s Department for Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is preparing the ground for the construction of Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A.

Ahead of a wining tenderer being appointed, TMR workers have been fencing off areas at Broadbeach to build a construction compound.

Signalling the importance of rail infrastructure projects such as Gold Coast Light Rail to the state’s post—coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would create hundreds of jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is an important local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs with this next stage to Burleigh expected to support more than 760 jobs.”

Earlier in April, the Gold Coast light rail system passed the 50 million trips milestone, and by extending the line further south, more people are hoped to use the service.

“This next stage is vital to not only creating more jobs, but also connecting the southern Gold Coast to the rest of the line and getting more people onto public transport into the future,” said Palaszczuk.

The operator, GoldlinQ, has shortlisted three contractors to build stage 3A. Announced in early February, those contractors are John Holland, a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and UGL, and CPBSW, a joint venture of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions.

Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon said that these works will enable the successful contractor to begin immediately.

“By getting started now, we’re paving the way for major works to start on the next stage as soon as possible once the construction contract is awarded.”

Measures are in place to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed during the construction works, for the benefit of both workers and the community, said Scanlon.

“The plans outline social distancing and other protective measures covering workers, as well as safeguards for the community during these challenging times.”

In addition to the construction compound, borehole testing and site investigations are taking place at night along the Gold Coast Highway.

The $709 million Stage 3A is jointly funded by the local, state and federal government, which have contributed $92m, $351m, and $269m, respectively.

Celebrating 20 years

Founded in March 2000 by Derel and Sue Wust, 4Tel is a family owned business that has grown exponentially in the past 20 years.

Originally starting out as a telecommunication consultancy, 4Tel has evolved to be a multifunctional software and hardware business, with multiple engagements in Australia and internationally. With over 20 years in the military, Derel has grown his vision into a business that employees over 50 staff.

Throughout the years, Derel, alongside the management team of Tony Crosby, Mark Wood, Graham Hjort, and with the recent addition of Joanne Wust as CEO, has expanded 4Tel into sectors such as heavy rail (above and below rail operators), light rail, ports, ferries, mines, coaches/buses, and government transport agencies. With the expansion into different sectors, 4Tel’s suite of software has expanded immensely.

With the commissioning of 4Trak in 2008, 4Tel’s began a goal of creating software that would reinvent the way companies track and receive live transport information. This software has enhanced productivity for major organisations across Australia and created a market need for a software that the industry now relies on. The network-wide situational awareness provided by 4Trak gives teams the ability to optimise operational decisions faster, with greater accuracy and simplified communication paths to remotely located assets and personnel. Knowing the real-time location of trains, vehicles, and staff in the rail corridor allows operations staff to monitor delays and issues for better management and customer service delivery. Using data collected from 4Trak, the business has continued to create and expand their software suite.

4Tel’s overall goal is to protect people and assets, and this has led to a suite of innovative software solutions. This includes, 4PTW (ETW and eTap), a trackwork safety application that improves the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of track maintenance activities. 4Port, a software application that enables operators to monitor and record large sets of data regarding truck movements and container lifts for stevedoring operations. 4PIDS, which is 4Tel’s implementation of passenger information displays. 4Site, an application that monitors the status of remote field equipment. 4ASW, a positive train control system that uses GPS location-based precision, suited to areas with vital field infrastructure. 4WPS a worksite protection solution using real-time location data of trains, Protection Officers, and track machines to create a virtual geo-worksite boundary to alert workers of approaching trains. 4Trip, a comprehensive train planning software solution for managing the development and release of service timetables, including the planning of work on track activities. 4ABS which utilises a MySQL or SQL database and webpages to display access and billing history data for better management of rail network access over an intranet or the internet. 4ASSETS which is used to manage the static information about devices and their maintenance history for better asset control. 4LRMS is a system that is equipped to manage and streamline key components of a modern metropolitan light rail network.

With John Holland Rail successfully obtaining the CRN tender in 2012, 4Tel have played a substantial role in implementing several control systems to further help maintain the 5,800km of track. Significantly, 4Tel has implemented Electronic Authorities into the CRN, which is the digitisation of the paper- based train order authorities. This simplified the system immensely and automated work so the train driver and controller could focus more on keeping people safe. Moving to safety, 4Tel’s proximity reminder system, that utilises the onboard ICE radio, warns a driver of a train or hi-rails of the approaching authority limit to prevent an out of authority event. This safety has been further tightened with the addition of the application ETW.

While these systems have been implemented, 4Tel have designed, constructed and commissioned the operations centre and technologies, all while providing 24/7 onsite technical support.

The next step for 4Tel will be delving into artificial intelligence. 4Tel’s Horus system is an Advanced Driver Advisory System (ADAS) using real-time sensors and software to assist a driver in the safe operation of a locomotive. Horus proves the functionality to apply software processes to conduct the computationally intensive algorithms for object detection, localisation, awareness, dynamics, and route monitoring. 4Tel’s Horus can be used by above rail operators to assist in safely moving their people and assets across the multiple open networks of Australia.

