Duplication

Frankston line extension business case recommends against electrification

The preliminary business case for the extension of the Frankston Line to Baxter on the Mornington Peninsula has been released.

The business case assesses a number of options for improving public transport usage in Frankston and the wider peninsula, while increasing social and commercial activity in Frankston.

The option of creating passing loops on the Stony Point line and new stations at Tyabb and Bittern is indicated as the preferred option. The possibility of electrification to Baxter or Langwarrin, while having higher a higher cost benefit ratio, would cost more and have greater impacts, the business case sets out.

Currently, Melbourne’s electrified network terminates at Frankston, with diesel-hauled services continuing to Stony Point. The report notes that the infrequency of services on the Stony Point line means that car use in the area is high and public transport use is concentrated at Frankston Station, causing constraints on parking in the vicinity of the station.

An upgrade of the rail line without electrification under the Stony Point Uplift option would also provide additional rail services for the communities of Somerville and Hastings, who would miss out on the benefits of electrification to Baxter.

The federal government, which contributed $3 million to the business case, is pushing for the electrification of the Frankston Line to Baxter and has committed $225m to the project. The business case estimates the total cost of electrification to Baxter to be between $1.3 to $1.5bn.

“Delivering a metro rail line extension south of Frankston will help open up the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, meaning locals can get to work and get home sooner and safer,” said Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

The Victorian government has not confirmed a preference for any of the options outlined in the preliminary business case.

“The Commonwealth has indicated that their preferred next stage is a detailed business case, but has not yet provided the funding or approached Victoria to undertake that work,” said a Victorian government spokesperson.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Commonwealth on our combined infrastructure commitments.”

The Committee for Greater Frankston, a grouping of local businesses and the Frankston city council, criticised the business case as “Orwellian”.

“It’s time for the state government to start properly planning to construct this vital public transport project,” said CEO Ginevra Hosking.

Public transport connectivity to Frankston is listed as a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia, with initiatives for improvement including optimising the existing bus network, increasing bus frequency and coverage, or funding upgrades to rail services and infrastructure.

The Victorian government spokesperson said that the state government was already making significant investments.

“The Victorian government is already spending $3bnon projects along the Frankston Line that pave the way for an extension to Baxter – removing 18 level crossings, building 12 new stations and creating new stabling for 24 trains at Kananook that is a pre-requisite for any extension of the line.”

Morley Station

Contract signed for Morley-Ellenbrook Line construction

The contract for the construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line has been signed, with the project coming in at $700 million, with contingency, escalation and ancillary costs taking the total project budget to $1.1bn.

The winning MELconnx Consortium, led by Laing O’Rouke, will deliver the project which involves 21km of new track and is the largest expansion of the Perth rail network since the Mandurah Line.

In addition to the new rail line, the project includes five new stations at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook, a future station will be developed at Bennett Springs East.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the project was already making progress.

“Now the contract has been signed, the funding secured and early works are underway.”

These early works include the New Bayswater Station, where the line will begin from the Midland Line, and the Tonkin Gap Project which allows the line to access in and out of the Tonkin Highway and preparing the corridor for tracklaying.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project would boost the local economy.

“Now more than ever, big infrastructure projects like METRONET’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line are imperative to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery as they create a pipeline of work and support thousands of jobs.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2023-24 and Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the benefits would be immediate and longlasting.

“Metronet will re-shape Perth and that transformation is underway all across the metropolitan area,” Tudge said.

“It means jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”

The jointly state-federal funded project would cut public transport times in half for residents in the north-eastern suburbs of Perth, with direct trains from Ellenbrook Station arriving in the Perth CBD in 30 minutes.

MELconnx beat a CPB Contractors and Downer EDI joint venture to win the contract.

Optimism in infrastructure sector on post-COVID future

There is broad optimism in the infrastructure sector that the pipeline of work will continue and the shocks felt during COVID will not be long lasting.

Speakers at the National Infrastructure Summit highlighted that while there were some short term impacts during the height of COVID-19, the sector has largely been able to continue and is looking towards future projects.

