Commuters on public transport in Queensland will be able to pay 2020 prices across trains and trams in 2021. Read more
The 2020-21 Queensland Budget has confirmed a $1 billion rail manufacturing pipeline in the state. Read more
Alstom is now the first company to be fully certified to the latest onboard and trackside European Train Control System (ETCS) standards.
Issued by independent railway certification and testing organisation Belgorail, the new certification allows for Alstom’s technology to be interoperable with Baseline 3 Maintenance Release 2 for the complete railway system.
“We are proud to have yet again set a new standard in rail. We are on track to gradually replacing all the existing incompatible systems throughout Europe and to optimising and boosting the international freight and passenger transport,” said Jean Francois-Beaudoin, SVP Alstom Digital Mobility.
ETCS is widely used throughout Europe for mainline and high-speed systems. In addition, the technology has been adopted internationally, with ETCS being implemented on Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project and on the Sydney Trains network. Other countries such as India, Taiwan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia have also adopted the European standard.
ETCS uses a digital radio-based system of train control, removing the need for trackside signalling equipment. Movement authority is transmitted to the cab of the train via GSM-R or GPRS mobile data technology. Train location is determined by balises and sensors and the onboard computer determines the maximum possible speed based on train location and track data.
The deployment of ETCS is marked by sequential baselines, of which Baseline 3 is the latest. The baselines set standards for the interoperability of physical in-cab and trackside equipment and software. The latest standards incorporate specifications for the use of more advanced radio technology such as GPRS, with GSM-R technology to be phased out in the 2030s.
Alstom supplies ETCS equipment via its Atlas solution, which represents 70 per cent of the world’s onboard rail systems in service and 18,000km of tracks wordwide.
9,000 trains globally have been equipped with the Atlas onboard solution, and 1,100 vehicles will be equipped with the Baseline 3 Release 2 solution.
Alstom is the first manufacturer to apply ETCS Level 3 in Germany, which involves a higher level of communication integrity to move to ‘moving block’ spacing.
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.
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.”
Two roadheaders are excavating tunnels underneath Brisbane to carve out the route of the future Cross River Rail.
The addition of the second roadheader enables more rock to be excavated each day, with 55 metres of tunnel already excavated at a rate of 1.5 metres each a day.
The over 100 tonnes roadheaders have set out in different directions from the Woolloongabba site. Beginning from the station cavern, one is heading north underneath Vulture Street, and the other is tunnelling south towards the South East Busway.
Blasting is also being conducted at the site to speed up excavation works.
To allow for the excavated rock, including volcanic Brisbane Tuff and conglomerates forming the Neranleigh Fernvale rock that sits under the Brisbane CBD, to be removed from site, a spoil shed built by a local contractor has been constructed at Woolloongabba. By the time excavation is complete, over 132,000 cubic metres of rock and soil will have been excavators. So far, 70,000 cubic metres has been removed.
When complete, the station box shaft will be 32 metres deep, with the future 220 metre-long platform sitting 27-metres below the surface.
Later in 2020, tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will arrive at Woolloongabba. The TBMs are currently being refitted in Brisbane after having completed work on the Sydney Metro project. The TBMs will excavate the twin underground tunnels to the north from January next year. This will speed up tunnelling progress as each can carve out 20-30 metres of tunnel a day.
The Cross River Rail project is incorporating local communities of suppliers and future passengers into its current design and construction programs.
The $5.4 billion project is contributing $4 million a day into to the local economy, partly through contracts with suppliers such as IDEC who will deliver the acoustic sheds at three major construction sites.
The sheds are in use at the Roma Street and Albert Street sites and a third is being installed at Woolloongabba.
IDEC CEO Glenn Gibson said that major projects such as CRR allow for business continuity.
“We are specialists in our field, and contracts like this one with CRR are vital for companies like ours to provide continuity and job security for our staff.”
The CRR contract provides work for 70 employees, including boilermakers, roof panel builders, riggers, and engineers and designers. Two apprentices are also working on the project.
The sheds are prefabricated by IDEC and then installed on site over 10 weeks. By using the sheds, CRR is able to work at night and during bad weather, while minimising dust and noise pollution in the surrounding area.
CRR is also involving the wider community in the design of the project. In one initiative, six stations that will undergo accessibility upgrades have been modelled to allow for those with blindness and low vision to give input on the stations’ designs.
The 3D model of the stations are being made with the assistance of Braille House, which provides. Braille products f or the vision impaired. Braille has been embossed on the tactile model for increased legibility.
So far, a model of the upgraded Fairfield station has been constructed, and Braille House general manager Sally Balwin said this would overcome issues that transport infrastructure has for those with a disability.
“We’re pleased to have worked with Cross River Rail on the Fairfield Station concept design tactile model. Train stations can be a challenge for people using a cane or a guide dog to navigate, and it can impact their ability to access public transport.”
Wendy Sara, production manager at Braille House has been working with the CRR team to construct the station models.
As a blind person, it’s important to be included in the consultation and to be given the opportunity to explore by touch the changes to be made to the upgraded station,” said Sara.
“The provision of access to the tactile model will help blind and low vision people feel confident in navigating the upgraded Fairfield station once completed.”
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.
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.”
Working between rail operators and technology vendors, RCS Australia are taking a technology neutral, functional approach to signalling.
