Consortium for Adelaide tram network announced

Contracts for the operation of light rail services in Adelaide have been awarded to Torrens Connect.

Announced today, March 10, along with a suite of bus contracts, Torrens Connect will operate Adelaide’s tram network from July.

Torrens Connect is a joint venture between Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland.

The contract for the North South network combines bus and tram services, and according to SeaLink Travel Group – owner of Torrens Transport – CEO, Clint Feuerherdt, the integration will allow for better services.

“Between high frequency services, and integrated bus and tram outcomes, we will open up new destinations on the public transport network for customers,” he said.

According to Feuerherdt, bringing the modes together will allow for innovation in service delivery.

“The new tender has allowed us to bring in our global best practice experience, matched with our local market knowledge and history, to truly create a tailored series of network improvements for Adelaide.”

Partnered in the contract is UGL Rail Services, which in addition to its work in heavy rail and metro services, has contributed to light rail in Hong Kong.

“This contract extends our light rail operations and maintenance capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence. We look forward to providing a safe and quality operation for the people of Adelaide,” said UGL managing director, Jason Spears.

For partner John Holland, the contract is the first multimodal contract in the company’s history, highlighted CEO Joe Barr.

“From operating the country’s first metro train in Sydney, to Canberra’s new light rail, John Holland has a proven record of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.”

As a result of this contract, John Holland will be one of only a few private organisations to operate trains, trams, and buses in Australia.

“The South Australian Public Transport Authority (SAPTA) has recognised our commitment to South Australians and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to deliver improvements across the network,” said John Holland’s executive general manager – rail, Steve Butcher.

The SA government and the successful contractors will deliver network improvements by the end of 2020. Consultation on the improvements will begin in April.

“In the coming weeks we will be releasing details about the bus service improvements that will benefit South Australians ahead of a consultation period we will undertake,” said SA Transport Minister, Stephan Knoll.

“Now the contracts have been signed, we can begin working with the providers to deliver the best possible bus and tram network for South Australians.”

Get on board with RISSB’s bold new rail safety conference program

Australia’s premier safety conference for the rail industry, RISSB’s Rail Safety Conference, returns to Sydney at the end of March with a bold new program and even greater opportunities to learn from the best.

The 2020 event promises greater interactivity, more topics that are timely and relevant, and sessions that will provide a completely new perspective on how the industry operates. With so much to choose from now’s the time to get on board.

From panel discussions to networking, plenary presentations to technical streams, the new and improved format truly has something for everyone.

New in 2020

  • A 2-day supercharged program featuring more than 40 Australian and international speakers
  • Concurrent technical streams on the afternoon of Day 1 focused on issues that matter most to today’s rail transport operators – track worker safety, data and information, rail level crossings, system safety assurance, contractor management and sharing investigations
  • Safety leaders panel
  • A night at the museum (Australian National Maritime Museum) conference dinner
  • A choice of site tours.

Two keynote speakers (one internationally recognised) join an already impressive speaker line-up of industry leaders who are ready to challenge conventional thinking and deliver actionable insights during two jam-packed days.

RISSB’s stellar speaker line-up includes:

  • Sue McCarrey, Chief Executive, ONRSR
  • Carolyn Walsh, Chair, National Transport Commission and Chief Commission ATSB.
  • Sandra Wilson-Ryke, SQE Director, Keolis Downer
  • Tilo Franz, General Manager, Operations & Maintenance, CMET
  • Kieran MacKenzie, CEO, Presien and Innovation Engineer, Laing O’Rourke
  • Scott Cornish, Executive General Manager, Safety, Risk and Assurance, Queensland Rail
  • John Langron, Rail Safety Manager, Sydney Metro
  • Rachel Wood, Lead Investigator – Rail Safety, Transdev Auckland
  • Associate professor Anjum Naweed, CQU University
  • Simon Vaux, Director, Digital Engineering, Transport for NSW
  • Stewart Haycock, Project Manager, Operations Services, Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • Tim Proctor, Senior Consultant, Indec Consulting
  • David McMah, General Manager Train Service Delivery, Queensland Rail
  • Daniel Upton, Manager Continuous Improvement Zero Harm, Metro Trains Melbourne
  • Neil Robinson, Consultant and Director, RGB Assurance
  • Bill Palazzi, Director, Palazzirail
  • Guy Widdowson, Compliance and Investigations Manager Safer Rail, New Zealand Rail Safety Regulator, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Jamie Dean, Assurance & Improvement Manager Country Regional Network, John Holland
  • Paul Nheu, Systems Assurance Manager, Digital Systems Program, Transport for NSW
  • Celeste Young, Research Fellow, Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University
  • Lindsay Holt, Rail Safety & Compliance Manager, Laing O’Rourke
  • Nafiseh Esmaeeli, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Craig Dance, General Manager – Safety Risk and Assurance, V/Line
  • Russell McMullan, General Manager – CRL Assurance and Integration, City Rail Link Project NZ
  • Sudha Niles, G&R Lead – Compliance and HSE, Arc Infrastructure.

The Rail Safety Conference will be held at Aerial UTS Function Centre in Ultimo on March 31 and April 1, 2020.  For more information or to register to attend the conference, go to www.informa.com.au/event/conference/rissb-rail-safety-conference/

Sharing investigations – lessons for industry

In its monthly column, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board discusses the Sharing Investigations Forums scheduled in March and September 2020.

One of the forums RISSB co-ordinates on behalf of the rail industry in Australia and New Zealand is the Sharing Investigations Forum. The aim of this forum is to share lessons from a deep dive into incidents involving rail transport operators.

The ATSB has attended part of each forum and provided an analysis of, and lessons from, a rail incident. Or at the most recent forum, from an aviation incident. Featuring high on the agenda has been a presentation from a university around incident investigation and systems thinking.

To date, two forums have been held – one in Melbourne in 2018 and the other in Brisbane in 2019. Both Sharing Investigations forums were fully booked, and feedback was phenomenal with two further forums planned for 2020 – Sydney on 30th March at John Holland, Pyrmont and the second in Perth, likely to be held in September 2020 at Fortescue Metals Group in Perth.

Organisations that have presented and discussed an incident and the ensuing investigation into that incident have included: MTM, TasRAIL, ARTC, QR, Arc Infrastructure and Aurizon.

While there were many lessons shared, there were several common but critical lessons for industry that emerged from the in-depth discussions.

These include:

  • The need for clear, accurate safety critical communication (including the need to proactively monitor and demonstrate this).
  • The need to support identification of local risks (where workers do not perceive the level of risk, or the changing risk profile over time on site).
  • The importance of leadership from senior management/senior executives (response to incident is to ensure safety before continuing operations).
  • The benefits of reinforcing positive behaviours (through providing a just and safe culture).
  • Clarity on each person’s role and responsibility (ambiguity leading to assumptions that something was done).

RISSB is gathering lessons from these forums and turning them into a series of key lessons for industry that will be presented at the 2020 RISSB Rail Safety Conference in Sydney on 31 March and 1 April 2020.

In relation to communications, RISSB has worked with industry
to develop and publish a Safety Critical Communications Guideline (January 2018) and has since developed and is offering a Safety Critical Communications Course.

For more information about RISSB’s 2020 Rail Safety Conference, please visit www.rissb.com.au/events/rissb-rail-safety- conference-2020/

To view RISSB’s 2020 training and events, please visit www.rissb.com.au/events/.

The four projects shaping Australia and New Zealand

Four “nation shaping” projects are contributing to Australia and New Zealand’s substantial infrastructure pipeline. Their project directors gave overall updates on these major transport projects at AusRAIL PLUS 2019.

CROSS RIVER RAIL

While Queensland has enjoyed significant population growth in recent years, nearly 90 per cent of that growth has occurred within South East Queensland (SEQ). This region is expected to further increase its population by around 1.5 million over the next twenty years.

Cross River Rail will address a major bottleneck within this region. As such, it is Queensland’s highest priority infrastructure investment and the government has allocated $5.4 billion towards the project.