CEO of Infrastructure Australia, Romilly Madew, summarised that the sector’s response to COVID-19 by setting up COVIDsafe worksites, cutting off access to overseas and interstate staff, and some supply chain issues meant a drop of 50 per cent in productivity during the peak COVID-19.

However, unprecedented collaboration between senior officials in the public and private sector meant that sites remained open in Australia, unlike in other jurisdictions, which ensured optimism and that there was flexibility around meeting contractual obligations that prevented projects from grinding to a halt.

This focus on ensuring business continuity and optimism was echoed by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who said that during the pandemic the state government’s focus was ensuring works could continue.

“Not only are we a COVID safe environment to operate but one of the few places where business continuity is assured,” Berejiklian said. “I think we can feel optimistic about the future of the infrastructure pipeline in NSW.”

What shape the infrastructure pipeline will be was a point of discussion, particularly following the federal budget. Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the government’s focus was on projects that could begin in the next 12-18 months, and that was why there were no new mega projects in this year’s budget.

Despite this, Marion Terrill, transport and cities program director at the Grattan Institute, noted that the size of the infrastructure pipeline is still growing, with the amount of work underway in the public sector having doubled over the past five years, and the average size of projects is twice the value of projects over the previous five years.

The shift to smaller projects and upgrading existing assets such as roads and rail lines also reflected an uncertainty about what travel patterns will look like once Australia emerges from COVID-19, said CEO of Infrastructure Victoria, Michel Masson. Masson said the large transport projects which were popular up to COVID-19 may not be the right projects if demand changes.

Amid these larger trends, infrastructure builders and operators were dealing with their own challenges. CEO of Pacific National Dean Dalla Valle noted that state government regulatory changes to allow high performance vehicles through city centres to access ports was undermining the goals of these governments to shift more freight onto rail. Resetting the imbalance in fees and charges between road and rail freight would ensure that infrastructure assets are more efficiently used, with benefits for the wider community.

RFPs sought for Byford Rail Extension

Contractors are invited to submit proposals for the completion of the Byford Rail Extension, part of the Metronet program in Perth.

The project involves constructing 8km of new track, a new station at Byford, a bus interchange and up to 600 parking bays.

Armadale Station will also be expanded for longer trains, and the project will include a new Australind platform and an extended pedestrian overpass. Armadale’s bus station will also undergo an upgrade.

The project, estimated to cost $481 million, will connect the high-growth suburb of Byford on Perth’s south eastern fringe to the rail network. A contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021 with the concept design phase underway.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said works on the Thomas Road level crossing, ocnudcted by Main Roads Western Australia would begin the project.

“Works will commence later this year with the removal of the Thomas Road level crossing which will create more than 300 local jobs,” she said.

Local federal member Andrew Hastie said the community had been looking forward to the project.

“The Byford Rail extension will change the way people in Byford live and work,” he said.

“It will create more opportunities for local workers, students and businesses.”

State member for Armadale Tony Buti said his community was similarly enthused about the project.

“Our local community has been waiting for this project for many years and I’m pleased to see it is full steam ahead for these works.”

The Byford Rail Extension was submitted to Infrastructure Australia in July 2020, however the independent advisory body has yet to finalise its evaluation.

Options for the reconfiguration of other level crossings between Byford and Armadale are still being considered.

Contractors sought for Inner Armadale Line level crossing removals

The request for proposals process has begun for the removal of three level crossings on the Inner Armadale Line in Perth.

Contractors are being sought for a $415 million combined package of works that involves the removal of crossings at Oats Street, Mint Street, and Welshpool Road and the construction of an elevated rail line.

New stations at Oats Street and Carlisle will form part of the alliance contracts.

Part of the contract will involve the creation of well-designed public spaces beneath the raised section of the Inner Armadale line.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the projects were key for the economy and local communities.

“We are prioritising projects in Perth that will bust congestion but that are also going to drive the WA economy and deliver local jobs,” he said.

