New Intercity Fleet

Downer EDI awarded intercity network modifications contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSW awards $240m Sydenham station deal

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

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

The contract is expected to commence in 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Engineers set to benefit from projects boom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcadis j/v wins Sydney Metro design deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IA approves Sydney Metro City & Southwest business case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Graphic: Victorian Government

Metro Tunnel signalling contract signed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metro Tunnel builder announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freight rail track - stock - credit Shutterstock (8)

Irrelevant information contributed to train smashing through barrier: Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winner announced for $518m Ballarat upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$2.8bn Sydney Metro tunnel contract awarded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The contract signed on Thursday involves:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five named to Ballarat upgrade shortlist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trio of firms listed for Central tunnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobs Hub opens for Mernda Rail Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Massive round of level crossing deals awarded, more released to market

Over a billion dollars’ worth of level crossings could be removed under a pair of contracts awarded by the Victorian Government on May 4, and more have been put to market.

Public transport minister Jacinta Allan announced the two deals, which could lead to as many as 12 level crossing removals throughout the greater Melbourne region.

An alliance led by McConnell Dowell, Arup and Mott McDonald won one deal, which could be for as many as six level crossing removals.

Another potential six-crossing deal was won by an alliance of John Holland and KBR.

The McConnell Dowell, Arup and Mott McDonald team will start off with the removal of the Kororoit Creek Road level crossing at Williamstown North, in Melbourne’s south-west.

The initial deal also covers the duplication of part of the Altona Loop.

If that alliance meets “strict performance measures” on the first crossing, it will be progressively rewarded with five more level crossing removal deals:

  • Abbotts Road in Dandenong South
  • Aviation Road in Laverton
  • Ferguson Street in Williamstown
  • Cherry Street in Werribee
  • Werribee Street in Werribee

McConnell Dowell’s Australian managing director Jim Frith said the alliance would work closely with stakeholders and the local community throughout the Kororoit Creek Road level crossing removal.

“We are very pleased to be working with our project partners, the Level Crossing Removal Authority, and MTM to remove this level crossing and enhance safety and reduce congestion for residents and commuters,” Frith said.

The other Alliance, between John Holland and KBR, has been awarded the contract for the North-West Program.

This deal will see the removal of the Camp Road level crossing in Campbellfield, followed by Skye/Overton Road in Frankston, and Buckley Street in Essendon.

All three projects will begin this year, with boom gates to go by the end of 2018.

If this alliance meets its benchmarks, it will be rewarded with the contract to remove crossings at:

  • Glenroy Road in Glenroy
  • Bell Street in Coburg
  • Moreland Road in Brunswick

Minister Allan said the pair of major level crossing deals were the continuation of the mammoth level crossing removal program being undertaken by the Andrews Government.

“No Government has ever removed this many level crossings, this quickly,” Allan said.

“We’re ahead of schedule and we’re not slowing down – work is underway all over Melbourne removing these congested death traps.

“Our unprecedented investment will reduce congestion, improve public transport and save lives – and create thousands of jobs along the way.”

Allan also announced the release of the Frankston line level crossing removals to market.

The project will remove eight crossings on the Frankston line, following on from crossings in Bentleigh, McKinnon and Ormond, which are already removed.

Mernda extension work begins

Work has begun on the $600 million Mernda Rail Extension in Melbourne’s north-east.

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan said on Tuesday construction had begun on the rail line, which will carry trains to one of the state’s fastest growing areas.

“This massive project will change people’s lives for the better, creating thousands of jobs and connecting Victoria’s fastest growing areas to the public transport they deserve,” Allan said.

The project includes building three new stations, three rail bridges and two underpasses, as well as a train stabling yard at the end of the line.

John Holland holds the contract.

Over the coming weeks, work areas will be established, vegetation will be removed, and the rail corridor will be prepared for major construction to ramp up later this year.

The minister says the project will create up to 3000 jobs – 1200 directly during construction, and “as many as 1800 indirectly and in local businesses and industries supported by the project”.

“The project is fully funded,” Allan said.

“Construction is underway and we’re not wasting a moment getting on with it.”

Allan was joined by local member Danielle Green in Mernda to launch construction.