Currently, there is only one inner-city crossing over the Brisbane river and just four inner-city stations. Cross River Rail will unlock the bottleneck by providing a second river crossing, therefore doubling the capacity of the network and allowing more trains to run more often, as well as integrating with roads and bus services to enable a turn-up- and-go public transport system across the whole of SEQ.

The project incorporates a 10km rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, which includes 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels under the Brisbane River and the CBD, with four new underground stations. A new European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling system is also being delivered to improve safety and assist in managing capacity constraints in the network. Numerous station upgrades between the Gold Coast and Brisbane and three new stations at the Gold Coast end the network are also planned.

Cross River Rail Authority’s program director David Lynch says early works have now been officially completed, though these are relatively small in the overall scheme and context of the project.

“Our procurement processes are essentially complete as of the end of October, and construction is now underway across all three packages, with four to five years of construction and commissioning ahead,” Lynch said.

“All major work sites have now been handed over to the contractors.”

The mammoth project will be delivered under three major infrastructure
packages of work: the Tunnel, Stations and Development (TSD) public-private partnership (PPP); the Rail, Integration and Systems (RIS) alliance; and the European Train Control System (ETCS).

The TSD PPP will deliver the underground section of the project, including the tunnel from Dutton Park to Normanby and the construction of four new underground stations. It includes the associated mechanical, electrical and safety systems, such as vertical transportation for passengers at underground stations, above and underground track work, tunnel portals and dive structures, traction power systems and rail operation and control infrastructure. The package also includes a property development opportunity above Albert Street station.

It will be delivered by the PULSE consortium.

The RIS “UNITY Alliance” will deliver the design, supply and installation of the supporting rail system, including rail civil and electrical works, rail operation systems and controls, as well as rail signalling and communications work. The alliance will also deliver accessibility upgrades to six suburban stations. The alliance will be responsible for the integration of Cross River Rail into Queensland Rail’s train network.

The ETCS signalling system will be introduced to enable increased capacity
on the network. It will be rolled out over several stages starting with a pilot program on the Shorncliffe Line in 2022 with early works commencing in late 2019. As part of these early works, trains and tracks will be fitted out with ETCS equipment which sends continuous data about the position, direction and speed of trains and enables the system to calculate a safe maximum running speed for each train. The ETCS will be delivered by Hitachi Rail STS.

Cross River Rail is being delivered with the help of Project DNA, the CRRA’s Project Digital Network Approach.

“It is a complete digital twin of the Cross River Rail project. Now, we are currently working in the space of 3D and 4D, but developing additional dimensions as we move forward.”

Lynch explains how the digital twin was developed, “where previously we built separate systems and models, here we’re using a common data environment.”

“Essentially, it is one model with multiple applications to be used by multiple
teams, so whether in the space of project delivery, program controls, communications and engagement or future precinct and planning and delivery, we’re using the one integrated model.”

The model is built in three layers according to Lynch, the first being the Building Information Modeling (BIM) at the core of the model.

“The second layer gives us geographic information system (GIS) mapping, which enables us to move from the 2D into the 3D environment, while the third layer uses the unreal gaming engine to provide an interactive and virtual reality experience.”

The collaborative approach enabled by Project DNA helps in the design, construction, management and operation of the assets built, says Lynch. It will also improve the on- time and on-budget delivery of the project.

The first stage of demolition for the Cross River Rail has commenced and Cross River Rail is now well into the delivery phase. An 85-metre tower crane will be used to bring down three buildings at the Brisbane Transit Centre site. Each building will be demolished level by level, which will take up to a year.

METRONET

A historic lack of investment into public transport resulted in the significant sprawl of Western Australia’s capital city, particularly north-south along the coast. This is why the Metronet initiative, the single largest investment in Perth’s public transport, is about unlocking the latent capacity within the existing network, according to executive director of Infrastructure, Planning and Land Services Owen Thomas.

Thomas says that, ultimately, the initiative will close to triple the capacity of the existing network through targeted investments, including a high capacity signalling system and more trains.

Metronet is the state government’s long- term plan, equally focused on transport infrastructure as on land use outcomes, which will see new communities created as a result of investment. The underpinning target is a 45 per cent increase in dwellings near high frequency transport infrastructure by 2031. As part of delivering against that, the state’s Department of Communities, which largely delivers social housing, is targeting their investment program around specific Metronet sites as part of a social and affordable housing package.

Fundamentally, the initiative involves the creation of 72km of new railway, up to 18 new stations, the removal of eight level crossings, the replacement of the ageing A series rail car fleet and acquisition of an expanded fleet of 246 new C-series railcars, and the optimisation of nearly 5000 hectares of land.

According to Thomas, the most significant and challenging aspect of the project is the implementation of the communications- based train control (CBTC) across the network.

The final business case for the system is currently under consideration. According to Thomas, once it is rolled out, the signalling system will enable more frequent services, every 4 minutes in peak.

Through early works, Thomas says that his transport infrastructure team, working in conjunction with the station precincts development team, have found that it will take $20-$25 million for other enabling infrastructure, such as utilities, to be delivered at the stations.

“We’ll likely see the rail infrastructure delivered within four to five years from the project commencement, but regarding the longer-term outcomes, we will not see many of the station precinct developments on site until up to 15 to 30 years away. So, one of the key challenges is how to incrementally stage those outcomes so that you get the long-term benefits you want but don’t have a sterile station environment from day one.”

In late December, “NEWest Alliance” was awarded a major Metronet contract
for $1.25bn, to deliver the Yanchep Rail Extension and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link. The consortium comprises CPB Contractors and Downer, who will start construction work in mid-2020.

The project will add 17.5 kilometres of rail to connect the Armadale and Mandurah lines through existing stations at Thornlie and Cockburn Central. The new link will include two new stations at Ranford Road and Nicholson Road.

The Thornlie-Cockburn Link will be the first east-west connection between rail lines on the Perth network. It will involve replacing a pedestrian level crossing with a footbridge, duplicating the Canning River Rail Bridge, and modifying the Ranford Road Bridge.

The Yanchep Rail Extension will deliver the last proposed section of the Joondalup Line, from Butler to Yanchep, along a 14.5km route. It will public transport journey times by at least 30 minutes to and from the city.

It’s estimated that by 2031, the Thornlie- Cockburn Link and Yanchep Rail Extensions will serve a population catchment of 400,000 people.

Downer EDI was named as the preferred proponent to build the major rail components at one of Metronet’s level crossing removal projects, at Denny Avenue.

This level crossing removal will be delivered through two design and construction contracts and will include raising more than 800 metres of track and associated infrastructure to enable a new road underpass.

Early works on the project began in 2019 with geotechnical testing, demolition of buildings and removal of a number of Railway Avenue trees. Utility relocation will start in early 2020.

Also in late December, Jacobs was named the preferred proponent to create the business case for the removal of the other six level crossings on the Armadale Line. Preliminary planning identified the potential for more crossings to be included in the project scope.

“[2020] is shaping up to be a defining year for Metronet construction. Perth will have six Metronet projects under construction at once, creating thousands of local jobs and opportunities for local business,” said premier Mark McGowan.

The other major Metronet contract, to deliver the main works for the Morley- Ellenbrook Line, will not be announced until late 2020.

The Morley-Ellenbrook Line will connect the north-eastern suburbs to the broader rail network and is the signature Metronet project. It will include 21km of rail, new stations, two underpasses to allow the rail line to enter and exit the Tonkin Highway median, associated infrastructure to connect to the existing line, road and bridge reconfiguration works and integration across other projects.

Due to the complexity of the Morley- Ellenbrook Line project, the works are divided into four packages, including the Bayswater Station Upgrade (to be awarded in early 2020), the Tonkin Gap project (civil and structural works to allow access in and out of the Tonkin Highway, to be awarded in mid-2020), the forward works and the main works.

The forward works will be delivered under a series of standalone contracts, managed by the PTA and will include geotechnical field investigations, survey works, and the relocation and protection of the in-ground and overhead services of both the PTA and third-party assets.

