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.

Changes to rail access regime welcomed by industry

Western Australian rail operators and infrastructure managers have positively responded to the WA government’s announced changes to the state’s Rail Access Regime.

The changes include: changes to the asset valuation method and a requirement for published standing offers; improved protection from unfair discrimination; better acknowledgement of foundation customers; increases in transparency; and finding efficiencies in the regulatory process by adding timeframes, information provision obligations, and standardising requirements.

The reforms will be implemented in changes to the Railways (Access) Code 2000. Ongoing consultation will continue with stakeholders as the process moves to the next stages.

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said that the changes would benefit groups near non-metropolitan railways.

“The McGowan Government has agreed to a series of important reforms to the State’s Rail Access Regime, which will make attaining access to railways easier and quicker, supporting regional communities.”

The state government has been conducting consultations for the past two years and aims to make the Regime more effective as an alternative to commercial negotiations. A spokesperson for CBH Group told Rail Express that the company appreciated the government’s commitment to reform.

“CBH welcomes the announcement by the Treasurer that the Western Australian Government has approved significant changes to the WA Rail Access Regime to make it more effective, speed up access negotiations, and ensure railway access arrangements are fair for all parties.”

Reviews of the scheme in 2011 and 2015 by the Economic Regulation Authority found that the Regime was not an effective alternative to private negotiations. Unlike access regimes in other states, parties in WA are allowed to negotiate access outside of the access code.

Arc Infrastructure, the manager and operator of freight rail lines in south western WA, similarly appreciated the approach taken by the WA government.

“ARC have been engaged through the entire review to date,” an Arc Infrastructure spokesperson said to Rail Express.

“It’s been a very consultative approach with industry led by Treasury.”

The reforms aim to ensure that more WA businesses can use the freight network owned by private companies in a cost-effective and timely manner, while encouraging private investment in privately-owned railways. The Access Regime covers the freight rail network in southern WA owned by Arc Infrastructure, the urban network operated by the Public Transport Authority, and two iron ore lines in the Pilbara.

“These reforms will encourage greater use of the rail network and support the efficient movement of freight across the State to support exports, regional businesses and jobs,” said Wyatt.

Arc Infrastructure elaborated on the effect of these changes on their network.

“Our understanding of the proposed changes will mean railway owner will publish (amongst other things) performance indicators and standing offers for rail access,” said the Arc Infrastructure spokesperson.

The Arc Infrastructure spokesperson said that the new regime will provide more transparency for users of the WA freight network.

The CBH spokesperson remained positive about finalising the reforms.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with the Government as these important proposed changes are drafted.”