Customer service survey to gauge progress on Adelaide transport network

The South Australian government has announced the launch of the Adelaide Metro Customer Satisfaction Survey to understand how passengers perceive public transport services in Adelaide.

The twice-yearly survey will cover trains and tram services, as well as buses and metrics will include behaviour of staff, cleanliness, availability and accuracy of information, and driving behaviours.

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December opening date set for Flinders Line extension

Teams are closing in on the completion date for the new Flinders Line in Adelaide.

An extension of the existing Tonsley Line, the re-named line will connect the Adelaide train network to the Flinders health and education precinct when it opens in early December.

Once open, the new line will increase services along the line, with an added 12,000 trips to the new timetable and weekend services from December 26. Tonsley Line services previously only ran Monday-Friday.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the project will enable more people to use public transport.

“This extension of the railway line to Flinders health and education precincts will create new connections for not only the residents who live in the area, but all those who work or study at the university and hospitals,” said Wingard.

Services on the current line will be suspended for two weeks from the last service on Friday, November 20, to allow for testing and driver training before the extension opens.

“The closure is critical to ensure the new track is tested and our train drivers are familiar with the line before it opens,” said Wingard.

Local federal member Nicolle Flint said the new line would be a catalyst for further development in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

“The extended train line will help local residents get to and from the city, and also help people get to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University safely and easily without the pressure of finding a car park,” Flint said.

“The Flinders Link rail line will also help the University unlock investment for their $1.5 billion Flinders Village redevelopment, as well as linking their main campus at Bedford Park to the new Tonsley Innovation Precinct.”

The joint federal-state funded $141 million extension project has involved an elevated track over Sturt Road, Laffers Triangle and Main South Road, two new stations at Flinders and Tonsley, and a shared pedestrian/cycle path adjacent to the rail line.

Tonsley station will replace Clovelly Park station, which will be closed.

Services to increase on extended Tonsley Line

Services on the Tonsley Line in Adelaide will be increased once the Flinders Link is completed, expected in December 2020.

Today, the Tonsley Line only operates on weekdays and until 7pm. Frequency is 20 minutes in the peak and 30 minutes at all other times.

When the Flinders Link extension opens, services will run until midnight and at 30 minute frequency at times outside of the peak. Peak frequencies of a service every 20 minutes will remain.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Winegard said the new services would increase capacity by 2,200 services per year.

“We’re all about getting people from A to B faster so they can spend more time with their families and doing what they love. Public transport should be a convenience.”

The under-construction Flinders Link will extend the Tonsley Line to connect with Flinders University and the adjacent heath precinct. Two new stations are part of the project, Flinders and Tonsley stations.

Local member for Elder Carolyn Power said the services would be welcomed by the local community and those studying and working in the area.

“Residents have long called for increase services to help connect them to employment, education, community resources, medical care and recreational opportunities,” she said.

“Extended services will help reduce road congestion and travel times while also making the area more accessible for those in, and outside, the region.”

Keolis Downer awarded $2.14bn Adelaide train operations contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torrens Connect

Torrens Connect takes on Adelaide tram operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flinders Link

Tracklaying in progress on Flinders Link

Three kilometres of new track will be laid on the Flinders Link project this week.

The project will extend the Tonsley Line by 650 metres to the Flinders Medical Centre in southern Adelaide. The new line will be a single track and include two new stations, Flinders and Tonsley railway stations.

1,000 new concrete sleepers will be added between Alawoona Avenue, Tonsley and the new Flinders station.

Construction also involves elevated track over Sturt Road, Laffers Triangle and Main South Road.

Alongside the line is a shared pedestrian and cycle path.

Federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said the new rail line will help grow these suburbs.

“It will open up and reshape this entire area of Adelaide, for students, for health workers, for thousands of people,” he said.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the project will connect key institutions.

“Once complete, this rail link will better connect residents in the southern suburbs with important services including the Flinders Hospital and Flinders University.”

55 jobs per year over the course of the project are expected to be created. Passenger services are planned to begin by the end of 2020.

Member for Boothby Nicolle Flint said the rail line would enable investment.

“The Flinders Link Rail line will also help the University unlock investment for their $1.5 billion Flinders Village redevelopment, as well as linking their main campus at Bedford Park to the new Tonsley Innovation Precinct.”

