Alliance gets to work on $1bn Metro Tunnel contract

The trio of engineering firms awarded the $1 billion Metro Tunnel contract to build tunnel entrances at South Yarra and West Footscray has begun preparatory works.

A team of John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM is now performing geotechnical, service and site investigations ahead of construction of the western and eastern tunnel entrances.

The trio make up the project’s Rail Infrastructure Alliance, announced as the preferred bidder in July. The RIA is working in partnership with Rail Projects Victoria and rail franchisee Metro Trains Melbourne.

The package of works will also deliver a turnback and a new platform at West Footscray station, as well as track enhancements near Hawksburn station.

John Holland and CPB Contractors are equal construction partners on the contract, while AECOM is the design partner.

CPB Contractors said its share of the $1 billion contract was $400 million.

Michael Wright, chief executive of CPB Contractors parent company CIMIC Group, noted the company was even more involved in the project, given CIMIC subsidiary UGL is 20% owner of Metro Trains Melbourne.

Wright said: “Investment in major transport infrastructure in Victoria is providing CIMIC Group and CPB Contractors with a strong pipeline of project opportunities.

“Through our in-house engineering business, EIC Activities, we are supporting our Alliance partners and client with expert insights into all geotechnical and civil engineering challenges and providing solutions that will ensure a cost-effective construction program.”

CPB Contractors managing director Juan Santamaria said the group has a “very strong presence” in Victoria, allowing it to support major projects with locally-based engineering and technical teams.

“Bringing local knowledge and international experience, we are committed to ensuring all client and community expectations are realised, including local employment and business opportunities and socially inclusive procurement strategies,” Santamaria said.

Construction of the tunnel entrances is expected to commence in late 2018, and be completed in 2025.

Roughly 50 workers are engaged in the preparatory works. Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said over 150 workers will be onsite by the end of October.

“We’re not wasting a minute delivering the critically needed transport infrastructure projects required to keep Victoria moving,” Allan said.

Brightest young minds to shine again at AusRAIL

The 2018 Young Railway Professionals Innovation Pitching Competition will be a highlight on the first day of the Australasian Railway Association’s annual AusRAIL conference and exhibition taking place in Canberra on 27 and 28 November 2018.

The first day of the conference will feature pitches from five professionals under 30, all with bright ideas for innovation within the rail sector.

This year’s pitching competition received a record number of entries reflecting the skills, passion and creativity of an inspiring new generation of talent across the sector.

Presenting at AusRAIL will be:

  • Tyler Plowright, Operational Technology Engineer, Pacific National| Regional freight deliveries
  • Pranoy Banerjee, Advisor, CWG Project Services | Gamification of rail safety
  • Jessica Ghaleb, Track and Civil Engineer, Jacobs | Hands-free ticketing
  • Owen Plagens, Asset Strategy Engineer, Downer | Intelligent Seating Recommendation System (iSRS)
  • Henry Swisher, Strategic Consultant – Energy Markets, Jacobs | Producing hydrogen for Australia’s long distance freight network

Judging this year’s event are Transport Canberra and City Services Director General Emma Thomas, Queensland Rail Chief Executive Officer Nick Easy, Arup Australasia Rail Business Leader Anna Squire, and John Holland Rail Business Group Executive General Manager Steve Butcher.

In addition, the two leading group projects completed through the ARA’s Future Leaders Program will also be presented. The ARA Future Leaders Program is a six month program completed by the industry’s brightest talent. As well as developing their leadership skills, the participants complete group projects to address and issue or opportunity in the industry.

Other highlights of the recently released agenda include:

  • Consecutive speeches from Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Michael McCormack MP, and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
  • A discussion on supply chains including NSW Ports Chief Executive Officer Marika Califas, KiwiRail Chief Operations Officer Todd Moyle, and Pacific National’s FreightPresident Andrew Adams
  • A keynote speech from Tech Futures Lab founder Frances Valintine on futureproofing the rail industry
  • A site tour of the Canberra Metro Light Rail Depot
  • A welcome address from the ACT Government’s Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris MLA
  • An address from Australasian Railway Association Chairman Bob Herbert AM
  • And much, much more.

Conference places are available with special rates for ARA members and Young Rail Professionals. Full information available here.

