Roadheaders

Roadheaders get to work between Woolloongabba and Boggo Road

Two roadheaders are now carving out the tunnel between Woolloongabba and Boggo Road stations in Brisbane, part of the Cross River Rail project.

The roadheaders will each travel 870 metres from Woolloongabba to Boggo Road, excavating 60 tonnes of rock per hour. Every day, the 115-tonne machines will progress between two to five metres, with tunnelling expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Previously, the roadheaders were used to create the station caverns at Woolloongabba, and while tunnelling the machines will excavate three cross passages between the twin tunnels, as well as one temporary cross passage, said a Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA) spokesperson.

“The roadheaders being used to excavate the project’s twin tunnels south to Boggo Road have been repurposed for extended use, having already been used to excavate the Woolloongabba station cavern.”

Unlike tunnelling on the rest of the project from Woolloongabba to Normanby, which is being carried out by two tunnel boring machines, the roadheaders are being used between Woolloongabba and Boggo Road due to the shallowness of this section of tunnel.

“Using roadheaders to tunnel south from Woolloongabba to Boggo Road is a more cost efficient and more suitable methodology given the tunnel section’s shorter length and shallower depth,” said the spokesperson.

“It isn’t feasible to use additional TBMs for this section, especially considering how long they take to assemble, test and disassemble.”

In a press conference to mark the beginning of construction on the future Exhibition Station, CRRDA Graeme Newton said after a year of construction, the project was meeting its targets.

“We’re working both above ground and below ground. The project is progressing very well and we’re on time and on budget.”

At the front of the roadheaders, the pineapple that brakes through rock will go through 30 picks during each eight-hour shift.

ETCS

ETCS roll-out in Brisbane beginning with upgrades on the Shorncliffe line

The installation of European Train Control Systems (ETCS) signalling equipment on Brisbane’s Shorncliffe line has begun.

The Shorncliffe line is being used as a testing environment ahead of the rollout of ETCS on Brisbane’s network as part of the Cross River Rail project.

Simon Cook, director program delivery at the Cross River Rail Deliver Authority said the Shorncliffe line was chosen as a test case due to its place within the network.

“Signalling assets on the Shorncliffe line are due for replacement in the next few years, making it a good fit with our rollout schedule for ETCS. The line is also away from the main line and the freight corridor, which means testing on this line will minimise impact on customers, and the overall network,” said Cook.

When rolled out across the rest of the network, ETCS signalling will allow for more trains to run through the future core of the Brisbane network. ETCS will be installed in the new tunnel constructed as part of the Cross River Rail project, as well as on the inner-city network between Northgate and Milton stations.

Safety is also another reason for the installation of ETCS, as the continuous monitoring of a train’s position, direction and speed enables safer operations.

Existing rollingstock are being fitted with the in-cab equipment at a new workshop in Redbank and trialling the equipment on a variety of rollingstock is part of the testing process, said Cook.

“Over the next two years, the project will move through several stages, from initial testing with first-of-class train fitment, through to full service delivery using a mix of rollingstock, so we will develop and prove installation, operations, reliability and maintenance on the Shorncliffe line.”

Queensland Rail staff will also be trained on the new technology from later this year, with structured training for train crew and other roles to kick off in 2021.

Ultimately, installation on the Shorncliffe line is hoped to enable a smooth deployment as the technology is deployed elsewhere.

“Using the lessons learned from our Shorncliffe line trial will provide efficiencies in the design, installation and testing of subsequent areas,” said Cook. “We will use our System Integration Lab as well as the pilot line to integrate and test a range of the systems that are planned for the CRR tunnel.”

ETCS

Upgrading the heart of the Brisbane’s rail system

The implementation of ETCS on the South East Queensland network highlights the many benefits of modern signalling systems.

In major capital cities, transport operators are looking to get more and more out of their assets as populations grow and the demand for sustainable mobility increases. In many cases, the rail systems that have formed the backbone for public transport have been upgraded with new, modern signalling systems to bring trains closer together and increase the frequency and volume of services.

Brisbane has been no exception and is currently beginning the implementation of European Train Control System (ETCS) as part of the Cross River Rail (CRR) project. However, as Simon Cook, project director ETCS at CRR highlights, there is more than one reason why modern signalling is being rolled out.

“The interesting thing with ETCS and this project is that it is delivering a range of benefits for different people and organisations,” said Cook.

Cook lists three main goals for the system, safety, capacity and reliability, which reflect the priorities of the different agencies involved in the project.

“For Queensland Rail safety and reliability would be the top two things, for the Department of Transport and Main Roads – who is the project sponsor and has responsibility for the overall network and how to manage the patronage increases – capacity and reliability are front of mind.”

When addressing the goal of safety, the deployment of ETCS on the Brisbane network, both in the newly constructed tunnel and on the inner-city network between Northgate and Milton stations, allows for a major upgrade in safety systems.

