apprentices

Apprentices sought to build and maintain major rail works

More apprentices are being sought than ever are being offered by Sydney Trains, as the organisation looks to fill 90 positions.

The apprenticeships cover seven disciplines, including telecommunications, signal fitting, signal electrical, substations, rail traction, plant mechanic, and high voltage cables.

Once the apprentices finish their training, they will receive a nationally recognised trade qualification.

Sydney Trains acting chief executive Suzanne Holden said that there was a great diversity of work to be done on the network.

“The Sydney Trains network is the largest passenger rail network in the country and there’s plenty of work to do. Apprentices will learn the skills so they can help maintain infrastructure like our overhead wires, escalators, bridges and tunnels, signalling system and the fleet.”

Sydney Trains currently employs over 200 apprentices, and 60 joined earlier in 2020. Apprentices come from all backgrounds and are at various stages of their career.

“We are proud to offer an industry leading apprenticeship program, with women accounting for almost a quarter of our total apprentices,” said Holden.

NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the program offered a way to start a promising career.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for thousands of people across NSW. This apprenticeship program is an opportunity for people who may have been affected to take up an apprenticeship and develop life-long skills in the rail industry,” he said.

“Sydney Trains maintains a huge network covering more than 1,500 kilometres and a variety of skills are required to keep the network moving. I really want to encourage anyone interested in learning and developing their trade skills to apply.”

In Queensland, on the Cross River Rail project, a new qualification has been developed for those apprentices that are working on the program.

Cross River Rail has partnered with TAFE Queensland to introduce a Certificate III Rail Infrastructure traineeship qualification. Delivered by TAFE Queensland, the qualification is hoped to benefit the entire rail industry by creating a supply of well trained and qualified workers.

Already, 150 apprentices have worked on the rail project, and as the largest infrastructure project in Queensland the project will provide training opportunities for 450 trainees and apprentices over the lifetime of the project.

The rail industry has identified a lack of skilled workers as a key impediment to the delivery of major infrastructure projects, with the current skills shortfall a major component of the National Rail Action Plan. Skills shortages in construction, particularly high voltage electrical work, train signalling are identified, as well as roles in operational and manufacturing contexts.

Sydney Metro

Development approved for Victoria Cross metro station

The NSW government has approved the development above the future Victoria Cross metro station in North Sydney.

The project involves a 42-storey office tower, a community hub, a pedestrian link from the station plaza to Denison Street, and 1,300sqm of open space.

Lendlease will deliver the Victoria Cross station and the building above after winning a $476 million contract.

Currently, the excavation of the Metro and service tunnels are complete, and the station cavern and tunnels are being lined with concrete. The station comprises Australia’s largest rail cavern, measuring 265 metres long, 25 metres wide, and 20 metres high.

Station fit out works are scheduled to begin in early 2021, and the tower will be completed by mid-2024.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the station and associated development will open up the precinct.

“The integrated station development at the new Victoria Cross Metro Station will double the available public open space near the tower and create a continuous ‘civic green spine’ along Miller Street, with landscaped terraces, outdoor dining, casual seating areas and pedestrian paths,” he said.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the project would integrate transport with local development.

“This tower will provide space for more than 4,000 office workers on top of a world-class public transport system, which is not only transforming our city’s public transport network, it’s transforming the areas around it.”

Approvals for the Victoria Cross development have been fast-tracked under the NSW government’s Planning System Acceleration program. The development is expected to create 400-600 construction jobs and inject $315m into the economy.

Waratah

First of next set of Waratah trains arrive

The first delivery of the second order of Waratah Series 2 trains have arrived at the Port of Newcastle.

The trains are the first of 17 new Waratah Series 2 trains to expand the Sydney Trains fleet. The increase in trains is part of the More Trains, More Services program.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the need to have more trains was due to rising patronage.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen a rapid growth in the number customers travelling on the rail network which is why it is important we invest in new infrastructure, including new trains,” he said.

Once the full fleet is operational on the Sydney network it will take the number of Waratah Series 2 trains to 41. The extra order was announced in February 2019.

Once the trains arrived at the dock, they were able to be placed immediately on rail lines adjacent to the ship. The rest of the 15 trains will be handled in this way over the next eight months, said Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody.

“Newcastle has a key advantage in being able to unload this type of rolling stock cargo directly onto rail lines immediately next to the ship, without the need for any unnecessary truck movements.”

A Newcastle Stevedores spokesperson said that the team enjoys the challenge of this style of cargo.

“We are delighted to facilitate the discharge and initial consolidation of the second stage of the project. The unique nature of West Basin, with direct under hook access to network connected rail, lends itself perfectly to rolling stock imports.”

The trains will undergo testing and completion works in Cardiff and will then be hauled by locomotive to the Auburn Maintenance Centre. Testing there will ready the trains for the Sydney network.

“Most of the testing will take place at night and across the weekend to minimise the impact on customers,” said Constance.

The trains are manufactured in a joint venture between Chinese manufacturer CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles and Downer Rail. The vehicles are assembled in Changchun before testing and commissioning is conducted in Cardiff, near Newcastle.