“The community fought for this project and now we are delivering it,” Green said.

“[It will] bring frequent, reliable services to the heart of our growing community.”

Melbourne Metro station plan. Graphic: Melbourne Metro Rail Authority

Three on shortlist for Melbourne Metro

The Victorian Government has named three bidders to the shortlist to deliver the $6 billion Melbourne Metro tunnel and stations contract.

Transport minister Jacinta Allan announced the shortlist for the Tunnel and Stations Public Private Partnership (PPP) on Sunday.

“The best construction firms in Australia and around the world are lining up to build the biggest rail project in Victoria’s history,” she said.

The shortlist is comprised of the following three consortia:

  • Downer EDI, ACCIONA Infrastructure, Ferrovial Agroman, Honeywell, Plenary – Continuum Victoria
  • Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – Cross Yarra Partnership
  • CPB Contractors, Salini Impregilo, Pacific Partnerships, Ghella, Serco, and Macquarie Capital – Moving Melbourne Together

Allan said the three proposals combined for over 100,000 pages of detailed plans to build the nine kilometre Metro Tunnel and five new underground stations at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain in Melbourne.

“The bids are in, early works are approved and we’re getting on with building the Metro Tunnel,” Allan said, “to run more trains, more often right across Melbourne.”

Allan said a contract would be awarded by the end of 2017, so work can begin in 2018.

Green light for Sydney Metro Stage 2

Construction will start this year on the new second Sydney Harbour rail crossing, with planning approval awarded to Stage 2 of the Sydney Metro project, which will link Chatswood to the CBD and Bankstown.

NSW transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance welcomed the planning approval, which will allow the extension of the line currently under construction between Sydney’s north-west and Chatswood.

“The scale of this project will rival any megaproject across the globe, and today marks the start of even more grunt work,” the minister said.

“This is an unprecedented boost to rail capacity for our great city.”

The planning approval includes 16.5 kilometres of new metro rail between Chatswood and Sydenham, which will include 15.5 kilometres of tunnelling, as well as the construction of seven new metro railway stations at Crows Nest, Victoria Cross (in North Sydney), Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street, Central and Waterloo.

Planning minister Rob Stokes said the news ensured Sydney will be prepared for the future.

“This project has been approved subject to some of the highest sustainability provisions in the world,” Stokes noted, saying greenhouse gas emissions made by the energy needed for the metro’s operations will be completely offset.

A pair of bidders are competing to build the project, with the contract expected to be rewarded around the middle of 2017.

A consortium of Ferrovial, Acciona and BAM, and a consortium of John Holland, CPB and Ghella were invited to tender for the contract in September.

Shortlists announced for two crossing removal contracts

Successful bidders for a pair of level crossing removal contracts will have to prove their worth with the first half of removals, before the Victorian Government will award them the rest of the work.

The Andrews Government this week announced a pair of shortlists for two separate level crossing removal packages, totalling 11 crossings across the greater Melbourne area.

State transport minister Jacinta Allan said the Project Alliance model being employed by the Andrews Government for each contract meant a successful bidder would not be awarded all removal work right off the bat, but instead would have to undertake the first few removals to the satisfaction of the Level Crossing Removal Authority.

A joint venture of John Holland and KBR, and a joint venture of CPB Contractors and Aurecon, have been short-listed for the North West Program Alliance.

The successful bidder will remove level crossings at Camp Road in Campbellfield and Buckley Street in Essendon, with work to start next year. But only if these removals are delivered well, will the successful bidder retain the contract to remove more – at Glenroy Road in Glenroy, at Bell Street in Coburg, and at Moreland Road in Brunswick.

As for the second contract: a joint venture of McConnell Dowell, Arup and Mott McDonald, and a joint venture of Coleman Rail, Seymour Whyte and Arcadis Australia have been short-listed for the Western Program Alliance.

This Alliance will remove the Abbots Road level crossing in Dandenong South and the Kororoit Creek Road crossing in Williamstown North, as well as duplicating part of the Altona Loop to boost the reliability of services.

If these projects are delivered to the Authority’s satisfaction, the successful bidder will also remove the Aviation Road level crossing in Laverton, Ferguson Street crossing in Williamstown, and Cherry and Werribee Street crossings in Werribee.

