4 kilometres of track laid on Forrestfield-Airport Link

Work is rapidly progressing on the preparation of the Forrestfield-Airport Link to run trains by late 2021.

Tracklaying works have already put in place four kilometres of track through the twin tunnels.

The future stations for the line are also coming into shape, with the high eaves over Airport Central Station recently installed.

Connecting the station atrium to the platform is the longest uninterrupted escalator in the southern hemisphere, with stretches to 35 metres long and 15 metres high.

To date, 5.7km of skeleton track has been put down, and 3.9km of track completed for the 8.5km line.

Australian contractor Martinus Rail will use over 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel in the project, where it has employed more than 100 local workers.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project, which connects the existing rail network at Bayswater with the eastern foothills via Perth’s airport, has already provided many opportunities for local businesses.

“The Forrestfield Airport Link construction employs hundreds of local workers and provides opportunities for local businesses and subcontractors,” he said.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that with major breakthroughs so far, it will not be long until commuters are using the new line.

“We’ve reached several milestones this year with the completion of tunnelling and the start of track laying,” she said.

“The stations are almost completed and it is exciting to think trains will be running on this line in late 2021.”

Martinus CEO and managing director Treaven Martinus said that with this project under their belt, Martinus will be looking to scale up for further projects.

“Currently, we have very skilled and experienced track and overhead wiring teams in WA but our vision has always been to expand the team to encompass civil and signalling capabilities,” said Martinus.

“There are many projects coming online and we are excited about what that means for us, the opportunities it provides for our teams, local businesses, and subcontractors.”


Contract awarded for tracklaying at Claremont Station

The Western Australian government has announced the successful tenderer for the $36 million contract for tracklaying at Claremont station.

John Holland is the successful contractor and will complete the works at the station, part of the Metronet project.

Scheduled for completion in late 2021, with rail infrastructure operational by mid 2021, the work involves installing turnbacks west of Claremont Station on the Fremantle line.

The turnbacks will allow trains to travel back towards the city after stopping at Claremont. This will allow greater frequency services on the Fremantle and Forrestfield-Airport Link lines. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that local and city-wide works required the new infrastructure.

“We know significant development is taking place around Claremont Station – which is currently the third-busiest on the Fremantle Line – and we expect patronage of this station to increase significantly, which is why this upgrade is so important,” she said.

“Claremont Station is located halfway along the Fremantle Line, so is ideally positioned to host turnbacks – it’s a vital part of ensuring our rail network is well-placed to deal with future demand particularly when the Forrestfield- Airport Link comes online in late 2021.”

During normal peak periods turnback one will be used every ten minutes. Turnback two will be used during peak periods and special events as required, or when there are planned or unplanned service disruptions.

In addition to the new track, Claremont station will be upgraded to meet accessibility standards and a new underpass will be constructed. Bus facilities and pedestrian connections are also part of the project.

Saffioti said that works would support the local economy.

“This $36 million contract will help support 300 local jobs in the community, an excellent outcome for the project.”


The local solution: Martinus Rail’s story of growth to meet today’s rail pipeline

With an exclusive dedication to the rail industry, Martinus is bringing the approach of a family-owned business to major rail projects around Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking with Treaven Martinus, over a video call in June, the CEO of Martinus Rail is back to where it all began almost 15 years ago, an office in his home in Cronulla.

“I’ve been in the rail industry through my whole working career and in 2005 I ventured out to start a product supply business for the rail industry,” said Martinus.

The business that he founded supplied turnouts to the Australian rail industry, is now delivering the largest track construction project in Australia, the Carmichael Rail Network.

“After seven years developing the product supply business, we saw the opportunity to diversify the business and expand into rail infrastructure construction,” said Martinus.

Over the next eight years, Martinus grew organically into a full-service rail contractor and expanded its presence across Australia, New Zealand and now Chile.

The company’s initial growth was driven by carrying out periodical maintenance across NSW for Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC). In 2013, Martinus set out its strategic five-year plan.