“These level crossings removals will do both.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said by conducting an RFP for the project, which forms part of the Metronet package, the final outcome would be shaped by those delivering the works.

“Metronet is the largest public transport investment in Perth’s history and the RFP process gives contractors the opportunity to be involved in delivering these exciting projects,” she said.

Planning is continuing for the removal of another three level crossings at William, Wharf, and Hamilton streets on the same line.

A total of 2.8km of elevated rail line could be constructed through Perth’s inner south. Local member and WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the project would benefit the local community.

“Removing these level crossings help reduce frustrations for commuters in the area who can be stuck waiting for up to three trains to pass at a time,” he said.

“It is also a unique and extraordinary opportunity for the local community to have their say about the surrounding area and what they would like to see.”

Level crossing gates are down for up to six hours a day at Oats Street and removing the level crossings will also improve safety.

A contract is expected to be awarded in 2021.

Midland

WA seeks RFPs for Midland Station relocation project

The request for proposal (RFP) process has begun for the Midland Station relocation project.

Part of the Metronet suite of works, the project will involve decommissioning and demolising the existing Midland Station and the construction of a new station between Helena Street and Cale Street.

The project will be procured through an alliance model.

The relocated station will enable a connection to the new Bellevue Depot and railcar assembly facility, where Perth’s new fleet of railcars will be constructed and maintained. Extensions to the rail network will also allow for future extensions of the Midland line.

The new station will also better connect the public transport network with the Midland Gate Shopping Centre and Midland Health Campus, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“For many years now we have focused on reinvigorating Midland into a thriving commercial and residential centre, and a new Midland Station will be a big part of that,” she said.

New forecourts will be constructed and the relocated station will allow for future mixed-use developments. The level crossing at Helena Street will be removed and replaced with a new crossing at Cale Street.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the project would boost the local economy.

“We are seeing activity ramp up at a time when WA needs infrastructure spending to boost the economy and create jobs as we come out of COVID-19.”

Local federal Member for Hasluck Ken Wyatt said the new station would enable connections for the wider community.

“The new station will make it easier for people coming from the hills and foothills to access the rail line,” Wyatt said.

“This will make a big difference for all members of our community, especially those who use public transport to get to work or school.”

Local businesses are invited to register on the projects’ Construction Businesses Register to be on the list of potential local suppliers provided to the successful contractor.

Preferred proponent announced for Morley-Ellenbrook line construction

The Western Australian government has selected the preferred proponent for the design and construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line.

Led by Laing O’Rouke Australia Construction, the winning consortium, MELconnx won out over a joint venture between CPB Contractors and Downer EDI as the preferred proponent for the design, building, and commissioning of the new 21km line and five stations.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the line would ensure that Perth’s transport system kept up with urban growth.

“Perth’s north-eastern suburbs have boomed recently and the population is predicted to increase dramatically over the next decade,” she said.

“We need to ensure our infrastructure keeps up with this growth – not only are we delivering on the much anticipated Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line, we have also delivered key road upgrades including Northlink, the duplication of Reid Highway and the upgrade of Drumpellier Drive.”

The rail construction contract is one of four works packages that make up the project. Other packages include the new Bayswater station, works on the Tonkin Gap highway, which the new rail line will run down the middle of, and forward works.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project would benefit the communities it serves and the WA economy.

“This has been talked about for decades and is a big step forward for this project, which will transform Perth’s growing north-eastern suburbs and benefit the local and surrounding communities,” he said.

“Now more than ever, big infrastructure projects like Metronet’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line are imperative to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery as it creates a pipeline of work and supports thousands of jobs.”

The Morley-Ellenbrook line is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the benefits would be immediate and long-lasting.

“It means jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”

The announcement of the preferred proponent for the Morley-Ellenbrook line closes out the new rail projects that are currently part of the Metronet program. Further contracts are expected to be announced for level crossing removals on the Armadale Line and the electrification of the Armadale Line to Byford.