Main works will be delivered through a competitive alliance contract. It will include the design, construction and commissioning of rail track, systems and five stations. This will include bulk earthworks and retaining, structures, grade separations, roads and drainage.

CITY RAIL LINK

From transferring 14, 000-tonne historic buildings to new foundations to avoiding volcanic lava flows, the Auckland City Rail Link (CRL) project has been one of the more challenging transport infrastructure projects in the Australian/New Zealand pipeline.

Similar to other jurisdictions however, Auckland has had a significant population increase. Since 2010, Auckland’s population has risen by 50 per cent.

“We were at a stage where the road network was unable to cope,” City Rail Link’s CEO, Dr. Sean Sweeney, said.

When a new station was built in 2003, it took until 2014 for the line to be electrified and new rollingstock provided. This resulted in the doubling of patronage numbers.

“That passenger growth has continued ever since and City Rail Link has an ever-increasing need for public transport.”

Construction towards the $4.4bn project officially commenced in 2018 with preliminary works ongoing since 2016. Its scope consists of the construction of twin 3.5 km long double-track rail tunnels underneath Auckland’s city centre, between Britomart Transport Centre and Mount Eden Railway Station.

Two new underground stations will be constructed at Aotea and Karangahape. Britomart will be converted from a terminus station into a through station and Mount Eden Station will be completely rebuilt with four platforms to serve as an interchange between the new CRL line and the existing Western Line. Wider network improvements are also part of the project.

It is slated for completion by 2024.

“Similar to Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve got some form of a loop. The Western line and the Southern line converge at one railway station with the Eastern line, so all of Auckland’s rail traffic goes into the Britomart station and then basically stops there so that the trains get backed up, full or not,” Sweeney said.

“Essentially, what City Rail Link is seeking to do is make Britomart a through station and extend the line back up to the rail network so you can run trains in both directions. Then, by enabling longer, nine car trains, with longer platforms, we can triple the capacity of the rail network.”

This means increasing capacity from 14,000 pph to 54,000 pph into the CBD, allowing for a train every ten minutes in peak.

“By our calculations that’s the equivalent of 16 lanes of traffic into the city centre in peak,” Sweeney said.

This will double the number of people within 30 minutes of NZ’s biggest employment hub, bringing with it significant commercial and residential opportunities around stations.

Though early works commenced in 2016, Sweeney explains that about 10 years ago a forward-thinking Auckland mayor decided to start the project without funding from central government.

“This project had quite an unusual start. The mayor realised that to make Britomart a through station someone had to start building tunnels underneath the city, so Auckland council went out and started construction without central government support which was a very brave thing to do.

“They managed it with a whole range of contracts and multiple contracting types, which made it a little bit confusing but it was what they had to do to get going, and it’s gotten off with different forms of construction, bored tunnels, cut and cover tunnels, etc. There’s a really complex grade separation into existing railway lines.”

One of the challenges for the project is that Auckland is built on volcanoes “some of which erupted as recently as 800 years ago, which is very recent geologically”.

“So, to try and avoid some of the recent lava flows we built an incredibly complex geological model. We used the information that was available to us to plot the safest route. We used this model to locate the top striations, so to avoid some of the most recent lava flows. That was a very complex investigation and we have made that model available to the bidders.”

Another challenge is the current size of the infrastructure pipeline across a number of sectors in Australia and New Zealand.

Over an eighteen-month period, Sweeney tracked the pipeline from $80bn in September 2017 to more than double that in August 2018, and then $220bn in February 2019.

“I’ve never encountered this extent of growth and the way that this complicates what we have to do and the effect it has on our market is a real stretch. Certainly, historically New Zealand has built very little in 20 years and so, even getting major international contractors to take us seriously and come and bid for us was a big piece of work.”

However, early works are now “pretty much completed” according to Sweeney.

Moving forward, the agency has wrapped up the outstanding works – including the remaining tunnels, stations and rail systems infrastructure, as well as the related wider network and tracks – into one contract, Contract 3, to be delivered by a “Grand Alliance”.

The alliance consists of: Downer, AECOM, Tonkin + Taylor, WSP Opus, Soletanche Bachy, and Vinci Construction.

In October 2019, the demolition of thirty empty buildings demolished near the Mt Eden railway station began. This will ensure space for the construction of the southern portal for the City Rail Link’s twin tunnels. The cleared site will be used as a staging area for a Tunnel Boring Machine and other machinery.

The first phase of this demolition is due to be completed in March 2020 , and is being managed by the alliance.

MELBOURNE METRO

During January, works towards Melbourne’s metro tunnel ramped up with crews working throughout the month to excavate the final section of the tunnel’s entrance and make room for the new track which will connect existing lines to the tunnel.

The crews will complete major concreting works at the tunnel entrance, pouring the final sections of the tunnel roof slab and installing the tunnel support structures.

“It’s now two years since we signed the contract and we’re well up and running at seven construction sites along the alignment,” Tunnel and Stations package director at Rail Projects Victoria, Linda Cantan, said.

As package director Cantan has overseen the procurement and contract negotiation for the $6bn package to build five new underground stations as well as the tunnel itself. She is responsible for managing the contract throughout construction.

A number of companies are building the tunnel, and construction is split across several work packages.

Early works to relocate services and prepare the construction sites were delivered by John Holland KBR. New tunnels and stations are being built through a Public Private Partnership, named the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium which includes: Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital. Yarra Trams will deliver tram infrastructure works.

Rail systems including signalling and systems integration work will be provided
by CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation, while a consortium comprising John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM will deliver rail infrastructure works including the tunnel portals and realignment of existing rail lines.

The project is projected to be complete by 2025.

“We’re creating is a dedicated rail line between Sunbury and Dandenong. People ask why a dedicated rail line, by taking capacity out of the city loop we free up extensive capacity through the rest of the rail network.”

The Melbourne Metro Rail Project includes twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels between South Kensington and South Yarra and five new underground stations.

The project will take three of the busiest train lines (Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines) through a new tunnel under the city and thus free up space in the city loop to run more trains in and out of the suburbs.

“We have 4 tunnel boring machines doing our tunnelling, which were launched from our two logistics sites at North Melbourne and Anzac Station. Meg and Joan are travelling out to the west at the moment.

“Joan has travelled 470 metres out of north Melbourne, and we’ve had to negotiate the city link viaduct under the Mooney Creek. Meg has gone about 137 metres. We’re also travelling along all of the rail network, so extensive work is needed to make sure we’re doing that in a safe way. To date progress has been very good and in fact the grand settlement has been better than predicted.

“On the eastern side of the alignment, we have Millie and Alice who will launch early next year. They’ve been delivered to Domain, beside Anzac station, and will launch in the first half of 2020. They will be heading out to the eastern portal, then be retrieved and brought back to be relaunched and head towards the city.”

“We’re in quite a narrow corridor and have retaining walls to build to ensure that there’s no settlement of the existing tracks, but we’re working in a very tight environment to create those exits and entrances to the tunnel structures. The PPP is constructing a shaft in that area for the TBM retrieval early in 2020.”

“We’re developing these stations for ten car, high capacity metro trains, which will be procured under a separate PPP. As such our construction boxes are about 250 metres long and the width, depending on the station, about 25 to 30 metres,” Cantan explains.

The Eastern tunnel entrance stops beyond South Yarra station as there is not enough room in the corridor.

“What we’re trying to do here is to put another two train lines in a very congested corridor, where we have multiple train lines coming in from the South East.

“This is another area where we have our Rail Infrastructure Alliance working alongside the PPP. The PPP can build their shaft, that will be used for the extraction of the TBM, right next to where the Rail Infrastructure Alliance are doing the cut and cover structure.”

“We’re now underground in a lot of locations so I keep saying to people: be patient with us because we don’t open till 2025, but we’re now underground, tunnelling, excavating and starting the build out of our stations,” Cantan concludes.

Next step for consortia shortlisted for Adelaide train network

The South Australian government has released an Invitation to Supply (ITS)  to the three consortia that were shortlisted last year to run a privatised Adelaide train network.