The system can uniquely incorporate all the train running information (run ID, braking profile, authority limits, speed, location, signal info, etc.), with the day of operational information from the network (speed limits, Conditions Affecting Network, work-on-track activities, etc.). In addition, the Horus machine vision and sensor technology detects abnormal items within the corridor, to alert the driver to an un-safe situation in real-time.

North East Rail Line upgrade continuing

Work is continuing on the upgrade of the North East Rail Line, the ARTC confirmed on Friday, March 27.

While shutdowns of non-essential services to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) have affected other industries, the construction of rail infrastructure has been deemed an essential service, said  Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) general manager projects Victoria, Ed Walker.

“The freight and transport industry is an essential service– and the North East rail line is a vital transport corridor for interstate freight trains, passenger trains, steel for construction and manufacturing and for regional goods like grain.”

The ARTC has implemented measures to ensure the safety of staff and contractors undertaking the vital upgrades. Workers are practicing social distancing, increasing hygiene and health measures, delivering work in smaller groups, and avoiding non-essential travel.

“We continue to follow advice from Government and monitor and assess the situation daily. The current environment is an uncertain and challenging one for everyone and we certainly recognise the responsibilities we have to the community as we deliver this vital project work and to ensure the safe running of essential freight and passenger train services,” said Walker.

Two weeks ago, sections of the track were shutdown and handed over to contractor John Holland Rail, so that a series of projects could be completed. A similar shutdown will occur from Saturday, April 4.

“Further works will take place next weekend, from Saturday 4 April at 6pm, with bridge and track renewal work taking place at the Old Barnawartha Road, West Wodonga and High Street, Barnawartha level crossings,” said Walker.

The announcement from the ARTC follows assurances given to Rail Express last week that a number of rail infrastructure projects are continuing, including the Level Crossing Removal Project, Metronet works, and Cross River Rail construction.

The divergent future of intermodal in Australia

While increasing freight volumes are putting pressure on infrastructure in some locations, elsewhere limited growth is leading to projects being deferred.

Intermodal terminals were described as the “essential building blocks” for overall rail- based supply chains, in a 2017 report by PwC, prepared for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

In Australia, these foundational blocks are spread throughout the country. However, they are under varying amounts of stress. In the eastern states, capacity is becoming strained by increases in freight volume. In South Australia and Western Australia, there is considerable room to grow with the existing infrastructure.

These differences were highlighted in recent announcements by state governments, rail, and port operators.

In NSW, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is proceeding with works on the Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop Projects to increase freight capacity at the congested Port Botany terminal.

In January, ARTC shortlisted three contractors for the two projects. For the Botany Rail Duplication project, CPB Contractors, Laing O’Rouke, and John Holland are shortlisted. For the Cabramatta Loop Project, ARTC has shortlisted Downer EDI, Fulton Hogan, and John Holland. The formal tender process will be undertaken in 2020 for both projects.

ARTC CEO and managing director, John Fullerton, noted that these projects will grow the potential of freight in Sydney.

“These major projects aim to improve rail capacity, flexibility and reliability for freight rail customers, encouraging more freight to shift from road to rail, and we are getting on with delivering these massive improvements.”

Both projects aim to increase rail capacity and service reliability to and from Port Botany, while increasing capacity across the Sydney freight network. According to NSW Ports’ 30-year Master Plan, 80 per cent of containers that arrive in Port Botany are delivered to sites closer than 40km away. Increasing freight rail frequency will allow for these containers to be moved to industrial and logistics sites in Western and South-Western Sydney.

“Improving freight performance at Port Botany is critical for the economic growth and prosperity of Sydney, NSW and Australia with the amount of container freight handled by the Port set to significantly increase by 77 per cent to 25.5 million tonnes by 2036,” said Fullerton.

“These two landmark projects will strike the balance between rail and road by duplicating the remaining single freight rail track section of the Botany Line between Mascot and Botany and constructing a new passing loop on the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) between Cabramatta Station and Warwick Farm Station to allow for freight trains up to 1300m in length.

“Once completed, the Cabramatta Loop Project will allow freight trains travelling in either direction along the Southern Sydney Freight Line to pass each other and provide additional rail freight capacity for the network.”

Work on the Sydney freight network will also increase rail’s share of freight, and alleviate congestion on the Sydney road network, highlighted Fullerton.

“Each freight train can take up to 54 trucks worth of freight off the road, tackling congestion and improving the everyday commute in Sydney.”

The Port of Melbourne is also looking at the potential to increase the volume of freight moved by rail from the Port to intermodal terminals in Melbourne’s north and west.

In late January, the Victorian government improved the Port operator’s plans to invest $125 million for the construction of a new on-dock rail.

The Port of Melbourne will introduce a $9.75 per 20-foot equivalent unit charge on imported containers and the funds raised from the charge will directly deliver new sidings and connections for the rail project. Improving rail access to the Port of Melbourne is a legislated condition of its lease, aiming towards a wider push to expand rail freight across Victoria.

The Victorian government said in a statement it is “also supporting the Port Rail Shuttle Network connecting freight hubs in Melbourne’s north and west to the port, new intermodal terminals planned at Truganina and Beveridge, new automated signalling for faster rail freight to GeelongPort and improvements in the regional rail freight network”.