“The current signalling has been in place for a long time, so bringing in a modern signalling system with automatic train protection is really important as the number of trains and customers on the network increases,” said Cook.

Cook highlights that reducing the occurrence of signals passed at danger (SPADs) is one example where the network will directly benefit.

“A SPAD is very disruptive as well as having potential safety implications and it’s one of the key safety metrics of railways. “If you’ve got automatic train protection so the train will brake to prevent overspeed or avoid exceeding movement authority, then that’s an absolute gamechanger and with a good train management system and an in-cab signalling system for drivers then it’s a smoother, more reliable journey for customers as well.”

To address the second goal of capacity, the deployment of ETCS is about futureproofing the Brisbane and South-East Queensland network.

“The Queensland Rail network hasn’t seen the same level of growth over the past five years as other states, but it has lifted over the last year. ETCS and the CRR project has been put in because of the really big growth that’s forecast in patronage on the Gold Coast line and the Sunshine Coast line.”

Based on 2019 census figures, the City of Brisbane and the Gold Coast added the largest number of people for any local government area in Australia.

The final goal is reliability, an area where Cook highlights Brisbane’s rail network can become more efficient and meet international benchmarks.

“There are ageing assets on the network and you could just keep replacing like for like but the deployment of ETCS was a really good opportunity to bring assets up to a new standard to really drive up some increases in performance and reliability.”

Ultimately, ETCS will allow for automatic train operation through the new tunnel, simplifying one of the most complex parts of the South East Queensland rail network. Ensuring reliability here will lead to benefits on other lines.

“What we don’t want to do in Queensland is end up with a situation where we’ve got a range of bespoke signalling systems, so we are really keen to stick to a standardised approach spreading across our network and operators, and that’s the reason for selecting ETCS,” said Cook.

FIRST DEPLOYMENT
The ETCS project officially roared to life at the tail end of 2019 when Hitachi was announced as the successful tenderer for the ETCS systems. The $634 million project was initially a standalone upgrade to the network under the auspices of Queensland Rail, however in 2018 the project was moved to the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, and is now one of three works packages, along with the Tunnels, Stations, and Development project and the Rail, Integration and Systems project.

According to Cook, ETCS sits alongside the two other packages, and while construction has begun on CRR, ETCS has begun its staged approach to implementation.

“Signalling is the absolute heart of the railway system and any change to that system is going to be potentially disruptive for customers, for maintenance crews who have to learn completely new equipment, and for rail traffic crew and signallers who have to learn a completely new system. You don’t take that on lightly, and the change task is probably bigger than the technology task so the way that we’re going about it is a staged approach.”

The first program of testing will be carried out on the Shorncliffe line. The line was chosen to be a test track due to its lower patronage and separation from the rest of the network. Preparations are underway to fit out Queensland Rail’s 160 and 260 series trains.

“We are finalising the preliminary design for the Shorncliffe line and starting off detailed design next month for the first fleet of trains,” said Cook.

“The idea with using the Shorncliffe line as a pilot area is that we can test our trains there along with the other technologies that we’re going to see in the tunnel at opening. Platform screen doors are another bit of equipment that will be new to the Queensland Rail network so we can either simulate or even install small sections of platform screen doors on the Shorncliffe line and check the integration with the trains and the signalling all work.”

DELIVERING FOR THE END USER
Cook says that for him and his team within the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA), their aim is to ensure the systems that Hitachi provides fit with the Queensland network.

“For me as project director and my team, we’re fairly agnostic over the actual technology, but we’re here to deliver the right system at the right time for Queensland Rail and for the DTMR.”

This has been done so far through the colocation of the CRRDA and Queensland Rail teams and operational readiness work beginning at the outset.

“Operational readiness lessons are something that we picked up from looking at other projects,” said Cook. “You can’t start too early on that. You need to really understand the whole change that’s going to come to the railway through this, so a lot of effort is on focusing on training package, design, consultation with the train crew and signallers on what the changes will mean for them, and of course looking forward to the design for the rest of the network.”

Although there are no other operational examples of automatic train operation over ETCS on passenger rail in Australia, Cook has looked to overseas project for lessons about ensuring that the CRRDA is not only looking from an engineer’s perspective but an end-user’s view of how the system will work.

“I’ve spent a bit of time learning about Thameslink in the UK, which did take a bit of settling down, but there are certainly a few really good takeaways there from an operational perspective; understanding how they worked with their train crew, the teething troubles they had and understanding how train drivers and other operational staff will really interact with the system.”

Queensland Rail have contributed to the design of human factors along the project, and will continue to take on board the views of front line staff.

“At the end of the day they’re the people that will be driving these trains and they’re the people that will be controlling the signalling, so it has to be right for them,” said Cook.