Corridors

Corridors give shape to future Western Sydney Airport links

The NSW government has confirmed the rail corridors linking the future Western Sydney Airport and Aerotropolis to the Sydney passenger and freight networks.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that maintaining the corridors would support future development.

“Preserving these corridors for future passenger and freight transport links supports the development of the Western Parkland City, while planning for the needs of growing communities and industries to accommodate commuters, workers and businesses who all rely on different types of transport modes,” he said.

The corridors cover three separate rail lines. The first is the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport line, stage one of which will connect the Aerotropolis with the passenger network at St Marys on the Western Line.

The line will travel south from St Marys via a tunnel to Orchard Hills then to Western Sydney Airport and Aerotropolis. A further corridor extending south from the Aerotropolis will travel to Macarthur with a tunnel from Oran Park.

The second line is the South West Rail Link extension corridor, which will be an extension of the current passenger network from Leppington through Rossmore and Kelvin Park to the Aerotropolis.

The third line is the Western Sydney freight line. The line will run from the Outer Sydney Orbital at Luddenham, through to the M7 at Horsley Park, joining a future section through Wetherill park and connect to the Southern Sydney Freight Line at Leightonfield.

“Transport will play a huge role in shaping the way our communities move around in years to come, and we want to get this vision right, which is why we have spoken to the community at great length before finalising these future transport links,” said Constance.

The corridor confirmation begins to give shape to the rail network that will connect the new city at the Aerotropolis to the rest of Sydney. So far, funding has been committed for stage one of the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport line with construction to begin before the end of 2020.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the links would enable further development.

“These future transport links will offer better connectivity for residents and provide certainty to drive investment in new employment hubs near the new Western Sydney Airport and broader Aerotropolis.”

Peak fares cut by 50 per cent in NSW

To encourage commuters to travel outside of peak periods, Transport for NSW is lowering fares across the Sydney network.

Outside of the peaks, which run from 6.30am to 10am, and 3pm to 7pm in Sydney and 6am to 10am on Intercity Trains, fares will be discounted by 50 per cent.

This is the first time that bus and light rail passengers will benefit from discounted, off-peak fares.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that most passengers would benefit.

“The vast majority of commuters will benefit from these changes with either cheaper travel or no change to their fares. A third of commuters will save an average of $3.60 a week based on current travel patterns,” he said.

TFNSW will also waive the CPI increase and have not acted upon recommendations from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to increase fares by 20 per cent over four years.

The 50 per cent discount will run for three months, and then fares will shift back to 30 per cent for off peak travel, and bus and light rail passengers will be able to access the 30 per cent benefit.

“We want everyone to remember they have a role to play in making the public transport network as safe as possible. Our frontline transport staff have been doing an amazing job during this unprecedented time and we urge customers to keep showing them their respect and understanding,” said Constance.

A new all-day travel cap on Saturday and Sunday will also be set at $8.05 to help spread weekend public transport loads and encourage commuters to use public transport on the weekends.

Fares will increase on short bus and light rail journeys under three kilometres in the peak, to encourage active transport such as walking or cycling, as well as to try to shift commuters out of the peak periods.

Capacity increase on NSW transport network from July 1

NSW has moved to increase the capacity on its public transport network.

In May, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) rolled out a “no dot, no spot” campaign to indicate where it would be safe for commuters to sit or stand while travelling on public transport. This led to cuts to capacity, with 32 people permitted in a train carriage.

From July 1 more dots will be added to trains, light rail vehicles, and metro carriages and capacity will increase to about half of full capacity, said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The health advice has now allowed us to increase capacity on the public transport network from 1 July.”

The NSW government is continuing to advise passengers to travel outside of peak periods or avoid public transport where possible, however Berejiklian said that the increase in capacity would be of particular benefit to those who work in the Sydney CBD.

Berejiklian said that the response of TfNSW has been “world class” due to the combination of technology and behavioural tactics.

“I don’t know anywhere else in the world that has those indicators for customers but also the apps and the on demand services that let people know what is happening on their service in real time,” said Berejiklian.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that with the new configuration would allow 68 people on a Waratah train, 40 on a light rail vehicle, and 65 on a metro carriage.

Patronage has risen from 580,000 people to 870,000 in the past month, and with the configuration from July 1 there will be capacity for up to 1.3 million passengers.

Capacity will also increase on the regional network, with regional NSW TrainLink services now able to take up to 34 people per carriage.

Constance said that people should walk or cycle for short trips and that marshals would continue to direct people on trains and platforms. Trains are being cleaned three or four times per day.

Constance also thanked commuters for their kindness and understanding while the COVID-safe measures have been in place.

Sydney light rail

Sydney Light Rail gets service boost

Nearly 900 extra services are being added to the Sydney light rail network, with an extra 810 services added to the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford lines.

294 services on the lines were added in May, however as of 9 June an additional 518 services are now part of the weekly timetable.

On the L1 Dulwich Hill line, 55 services have been added from 1am to 3pm to provide a constant 10 minute service on weekdays.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that improvements have been made to the network while patronage numbers were lower during April and May.