The consortia are Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor; Keolis Downer, a consortium of Keolis and Downer EDI; and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Once the offers from the contractors are received, the SA state government will assess the responses and decide on a final contractor by mid 2020.

The successful proponent will be required to improve services in the Adelaide area, and will be judged based on customer satisfaction, integration of trains with other public transport modes, more frequent and faster services, collaboration with customers and stakeholders, and accessibility improvements.

The contract will cover four lines within the Adelaide Metro network, including Belair, Gawler, Outer Harbor, and Seaford with branch lines Grange, and Tonsley.

While the successful consortium will operate the network, the SA state government will retain ownership over rail assets, set standards for levels of service, set prices, retain revenue, and mandate performance targets for the contractor.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Stephan Knoll, said that the model will deliver better services.

“We will be capitalising on the vast private sector experience to help deliver better train and tram services while maintaining control of the assets, fares and service frequency.”

The shortlisted consortia already operate services in other states in Australia, with Keolis Downer operating the Melbourne tram network, the Gold Coast Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail, and a number of bus services in SA, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Transdev and CAF together operate the Parramatta Light Rail network as part of the Great River City Light Rail consortium.

Deutsche Bahn and John Holland are partners in the Canberra Metro consortium which operates the Canberra light rail.

“The companies associated with the shortlisted proponents have experience delivering better services in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as in Europe,” said Knoll.

SA hopes to increase patronage on its public transport network, with Adelaide having the lowest rail passenger kilometres per capita, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

“We are leaving no stone unturned with our reforms to deliver better and more customer focussed bus, train and tram services,” said Knoll.

Last year, the ABC reported that a Downer employee was caught sending quotes from fake news articles to Knoll about outsourcing Adelaide’s tram network.

Information sessions to be held for local involvement in N2N

Local suppliers in Narrabri and Moree can meet the shortlisted contractors for the Narrabri to North Star (N2N) leg of the Inland Rail project.

Inland Rail will hold two networking events in the two regional centres with the three shortlisted construction contractors. Local and Indigenous businesses can hear from the contracts and connect through one-on-one meetings.

According to chief executive of Inland Rail, Richard Wankmuller, the major contractors will be looking for local businesses to partner with.

“There are three excellent organisations bidding for this project including Lendlease Engineering Pty Ltd, RailFirst (a joint venture between Downer EDI and Seymour White) and Trans4m Rail (a joint venture between Rhomberg Rail Australia, John Holland and SEE Civil),” said Wankmuller.

“Each one will have representatives at this event to meet with local businesses and answer questions regarding potential supply opportunities on the N2NS project when construction starts.”

To make the most of the sessions, local contractors are encouraged to prepare and ‘elevator pitch’ and be able to showcase exactly what their business does and where it is located.

“I know there is excitement building along the N2NS alignment as we move towards construction and local businesses should be taking advantage of opportunities like these to promote their capabilities to the shortlisted contractors,” said Wankmuller.

According to Wankmuller, the successful primary contractor will be mandated to incorporate local industries.

“The successful contractor will be required to deliver significant local industry and workforce participation and training outcomes, and the Australian Rail Track Corporation will work very closely with them and other stakeholders to achieve these outcomes,” he said.

“We see Inland Rail as a way to create meaningful change in communities along the alignment by developing a pathway to support longer term economic development and employment outcomes.”

The sessions will be held on January 21, in Narrabri, and January 22, in Moree.

ARTC shortlists contractors for Sydney freight projects

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has shortlisted contractors to construct the Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop 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 1300 metres 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.”

Project Update: Melbourne Metro

During January, works towards Melbourne’s metro tunnel ramped up with crews working throughout the month to excavate the final section of the tunnel’s entrance and make room for the new track which will connect existing lines to the tunnel.

The crews will complete major concreting works at the tunnel entrance, pouring the final sections of the tunnel roof slab and installing the tunnel support structures.

“It’s now two years since we signed the contract and we’re well up and running at seven construction sites along the alignment,” Tunnel and Stations package director at Rail Projects Victoria, Linda Cantan, said in December at the AusRAIL Plus event.

As package director Cantan has overseen the procurement and contract negotiation for the $6 billion package to build five new underground stations as well as the tunnel itself. She is responsible for managing the contract throughout construction.

A number of companies are building the tunnel, and construction is split across several work packages.

Early works to relocate services and prepare the construction sites were delivered by John Holland KBR. New tunnels and stations are being built through a Public Private Partnership, named the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium which includes: Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital. Yarra Trams will deliver tram infrastructure works.

Rail systems including signalling and systems integration work will be provided by CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation, while a consortium comprising John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM will deliver rail infrastructure works including the tunnel portals and realignment of existing rail lines.

The project is projected to be complete by 2025.

“We’re creating is a dedicated rail line between Sunbury and Dandenong. People ask why a dedicated rail line, by taking capacity out of the city loop we free up extensive capacity through the rest of the rail network.”

The Melbourne Metro Rail Project includes twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels between South Kensington and South Yarraand five new underground stations.

The project will take three of the busiest train lines (Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines) through a new tunnel under the city and thus free up space in the city loop to run more trains in and out of the suburbs.

“We have 4 tunnel boring machines doing our tunnelling, which were launched from our two logistics sites at North Melbourne and Anzac Station. Meg and Joan are travelling out to the west at the moment.

“Joan has travelled 470 metres out of north Melbourne, and we’ve had to negotiate the city link viaduct under the Mooney Creek. Meg has gone about 137 metres. We’re also travelling along all of the rail network, so extensive work is needed to make sure we’re doing that in a safe way. To date progress has been very good and in fact the grand settlement has been better than predicted.

“On the eastern side of the alignment, we have Millie and Alice who will launch early next year. They’ve been delivered to Domain, beside Anzac station, and will launch in the first half of 2020. They will be heading out to the eastern portal, then be retrieved and brought back to be relaunched and head towards the city.”

“We’re in quite a narrow corridor and have retaining walls to build to ensure that there’s no settlement of the existing tracks, but we’re working in a very tight environment to create those exits and entrances to the tunnel structures. The PPP is constructing a shaft in that area for the TBM retrieval early in 2020.”

“We’re developing these stations for ten car, high capacity metro trains, which will be procured under a separate PPP. As such our construction boxes are about 250 metres long and the width, depending on the station, about 25 to 30 metres,” Cantan explains.

The Eastern tunnel entrance stops beyond South Yarra station as there is not enough room in the corridor.

“What we’re trying to do here is to put another two train lines in a very congested corridor, where we have multiple train lines coming in from the South East.

“This is another area where we have our Rail Infrastructure Alliance working alongside the PPP. The PPP can build their shaft, that will be used for the extraction of the TBM, right next to where the Rail Infrastructure Alliance are doing the cut and cover structure.”

“We’re now underground in a lot of locations so I keep saying to people be: patient with us because we don’t open till 2025, but we’re now underground, tunnelling, excavating and starting the build out of our stations,” Cantan concludes.

Three consortia shortlisted for Adelaide Metro contract

Three consortia have been shortlisted to tender for the operation, maintenance and service delivery of the Adelaide Metro Train Services, the South Australian state government announced on Thursday.

Adelaide Next, Keolis Downer, and TrainCo will be invited to submit a response to the state’s invitation to tender, to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

Adelaide Next comprises Deutsche Bahn, Bombardier Transportation Australia and John Holland, Keolis Downer comprises Keolis and Downer EDI, and TrainCo is a consortium between Transdev and CAF. The state government will select the successful tenderer in the second half of 2020.

“We agree with South Australians and know that our public transport system has room for improvement,” said minister for transport, infrastructure and local government Stephan Knoll.

“What we are seeking to do is bring trains and tram in line with the same model that our buses have operated under for the last 20 years – that accounts for around 70 per cent of our public transport network.

“Encouragingly we’ve seen some green shoots and in the last financial year we saw public transport patronage increase by over one million trips compared to the previous year.

“The short-listed consortia all have experience in the management and service delivery of rail services, some of which in other jurisdictions in Australia.

“These companies have proven records in improving service delivery and customer experience and supporting employees through the transition from a public to a private operation.”