Unpacking the Melbourne Airport ‘Super Train’ proposal

The investment firm which owns a stake in Melbourne Airport and Southern Cross Station says it will pitch a $15 billion PPP to the state and federal governments, aiming to start work on a rail line to the airport by 2020. Here’s what we know…

What’s the plan?

A consortium called AirRail Melbourne is proposing a “world-class, fast, reliable and competitive” rail link between Melbourne Airport and the CBD.

The plan would turn Sunshine Station into a ‘super hub’ connecting the existing Metro Trains Melbourne network, and the regional network, to the new rail line.

The new line would provide 20-minute travel between the CBD and the Airport, with one-way tickets costing less than $20 “in today’s prices”.

Custom-built trains would include luggage racks and a high level of accessibility.

Trains to and from the airport would run 24/7, and would depart every 10 minutes at peak periods.

The project would rely on new, dedicated track between Southern Cross Station and Sunshine, and then more new track to the airport.

The dedicated track would also improve travel times for regional passengers to the CBD, and would unlock more frequent, electrified services, and the future development of high speed rail to Geelong.

Who’s pitching this plan?

AirRail Melbourne is a consortium of fund manager IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia, and Southern Cross Station.

IFM Investors owns, operates and maintains Southern Cross Station under a public private partnership (PPP) with the Victorian Government.

IFM Investors also owns a stake in Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, the privately-held corporation which owns and operates Melbourne Airport.

Metro Trains Australia is the holding company of Metro Trains Melbourne, and is a consortium of Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation (60%), John Holland Group (20%) and UGL Rail (20%).

How much would it cost?

Figures released by the consortium equate to a $15 billion PPP.

The consortium wants to provide $5 billion to match the $5 billion already committed by the Federal Government, and the $5 billion committed by the Victorian Government.

Why now?

Just four days before AirRail Melbourne made its plans public, the Victorian Government opened the Registration of Interest period for those looking to help deliver the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

The consortium says it can execute its plan and begin construction work by 2020, “two years earlier than currently planned”. The State Government plans to spend roughly 18 months to pick a winning bidder for the contract by 2020, meaning construction wouldn’t begin until 2022.

The state has called for interested designers, engineers, rail systems providers, rollingstock providers, investors, financiers, developers and other rail infrastructure providers to take part in the RoI.

The RoI announcement followed a recent decision by the Andrews Government to develop a business case for the project.

It also followed the Government’s blockbuster announcement for a Suburban Rail Loop project, which would build a ring of rail connecting each of Metro Trains Melbourne’s suburban corridors.

“If re-elected we’ll build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and Suburban Rail Loop our state needs,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on September 12.

What are they saying about it?

IFM investors boss Brett Himbury said the ‘Super Train’ plan represented a good opportunity for the seven million Australians whose superannuation funds invest in IFM, to invest in a nation-building project.

“This ‘Super Train’ will help grow the superannuation accounts of millions of Australians through a dependable long-term crucial infrastructure investment,” Himbury added.

Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said: “As we expand our runways and terminal facilities [over the next 20 years] we also need world-class linkages between the airport, city and regional Victoria. Our vision is for a seamless passenger experience at the airport, properly integrated between the train carriage and the terminal.”

Acting Metro Trains Australia managing director Leah Waymark said Victorians and visitors would benefit from being able to plan their journey with precision.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is an essential part of an interconnected public transport services for our growing international city,” Waymark added.

Finally, Southen Cross Station chief executive Colin Chanter said the station was uniquely positioned to take part in the project.

“Our design enhances the capacity of Melbourne’s broader rail network from day one, allowing more trans to run more often, and supercharges future upgrades to metro and regional rail lines,” Chanter said.

Major Martin Place construction contract awarded

The NSW Government has awarded a $380 million contract to build Sydney’s first integrated metro station development at Martin Place as part of the Sydney Metro project.

The government awarded the construction deal to Macquarie Group on September 12.

The $378.6 million deal is expected to transform Martin Place into a modern railway station incorporating the existing station and the new Sydney Metro platforms, with a landmark integrated transport development above it.

Under the deal, the government is getting $355 million from Macquarie for the air rights above the new metro station.

In return, Macquarie will deliver new commercial buildings, pedestrian connections and retail space.