“Since the L3 Kingsford Line opened to customers on 3 April, we have used the quieter than normal period to make improvements to traffic signal phasing and the infrastructure and systems in place,” he said.

The Sydney light rail line running from the CBD to the south eastern suburbs was initially criticised for slow average speeds, however Constance said that journey times have been decreasing.

“Since April, we’ve seen end-to-end journey times of around 38-40 minutes for both the L2 and L3 Lines.

“As the new timetable is bedded in, we will see further improvements to the end-to-end journey time with services running around 38 minutes on the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford Lines.”

The increase in services comes at a critical time as patronage on the public transport network in Sydney is increasing. Commuters are still required to maintain physical distancing while on public transport, and having extra services will allow this, said Constance.

The added services increase capacity across the light rail network by 26,900 spaces a week. The increase in frequency will see vehicles operating at 4-minute intervals between Circular Quay and Moore Park and every 8 minutes in the south eastern suburbs between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

Construction in Parramatta CBD underway ahead of revitalisation efforts

Major works in the centre of Parramatta have begun, bringing the new light rail line from Westmead to Carlingford one step closer.

Work on Church Street in the city centre, also known as ‘Eat Street’ due to its diversity of restaurants and cafes, has commenced.

Crews will remove the existing pavement and road surface to conduct deep excavation and moving or replacing underground utilities such as water, gas pipes, and telecommunication services.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the project was moving ahead to bring the new light rail line closer to completion.

“We know the community is eager to see this light rail built and we will be working hard over the next five months to make the most of this time,” he said.

The works will involve a micro-tunnelling machine that will reduce noise and impact compared to street-level work. The machine will move up to 10 metres a day.

“Our construction timetable together with innovative engineering techniques will see this precinct through to a fantastic new light rail network that will bring passengers into the heart of Parramatta,” said Constance.

The winter works program will be sped up to ensure that as much is done as possible before a construction grace period from 1 November until February 1 so that locals and visitors can return to the alfresco dining precinct during the summer.

Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said that to stimulate business activity during this period, the government will be sponsoring precinct activation works.

“We’re pleased to give businesses certainty that hoardings will come down at the beginning of November, giving everyone a break from construction,” said Lee.

“This is in addition to the many other ways we’re proudly supporting Eat Street.”

Initiatives include installing colourful shadecloth and hoarding, an app to attract patrons, a shop local competition, and business support programs.

Western Sydney Airport Metro line to begin construction this year

An extra $3.5 billion will be invested by the NSW and federal governments for the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport line, with construction to commence before the end of 2020, announced Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Construction is already well underway on the airport, and later this year works will start on this new Metro service which will link the suburbs of Western Sydney to the rest of Sydney,” said Morrison.

Morrison made the announcement of extra federal funding alongside NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“This project is moving forward, through the hard work that has been carried out by the Federal, New South Wales and local governments over the past year,” said Berejiklian.

“The opportunities this mega project will provide are vital as our economy recovers from the financial impact of the COVID-19.”

The line will include six metro stations, including two at the airport, one at the terminal and another at the business park. Stations will also be built in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, Orchard Hills, and Luddenham. An interchange station will be built at St Marys to connect the line with the rest of the Sydney network.

The 23km line is expected to cost $11bn and is scheduled to open in 2026 in time for the opening of Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that the metro line will be at the centre of the under-development region.

“This new metro railway line will become the transport spine for the region, connecting travellers from the new airport to the rest of Sydney’s public transport system.”

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said that the project would support the wider economy.

“This project will support 14,000 jobs, bringing new opportunities for the people of Western Sydney, closer to home,” he said.

“It represents an economic stimulus in the middle of Western Sydney, supporting jobs for electricians, carpenters, plumbers, tunnellers, surveyors, crane and forklift operators and truck drivers.”

team

New team to track occupancy and facilitate social distancing on Sydney Trains

Sydney Trains has a new team who will be monitoring CCTV and passenger data to reduce crowding on the network.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance announced the new team, which will encourage physical distancing on the transport network.

“This dedicated team of 80 people will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Sydney Trains network. Every day teams will monitor 11,000 CCTV cameras and utilise new real time app technology to monitor patronage numbers and help facilitate physical distancing across the rail network,” he said.

Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples said that the new team is in addition to preventative measures on platforms and in carriages.

“Last week we launched the ‘No Dot, No Spot’ campaign to help customers physically distance and there has been an extra 132,000 hours of cleaning since March, with regular deep cleans and hand sanitiser units being rolled at 163 staffed stations,” said Staples.

The NSW government has been encouraging commuters to stay off public transport unless they must use it, and has announced pop-up carparks and cycle lanes to facilitate alternative travel arrangements.

Although patronage levels remain low, there have been some increases as restrictions begin to lift. Trains are limited to carrying 32 per cent of their regular capacity.

Sydney Trains chief customer officer Suzanne Holden said that the new team would trial innovative approaches based on data collected around the network.

“I could not be more proud to lead a team of people who have spent long hours innovating and finding solutions to transport problems we have never experienced in our lifetimes. New features we have created for loading data technology and this new pilot program is setting the standard for the rest of the country.”