“On-dock rail will make rail transport more competitive, cut the high cost of the ‘last mile’ and reduce truck congestion at the port gate – a big win for Victorian exporters delivering goods to the Port of Melbourne.”

Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the project will increase the competitiveness of Victorian industry.

“The Port of Melbourne is a vital part of our multi-billion dollar export sector and agriculture supply chain and on-dock rail will make its operations more efficient for Victorian exporters – removing congestion at the port gate.”

The project is set to be completed by 2023.

DIFFERENT ROUTES IN SA

In contrast to these announcements, the South Australian government has decided to pull back from a plan to move greater volumes of freight via a new network named GlobeLink. An election promise from the Marshall government, in late January, the government announced that the project would be terminated, as the business case did not stack up.

The proposed project would comprise a road and rail corridor behind the Adelaide Hills, which would connect the National Highway and the rail link from Victoria to Northern Adelaide. The project would have also included an intermodal export park and freight-only airport at Murray Bridge.

The SA government commissioned KPMG to produce a business case for the project, which found that rail freight in the corridor would decline.

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll highlighted that investment in rail freight would not be of economic value for the state.

“Particularly, with respect to the rail component, the report highlights that limited and declining volumes see limited relative economic benefit for the state,” he said.

“Therefore, with rail volumes unlikely to increase sufficiently in the future, the benefits of a new rail corridor are very marginal.”

The KPMG report found that the benefit cost ratios for the initial rail corridor is 0.08 – a value of 1 is where a project would break even.

The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) welcomed the decision, with SAFC executive officer, Evan Knapp, highlighting that alternative projects would be a better fit for the state.

“The Freight Industry is both pleased and relieved GlobeLink will no longer go ahead, and that instead other options will be explored – we look forward to consultation on the new approach in due course.”

The report also suggested the potential of a new intermodal terminal south east of Adelaide, however Knapp pointed out that the terminal could go ahead without government investment.

“We understand that there is a proponent looking at it now and there’s no reason why that cannot go ahead,” he said. “Cancelling GlobeLink in no way impacts on that element at all.”

Of more benefit to the freight rail sector and the wider community in South Australia, would be the removal of level crossings in the Adelaide metro area, said Knapp.

“Currently we’re happy with the freight rail line, we do believe there is room for some work on level crossing removals towards Adelaide, particularly the level crossing on Cross Road, as you can imagine a freight train going through that crossing at a very slow speed and given their lengths of well over a kilometre does take some time and causes dislocation of a major road in South Australia.”

North East Line to be shut down for major works

The first 60-hour track closedown will occur this weekend on the North East Rail Line in Victoria.

From 6am, Saturday, March 14 to 6pm, Monday, March 16, 200 works will contribute to more than 12 projects along the line.

Known as a “possession” period, the work will be delivered by major contractor John Holland. A project office has been established by John Holland in Wangaratta, where 100 people are working full time.

An important focus of the $235 million North East Rail line, being carried out by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is engaging with local businesses in the regions the rail line passes through, said ARTC general manager projects Victoria, Ed Walker.

“A key focus of the North East Rail Line upgrade is to ensure regional centres in North East Victoria directly benefit and more than 18 local businesses are already contracted to work on the multi-million-dollar project,” he said.

This focus has led to local contractors being able to invest in their business. Seymour-based contractor, Tenex Rail have bought new railway maintenance machines, and invest in their workforce, having been part of the North East Rail Line project since 2019. The company has invested almost $1 million since beginning work on the project.

Due to the work on the line, coaches will replace Albury line trains for the entire journey from Saturday, March 14, to Monday, March 16.

Works around Seymour and Wallan will require the closure of level crossings in these areas and Walker cautioned residents to be careful while works are being undertaken.

“While every effort will be made to minimise disruptions – we would like to thank the community for its patience with us while these essential works are being delivered.”

Work on the North East Line has been progressing since the major contract was awarded in late 2019.

Qube container. Photo: Qube

Qube purchases four Australian-made locomotives

Qube has awarded the contract to build four locomotives to UGL, part of the CIMIC Group.

The four locomotives will be built in Newcastle at UGL’s workshops there, said UGL’s managing director Jason Spears.

“These contracts extend our light rail capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence and commence our relationship with Qube Logistics. UGL has a strong reputation for quality and safety and we look forward to exhibiting that through these manufacturing, maintenance and operations contracts.”

Qube has recently signed extensions to its freight rail logistics business. Late last year, the company announced that it had signed contracts with Shell Australia and Bluescope Steel. In its Half Year results announcement, Qube indicated that it would spend $73 million on new rollingstock and infrastructure to support the Bluescope contract.

Additionally, its Moorebank Logistics Park began rail operations with a major warehouse for retailer Target.

Further agreements for tenants at other sections of the Park are in the final stages of being negotiated.

According to UGL, its base in Newcastle was key to the purchase by Qube.

“UGL’s long history of manufacturing is key to our success in Newcastle. We’re proud that UGL has had a presence in in NSW for more than 120 years, including a strong presence in Newcastle.”

The news follows the announcement that UGL, along with Transit Systems and John Holland will operate the Adelaide tram network from July 2020.