Dubbo

Contractor announced for Dubbo maintenance facility

The NSW government has awarded the first major contract for work on the Regional Rail Maintenance Facility, in Dubbo to local business MAAS Civil.

MAAS Civil will be responsible for bulk earthworks to prepare the site for construction when it begins later in 2020.

The maintenance facility is being delivered by CPB Contractors as part of the Momentum Trains consortium, which was awarded the control to deliver the Regional Rail Project, including the rollingstock and ongoing maintenance.

The project aims to support local economies in Dubbo, said local MP Dugald Saunders.

“The Regional Rail Maintenance Facility will be a real boost for the Dubbo economy and I look forward to other local businesses getting involved.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole highlighted the breadth of opportunities from the project.

“The $2.8 billion Regional Rail Project will create new opportunities for regional NSW businesses and suppliers such as MAAS Civil,’ he said.

“The maintenance facility is expected to generate around 200 jobs during the construction phase and approximately 50 ongoing jobs when it opens, including apprenticeships and traineeships.”

Saunders also announced the release of a Business Support Catalogue, which provides information about programs that can enable SMEs to build capability, capacity, and develop their employees’ skills.

“We want to ensure regional businesses become long term beneficiaries,” said Saunders.

Once complete, the maintenance facility will support the new regional rail fleet, which includes 29 new trains, made up of 10 regional intercity, 9 short regional, and 10 long regional trains. The first trains are expected to run from 2023.

The trains are the first in Australia to use bi-mode technology, where they will use electric power when the track is electrified and diesel outside of that. Spanish manufacturer CAF will build and supply the trains, while UGL will provide maintenance.

Scissor crossing and new trains in preparation for City Rail Link

A new scissor crossing has been installed at Mt Eden, in Auckland, to allow trains continue running while work on the City Rail Link continues.

The crossing was installed in an around-the-clock operation over the New Zealand Queen’s Birthday long weekend to minimise disruption to commuters, said KiwiRail COO Todd Moyle.

“To complete this job we needed over 80 hours of train-free track access to install the new track system.”

The scissor crossing was built offsite and then installed over the weekend.

“It took seven days to build and had to be craned into position. Sitting on 6m long concrete sleepers that span two tracks the new track was installed in 11 different sections – the heaviest being over 25 tonnes or the equivalent of two single decker buses,” said Moyle.

With the crossing now in place, the City Rail Link builder, Link Alliance, can progress work at Mt Eden where the new tunnel will connect with the existing rail network and the Western Link. The work is crucial for the success of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure project, said Dale Burtenshaw, deputy project director for Link Alliance.

“It means that a single line can run through Mt Eden while we undertake construction in the rail corridor for the new rail trenches and redeveloped station. We’ll be able to complete our construction safely while train users continue their journeys past Mt Eden.”

Moyle described how the new crossing would work.

“It is part of preparing Auckland’s network for the City Rail Link opening in 2024. By removing a pinch point and creating more flexible track use, the scissor crossover will allow trains to switch tracks when travelling in either direction and is critical to improving reliability as train frequency increases.”

New trains for Auckland
Auckland Transport has welcomed the arrival of the first of 15 new trains.

Built by CAF, the new trains are largely similar to those already in operation, with changes to door operation to reduce station wait times and new internal detailing.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, Auckland is seeing a return to public transport with patronage back up to 50 per cent of normal levels, and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the new trains will respond to increased demand.

“It’s great to see the new trains in service, they will help with increasing demand as we return to business as usual across the city.

Chief executive of Auckland Transport Shane Ellison said that the trains will add capacity alongside the City Rail Link project.

“We know that patronage on the rail network keeps growing, thanks to the success of the original fleet. These trains will help with added capacity as the network grows until the City Rail Link is completed.”

Next step for consortia shortlisted for Adelaide train network

The South Australian government has released an Invitation to Supply (ITS)  to the three consortia that were shortlisted last year to run a privatised Adelaide train network.

