Queensland Labor promises $1bn pipeline of local train manufacturing

The Queensland Labor government has promised that if returned at the upcoming state election it would create a $1 billion rail manufacturing pipeline in Maryborough.

Labor would purchase 20 new trains at a cost of $600 million to be built in Maryborough. This is in addition to the $300m, 10-year pipeline of maintenance work of the existing Queensland Rail fleet and the $85m invested in refurbishing the New Generation Rollingstock to make the trains compliant with the Disability Act.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also announced $1m for a business case for the replacement of regional carriages, which is expected to lead to $150m in works also delivered by Downer.

“This $1 billion train building program heralds a new and ambitious chapter for manufacturing, not just for Maryborough, but for Queensland,” said Palaszczuk.

“This long-term future pipeline of work means there will be rewarding long-term career paths for our young people in trades like boilermaking, fitter machining and as electricians.”

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said the investment highlighted Australia’s local manufacturing capabilities.

“This commitment would transform the face of Queensland manufacturing and shows once and for all that trains can and should be built here in Australia,” said Wilkie.

“We are pleased this commitment has recognised Australia’s extensive expertise in the field and the need to invest to this scale in the local industry.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the tender process would require the trains to be built in Maryborough.

“Train manufacturers will be invited to bid in a procurement process to build the next fleet of passenger trains in Maryborough, with an order for 20 new six-car trains needed to support more frequent services once Cross River Rail opens in 2025,” he said.

“The initial order could be followed with an option to build up to 45 additional six-car trains in Maryborough, to meet future demand on the Citytrain network.”

In addition to trains built in Queensland for the Queensland network, Perth’s B-Series trains were manufactured in Maryborough.

Queensland’s latest train fleet, the New Generation Rollingstock, were manufactured overseas, however whilst compliant with the specification under which they were ordered, had to be retrofitted to meet Australian accessibility requirements

“This investment in rail manufacturing would ensure the trains operating on the state’s newest passenger rail line are absolutely fit for purpose and made for Australian conditions by the people that know them best,” said Wilkie.

Contractor announced for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 construction

John Holland has been nominated as the preferred contractor to deliver stage three of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

The $709 million joint local, state, and federally funded project, will extend the light rail line to Burleigh Heads from its current terminus in Broadbeach.

John Holland prevailed as the successful contractor over two competing joint ventures, one of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions and another between Fulton Hogan and UGL.

Stage three is expected to be completed in 2023 and adds eight stations and 6.7km of dual track to the network.

The Gold Coast light rail line has successfully increased public transport usage along the corridor, and was heavily patronised during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bailey said extending the line further south would improve on these figures.

“We’ve seen more than 50 million trips taken on light rail since it first opened, which shows just how hungry Gold Coasters and visitors to the city are for better public transport.”

Construction will come at a time when Queensland is looking to get people into job, particularly in areas such as the Gold Coast where tourism-reliant businesses have seen less demand due to COVID-19.

“Because Queenslanders have managed the health response of COVID-19, it means the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with the job of creating jobs and continuing the state’s plan for economic recovery,” said Bailey.

“For businesses and people on the Gold Coast that means building that all-important light rail connection between the city’s north and centre towards the south.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would support more local jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is already a key local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs, and the extension to Burleigh is expected to support more than 760 construction jobs.”

Keolis Downer will continue to operate the extended line.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Go-ahead for business case for Gold Coast Light Rail stage four

The Queensland and Gold Coast governments will jointly fund the business case for stage four of the Gold Coast Light Rail line.

Stage four, previously known as stage 3B, would see the light rail line extended for 13 kilometres from Burleigh to the Gold Coast Airport at Tugun, at the southern tip of the Gold Coast.

The $7 million business case would be funded in a 50/50 split between the state and local governments, said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“This business case will support the next critical steps needed to push major transport investments on the Gold Coast forward which is vital for Queensland’s economic recovery,” the Premier said.

“This is about building a pipeline of projects that can continue to support and create jobs, boost our economy and improve transport for locals, particularly those living on the southern end of the Gold Coast.”

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said that the connection would provide the public transport backbone for the region.