North East Rail Line early works progressing

Investigation work has commenced towards the $235 North East Rail Line Upgrade project in Victoria, after the contract was awarded to John Holland last week.

Ninety kilometres of the 500 kilometres of track have been walked and site assessments are now underway. Site walks started at Albury and will continue south towards Melbourne.

According to ARTC, a team of up to five John Holland and Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) project staff will be walking all 500 kilometres of track by mid-January, in preparation for the major works commencement in the new year.

Findings will inform site assessments about how  impacts to the community can be minimised.

Since October, early works have thus far included: 85 kilometres of tamping, the removal of over two kilometres of mudholes, and distribution of 6,500 tonnes of fresh ballast. Both tracks at the Summers Road level crossing in Springhurst have also be renewed.

“With our main works contractor in place, progress on the track upgrade will start to ramp up in the new year,” ARTC’s general manager for Victoria Projects Ed Walker said.

“Not only will people start to see increased activity in the rail corridor, but also John Holland and ARTC personnel out and about in local towns and businesses.”

Waterloo station. Artists impression: Transport for NSW

NSW awards key Sydney metro station contract

John Holland and Mirvac will deliver the Waterloo metro station under a $299 million contract awarded by the NSW Government.

The contract includes the new Waterloo Station and an integrated development above it, drawing on both companies’ expertise in major transport infrastructure and community-oriented development and design.

The “Waterloo Metro Quarter” will comprise of five building envelopes including three towers and two mid-rise buildings above and adjacent to the station. The project is expected to be completed around the time Sydney Metro City & Southwest opens in 2024.

The residential part of the development will include five per cent affordable housing and 70 apartments for social housing. Two new public plazas will be built at Cope Street and Raglan Street.

“Drawing on our recent experience in delivering Sydney Metro Northwest, we are excited to deliver not only a landmark station, but also a revitalised precinct for the community,” John Holland CEO Joe Barr said.

“This project will transform Waterloo and improve community spaces in the inner city for generations to come. Our integrated team has worked together across development, investment and complex transport infrastructure to create an urban renewal project that will make commuting easier, create jobs, and improve community facilities.”

Mirvac CEO and Managing Director Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said that the “vision for this precinct extends beyond the bricks and mortar; we will be a long-term investor in Waterloo and we are wholly committed to realising the potential of this site to help drive meaningful social renewal and enduring value for the broader precinct.”

“The ability to deliver a progressive, urban development of this calibre, is underpinned by our wealth of experience at the forefront of the industry, together with our unique end-to-end capability.

“We have finely honed our approach to place making, design and construction over 47 years, and this, together with our thorough understanding of how our customers live, enables us to create thriving communities that support and enhance people’s lifestyles.”

Shortlists for Barangaroo, Crows Nest metro stations

Six applicants have been shortlisted across two tender process to build new metro stations at Barangaroo and Crows Nest as part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.

Sydney Metro has shortlisted AW Edwards, CPB Contractors and Laing O’Rourke for the contract to deliver Crows Nest station, and Hutchison, John Holland and Watpac for the contract to deliver Barangaroo station.

The six shortlisted parties will now all move on to the Request for Tender phase of their respective contracts.

The contractor selected to build Crows Nest station will deliver two separate station entrances and enabling works to support the future over-station development. A delivery partner for that over-station development will be chosen via a separate procurement process.

The state government said the station and over-station development packages had been separated so the station build can proceed in time for a targeted opening of 2024, while the government further considers community feedback regarding the above-station development.

“This also allows the over-station development to be further incorporated into an integrated planning outcome,” Sydney Metro said, “consistent with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s process to finalise the St Leonards and Crows Nest 2036 plan.”

The Barangaroo station plan will work to improve access to the Walsh Bay Arts and Culture precinct, and provide easy access to Barangaroo’s public, residential, commercial and entertainment areas and new ferry hub. The station will be built to improve pedestrian access to the northern part of Sydney’s CBD and The Rocks, and will aim to alleviate congestion at Wynyard station.

Specialised skills approach to service rail’s construction boom

With work ramping up across the rail sector, labour hire, recruitment, managed labour and safety management firm Category 5 is focusing on its unique, specialised offering for a stretched skills market.

 


The pipeline of rail construction and maintenance work is estimated at more than $100 billion over the next decade. After construction work rose 56 per cent in FY18 and another 5 per cent in FY19, BIS Oxford Economics estimates it will almost double over the next five years. One of the sector’s biggest concerns as work ramps up in cities and regions all around the country, is the supply of skilled labour to meet this surging demand. The Australasian Railway Association-commissioned Skills Crisis report, conducted by BIS Oxford Economics at the end of 2018, estimated that by the expected peak for rail construction in 2023, the sector could be left more than 70,000 workers short of the jobs needed.

Paul Tobin, Category 5 Labour Management’s General Manager for Australia’s East Coast and New Zealand, tells Rail Express the skills shortage is the single greatest challenge facing the sector in both countries as a result of the infrastructure boom.

“Rail can be a tough, physically challenging working environment,” Tobin says. “In recent times people have been steered toward careers requiring university degrees rather than these labour/tradebased roles.”

While the trend has been towards university degrees, Tobin says more and more rail construction projects are valuing workers with qualifications and skillsets that might commonly be seen as less prestigious and sought after than a university degree.

“Specific rail skills and experience have largely gone unrecognised in the past, but I think the industry is really shifting toward rail specialists, and understanding the value they can bring to a project,” he says. “The rail and infrastructure boom is going to be a game changer, and I think we are going to be left short of that specialist labour.”

Understanding where those gaps will emerge in the labour market is key to Category 5’s business. In recent years, the company has already responded to growth in demand in a number of key sectors, focusing on a deeper understanding of the needs of specific operators. Its Cat 5 Rail business has established teams serving a number of segments of the rail sector.

“Roles like traction overhead lineman, signalling technician and the like have come under real demand and set to continue,” Tobin says, citing an example.

With the significant growth in the traction overhead line sector, the company focused on providing highly skilled and experienced personnel for this part of the market. Subsequently, Cat 5 Rail has built specialty teams which have worked on the removal projects for nine level crossings on Melbourne’s Cranbourne- Packenham line. Cat 5 Rail also supplies specialist hi-rail plant and equipment for overhead wiring construction and maintenance.

“All our linesmen are nationally accredited and hold the competency on the Rail Industry Worker system,” Tobin says. “We have some of the most experienced and capable overhead support staff known throughout Australia and New Zealand.”

Cat 5 Rail has taken a similar approach to provide specialist support for signalling work, welding and track, as well as the supply of rail safeworking staff for a range of projects.

Tobin says the Cat 5 Rail team has become one of the most renowned, specifically for track work, in the Port Hedland and wider Pilbara Region. Across Australia and New Zealand, Cat 5 Rail’s track crews have worked with blue chip clients like BHP, Rio Tinto, Lend Lease, John Holland, Laing O’Rourke and Downer.

Training and education

While sourcing the right people for existing work, a critical element of solving the skills shortage for rail will be training and up-skilling workers. “For the industry to survive and excel throughout the boom, investment in training and education is going to be key,” Tobin says.

As a registered training organisation, Tobin says Category 5 is ready to help the industry meet these challenges. Sam Sycamore, Category 5’s CEO and owner, was born in Port Hedland and founded his business there after more than 15 years in senior mining and resources, oil and gas and industrial management positions. Gaining perspective from the customer side of the labour market, Sycamore identified a need for a more tailored solution than that offered by the biggest recruitment companies. He says seeing workers learn specific skills and develop into more specialised roles is one of the best aspects of the business.

“Someone might start off as a labourer, but some of these people who have worked for us for three years have become leading hands, machine operators, track machine operators,” Sycamore says. “They’re becoming specialists in their field, and that’s one of the joys of the job; seeing someone that has reached their potential or is beginning to reach their potential.”

Cat 5 Rail’s training business is partnered with Hedland High School and other organisations, to provide students the ability to undertake a Cert 2 in Rail Infrastructure.