“The end vision at that point in time was to be a full service rail contractor for NSW, but, what happened in those five years, and it’s been a constant story throughout, is plenty of challenges along the way as we’ve had to change our direction depending on what barriers got put in front of us.”

The first barrier was focusing on the concentrated NSW market. Despite being based in Sydney, to this day, only three per cent of Martinus’ work is done in its home state, instead the company has gone where the opportunities are.

“There’s been a barrier to entry for us in Sydney which has been our success as it’s pushed us to go where the opportunities are,” said Martinus. “We only focus on rail infrastructure construction, we don’t do anything outside the rail space, so we had to go where the opportunities were, first being the Hunter Valley, then Brisbane was the next step, Victoria after that, and then we kept just diversifying regionally.”

The series of projects that Martinus would work on would develop the company from a maintenance contractor to a project delivery contractor in its own right.

The main contributors to the company’s early success in the construction space were two young, enthusiastic, and energetic engineers who are now part of the senior leadership team at Martinus, chief operating officer Ryan Baden and senior pre-contracts manager Toby Briggs.

“It’s always been our people who helped us reach the impossible, exceeded client expectations and were instrumental in supporting the growth of the business – and that has been the only constant for us,” said Martinus.

Martinus soon developed a reputation for its people, particularly for their strong work ethic, safe delivery of projects, and shared love for all things rail.

In line with their strategic plan, Martinus set out to win more work and they did this by targeting four main projects which met their skill set and strategic direction of delivering larger projects.

“The four projects we wanted to go for were the Port Kembla coal terminal upgrade, a $15m project, over two years; the ARTC Gunnedah yard rationalisation, a $10m complete re-build of the yard, signalling and drainage; Aurizon’s long term stabling facility in Hexham, the $8m subcontract for the track construction and supply of the materials; and then Morton Bay rail line upgrade where Theiss were the head contractor on that $1bn project and there was a 30-kilometre track package of works.

“We went for all these four projects and we won all four, and that was a huge turning point for us,” said Martinus.

“From there our reputation continued to grow, as did our in-house capabilities and soon enough we became the delivery partner of choice.”

The scale of these projects required Martinus to grow rapidly, and here the company would develop a core principle, one great person equals three good people. Particularly for Martinus himself, ensuring that the company had the right people on board was critical.

“I have, myself, no background in rail construction/contracting apart from seeing it, which led to the actual successes we had because I had to recruit people who knew what they were doing and then give them the autonomy and authority to deliver.”

In addition, with the projects spread out in regional areas across NSW and Queensland and as more and more project came online, Martinus had to decentralise some internal processes.

“To encourage autonomy across our project delivery, we implemented a project controls framework to empower our project teams,” said Martinus. “The framework has a strong focus on safety and provides project support for each team and is flexible enough to be tailored to suit each project.”

Having delivered those four projects in what Martinus describes as a hectic 2013, the company could consolidate its position as a full-service rail construction contractor. Today, the company has experience across all aspects of rail construction, from light rail works in Sydney to heavy haul in the Pilbara, and crane rail construction projects at major ports to underground metro rail in New Zealand. With the infrastructure pie only expected to grow, Martinus has invested in its people, processes and equipment so that the company can self- perform on the projects that it is bidding for.

“To sustain the business growth in our home markets of Australia and New Zealand, we invested more than $60m in three key areas of the business: our people, plant and systems over three years. This also speaks to our motto: growth always, in all ways.”

Martinus’ strategic investment will go a long way in solidifying their position in the market, particularly when it comes to Martinus’ depth of capability when it comes to delivering complex large-scale projects.

“Our model is to secure both greenfield and brownfield works across Australia and New Zealand and then deliver those works with our team and extensive range of multi- gauge plant ranging from flashbutt welding machines to ballast trains and track laying machines,” said Martinus.

When it comes to investing in people, Martinus is also finding a way around the skills shortage that is often thought of as afflicting the rail sector.

“We look for passionate railway professionals who are driven to succeed. We provide the right support and training to nurture future industry leaders,” said Martinus.