“It will result in a 40km public transport spine linking key employment, transport, health and education nodes, with an opportunity to also connect with the growing northern New South Wales economic region,” he said.

As part of the business case, options for future spur lines on east-west corridors will be investigated, and whether these should be served by light rail or feeder buses.

Currently, the Gold Coast light rail ends at Broadbeach. Stage 3A, which would extend the line from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, is awaiting the final announcement of the chosen contractor to build the link. In February, three contractors were shortlisted, John Holland, a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and UGL, and a joint venture between CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.

Tate said that he hopes construction of stage four would begin once stage three is complete.

“Ideally we will finish Stage 3 and immediately break ground on Stage 4.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that the community preferred an alignment which travelled down the Gold Coast Highway. Other options suggested taking the light rail line west and using the existing heavy rail corridor, however 87 per cent of local respondents wanted to retain the option of future heavy rail to the airport.

TBMs

TBMs head north for CRR duties

Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that were in use on the Sydney Metro project have been shipped north to begin digging twin tunnels under the Brisbane river for the Cross River Rail project.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the machines have arrived and are being prepared to start major tunnelling for the underground rail project.

“They are the same machines that dug the Sydney Metro. Now they’ll get a full refit and refurbishment at Herrenknecht’s north-side facility, to prepare them to dig Brisbane’s first underground.”

The two TBMs will excavate the twin tunnels that will connect the rail lines north and south of the Brisbane CBD via a new river crossing. The machines will be launched from Woolloongabba Station on Brisbane’s south-side and emerge at the project’s northern portal at Normanby.

During tunnelling, the TBMs will carve through the Albert Street and Roma Street stations sites. The TBMs will travel 30 metres a day and line the tunnels with concrete segments as they create the passages. An expected 290,000 cubic metres of soil will be generated over the course of tunnelling.

Each of the TBMs weighs 1,350 tonnes and is 165 metres long. At its peak, refurbishment work will be done 247 at Herrenknecht’s site in Pinkemba.

Palaszczuk said that preparing the TBMs to work on the Cross River Rail project will create local jobs.

“More than a dozen people have started working on the refit of the Cross River Rail TBMs, and that will increase to up to 35 people during peak activity – local jobs at a local factory.”

State Development Minister Kate Jones said these jobs would have a long-term benefit to Queensland.

“Cross River Rail will transform the way we travel and it will also leave behind a legacy of skilled workers trained by world-leaders in specialist trades,” said Jones.

Production of concrete segments for Cross River Rail underway

Pre-cast concrete segments for the Cross River Rail tunnels are now being made at a site in Wacol, south-west Brisbane.

The project will require a total of 25,000 segments to line the tunnels underneath the Brisbane River and CBD, from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills.

Wagners Precast was the successful tenderer for the manufacture of the concrete segments and will carry out the work from its site in Wacol.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this was a good example of the local businesses that would benefit from the Cross River Rail project.

“Hundreds of local businesses are benefitting from work related to the project. In this case here at Wacol we have a 100 per cent Queensland-owned company employing local workers to build the concrete walls that will line the 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels,” she said.

Six of the 27cm thick and 1.7 metre long segments will create one tunnel ring, of which over 4,000 are required for the Cross River Rail tunnels.

Once the segments are finished in Wacol, trucks will haul them six at a time to the work sites. At full production levels, the site will produce 140 segments a day, using 105,000 cubic metres of concrete over the course of the project.

State Development Minister Kate Jones said she was staggered by the magnitude of the project.

“If you lay the 25,000 segments they’ll produce for Cross River Rail end-to-end you’d reach from Wacol to the heart of Brisbane City with a few segments to spare.”

In addition to the economic benefits of Cross River Rail, said Palaszczuk, the project is also supporting training and apprentices. At Wacol, 570 training hours were delivered in May.

“Investing in major infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail means more jobs, more training opportunities and more support for the economy right when we need it most,” the Premier said.

“7,500 jobs for workers will be created throughout the life of the project along with 450 opportunities for trainees and apprentices.”

Jones said the project was having a real impact on Queensland’s economy each day.