The metro station will be owned by the NSW Government.

The state said Macquarie’s unsolicited proposal for the integrated station development was evaluated and found to provide a unique positive outcome for the state.

Macquarie has appointed Lendlease as its design and construction contractor to deliver the new station, retail space, pedestrian connections and the buildings above the station.

“Sydney Metro tunnel builders John Holland CPB Ghella will excavate the southern site of the station and the twin metro tunnels before handing over to Lendlease to finish construction of the station,” the State Government said.

“Lendlease will be granted early access to the northern site to undertake demolition and excavation work later this year, before station and building construction starts.

“As the new Martin Place Station is built underground, the integrated station development will be able to be built above at the same time. This helps reduce community impacts, and allows for the buildings to be completed close to when Sydney Metro services start in 2024.”

Martin Place is one of five new stations planned to be integrated with the areas around them, under the second Sydney Metro stage, Sydney Metro City & Southwest.

Other stations with planning underway are Crows Nest, Victoria Cross in North Sydney, Pitt Street and Waterloo.

Piling works to begin in Melbourne CBD for new Town Hall Station

Major piling works are set to begin at City Square in Melbourne for the building of the new underground Town Hall Station, one of five being built for the Metro Tunnel project.

The works will be carried out in the large shaft at the site created following the demolition of the three-storey car park beneath City Square and subsequent removal of around 5,000 tonnes of debris.

Early next year, an acoustic shed will be erected over the work site prior to the beginning of 24-hour excavation and tunnelling works.

“We’re getting on with the job of building a world-class rail system for Melbourne with turn-up-and-go services that will get you home safer and sooner every day,” said premier Daniel Andrews, who was visiting the site today.

He was joined by state transport minister Jacinta Allan and Michele Dix, the managing director of London’s Crossrail 2. Dix was visiting the Metro Tunnel project to share her experience working on the massive transport infrastructure project in the UK.

Approximately 7,000 jobs are expected to be created by the Metro Tunnel project, including tradespeople, crane operators and tunnel boring machine crews, and 800 apprentices, trainees and cadets.

“The Victorian Liberals had four years and built nothing – we haven’t wasted a minute with over $40 billion to transform our transport network to get Victorians where they need to go safer and sooner,” Allan said.

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project will build nine kilometres of twin tunnels beneath the CBD in an effort to ease congestion on the City Circle and surrounding lines. It is being carried out by the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital.

Town Hall Station will be located under Swanston Street, between Flinders Street and Collins Street. The station will include an underground passenger connection to the platforms at Flinders Street Station, allowing commuters to conveniently interchange between Metro Tunnel and City Loop train services.

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Metro Tunnel jobs centre now open

A centre providing training and job opportunities on Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project has opened on St. Kilda Road, near the future Anzac Station.

Called “MetroHub”, the centre is a partnership between Yarra Partnership and Holmesglen Institute, based at the TAFE’s Southbank campus.

Approximately 7,000 jobs are expected to be created by the Metro Tunnel project, including tradespeople, crane operators and tunnel boring machine crews, and 800 apprentices, trainees and cadets.

The Victorian government has invested $6 billion in a package that will provide for 5,000 of those jobs. It also funds training at the MetroHub for 500 apprentices, trainees and cadets, in programs designed for those seeking careers in construction.

Industry and employment minister Ben Carroll, who visited MetroHub on Monday, said jobseekers will be able to register their interest in Metro Tunnel jobs both in person at the centre and online via Seek.

“MetroHub is an example of industry and education working together to link the right candidates to the right jobs, by opening up career pathways, construction industry training and workforce development opportunities,” Carroll said.

“The Metro Tunnel Project is the biggest public transport project ever undertaken in Victoria. Not only will it transform our rail network, it will also offer job and training opportunities for thousands of Victorians.”

The opening of the MetroHub jobs centre follows that of Metro Tunnel HQ on Swanston Street, across the road from the Melbourne Town Hall, and which features a learning centre featuring an education programme for Victorian teachers and schoolchildren detailing the project’s construction techniques as well as the range of roles available in large infrastructure projects.

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, now in the beginning stages of its construction – carried out by the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – will link the Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a 9-kilometre tunnel, with five new stations.