In addition, Martinus found people from outside the rail sector whose skills were transferrable. These hires were not only from other construction areas but from the military and hospitality industry, and to ensure they stayed, the company has focused on creating a positive culture.

“Because we hired some of those leaders that were not from the rail industry, they were fresh into the rail industry, it actually opened up our pool of the great people that we wanted to hire,” said Martinus.

Combined, these investments ensure Martinus can provide an alternate method for delivering rail infrastructure solutions for their clients.

Martinus attributes their current pipeline of projects to the hard work and dedication of their people, including the Carmichael Rail Network in central Queensland and the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth.

Martinus is currently in the process of building the Carmichael Rail Network.

In April 2020, Adani announced Martinus as a successful contractor for civil construction and rail works on the Carmichael Rail Network. The 200km narrow gauge rail line will link Adani’s Carmichael Mine to the existing Central Queensland Coal Network.

The $340m civil and track contracts have four unique challenges, said Martinus’ Chief Operating Officer Ryan Baden.

“The four big challenges are its remoteness, the start of the rail line is 200-kilometres from the coast, and then it goes another 200-kilometres south west from there. Second, is the complexity of the civil works which are currently underway. The third is ensuring we adhere to a significant number of strict environmental requirements and the fourth is the challenges around logistics.

“We’ve always undertaken civil construction in the rail corridor but compared to this they were minor civil construction. Now we’re delivering the port-side civil works, which is 86 kilometres of the earthworks formation with 10 multi-span superstructures – one that spans 50 metres, 87 culvert structures and three-million cubic meters of cut to fill.”

To meet these challenges, Martinus is turning back to the projects that have enabled the company to grow so rapidly.

“Our biggest success has been regional rail construction. Large regional rail projects fit our model, because to self-perform we hold a lot of white-collar and blue-collar expertise and plant that we have to keep busy,” said Baden. “We are expecting to have more than 600 workers on-site at the peak of construction.”

With regional rail projects, the scale and ongoing nature means that teams can be deployed for significant periods of time, rather than waiting for short-term possession-based work on metropolitan networks.

“The way we deliver regional projects is we have our core expertise that gets mobilised to the project and then we recruit, resource, and train from the region.”

Already, Martinus has 300 staff on site for the Carmichael Rail Network and the company has tapped into the local resource pool to engage workers and suppliers.

The approach is similar to the one taken by Martinus on previous projects, a large focus on community and industry engagement and set targets to employing, providing training opportunities and upskilling local people and engaging local suppliers.

Similarly, Martinus foresees an ongoing benefit from works on the Carmichael Rail Network.

“It will open up an area and there will be ongoing jobs in rail maintenance. There’ll be a larger fleet of rail wagons and coal wagons running around that will need to be serviced, it opens up the region to deliver more works,” said Baden.

“We are proud to support Adani’s commitment to regional job creation and partnering with local businesses.”

Martinus has invested in the people and equipment needed to deliver major projects.

While Martinus is setting up camp in Central Queensland, its team are preparing in a very different way for another major project, the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth. The $1.86bn project is part of the West Australian government’s Metronet program and Martinus is working with the Salini Impregilo-NRW Joint Venture to undertake track and overhead wiring works.

The new line, which extends underneath the Perth airport and links up with the existing rail network at Bayswater combines greenfield and brownfield construction.

“It has large scale rail construction in the dual 8km tunnel where we’re delivering the slab track construction as well as the overhead wire and commissioning, including the brownfield connection at Bayswater Junction,” said Baden.

For a project of this complexity, comprehensive planning has to be undertaken. For the brownfield section, the style of operation goes to where the company first began.

“At the peak of works, we’ll have around 150 workers onsite. Not only will this help us deliver the project but it helps build our team and capabilities in WA, to ensure we are ready for new projects.

“Being solutions focused, we have to be mindful that our piece is a small piece in a very large project, and our team is flexible enough to be redeployed to help out another team or assist with other works,” said Baden.