Local ingenuity from Bombardier keeping the wheels turning

In Adelaide, Bombardier have developed an in-house remote diagnostics system.

For over 15 years, the South Australian (SA) Department of Planning, Transport and infrastructure (DPTI) and Bombardier Transportation (BT) have been working together to ensure the safe and efficient running of heavy rail fleets. Their aim is to provide the traveling public with high levels of customer satisfaction and increased availability, by working closely and listening actively to feedback to develop a deep understanding of SA’s specific needs.

Reliability is perhaps the highest priority when it comes to the operations of networks and ongoing rollingstock maintenance and performance is key.

Keeping trains on the tracks and moving passengers safely is a cornerstone of any operation and through BT’s through life support, intrinsic knowledge of the SA network, and true collaboration with DPTI, BT has been able to continue to provide high levels of mean distance between failure (MDBF) and ensure fleet performance.

These realities are front-and-centre for both DPTI and BT, which has manufactured and has the contract for the ongoing maintenance of Adelaide’s EMU fleet. The A-City fleet, currently comprised of 22 three carriage sets, with another 12 on order, were the first electrical units to operate on the Adelaide network.

Introduced in July 2013, with the first entering service in February 2014, the fleet has begun to require modernisation to improve services to the traveling public, through implementation of technical enhancements in the through life support of the vehicles.

According to Todd Garvey, Bombardier Transportation’s head of sales, Australia and New Zealand, a unique solution was required to update the fleet and keep performance of the trains at the high level required for the Adelaide network.

“The system allows real time analysis of signals that can ensure the vehicle is safe to run without attending site,” said Garvey.

The remote diagnostics solution can measure an array of vehicle specifics, including engine speed, temperature, oil pressure, HVAC temperature, converter diagnostics, and other faults.

With this information provided to remote maintenance managers, faults can be reset while a train is in service.

“The quick benefit seen by all is being able to reset faults remotely in traffic such as HVAC and convertor issues; these improve on time running and passenger comfort,” said Garvey.

Not only does the system increase uptime but works to enhance vehicle safety. One example of this is having remote awareness of the door safety interlock. The remote diagnostics solution allows for this safety critical element to be monitored and fixed without returning to a maintenance facility.

A COLLABORATIVE HOME-GROWN SOLUTION
While remote diagnostics are not unique to this fleet, the solution is a demonstration of value creation through collaborative engagement between DPTI and BT, and has empowered BT to develop a system that is based on its local knowledge of the conditions in which the A-City fleet were operating. As a relatively small fleet, the return on investment in implementing and off-the-shelf solution was prohibitive.

“Therefore, it was necessary to engineer a bespoke solution to maximise the return on investment to get to a point of providing real benefit to the operation,” said Garvey.

In addition to supplying and manufacturing the A-City fleet, BT has also provided maintenance services out of Adelaide’s Dry Creek railcar depot.

Site general manger for Bombardier Transportation at Dry Creek Brenton Valladares said the local expertise that BT has in SA was essential for this project.

“Our local experts Carl Parr and Graham Schier – an electrical engineer and IT guru respectively – have together been with Bombardier Transportation for over 45 years across the world,” said Valladares. “Graham is a shopfloor electrician, born and bred in Adelaide, apprenticed by BT with exceptional IT skills that were identified and leveraged for the project. This combination of using in-house talent from both the shopfloor and engineering function to deliver a high-quality solution make this project unique.”

Parr and Schier worked with BT’s local partners and global network to develop a custom-built solution to run real-time remote diagnostics on the A-City fleet.

With capital investment and a true partnership approach with the SA government, BT developed the concept and the system integration with third-party suppliers. How the system works is that onboard equipment is networked via the existing service port of each system to a hardware gateway. This gateway is then connected to a secure remote server. The requested data is sent to an alternate server hosted by Hasler that analyses the signals, looking for data matches that align with predetermined events. Hasler also supply the data logger hardware and platform event diagnostics.

“One of the key challenges was networking the legacy systems into the program. These were overcome with some reverse engineering. The support from DPTI on this project has been marvellous and their ongoing backing of innovation, rail in SA, and BT is something we value greatly.” said Valladares.

When the data aligns with the predetermined events an alert is sent via email or other notification to the maintenance facility. Two full time team members are dedicated to monitoring and reviewing the system now that it is in place.