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Winner announced for $1bn Metro Tunnel contract

The $1 billion contract to deliver the twin tunnel entrances for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel has been awarded to a consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM.

The consortium was announced as the preferred bidder for the Rail Infrastrcuture Alliance (RIA) contract, the final major contract to be awarded for the $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project, which is to build nine kilometres of twin tunnels beneath the CBD, in an effort to ease congestion on the City Circle and surrounding lines.

The RIA contract is to build the entrances for the twin tunnels at South Yarra and Kensington. CPB Contractors and John Holland are equal construction partners in the contract, and AECOM is the design partner.

The Alliance also includes project owner Rail Projects Victoria (formerly the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority) and operational franchisee Metro Trains Melbourne.

“We’re continuing to build the critical infrastructure needed to help Victorians get home safer and sooner every day,” Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said.

“The Metro Tunnel will deliver more trains, more often to the outer suburbs and slash travel times to some of Melbourne’s key health, education, jobs and tourism hubs.”

Construction is expected to commence in late 2018 and be completed in 2025.

John Holland is a subsidiary of Chinese firm CCCG. CPB Contractors is part of CIMIC Group, whose parent company is German construction firm Hochtief. AECOM is an American multinational engineering and design firm.

CIMIC chief executive officer Michael Wright said rail investment in Victoria was providing CIMIC and its CPB Contractors with “a strong pipeline of opportunities,” noting CPB Contractors was part of the Metro Tunnel’s $1 billion design and construct contract.

“CIMIC’s in-house engineering consultancy, EIC Activities, is also playing a key role in assessing all geotechnical and civil structure designs and challenges, to offer quality, cost-effective construction methodologies and solutions for the Alliance,” Wright said.

NSW to overhaul major projects tender model

New South Wales will change the way it develops tenders for major infrastructure projects, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announcing plans for a more “collaborative” approach.

The announcement comes as the NSW Government faces a major dispute over the Sydney CBD & South East Light Rail Project, with key contractor Acciona reportedly seeking over $1 billion in extra fees after it was tasked with utilities relocation work – an expensive role it says it was not told about before the contract was signed.

“Fortunately, I’ve been around long enough to know the life cycle of projects,” Berejiklian told the AFR National Infrastructure Summit on Tuesday, June 5. “Every major project has its challenges. Sometimes you might slip on a milestone by a few months, but then make that time up further downstream.

Berejiklian was unable to say when the light rail project will be complete. ALTRAC has told the Government it will be ready by March 2020, but Berejiklian says she’s told the consortium, “You can do better than that”.

The new scheme for major projects, outlined by the premier, will look to have a more collaborative relationship with contractors throughout the tender process, and should move away from contracts based around a fixed price, and lump sum payments.

“If we can work harder, collaboratively, to improve the interface between government, industry and all the major parties in a project, then of course we should do that,” the premier said.

The premier addressed the Sydney conference a day after John Holland chief executive Joe Barr said contractors were too often being lumped with all the risk in major infrastructure projects.

Barr, responding to a question about the light rail project in question – but without directly referencing it himself – said underground utilities are a good example of a project component which remains largely unknown to all parties, until the project is underway, so it’s only fair that at least some of the risk would be shared in that case.

Barr’s comments echoed those of Aecom risk boss Regis Damour in April.

Damour told the AFR the NSW and Victorian Governments, specifically, have grown too fond of lumping their private sector partners with the bulk of the risk in major projects.

“The current model is not in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Damour was quoted as saying. “When you end up with projects with a billion dollar claim, how can that be good for anybody? An adversarial-type approach is always making only lawyers rich.

“Nobody is going to convince me that using an adversarial model with full risk transfer can be the right approach because nobody has any clue what’s underground.”

Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples, speaking on June 4, conceded governments “make mistakes” at times when it comes to risk allocation. He said utilities operators have, understandably, become more protective of their networks, and stricter about how they are managed.

Pics: Final Metro Tunnel Station designs revealed

The final designs have been unveiled for Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel five new underground stations, each with their own distinctive characteristics.

Releasing the concept images on Wednesday, state transport minister Jacinta Allan said she hoped the stations for the $11 billion project would become “landmarks” of inner-city Melbourne.