“Some expertise are recruited locally but we have also brought in other expertise. The only way we’re going to have success is to build a self-sustaining business in WA,” said Baden. “It’s the same in every market, people want to be dealing with locals.”

“Every market that we’re in, we’re in for the long term. We plan to successfully continue our growth and stay true to why we did this in the first place.”


Tracklaying in progress on Perth’s future Airport Line

With tunnelling complete on the Metronet Forrestfield-Airport Link project, tracklaying has now begun along the 8-kilometre-long tunnels.

Martinus Rail will install the 40 kilometres of rail needed to form the track in each tunnel, along with tie-ins at Bayswater and stowage at High Wycombe.

The first kilometre of track has already been laid, and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said that this was a significant milestone on the project.

“Tracklaying is one of the final major events on the construction of a rail line – it’s an exciting milestone for this $1.86 billion project, with more than 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel being prepared.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the project was coming together.

“We’re at an exciting time for this major infrastructure project – the tunnel-boring machines have finished creating our tunnels, our three new stations are taking shape and tracklaying is now underway.”

The 27.5m long pieces of steel are flash-butt welded into 220 metre strings. The Martinus teams have been working simultaneously to weld the rail, transport it and lay it along with the sleepers to form the skeleton track, before concrete is poured to complete the slab track.

Other work is also underway to install the overhead line equipment and the communications and signalling systems.

Roughly 100 jobs are supported by the tracklaying and rail infrastructure stages of the project.

Once complete, the Airport Line will link the Perth CBD with the airport and the eastern suburbs, including Redcliffe and High Wycombe. Thousands of commuters expected to use the rail link each day when trains begin running in late 2021.

WA resumes free late night trains

This weekend will see late night trains running again in Perth.

The decision to reinstate the 1am and 2am services from Perth and 2.50am service from Fremantle follows the re-opening of nightlife businesses in the state. Phase 4 of the WA lifting of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions come into effect at 11.59pm on Friday, June 26, allowing nightclubs, bars, and live music venues to re-open.

The services that will run again include 1.15am and 2.15am trains on the Joondalup/Mandurah lines from Perth Underground, 1am and 2.15am services on the Armadale/Midland lines from Perth Station, and services between Fremantle and Perth.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that by having these trains back in service it will support hospitality and entertainment businesses.

“As our nightclubs and live music venues begin to re-open, it’s important we head back into the CBD and support our small businesses – reintroducing our free late night train services will give patrons a safe and hassle-free way to get home.”

Staff to run these trains have been quickly mobilised.

“I also want to thank our public transport employees, who have again stepped up to support the community during the pandemic. I appreciate the transport workers accepting short notice changes to their night shifts to make it possible,” said Saffioti.

Community chooses new station name

3,500 locals have chosen High Wycombe as the name for the final station on Perth’s new Forrestfield-Airport Link line.

Once complete, the line will be known as the Airport Line and will terminate in Perth’s eastern suburbs.

Saffioti said that early work on the station had begun.

“The start of construction for the car park is another step towards completion of the station precinct and will provide a further boost for local jobs.”

The Forrestfield-Airport Link is part of the Metronet project in Perth. Trains are expected to run on the line, which travels underneath Perth airport by 20201.

Digital engineering becoming more important than ever

While digital engineering has long been touted as the next technology that can create, manage, and utilise data for infrastructure development, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought it even more into focus.

With workforces forcibly distributed as remote working directives took effect, the value of having a rich virtual building information model (BIM) to enable seamless collaboration across physically distanced workforces has never been clearer.

Consulting company GHD has already exploited the value of digital ways of working in many projects, and recently in its work on the Forrestfield-Airport Link project – part of the Metronet project in Perth – within the Salini Impregilo and NRW Joint Venture.

According to GHD’s Rail Design Lead on the project, Martin Harle, using digital tools such as BIM, geographic information systems (GIS), analytics, coding, and automation, the team was able to eliminate clashes between different models by coordinating design through one model.