Boosting presence

Looking to take advantage of its valuable offering for the rail sector, Category 5 has launched a new website and increased its social media presence on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Tobin says the company has an excellent reputation among its existing customers, and has managed to thrive since it was founded in 2009 by focusing on the needs of its customers.

“Good old-fashioned customer service, a sense of urgency and a passion for what we do has been the fuel to our growth and success,” he says. “Our work in the Pilbara has provided the opportunity to work with a number of tier-one companies and we have been able to replicate this across the country.”

Over 10 years, the company has grown from a sole operator to a team of more than 20 dedicated professionals within Cat 5 Rail alone, servicing markets in Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand, and soon in other states across Australia. While Category 5 works across several sectors, Tobin says rail represents the “roots” of the business.

“Cat 5 has been built from our work in the rail sector and the business has been built from a real personalised family, local type atmosphere whereby we know our clients and employees as our family and friends,” he says. “A lot of the Cat 5 clients are long term clients that have been with us from the start. We have varying lengths of contract, but our relationships continue on for the long term.”

 

Contact: catfive.com.au

Construction teams benefit from leasing model

CFCL Australia’s Matthew Roberts says more construction consortiums are relying on leasing the equipment they need to deliver projects on time and under budget.

 


CFCL Australia (CFCLA) has fingers in many pies when it comes to rail asset leasing. From a large fleet of locomotives, to wagons servicing a range of industries, to heavy machinery capable of laying and maintaining track, CFCLA can service the needs of just about any rail owner or operator.

One thing CFCLA is not, however, is a rail operator. “We don’t want to compete with our customers,” CFCLA Rollingstock Operations Manager, Matthew Roberts, explains to Rail Express. “We want to work with them and provide them with a stakeholder who’ll take a long-term approach to the rollingstock they rely on.”

Supplying rail operators with locomotives and wagons has been a core business for CFCLA for more than 20 years. Its fleet in Australia includes 78 locomotives and roughly 1,700 wagons, including intermodal, grain, and bulk. Its core business is leasing those pieces of rollingstock to operators and shippers, so they can do their business without taking on the burden of long-term ownership.

But Roberts says an increasing source of work for CFCLA in recent years has been large consortiums and construction firms who are bidding for major contracts to build new infrastructure.

“There are more companies coming to us that aren’t rail operators; they’re the people going out to try to win big projects,” he says. “Obviously, we think everyone should lease, but in the past, it would have just been the rail operators. Now, it’s the consortiums coming to us.”

The benefits of leasing to these firms are simple: it means they don’t actually need to own all the equipment they need to bid for any given project, and once they win such a project, they don’t need to buy it. “The thing is, jobs of that scale might only come up every few years for any given company,” Roberts explains. “Between jobs you’ve got to be able to store the equipment for long periods. When we buy a locomotive, it’s got to have over a 35- to 50-year life cycle, maybe even longer. Wagons are the same. Whenever we buy anything, we always take the long-term ownership view.

“When a project consortium comes together, they want to get that job done and then disperse. Through a leasing model we essentially hold the equipment, and then bring it out again for the next job. That also means we’ll keep the expertise we need to maintain that fleet.”

Further simplifying things, CFCLA has its own accreditation with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, so customers know a high standard is being maintained across the fleet. “That means when they take our equipment, and we sign off to say it’s ready to go, they can be sure that it’s ready to go.”

A typical contract will include, in CFCLA’s fee, all the necessary maintenance on the locomotives and the wagons. Lessors can find comfort knowing it’s in CFCLA’s best interest to do a good job of that, too, and CFCLA will even activate its flexible workforce to set up shop in close proximity to a project, if it’s being done in a remote place.

One example of this was for John Holland’s construction of the Roy Hill railway in the Pilbara. CFCLA supplied heavy equipment for that work, and supported that contract with a team on the ground to keep the equipment maintained.

CFCLA recently put together two locomotives and a ballast rake for work on the Inland Rail construction project from Parkes to Narromine, and Roberts says the company is well-equipped to do more of that work as the project ticks along. “We’ve got the rail equipment that was used to make the Roy Hill line a couple of years ago,” he says, “equipment that can build a greenfield railway. We’d anticipate that could help assist with the Inland Rail project.”

Growing business

Increased interest from construction teams is a welcome growth area for CFCLA, but the company still does well with its core business leasing locomotives and wagons to shippers and operators.

The CFCLA fleet operates across the national standard gauge network, including locomotives and rail maintenance trains in the Pilbara Region, servicing iron ore rail operators.

When it comes to general freight, Roberts notes some specific contracts are shorter build, such as solar power station construction or other project work.

While CFCLA can handle these short term contracts, he says it can also offer improved economies to customers in the longer term.

“When it comes to general rail freight, contracts can be shorter, or they can be a five- or a seven-year contract,” Roberts says. “Regardless of contract length, it’s better for them to come and lease it from us. At the end of the contract, if they don’t win it again, we’ll take the assets back, for them to be maintained in the long-term.”

The synergy then for CFCLA is if a contract changes hands from one rail operator to another, CFCLA can simply offer the assets to the new contract holder, and an easy transition can be made.

In terms of the impact Inland Rail will have on the freight market, Roberts doesn’t expect a sudden increase in demand for CFCLA’s services; instead he expects steady growth over time.

“I think it will take time,” he says. “The way freight transport works, it might take three years for contracts to end and more freight to move from roads to rail. But we’re there to help with that transition, and to take on the role of rollingstock supplier in the long-term. Should an operator or shipper need to ramp up slowly to multiple trains or locomotives and wagons we are there to help a business as it grows.”

CFCLA’s newest locomotives are the CM Class, built by Motive Power (Wabtec) in Boise, Idaho. The fleet also includes locomotives from other North American firms EMD and GE. The key benefit of this, Roberts explains, is the US-built machines are already accredited for use in Australia. “Ours were out running the moment they arrived,” he says.

Notably, a significant portion of CFCLA’s wagon fleet was built in Adelaide, the site of the larger of two CFLCA Maintenance workshops – the other being in Goulburn. CFCLA Maintenance is not only used to maintain CFCLA’s fleet but also services locomotives and wagons owned by other companies, including passenger rollingstock like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific, which are worked on in Adelaide.

“We do passenger car work, locomotive work, wagon work, track maintenance equipment work. Being positioned in Adelaide, in particular, means we’re able to work on rollingstock being used on the east-west and the north-south corridors,” Roberts concludes.

 

Contact: cfcla.com.au

North East Line Upgrade awarded

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has appointed a main works contractor for its North East Rail Line Upgrade project in Victoria.

ARTC chief executive John Fullerton announced on December 9 John Holland will deliver the multi-million-dollar main works package for the line between Melbourne and Albury.

John Holland was among three parties shortlisted for the $235 million contract in June.

Work will include ballast depth improvements along the entire rail corridor, mudhole removal and track resurfacing, drainage upgrades, and around 100 level crossing and rail bridge upgrades.

Fullerton said the work would push the North East line one step closer to improved reliability, smoother journeys and reduced delays.

“Over the previous months we have been following a rigorous competitive tender process,” he said. “We are thrilled to award the contract to John Holland and are confident that their extensive experience delivering large scale rail infrastructure projects will ensure the best outcomes for the project.”

John Holland’s executive general manager for rail Steve Butcher said the team was thrilled to have won the contract.

John Holland’s Rail Infrastructure Services team is well equipped to deliver this important project that will reinvigorate a large part of regional Victoria,” Butcher said.

“We understand the upgrades are a key priority for those living in north east Victoria and look forward to delivering these improvements and the benefits they will bring to the local community, businesses and economy.”


Related story: Steve Butcher on rail’s ‘unprecedented boom’


The ARTC said significant early works have already been completed on the line this year, including a significant scope of work during a recent 60-hour works shutdown. Further targeted works are planned to help address some current V/Line services performance issues.

“We know the reliability of North East line services is a real and on-going concern for passengers, and we continue to work with the Victorian transport agencies to find ways of improving the track condition ahead of the commencement of the upgrade’s main works,” Fullerton said.