“These new underground stations obviously have to work well from a passenger point of view — we need to make it easy for people to access these stations and to move around the train system,” Allan said.

“But we also recognise there’s a special and unique opportunity to create new landmarks with these five new underground stations and that’s why a lot of effort, a lot of thought, a lot of time and energy went into the design of these five new underground stations.”

The $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, now in the beginning stages of its construction – carried out by consortium led by Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – will link the Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a 9-kilometre tunnel, with five new stations.

The designs have been developed by a collaboration of the architects Hassell, Weston Williamson and Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners.

North Melbourne Station, located near the corner of Arden and Laurens streets, is to feature a brick arched entrance (to reflect the area’s industrial heritage) and skylights that will enable natural light to filter down on the platforms and concourse.

Parkville Station, to be built below Grattan Street between Royal Parade and Leicester Street, will feature a glass roof that provides passengers with a leafy view of outside trees and a liberal dose of sunlight as they make their way to and from the trains.

 

MelbourneMetro3

MelbourneMetro2

MelbourneMetro1

Click to enlarge. Source: Rail Projects Victoria

 

The entrances of the State Library Station (located under Swanston Street, between La Trobe Street and Franklin Street) and Town Hall Station (under City Square on Swanston Street) will include redesigned laneways including cafes and retail shops. The State Library Station will also feature an underground passenger connection to Melbourne Central Station.

Anzac Station, situated underground on St. Kilda Road next to the Shrine of Remembrance, will feature an architecturally designed canopy reaching up from below ground, providing both natural light and weather protection for passengers.

“The final designs for the Metro Tunnel’s five new underground train stations will deliver the best passenger experience in stunningly designed and spacious settings,” Allan said.

“The Metro Tunnel will deliver five new architectural landmarks for Melbourne and the turn-up-and-go train system our city needs.”

Stacked program set for infrastructure conference

Next week’s AFR National Infrastructure Summit includes addresses from deputy PM Michael McCormack, shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese, new Inland Rail boss Richard Wankmuller and many, many more key names from around the infrastructure sector.

Rail Express will provide live coverage of the event, which runs on Monday and Tuesday next week at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney.

Tickets are still available here.

The full schedule includes speeches and panel sessions including the following key rail transport figures:

  • Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
  • Anthony Albanese MP, Shadow Minister for Cities and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
  • Senator Janet Rice, The Greens
  • Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW
  • Cameron Dick MP, Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, QLD
  • Joe Barr, CEO, John Holland
  • Guy Templeton, President & CEO, WSP Australia & New Zealand
  • Aneetha de Silva, Managing Director, Government, Aurecon
  • Graeme Newton, CEO, Cross River Rail Delivery Authority
  • Julieanne Alroe, Chair, Infrastructure Australia
  • Richard Wankmuller, CEO, Inland Rail
  • Philip Davies, Chief Executive, Infrastructure Australia
  • Adrian Dwyer, CEO, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
  • Michael Masson, CEO, Infrastructure Victoria
  • Rodd Staples, Secretary, Transport for NSW
  • René Lalande, CEO, Transdev Australia
  • David Franks, CEO, Keolis Downer
  • Emma Thomas, Director-General, Transport Canberra and City Services
  • Nick Merritt, Global Head of Infrastructure, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Grant Smith, Senior Managing Director, Macquarie Group
  • Anissa Levy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Head of Investor Assurance, Infrastructure NSW
  • Kim Curtain, Executive Director Infrastructure & Structured Finance, NSW Treasury
  • Joanne Paterson, Director, Market Led Proposals Team, Queensland Treasury
  • Anthea Antonio, Executive Director Technical Delivery, Yarra Trams

Check out the full program and find out more about the event here.

Hutt Line’s aging overhead wires to be replaced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adelaide to Tarcoola re-railing underway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel to be finished a year early

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work to begin on new Frankston Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shortlists announced for Cross River Rail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

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

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

Business woman. Photo: Ingram Publishing

New mentoring program aims to keep women engineers in transport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metro Tunnel construction, signalling deals signed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Intercity Fleet

Downer EDI awarded intercity network modifications contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSW awards $240m Sydenham station deal

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

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

The contract is expected to commence in 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Engineers set to benefit from projects boom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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