“Using this technology we are able to automate clash checks across multiple complex disciplines, highlighting design coordination issues in real time,” he said. “It helps to pre-empt and resolve potential construction problems during the design process, rather than dealing with unexpected issues as they occur on site.”

Avoiding duplication and replication, the BIM system enables costs to be reduced at the design phase. This not only improves processes at the construction site, but also enables suppliers to have a clearer idea of the concepts their assets will be working in.

“So far, on the Forrestfield-Airport Link, rail track and overhead line equipment has been designed and modelled 8.5 times faster and 1152 hours have been saved in automating 180 Navisworks exports,” said Martin.

Incorporating digital tools early on in the construction of a project can also lead to efficiencies once the project is operational. At the end of the design and construct phase, asset information can be handed over to the operator to promote ongoing efficiency.

The insights that GHD has gathered from this project have been used to advantage on other projects, including the Sydney Metro. And the lessons have wider implications through the Digital Engineering Code of Practice which will be applied nationally through the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), which GHD helped design. GHD BIM lead – Western Australia and co-author of the code Belinda Thompson, said the benefits of the code are broad.

“By adopting Digital Engineering processes, increasing the accuracy of information and automating the data exchange processes, we can improve safety, reduce risk, achieve greater cost certainty and improved sustainability.”

The full Digital Engineering article can be found here: https://www.ghd.com/en/about-us/digital-engineering-in-action-driving-change-in-delivery-of-rail-projects.aspx.

Catenary for Forrestfield-Airport Link: Digital Engineering used in Safety-in-Design. Credit: GHD.

TBM Sandy breaks through at Bayswater

Tunnelling is complete on the Forrestfield-Airport Link, part of the Metronet project in Western Australia.

On April 20, tunnel boring machine Sandy broke through at the Bayswater dive structure. WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the completion of tunnelling is a “major milestone” for WA.

“While Western Australia has been grappling with COVID-19, TBM Sandy and the project team have been continuing to work on this incredible project for Perth.”

The breakthrough ended 900 days of tunnelling under Perth Airport and the Swan River, creating 16 kilometres of tunnels, two twin 8km tunnels.

Now that tunnelling is finished, track will start to be laid from July 2020. The track slab is half installed while construction and fit out of the station buildings continues.

“In times like these it’s important we continue to progress projects that will provide work for local businesses and keep workers in their jobs, ultimately supporting the State’s wider economy,” said McGowan.

The tunnels, made with 9,000 tunnel rings comprising 54,000 locally made concrete segments, link three stations, Forrestfield, Airport Central, and Redcliffe to the wider rail network.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti thanked those who have worked on the project so far.

“In July 2017, Premier Mark McGowan and I were at the Forrestfield Station site to mark the start of tunnelling on the Forrestfield-Airport Link,” she said.

“Thank you to the tunnelling team and other workers who delivered TBM Sandy to her destination and helped achieved this major milestone.”

The $1.86bn Forrestfield-Airport Link provides over 700 jobs in Western Australia, and is one of six Metronet projects underway in 2020.

The tunnelling for the Forrestfield-Airport Link was conducted by a joint venture of Salini Impregilo and NRW Civil and Mining which won the design and construct contract, along with a 10 year maintenance contract, in April 2016.

Contractor announced for Bayswater Station construction

The preferred proponent for the construction of the Bayswater Station is Evolve Bayswater Alliance, Coleman Rail.

The $253 million contract, awarded by the Western Australia government as part of the Metronet project, covers the building of the station, precinct works, new platforms, and rail infrastructure. The Bayswater station serves as a crucial linking point between the Midland Line to the future Forrestfield-Airport Link and the Morley-Ellenbrook Line.

Once construction is complete on these new lines, more trains will run more often between Bayswater and Claremont, driving greater use of public transport in Perth, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“Bayswater is on track to becoming one of Perth’s best connected communities, with access to three rail lines and many bus services,” she said.

A rail turnback for Forrestfield-Airport Link operations will also be built.