The digitalisation of all facets of industry is a process that has been underway for decades now, and has most recently spawned the new term, Industry 4.0. Primarily concerned with the integration of cyber and physical systems, it is a term not often heard in the rail sector. However, as digital systems open up new possibilities for rail infrastructure builders and operators, organisations are required to work with new technology.
One company making this happen in Australia is Rail Control Systems Australia (RCS Australia). As CEO Paul Hann explains, knowing both sides of the equation enables RCS Australia to translate emerging technology for the rail industry.
“We understand the authorised rail operators (AROs), we understand some of the barriers that they face, particularly from a technical perspective. Similarly, we’ve built relationships with the technology providers. Rail is a little bit different to their normal market, so we bridge that gap.”
RCS Australia has experience working with legacy signalling systems around Australia and having seen the limitations of proprietary technology, the company understood that its position as a technology neutral company unaffiliated with a particular vendor could serve the rail industry.
“We understand that our clients’ needs and requirements should be driving the technology, not the other way around. That was really what was driving our move more into looking at technology solutions and how we can apply those to our clients, the AROs,” said Hann.
As both Hann and Jacquelle Coldhill, Director, Commercial and Projects, know, the core competency of railway operators are the operation and maintenance of existing signalling systems, not necessarily the design, construction, and commissioning of new technology. Having developed an array of competencies to serve just that need, RCS Australia can use their expertise drawn from projects around Australia to guide the successful implementation of innovation in signalling.
“There can often be different challenges in understanding what the ARO actually wants. Sometimes you have to work with them to help them understand what’s best for their railway and how the equipment or the solution can actually address their needs,” said Coldhill.
Since its formation in 2007, RCS Australia has grown to encompass signalling engineering, construction, testing and additionally, the selection and implementation of technology platforms and solutions.
“With in-house capability from feasibility and scheme development through to construction and commissioning, being able to provide technology solutions to address some of our client’s needs as part of the package was a missing piece of the puzzle,” said Hann.
In some instances, to address a perceived dearth of local expertise, rail projects have turned overseas to solve their signalling challenges. One issue with this approach, however, is that the unique specifications of each Australian rail system may not be immediately known, highlights Coldhill.
“Some of the challenges with using an international workforce comes down to understanding project specific competency requirements and having experience on a particular network and with the standards required by the ARO. Importantly, we understand that Australia is not a one size fits all market. Implementation of a given technology can be quite different across AROs. Through our team’s mix of local knowledge and technology expertise we aim to provides specific and appropriate solutions for our clients,” said Coldhill.
This innate understanding, combined with a technology neutral approach, leads to a customer-centric outcome.
“Local knowledge combined with a commercial off the shelf (COTS) solution means that we can genuinely drive things by requirements,” said Hann. “We’re not trying to shoehorn a technology into a project, quite the opposite. We’re trying to match a solution with the requirements of the ARO, combining local knowledge with the ability to source the right solution.”
In addition, RCS Australia are based locally, and are able to continue providing support long after the first trains are running over the new system.
“We can provide ongoing support once a project is delivered. We’re an Australian company committed to long term relationships with our clients, so there’s considerable ongoing post commissioning support, whether it’s training, maintenance or further development and innovation,” said Hann. “Our interest is really in the growth of the Australian rail industry, we’re not here to sell widgets.”
RCS Australia’s knowledge of signalling comes from a diversity of projects around the country. These include standalone freight networks, the integration of metropolitan and regional networks, and new, high capacity suburban lines. Currently, the team is engaged on a number of major projects, including Cross River Rail, Melbourne Metro Tunnel, and Inland Rail. While the scope of each project is quite different, as Hann points out, the approach is the same.
“As providers of safety critical systems, there’s a level of no difference, whether it’s suburban network or a freight network. But the operational requirements can be very different. We focus on our ability to take those operating requirements of a given railway and turn that into a functional signalling scheme.”
On the Cross River Rail project, the installation of a new signalling technology
has to be integrated with the existing network along the brownfield sections and where the new infrastructure links to the existing rail line.
We’re looking at new technology but in an existing network,” said Hann. “We’re not the new technology provider on Cross River, but part of our role is ensuring integration with the existing signalling system and the current methods of operation such that once this new technology is commissioned it can operate seamlessly within the legacy systems of that network.”
On the Cross River Rail project, RCS Australia have deployed their design, construct, and commissioning teams for the safe and efficient delivery of the signalling infrastructure.
“For our integrated technology and delivery engagements, we are developing functional specifications based on the operational requirements of the railway, linking that to technology, and then developing and designing that technology. We deliver it in house from design development through to factory build, deployment to site and final commissioning,” said Hann. “All of those links in the process enable us to bring efficiencies to the party because of the integrated nature of the team and common goal of everyone involved.”
In addition, as Coldhill notes, on a large, multi-stakeholder project such as Cross River Rail, bringing these services in house enables a smoother project management process.
“You’re not managing subcontractors, you’re not challenged with technology or commercial interfaces, you’re not facing so many hurdles and, as a result, there is less delivery risk for our clients.”
Not being focussed on one particular technology, while being part of a multidisciplinary team allows for RCS Australia to take a ‘best for the project’ approach. This requires knowing the requirements of both technology vendors and rail operators.
“COTS vendors are a third-party supplier but they’re a key element to the success of the project in terms of product support. That’s where we focus on being able to translate what they’re doing into rail and present that to projects in a way they understand and that they can see mitigates risk and satisfies their overall requirements,” said Hann.“With the knowledge and expertise of our the team at RCS Australia, we are able to bridge that gap.”