“Recent works undertaken in September enabled the removal of six temporary speed restrictions (TSRs). Since then we have procured a high-speed tamper which is stabled at Benalla.

“A further 11 TSRs have been removed and 60 kilometres of track tamped. We plan to continue targeted resurfacing works over the coming months as well as ballasting and mudhole removal.”

AusRAIL: Rail adapting to ‘unprecedented boom’

In this exclusive Q&A, John Holland’s executive general manager for rail, Steve Butcher, tells Rail Express about the shifting rail landscape, the benefits of an integrated offering, and the challenges facing the sector.

 


Rail Express (REX): How is the landscape shifting for operations and maintenance contractors in the rail sector?

Steve Butcher (SB): There is an unprecedented increase in the investment governments are making into mass transit systems across Australia. As a result, Australian rail operators are adapting to a level of demand that has been lacking for a generation.

The demand has been greatest for mass transit systems in urban centres, where population density has driven an increase in funding for rail projects along the east coast.

The other shift we are seeing is a renewed focus on the customer, which is something we thrive on.

People-centred transport systems are now what governments expect, and our performance is tied to how well we design and manage the customer experience. Governments are also increasingly introducing KPIs for operators, which has driven better customer outcomes.

The importance of integrating the customer experience across modes and ensuring comfort, safety and reliability is now part of rail planning from the design stage.

Public transport increasingly becoming a data business has also created a range of new opportunities for operators, such as linking to on-demand services, and sharing real-time information with customers about reliability and patronage on services.

 

REX: What are the challenges faced by John Holland and others in this space, and how is John Holland adjusting to these challenges?

SB: This is a really exciting time for the Australian rail industry – it is a time of great transformation, both in terms of massive physical infrastructure and technological developments to reduce congestion and improve the customer experience.

We are very lucky to be in the thick of some of the most significant rail projects in Australia’s history, but
it is important we keep pace with the sheer volume of work that is out there.

Our rail business now makes up 47 per cent of John Holland’s total revenue, and with more than $100 billion worth of projects in the Australasian rail pipeline, we expect the demand on our people to continue to grow.

Adjusting to the increase in work has meant a very consistent recruitment strategy, where we have seen our rail employee numbers increase by 31.6 per cent since December last year.

Separately, we are working hard to improve work-life balance for people across all John Holland projects. This includes a pilot of flexible working arrangements across different projects.

During a boom, we know that we are in fierce competition for the best people – so we need to ensure we are the best place to work, both to attract new hires and to retain our expert rail people.

Other challenges in rail relate to bringing existing infrastructure up to modern standards. This covers everything from ensuring stations and platforms are accessible, to upgrading track to improve speed and reliability – which forms the bulk of the work we perform on the Country Regional Network in NSW.

Making rail competitive with road travel means maximising the performance of existing networks, both for passengers and freight operators.

To keep pace with technological advancements in the operations and maintenance space, we are seeking to draw on our in-house capacity and expand the pool of companies we joint venture with.

John Holland has a specialised internal technology, engineering and knowledge business which we can draw upon to drive innovation for our customers.

 


The bulk of John Holland’s work on the Country Regional Network involves upgrading track to improve speed and reliability.

 

REX: John Holland had an integrated involvement throughout the design and delivery of Sydney Metro Northwest. What are the benefits of that to the contractor, and what are the benefits to the customer?

SB: The clearest benefit of an integrated offering is that you take a whole of life view of what you are delivering, which means better customer outcomes and better value for money. In projects like Sydney Metro and Canberra Metro, where we have been involved in design, construction, through to operations and maintenance we were able to ensure the project was delivered on time.

With major projects there are daily risks that need to be managed. The benefit of having a consistent partner through all phases of a project means that you have an ability to accelerate or adjust the program to accommodate any changes you need to make. It also means that the design and construction is delivered with decisions being made that are in the best interests of the asset long term, and with consideration being given to the long-term maintenance needs of the project.

 

REX: Tunnelling has been identified as a difficult element to properly cost ahead of time in major infrastructure projects. What are some lessons learned from recent tunnelling projects that John Holland has been involved in, and what can be done to minimise risk?

SB: All major construction projects present different challenges, and it is our job to manage them. We should never underestimate this, however, on the Sydney Metro Northwest tunnels – the largest railway tunnels ever built in Australia – we were able to deliver them two months ahead of schedule.

We are currently delivering the Sydney Metro City and Southwest tunnels under Sydney Harbour which are more than 70 per cent complete.

 

REX: With a lot of major rail projects planned, in procurement, or under construction around Australia, how does a diversified, major contractor like John Holland balance its ambitions and avoid getting stretched too thin?

SB: The volume of work in the Australian rail industry shows no signs of slowing down, with mega projects like the Sydney Metro West and Greater West on the horizon. In other industry booms, you can generally see a tapering off, but there is no end in sight to Australia’s current infrastructure boom.

Every prospect is carefully assessed against our current and future pipeline, to make sure we have the people and expertise to deliver the best results for our customers. We also make sure that we match the growth in our projects to the growth of our people.

Since December, our rail team has grown steadily, to keep up with the number of projects we are bidding and delivering on.

 

REX: The rail sector has repeatedly called for a more clear and adhered-to pipeline for major projects, coordinated between state and federal governments. Do you think this is a realistic goal? How would it help a company like John Holland serve the industry?

SB: A consistent major project pipeline is crucial for the long-term viability of major infrastructure companies.

We are in an unprecedented boom at the moment, with tens of billions being spent on new rail infrastructure all along the east coast of Australia. As a business, we have had to be smart about what we bid for, and just as importantly, what we don’t bid on.

The biggest benefit of a long-term major project pipeline is that it allows companies like John Holland to better plan careers for our people. Not having a clear timeline means that people might move cities to work on committed projects, without knowing that there is a major opportunity in their hometown right around the corner.

The biggest benefit of this to our customers is consistency in the people and expertise delivering major projects.

 

Visit John Holland at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 39.

AusRAIL: Fiber reinforced sleepers aim to achieve best track quality

Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd. (SEKISUI) has refined its Fiber reinforced Foamed Urethane synthetic railway sleeper, designed to provide the best qualities of wood and high performing synthetic technology in a single product.

As freight, heavy haul and passenger rail networks have grown in Australia and New Zealand, the sector has become more focused on not only the capital cost, but also the ongoing cost of maintaining its fixed assets.

Track owners take upfront and ongoing costs, along with a range of other factors, into account when choosing railway sleepers. While the choice has primarily been between wooden and concrete sleepers, a growing market for alternative materials has emerged over time.

One manufacturer operating in this space is Sekisui. Sekisui uses Fiber reinforced Foamed Urethane (FFU) to manufacture a synthetic railway sleeper, designed to be light and workable like a wooden sleeper, but consistent and durable, making it far more resistant to wear and tear and environmental factors over the long term. The core design feature of an FFU sleeper is its collection of continuous glass fibres which run from one end to another. These fibres reinforce the thermosetting resin foam comprised of rigid urethane resin, which is poured over the glass fibres and then sets during the manufacturing process.

The aim of using FFU is to combine the best features of a wooden sleeper with those of a high performing synthetic sleeper. The FFU synthetic sleepers are a similar weight to natural lumber.

Bending strength is stronger than natural lumber, and maintains this strength for a long period, and the FFU manufacturing process means sleepers can be fabricated to a specific height, width, and length.

“The light weight makes it easy to work on site,” Sekisui’s Yuri Otsuka tells Rail Express. “Like a wooden sleeper, we can also do pre-drilling of holes or grooves for cable protection, for example, and we can paint it a specific colour as well.”

Meanwhile, the glass fibre used gives the FFU sleepers high durability. Sekisui says the anti-corrosive material that constitutes the sleepers is extremely resistant to acids, alkalis, chlorine and sea water. Also like composites, the FFU sleepers are uniform in their quality, and the continuous pultrusion method used makes it possible to manufacture FFU sleepers up to 10 metres long, providing an ideal and reliable solution for transoms and other large and complex pieces of rail infrastructure.