“In times like these it’s important we continue to progress the projects that will provide work for local businesses and keep workers in their jobs. This will ultimately support the State’s wider economy,” said Saffioti.

The contract will involve staged construction of the two island platforms. The first will be constructed while the current line and station are still being used. When complete, trains will begin using this new platform while the old station is removed and a new platform is built for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line.

“Building this project, combined with construction of other nearby major projects like the Tonkin Gap and Morley-Ellenbrook Line, will help support the WA economy through some tough times ahead,” said Saffioti.

Utility and environmental works have already begun at Bayswater Station, as have improvements to Meltham and Ashfield stations, and the future station will improve the surrounding community, said Maylands MLA, Lisa Baker.

“Bayswater Station is more than just a public transport project – the wider Bayswater community will also benefit with new public spaces and more pedestrian-friendly streets around the station,” she said.

Metronet Airport Central Station now 70 per cent completed

The construction of Metronet’s Airport Central Station in Perth is 70 per cent complete with the first roof modules installed last week.

The first girders of Airport Central Station’s 137-tonne steel roof structure have been craned into place, with the steel fabricated locally by Naval Base company Pacific Industrial Co.

The $1.86 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link is jointly funded by the Australian and Western Australian governments and will deliver a new rail service to the eastern suburbs of Perth – with three new stations at Redcliffe, Airport Central and Forrestfield.

Rita Saffioti, WA Transport Minister said that, until now, the construction of Airport Central Station has been largely underground with significant excavation undertaken to build the three-level railway hub.

The roof modules will be craned into place over a three-month period, before specially designed sheeting is installed.

“While most works to date have been largely hidden, construction of this massive roof structure marks a new phase in above-ground construction for this project – an architectural milestone,” Saffioti said.

The roof installation comes as TBM Grace, the first tunnel-boring machine, finishes its work, having broken through into the Bayswater Station dive structure on February 18.

TBM Sandy is expected to break through towards the middle of the year to complete the project, and by end of their three-year journey, the machines will have travelled eight kilometres each.

At Skybridge level, the steel frame for the link between the station entry and the 280-metre-long elevated walkway has been constructed with travelators and information screens installed.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said about 2,000 jobs have been created on this project alone, with more than 700 people currently employed, and 70 jobs created as part of the Skybridge project.

“The Forrestfield-Airport Link is an important part of Metronet and when it opens next year it will provide an accessible public transport link for thousands of Western Australians and tourists,” McGowan said.

Breakthrough on longest rail tunnel in WA

After two and a half years, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) called Grace has reached the end of its eight-kilometre tunneling journey in Perth.

TBM Grace has broken through at Bayswater dive station, part of the Metronet’S Forrestfield-Airport Link project in Western Australia.

Two tunnels will house the $1.86 billion project’s rail lines and TBM Grace has now built the first tunnel from Forrestfield to Bayswater.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said this is a historic milestone for the state and a major engineering feat that hasn’t been seen before in WA. 

“Where once there was dirt, sand, rocks and tree roots, now sits the foundation for our new railway,” McGowan said.

Through her journey it has tunnelled underneath Perth Airport, Redcliffe Station and the Swan River, before reaching her final destination at Bayswater.

Walls of the twin tunnel were installed by TBM Grace using half of the 54,000 locally fabricated concrete segments.

Grace is the first TMB and will be dismantled and craned out of the dive structure in preparation for the arrival of TBM Sandy, who is a safe distance behind Grace.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the arrival of TBM Sandy in coming months will mark the completion of tunnelling.

“With the end of tunnelling in sight, work is continuing on important infrastructure components such as station construction and fit out and readying the tunnels for track laying,” Saffioti said.

“The precision engineering it has taken for this machine to tunnel eight kilometres, through varying and sometimes challenging soil types, to break through in exactly the right spot is truly remarkable.”

Tunnelling work is due to be completed in May.

Metronet is the biggest public transport project Perth has seen and trains are set to run on the new rail line in the second half of next year.

The rail link between eastern foothills, Perth Airport, and the CBD is expected to be a 20 minute trip.