Allan says the Program Alliance model reduces procurement time, meaning the crossings are removed sooner, and provides a pipeline of work which enables constructors to build and maintain skilled workforces.

“Construction on six of these level crossing removals will begin next year and by late 2018, the removal of 37 of Victoria’s most dangerous and congested crossings will be finished or underway,” Allan said.

“We’re investing more in public transport than any government in Victoria’s history to get people home safer and sooner.”

ARA members elect new board

A new 14-member board was named at the Australasian Railway Association’s Annual General Meeting on November 22.

ARA chairman Bob Herbert said the election of the new Board marks the completion of the significant transition ARA has made during the past 12 months. “I am delighted that ARA members have elected such a strong group of Directors to lead ARA over the next three years,” he said.

The incoming Board will meet early in 2017 to finalise its work program in accord with the ARA forward strategy endorsed by the AGM.

The ARA’s new constitution, which was part of its governance transition to move under the Corporations Act, initiated in 2015, provided for an ARA Board consisting of:

  • an independent chair
  • the ARA chief executive
  • eight sector directors nominated by members
  • four directors nominated by the ARA’s sector Executive Committees (passenger, freight, suppliers and contractors)

ARA chairman Bob Herbert was re-elected at the AGM, and chief executive Danny Broad formally took his place in the second seat at the ARA Board table.

The following eight rail leaders were voted in to represent the industry as ARA Board sector directors:

  • Alan Beacham, EGM Rail and Defence, UGL
  • Howard Collins OBE, Chief Executive, Sydney Trains
  • John Fullerton, CEO and MD, ARTC
  • David Irwin, CEO, Pacific National
  • Andrew Lezala, MD, Metro Trains Australia
  • Karl Mociak, EGM Strategy and International Business, John Holland Group
  • Greg Pauline, MD, Genesee and Wyoming Australia
  • Kevin Wright, COO, Queensland Rail

The following four individuals were appointed to the ARA Board as industry sector directors:

  • Representing the Passenger Transport Group: Emma Thomas, Director General, Transport Canberra and City Services
  • Representing the Freight Transport Group: Damien White, CEO, TasRail
  • Representing the Rail Industry Group: Michael Miller, CEO, Downer Rail
  • Representing the Rail Contractors Group: Julian Sharp, Project Director, CPB Contractors (AGM – LXRP Caulfield to Dandenong)

Labor wins ACT election as voters choose light rail

ACT Labor leader Andrew Barr says Canberrans have signalled they want a light rail line, after his party won the territory election this past weekend.

A John Holland-led consortium is already signed on to build a light rail line from Gungahlin, in the north, to Civic, in the city’s centre.

The opposition Liberal Party, however, had vowed to cancel the project if it won power, triggering a fierce debate over the virtue of the project versus buses and other forms of public and private transport.

But with 81% of the vote counted as of midday Monday, the incumbent Labor Party was predicted to win 11 of the 17 seats up for grabs, according to the ABC’s election analysis.

Claiming victory at Labor’s election evening event on Saturday night, Barr said the result was a clear vote for light rail.

With the crowd reportedly chanting “build the tram,” Barr said the path was now clear for the project to become a reality.

“Canberrans have voted for a positive vision for our city,” Barr said.

“Tonight we can confidently say that Canberra has voted for light rail.”

The Liberals’ vows to cancel the project had drawn harsh criticism from several sources, including the Australasian Railway Association and Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

When the contract was signed in May 2016, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Brendan Lyon warned the Opposition to stand down.

“There has been a lot of noise from the Opposition about what they might do but with the contract signed, sealed, and made public it’s time to recognise this is a binding legal document and move away from suggestions of political risk,” Lyon said.

“Everyone respects the rights of the Opposition to oppose legislation but it’s time for the Canberra Liberals to go back to a position of respecting contracts and the rule of law.”

ARA boss Danny Broad said the Liberals’ criticism of light rail was flawed.

“The debate over light rail versus bus is nonsensical and entirely misses the point,” Broad said in May.

“It is common for Australian light rail projects to initially face political and public opposition. But when testing commences, that negativity is replaced with support and calls for an extension of the network.”