“Cross River Rail is pumping over $4 million a day into the economy, and over $370m is already being spent with more than 400 businesses that make up the supply chain for the project.”

Roadheader gets to work on Cross River Rail

Tunnelling has officially begun on Cross River Rail, with the first roadheader assembled and digging out underneath Roma Street.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the occasion marked a major step for the Brisbane rail project.

“Above ground demolition has also been underway for several months at the site of the new station – but today is a huge milestone for this project as we start tunnelling for the first time,” she said.

“This is just the beginning of the underground works, with 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels and four underground stations to be excavated in total.”

The roadheader was assembled at the site, 18 metres below ground, and is beginning to excavate the 280m long station cavern.

Now underway, the roadheader can excavate up to 50 tonnes of rock and soil an hour, with disruption protected by the acoustic shed at ground level, which stands five storeys high and is 60m long.

Local Queensland company QMW was involved in the manufacture of the roadheader, supplying the cabs. The locally made cabs and remaining five pieces were lowered into the shaft with a gantry crane and then put together underground.

The 22 metre long and 115 tonne roadheader is the first of two machines that will be working at Roma Street.

As work underground progresses, more and more people are working at the various Cross River Rail sites. Already 1,800 people are employed as part of the project, with the total expected to reach 3,000 when the project is at its construction peak in two years.

State Development Minister Kate Jones said that the project is critical to Queensland’s economy.

“Multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail are vital to Queensland’s economic recovery following COVID-19,” she said.

“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our economy. But we won’t let it derail Queensland’s largest infrastructure project.”

Once complete, Cross River Rail will include 5.9km of tunnels and four underground stations. Roma Street station will be 27 metres below ground and replaces the former Hotel Jen building and Brisbane Transit Centre.

Currently, one floor a week of the Hotel Jen is being demolished.

Queensland institutes toughest fines yet for spitting on workers

Queensland is instituting some of the toughest fines yet for those who deliberately cough, sneeze or spit at public officials and workers.

The direction allows for fines of up to $13,345 for those who do so, and includes transport workers including train crews.

The move follows similar fines in NSW, where police can issue anyone who coughs or spits on workers a fine of up to $5,000.

Announcing the directive, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that she wanted to protect workers.

“I was disturbed to hear stories of people threatening to deliberately infect frontline staff.

“It’s disgusting and I want police to throw the book at them.”

The directive covers a public official or any worker at work or travelling for work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There have been reports of spitting and attacks on transport staff in other jurisdictions in Australian and New Zealand. On April 20, Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison said there were two incidents where essential workers have been spat at.

“A couple were joy-riding on our trains and were told to get off. As they were being escorted from the train, a female spat at three of our staff. Two men and a woman have had to be stood down as a result of this incident and have gone into isolation. This behaviour is totally unacceptable. The incident was caught on CCTV and the police now have that footage.”

Another incident occurred when a security guard was spat at while working for Auckland Transport.

“Our staff and contractors are out there in all weathers ensuring that essential workers can get to their jobs and we cannot tolerate this sort of behaviour. We are working with the police to ensure that our staff can do their job without being assaulted,” said Ellison.

In NSW, a teenage girl spat at a Sydney railway station staffer, and said, “I have COVID” according to reports.

David Babineau, secretary of the Tram and Bus Division of the Rail, Tram & Bus Union of NSW, said that all workers should be treated with respect.

“Frankly, it’s disgusting in any circumstance but in the middle of the current health crisis it cannot be tolerated. Everyone has the right to go home safely from work and not wonder if they are bringing a potentially fatal disease home to their loved ones.”

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Preparation works continue for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A construction

Queensland’s Department for Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is preparing the ground for the construction of Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A.

Ahead of a wining tenderer being appointed, TMR workers have been fencing off areas at Broadbeach to build a construction compound.

Signalling the importance of rail infrastructure projects such as Gold Coast Light Rail to the state’s post—coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would create hundreds of jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is an important local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs with this next stage to Burleigh expected to support more than 760 jobs.”

Earlier in April, the Gold Coast light rail system passed the 50 million trips milestone, and by extending the line further south, more people are hoped to use the service.