DELIVERING BENEFITS
As the A-City fleet has undergone further modernisation, one of the elements to be aware of was the learning curve for drivers. By taking these diagnostics out of the train cab and into the hands of remote maintenance personnel, drivers are supported to focus on the new elements of the trains.

This new technology is a great asset for both Bombardier and DPTI said Garvey.

“With these upgrades and changes occurring across multiple systems in the fleet, remote access provides real time information, thereby reducing the learning curve for the drivers, this is a great asset for us and DPTI” said Garvey.

Another unique facet of the maintenance and upkeep of the A-City fleet is the structure of the depots. Adelaide’s mix of electrified and unelectrified lines has meant that the Dry Creek depot is unelectrified. This means that when maintenance does need to occur, the EMUs are hauled into the facility. Having remote diagnostics enables access to the vehicle’s systems without needing to go into the yards as often.

“We have also seen improved turn-around times for maintenance due to having an improved understanding of the faults prior to the asset arriving at Bombardier’s facilities,” said Garvey.

“In addition, there are reduced nuisance faults (less time on NFF) and more cars remaining in traffic. We are also able to reset faults in service, so that maintenance can be planned at an appropriate time.”

With the system now rolled out across the fleet, the system has doubled the KPI that was set for it in parallel with other project work. The system has now reached figures of above 100,000 MDBF, highlighting the effect that the delivery of local ingenuity, backed up by global expertise, can have on a unique train fleet.

Adelaide Metro app canned, third-party apps encouraged

Adelaide Metro will discontinue its metroMATE app and provide customer information through third-party apps.

The South Australian government is encouraging passengers to use three privately-developed apps instead, and the existing metroMATE app will be discontinued after early July.

Minister for Transport Stephan Knoll said that the new apps will give customers better information.

“By providing better, faster and more accurate information we are empowering public transport customers to make better decisions about their journeys, providing a better service.”

The new apps include real time data, alerts, and countdowns, as well as the ability to save trips and suggest new routes combining transport modes. All three are available on the Apple App Store, however only Moovit and Transit are available for Android mobile operating systems.

As part of the digital restructure, Adelaide Metro’s website will also be redesigned.

“The Adelaide Metro website is one of South Australia’s highest trafficked websites, averaging over 3 million users and 50 million-page views annually,” said Knoll.

“The new-look website will deliver a simplified home page which will require fewer clicks to find the information customers use the most.

“It will also be visually easier to navigate and will provide greater accessibility for people who have a disability, as well as the wider public.”

Knoll said the decision to move to third-party apps was due to the low ratings of metroMATE and its limited features.

The new apps are one part of the roadmap released by Adelaide Metro and the South Australian government to get commuters back on public transport after the coronavirus (COVID-19). Services were also increased on the Gawler line along with other measures.

SA releases roadmap for safe COVID-19 travel

The South Australian government has released a public transport roadmap to get passengers back on trains, trams, and buses safely.

The plan draws on the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC) Principles for COVID-19 Public Transport Operations.

“We have a strong plan to keep South Australians safe on public transport that has been developed based on the expert health advice,” said Minister for Transport Stephan Knoll.

The roadmap includes a trial of extensions to the morning and afternoon peak periods on the Gawler train line, further markings on platforms, updated signage and posters, and the accelerated introduction of an app which will provide real-time information.

In addition, Adelaide Metro will accelerate the conversion of the diesel train fleet to 2×2 seating, rather than 2×3, to allow for more aisle space. Hand sanitiser will also be on offer at Adelaide Railway Station.

“Currently patronage on public transport is down around 70 per cent and we will be rolling these additional measures out as our economy opens up and more people catch a train, tram or bus,” said Knoll.

The measures are in addition to initiatives implemented in March which included more frequent cleaning, no cash handling, staggered arrival of trains at Adelaide Railway Station, signage and announcement.

“We also echo the advice of health officials and encourage South Australians to take personal responsibility for their travel arrangements and their behaviour on public transport,” said Knoll.

“As the health officials have said, that could mean staggering your travel where possible, not traveling during peak periods unless it’s essential and avoiding public transport if you’re unwell.”

If successful, the extended peak services will be expanded from the Gawler line to other lines.

The government will also partner with the City of Adelaide to encourage cycle and walking where possible and staggering travel in the Adelaide CBD.