Ongoing cost savings

The overall benefit, Sekisui Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific and the Americas Masaki Hayashi says, is in ongoing costs for the operator.

“The difference between timber and FFU is that FFU has longevity,” Hayashi says. “FFU doesn’t rot like timber, and it comes with uniform quality. When you work with timber it’s very difficult to obtain uniform quality over a large batch.”

According to the test report ‘Follow-up Survey on FFU Synthetic Sleepers after 30 Years in Service’ in 2011 by Railway Technical Research Institute (Japan), the expected life of an FFU sleeper is around 50 years.

“While timber might last that long under specific circumstances. A natural unprotected timber sleeper in some environments may have to be replaced up to seven times during the lifetime of an FFU sleeper,” Hayashi says. “Installation costs including labour, track equipment and safety measures are generally higher than material costs, so with 50 years without replacement, FFU works out much better than natural timber in many applications. FFU also allows for very precise sleeper dimensions compared to wood, making the sleepers even easier to install exactly.”

Proven life cycle

FFU was originally developed in 1974; the railway sleeper application was not developed until 1980. Since then, FFU synthetic sleepers have been used in more than 1,500 kilometres of track. All are still in service after 39 years. Since 1988, they have been used on Japan’s high speed lines, a.k.a. Shinkansen, with service speeds increasing year by year, and currently around 300km/h on FFU sleepers.

“The sleeper has been installed in both passenger and freight applications,” Otsuka says. Australian operators using the FFU sleepers include Queensland Rail, Sydney Trains, CRN John Holland, WA’s PTA and TasRail. It is approved by Queensland Rail and Transport for NSW, and has provisional type approval from CRN John Holland. “It has been specified in transom design by Transport for NSW since December 2018, meaning during sleeper replacement on bridges, operators can use FFU sleepers,” Otsuka adds.

The FFU sleeper has been approved by many other railways, including EBA and Deutsche Bahn in Germany, Network Rail in the UK, and more. Surveys of the FFU sleeper in the field show the same density (0.74g per cubic centimetre) when the product is manufactured, and after 10 years, 15 years and 30 years of use. The follow-up testing also showed FFU sleepers were much above Japanese Industrial Standard levels for a range of strength and flexibility measurements, even after 30 years.

Another technical element Hayashi says separates the FFU sleeper from alternative options is its low thermal expansion coefficient.

“There are different composite sleepers in the world,” Hayashi says. “One greatly unique advantage of FFU is very low thermal expansion due to the continuous long glass fibre pultrusion technology. Many composite sleepers have much larger thermal expansions – so they will change length/gauge as the temperature gets much higher or lower. This makes it difficult to keep the correct gauge – a very important aspect. An FFU sleeper is very reliable for maintaining gauge width.”

 

Find Sekisui at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 190.

 

Contact: sekisui-rail.com

Victoria awards $542 million for level crossing removal and station build

A $542.4 million contract has been awarded for the removal of four level crossings and the build of two new stations in Melbourne’s inner north, the Victorian government announced on Sunday.

Level crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street and Moreland Road will be removed and two new modern stations built at Coburg and Moreland.

The contract for the project has been awarded to an alliance of John Holland Group, Kellogg Brown & Root and Metro Trains Melbourne, which has removed 6 crossings and built Frankston Station.

“The contracts are now signed and our hardworking team will get on with the job of removing these four dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne’s north,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan

According to a government statement, Bell Street is the busiest east-west arterial road in Melbourne’s north, frustrating more than 40,000 drivers held up at the level crossing each weekday.

Removing the four crossings will enable trains to run more frequently on the Upfield line once the Metro Tunnel is complete. As part of the North East Link Project, the government is working to free up traffic and take vehicles off local roads in Melbourne’s north by 2027.

“It is not just locals who want this level crossing gone. People from right across Melbourne get frustrated every time they travel through the northern suburbs and get stuck here,” said Allan.

The team is currently removing the level crossing at High Street, Reservoir, and building the new Reservoir Station.

The two new stations will be connected to other transport offerings, will be more readily accessible, with a landscaped civic plaza and 132 new bike parking spaces.

“Investigative works and service relocations will now ramp up in preparation for major construction next year. The level crossings will be gone in late 2020 and the open space ready for locals to enjoy in 2021,” the government said in a statement.

Pacific National class 92 locomotives hauling a coal train over a rail bridge crossing the Hunter River at Singleton, NSW. Photo: Creative Commons / Bluedawe

ARA Heavy Haul Rail: Final days for tickets and interview with ONRSR

Just days out from the Australasian Railway Association’s Heavy Haul Rail conference in Newcastle, featured speaker Sue McCarrey discusses the challenges of rapid change in the sector.

McCarrey, Australia’s National Rail Safety Regulator, says the speed of disruption in the heavy haul sector brings with it a heightened need for vigilance.

“As the adoption of advanced systems becomes more widespread, the need to monitor and maintain safety-critical rail assets is ever-important,” McCarrey said in a recent interview ahead of ARA Heavy Haul, set for October 29-30 in Newcastle.

“We must never fully rely on machines. The best safety and asset management strategies, in my opinion, are ones which have the precision of technology, but which are underpinned by human care and empathy.”

Check out the full interview here.

The two day ARA Heavy Haul Rail event will feature presentations an panel sessions from high level decision makers from companies like the ARTC, Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto, the Port of Newcastle and AECOM.

There will also be site tours to choose from at Pacific National’s Greta Train Support Facility, the Port of Newcastle, and John Holland’s Country Regional Network (CRN) Control Centre.

For tickets and more information visit the event website.

Newcastle coal infrastructure. Photo: Southern Cross Maritime

ARA Heavy Haul Rail: Agenda set for Newcastle summit

All the big names in coal haulage and a trio of site tour options are among the highlights at next week’s Australasian Railway Association Heavy Haul Rail conference in Newcastle.

Rail Express is a proud media partner of the ARA Heavy Haul Rail event, which will take place in 2019 at Newcastle City Hall on October 29 and 30.

On day one, after a welcome and opening from ARA CEO Danny Broad, a market outlook will be provided by Commonwealth Bank of Australia Associate Director for Mining and Energy Commodities Research, Vivek Dhar.

Later, delegates will hear from speakers from the ARTC, Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto, the Port of Newcastle, before a safety-focused afternoon session with speakers from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and the TrackSAFE Foundation.

A workforce safety panel with representatives from Pacific National, Aurizon, Rio Tinto and Speno Rail Maintenance will round off the first day of action.

That night’s conference dinner at the Fort Scratchley Historic Site will feature guest speaker Jason Clarke, founder of Minds at Work.

The morning of day two will focus on developments in automation and artificial intelligence, with presentations from GS1 Australia, the ARTC, AECOM, 4Tel, and Wi-Tronix.

In the afternoon, three concurrent site tours will be available for delegates to choose from:

  • A site tour of Pacific National’s Greta Train Support Facility: Pacific National’s coal business transports coal from mines to ports, power stations and steelworks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and attendees will visit Pacific National’s state-of-the-art train servicing facility at Greta, which was built to help in response to the expanding operational needs in the Hunter Valley. The Greta Facility encompasses best practice engineering and design to provide innovative solutions and systems to improve safety and operational efficiencies not yet seen in the Australian rail industry.
  • A site tour of the Port of Newcastle: With a deepwater shipping channel and berthside connections to the heavy rail network, the Port of Newcastle is the largest port on the East Coast of Australia.
  • A site tour of the John Holland Country Regional Network (CRN) Control Centre: This is a unique opportunity to gain insight into the technology used and operational procedures applied for managing Transport for NSW’s Country Regional Network (CRN). The CRN is operated and maintained under contract to Transport for NSW by John Holland Rail via its Network Control Centre in Mayfield, Newcastle. Covering 2,386 route kilometres of operational passenger and freight rail lines and 3,139 route kilometres of non-operational lines, the CRN links broad areas of regional NSW to interstate and metropolitan rail systems, supporting customers, transporting coal, grain, cotton, minerals and containerised freight to domestic and export markets.

 

For more information on tickets and how to book, visit the conference’s official website.