“This next stage is vital to not only creating more jobs, but also connecting the southern Gold Coast to the rest of the line and getting more people onto public transport into the future,” said Palaszczuk.

The operator, GoldlinQ, has shortlisted three contractors to build stage 3A. Announced in early February, those contractors are John Holland, a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and UGL, and CPBSW, a joint venture of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions.

Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon said that these works will enable the successful contractor to begin immediately.

“By getting started now, we’re paving the way for major works to start on the next stage as soon as possible once the construction contract is awarded.”

Measures are in place to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed during the construction works, for the benefit of both workers and the community, said Scanlon.

“The plans outline social distancing and other protective measures covering workers, as well as safeguards for the community during these challenging times.”

In addition to the construction compound, borehole testing and site investigations are taking place at night along the Gold Coast Highway.

The $709 million Stage 3A is jointly funded by the local, state and federal government, which have contributed $92m, $351m, and $269m, respectively.

Transport major contributor to QLD infrastructure spend

The Palaszczuk Government has released a state infrastructure report detailing $49.5 billion in infrastructure spending over the next four years, with around one-third dedicated to transport projects.

An update to the State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) for 2019 revealed that the Queensland Government’s underspend for the 201819 year was near zero, resulting in the state’s best performance in 10 years.

The update also stated that the government’s flagship Cross River Rail project will support an average of 1500 jobs each year during construction.

The government is working with a project consortium led by Pulse to help deliver the project.

Cross River Rail will deliver a 5.9-kilometre twin tunnel underground rail line with four new stations running from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills in Brisbane. Other major transport works include the delivery of three new Gold Coast train stations at Pimpama, Helensvale North and Worongary/Merrimac.

This investment is expected to contribute to various infrastructure plans, including “transformative transport and communications projects”. The Palaszczuk Government has been actively reducing its under-expenditure rates since 2015, according to Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick.

“Since 2015, around 207,000 new jobs have been created for Queenslanders, and this updated SIP highlights there are plenty more on the way,” Dick said.

“60 per cent of this year’s infrastructure budget is being invested outside Greater Brisbane, where it will support around 25,500 jobs.”

Mount Isa, Queensland. Photo: Creative Commons

Palaszczuk Govt reveals boosts for Mt Isa Line

The Queensland Government has announced that it will spend $500 million to boost mineral exports on the freight corridor from Mount Isa to Townsville.

The funding includes provisions for the construction of a new $48 million container terminal at the Port of Townsville to support North Queensland’s resources industry. The port is Australia’s largest export location for several commodities, including zinc, lead, copper and fertiliser.

The Queensland Government and Port of Townsville will contribute $30 million and $18 million towards construction of the terminal, respectively. The government also announced it will provide $80 million over a four-year period to reduce rail access charges on the line in a omve to encourage a freight shift from road to rail.

“Commercial operators pay access charges to Queensland Rail to use the Mount Isa line and industry has called on the Palaszczuk Government to make rail freight more competitive,” said Transport and Roads Minister Mark Bailey.

“We’ve listened and will provide Queensland Rail with $20 million each year starting from July 1 this year, to reduce rail access charges and will work with industry on implementation arrangements.”

This funding is in addition to the state government’s $380 million, five-year track maintenance plan in the 2018-19 state budget.

Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said that the investment underlined the state government’s commitment to backing regional communities and jobs in the North West by improving reliability through improved transport infrastructure.

“Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits,” she said.

“A number of mines are trucking minerals from the north west to the port, and the trains that are carrying minerals in shipping containers have to be unloaded at Stuart and then trucked 12 kilometres to the port.”

Freight rail major Aurizon also welcomed the investment, stating that the current rail access charges for the route from Mount Isa to Townsville are “substantially higher” than what trucks pay to use the equivalent highway.

“Rail freight really should do the heavy lifting for bulk goods and minerals because it is more efficient, safer and has a far smaller carbon footprint than road freight,” said Sarah Dixon, general manager of Aurizon’s Townsville-based Bulk East business.

“This should be the case on the Mount Isa line which is one of the nation’s most important export supply chains.”