The consortia are Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor; Keolis Downer, a consortium of Keolis and Downer EDI; and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Once the offers from the contractors are received, the SA state government will assess the responses and decide on a final contractor by mid 2020.

The successful proponent will be required to improve services in the Adelaide area, and will be judged based on customer satisfaction, integration of trains with other public transport modes, more frequent and faster services, collaboration with customers and stakeholders, and accessibility improvements.

The contract will cover four lines within the Adelaide Metro network, including Belair, Gawler, Outer Harbor, and Seaford with branch lines Grange, and Tonsley.

While the successful consortium will operate the network, the SA state government will retain ownership over rail assets, set standards for levels of service, set prices, retain revenue, and mandate performance targets for the contractor.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Stephan Knoll, said that the model will deliver better services.

“We will be capitalising on the vast private sector experience to help deliver better train and tram services while maintaining control of the assets, fares and service frequency.”

The shortlisted consortia already operate services in other states in Australia, with Keolis Downer operating the Melbourne tram network, the Gold Coast Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail, and a number of bus services in SA, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Transdev and CAF together operate the Parramatta Light Rail network as part of the Great River City Light Rail consortium.

Deutsche Bahn and John Holland are partners in the Canberra Metro consortium which operates the Canberra light rail.

“The companies associated with the shortlisted proponents have experience delivering better services in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as in Europe,” said Knoll.

SA hopes to increase patronage on its public transport network, with Adelaide having the lowest rail passenger kilometres per capita, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

“We are leaving no stone unturned with our reforms to deliver better and more customer focussed bus, train and tram services,” said Knoll.

Last year, the ABC reported that a Downer employee was caught sending quotes from fake news articles to Knoll about outsourcing Adelaide’s tram network.

Auckland metro trains on their way

Fifteen electric trains are on the way to New Zealand from Spain, where they were built by rail manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) for the Auckland Metro system.

The ocean transportation provider delivering the trains, Höegh Autoliners, says that it was essential for the trains to receive heat treatment before leaving the port “to ensure that stink bugs are not carried to Australia and New Zealand”.

The trains were also stored under deck, ensuring they are protected from seawater and humidity.

The company’s head of sales in Spain, Iñaki Echeverria, also said that no crane lifting in either the load or discharge port was necessary. Due to the length of the trains, this would have been a delicate procedure, but the company’s custom-built rolltrailers are specially designed to enable rail cargo simply be rolled on and off the vessel, making the operation safer and more efficient.

Auckland’s mayor Phil Goff said that the “NZ$133 million investment in new electric trains will help to meet strong growing demand for fast, efficient and reliable public transport across the region.”

The 14 remaining trains will be delivered over the course of the next six months. Auckland Transport expects the remaining trains to reach the city by July next year and will start service in September.

Three consortia shortlisted for Adelaide Metro contract

Three consortia have been shortlisted to tender for the operation, maintenance and service delivery of the Adelaide Metro Train Services, the South Australian state government announced on Thursday.

Adelaide Next, Keolis Downer, and TrainCo will be invited to submit a response to the state’s invitation to tender, to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

Adelaide Next comprises Deutsche Bahn, Bombardier Transportation Australia and John Holland, Keolis Downer comprises Keolis and Downer EDI, and TrainCo is a consortium between Transdev and CAF. The state government will select the successful tenderer in the second half of 2020.

“We agree with South Australians and know that our public transport system has room for improvement,” said minister for transport, infrastructure and local government Stephan Knoll.

“What we are seeking to do is bring trains and tram in line with the same model that our buses have operated under for the last 20 years – that accounts for around 70 per cent of our public transport network.

“Encouragingly we’ve seen some green shoots and in the last financial year we saw public transport patronage increase by over one million trips compared to the previous year.

“The short-listed consortia all have experience in the management and service delivery of rail services, some of which in other jurisdictions in Australia.

“These companies have proven records in improving service delivery and customer experience and supporting employees through the transition from a public to a private operation.”