New board members announced for Cross River Rail Delivery Authority

The Queensland government has appointed five new members to the governing board of the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.

The board is now comprised of an array of senior Queensland public servants, and is chaired by Damien Walker, director-general, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development.

In addition to the director general of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the Under Treasurer, who are required to be on the board in the relevant legislation, the five members of the board are from the State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Housing and Public Works, Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, and Transport and Main Roads departments.

The appointment of new board members follows the removal of the previous Cross River Rail Board. Removed board members were Paul Lucas, former Queensland Attorney General, former NSW chief scientist & engineer Mary O’Kane, CEO of State Gas Ltd, Lucy Snelling, former director general of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet John Lee, Brisbane City Council nominee John McEvoy, and Airservices Australia board member Tim Rothwell.

The previous board’s terms were to expire in April 2020, however in February Minister for Cross River Rail Kate Jones informed them that their terms will not be renewed.

At the time, Jones said that the move to replace the board was about improving compliance.

“It is clear to me and to Cabinet that now we have moved from the procurement phase to the construction phase of the project we need to beef up compliance,” said Jones.

“I want to ensure I have the right people with the right skills to deliver this project and hold CPB and Pulse Consortium to account.”

CPB Contractors was put into the spotlight by construction union CFMEU, which has counted 50 breaches of Workplace Health & Safety laws since early demolition work begun at Cross River Rail sites six months ago.

“To have more than 50 enforcement notices issued in this space of time on one project is just extraordinary – if this was a motorist behind the wheel of a car you’d strip the driver of their licence and impound the vehicle in the interests of public safety,” said CFMEU assistant secretary Jade Ingham.

CPB Contractors was contacted however declined to comment.

Major projects

Infrastructure works an “essential service”

Major infrastructure projects are ensuring the safety of their staff while continuing to progress upgrades and significant works while COVID-19 mitigation measures close down other sectors.

The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA) is adhering government guidelines and advice by implementing new safety measures at its sites.

Segregated work zones, restricted access for non-essential workers, and a ban on non-essential access is enabling the 1,500 people working on the Cross River Rail project to continue.

Major works contractors are strengthening their own health and safety procedures while CRRDA office staff are working from home, or only attending the office when essential tasks cannot be completed remotely.

In Perth, construction on the Metronet project is continuing, business as usual, with no restrictions on works being conducted.

In Victoria, the Corey Hannett, director-general, Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, which delivers projects including the Level Crossing Removal Program, the Metro Tunnel project, and the Regional Rail Revival program, among others, told Rail Express that the Authority is ensuring that construction continues with no impact to projects.

“The construction sector is currently considered an essential service and we are working closely with industry partners, unions, employers and workers to protect both their safety and jobs,” said Hannett.

A safety team of 70 is ensuring workers and sites comply with social distancing requirements.

“Project sites have strict rules in place around social distancing, increased industrial cleaning, provisions of personal protective equipment,” said Hannett.

Additionally, an alliance of construction unions and employers groups have united to ensure that safe practices are adopted to keep construction sites open.

In New Zealand, works have been temporarily suspended on the City Rail Link project, however the delivery team is ensuring that when lockdown measures are lifted, teams can get back to work immediately.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that we are well placed to come out of the blocks very fast when the restart call is given,” said CRL chief executive Sean Sweeny.

Cross River Rail construction to ramp up in 2020

Construction towards the Cross River Rail project will commence at 11 new sites, adding to the seven currently active sites.

“Already we’ve got 1000 workers on Cross River Rail sites across the city. With new sites set to open, we’re looking at employing an extra 1500 workers this year,” Cross River Rail Minister Kate Jones said on Thursday.

Construction of Cross River Rail will create 7700 jobs in total throughout South East Queensland and opportunities will increase for trainees, apprentices, and local companies looking to sub-contract, according to the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority’s CEO Graeme Newton.

Newton said that 2020 will see work on the project ramping up, and passing critical milestones.

“2019 was a big year for the project. We appointed our major contractors, established multiple new worksites, revealed the location of three new Gold Coast stations and launched a Precincts Delivery Strategy that will be the catalyst for up to $20 billion of investment,” Newton said.

“But 2020 is where things really kick up a gear. We’ll complete demolition at Roma St and Albert St, start tunnelling from Woolloongabba to Boggo Road, start work on station upgrades and the new Gold Coast stations and we will have workers live on the project at as many as 18 sites across the city.”

Crews are progressing with the installation of 280 concrete piles for the station box at Woolloongabba, and work is also underway towards piloting the European Train Control System on the Shorncliffe line, the authority says the system will make the network safer and more efficient.

Extensive work has begun in the rail corridor between Roma Street and Exhibition stations where the northern tunnel portal will be constructed. Meanwhile, work is already underway towards the project’s southern tunnel portal south of Boggo Road.