Construction begins on Bellevue railcar manufacturing site

Work has begun on the Bellevue manufacturing site, where Western Australia’s fleet of railcars will be built, tested, and maintained.

Part of the Metronet project, the $46 million facility will be where manufacturer Alstom will construct and maintain 246 C-series railcars, as well the replacement railcars for the Australind service.

Subiaco-based company, Firm Construction, will build the assembly and maintenance facility, as well as a high-voltage testing building. The 180m long building will include a railcar assembly area, offices, workshops and storage areas, two overhead cranes lifting 25t each, and a heavy maintenance railroad with a 10t capable crane.

“Today marks the start of the return of the railcar manufacturing industry to the Midland area,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

Under the terms of the agreement, 50 per cent of the total $1.25 billion contract will be delivered locally. The WA government estimates that 100 jobs will result from construction of the facility, with more jobs once production and maintenance begins.

“In a year from now, local workers will be standing in this very spot assembling Western Australia’s new Metronet railcars,” said McGowan.

The effects of the contract will also be felt more widely across the workforce.

“At the North Metropolitan TAFE campus, just down the road, our specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre will ensure local apprentices and trainees learn the skills for this important work,” said McGowan.

Once complete, the first of the C-series railcars are expected to run on the Perth network in 2022. Previously, railcars were manufactured in Midland up until 1994, when the Midland Railway Workshops closed down.

Midland’s 51-year-old station will be replaced with a new 12,000sqm facility

A new METRONET train station will be built in Perth’s Eastern suburbs.

The McGowan Government has confirmed the relocation of Midland’s new train station will be between Helena and Cale streets.

The current 51-year-old station will be replaced with a new 12,000sqm railcar manufacturing and assembly facility.

The next stage of the project will focus on station layout and design in preparation for procurement and construction.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti highlighted that the project will integrate transport modes and infrastructure.

“METRONET is not just about creating new rail lines, it’s also about reinvigorating existing stations and infrastructure to provide the community with well-designed places that support walking, cycling and public transport.”

The facility will feature three platforms, a new bus interchange, car park, bicycle facilities and a new shared path.

The Helena Street level crossing will close due to growth in freight rail operations and frequency of metro trains.

The crossing will be replaced with a new one at Cale Street and will connect through to Centennial Place.

The business case for the project has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia and the project definition plan will be completed in mid-2020.

Saffioti said the new Midland Station will make it easier for commuters, local businesses and residents to connect to public transport

“Relocating Midland Station has been high on the wish list of eastern suburbs locals for many years and it is now another step closer to becoming a reality,” Saffioti said.

The new station will be closer to the centre of Midland, Midland Health Campus, and the Workshops precinct.

Midland MLA Michelle Roberts said a new Midland train station has been needed for a long time.

“State of the art facilities, combined with a more central location will help boost train patronage and visitors to local businesses,” Roberts said.

Construction will start on the new manufacturing facility in Bellevue in the first half of this year.

Planning will continue for a future rail extension to Bellevue, which would be delivered in the next stage of the McGowan Government’s METRONET transformation of Perth’s rail network.

AusRAIL: Boosting service intervals for traction motors

SKF tells Rail Express about how the latest methods of bearing protection, including insulating coatings, hybrid bearings and sealed bearing units, can help extend maintenance intervals for traction motors in the rail sector.


In modern rail industry traction engines, AC motors have almost completely replaced DC motors as they present several advantages, including higher efficiency, reduced wear, less maintenance and greater power density. That’s not to say they are problemfree, however.

One consequence of using AC motors typically in combination with frequency converters is an increased risk of stray, high frequency currents. These can cause surface erosion of bearings, leading to potential failure. This then requires more frequent servicing – which undermines the original efficiency gains.

SKF Australia’s general manager rail, Anthony Clack, says the company aims to provide a range of solutions to help designers and users of traction motors extend maintenance intervals and boost efficiency. He says all solutions rely on SKF’s proven ability to protect bearings – to various degrees – from the conditions within AC motors.

Hybrid approach

The most important technology is hybrid bearings, in which the steel rolling elements are replaced with ones made of ceramics. This material provides very high current insulation, so is resistant to the “damaging” effects of AC motors.

“Hybrid bearings have the high resistance and low capacitance needed to withstand these conditions,” Clack said.

Some of the advantages of running these bearings include: high wear resistance; lower friction; higher speed capabilities; and no cold welding effects under poor lubrication or low load conditions. However, one main attribute of hybrid bearings is that they run cooler than conventional bearings, thanks to their lower friction. This has a profound effect on bearing life because it ensures that lubricant lasts longer.

“For grease-lubricated bearings – which are used in almost all traction motors – the maintenance interval is usually determined by the grease life. This is mainly affected by contamination, mechanical stressing and temperature,” Clack said.

A temperature rise of just a few degrees can have a huge effect – while a 15°C rise in bearing temperature will cut grease life in approximately half. At the same time, the insulative nature of ceramics ensures there is no electrical “burning” of the grease. In this way, adopting hybrid bearings can help to more than double the grease life – with a subsequent extension of the maintenance interval.

Yet, despite their many advantages, hybrid bearings have traditionally been considered unaffordable for general applications. However, recent manufacturing advances have helped to bring the price of hybrid bearings closer to that of standard bearings.

“For smaller bearings, it has been possible to reduce the price gap significantly – though large hybrid bearings are still more expensive than their standard equivalents. Taking lifecycle cost into account – rather than simply purchase cost – makes hybrid bearings even more attractive,” Clack explained.

An added advantage is that hybrid bearings can be swapped directly for their standard equivalents, as a direct retrofit replacement. Insulated coating Hybrid solutions – particularly the hybrid TMBU – will guarantee the longest possible extension of maintenance interval.

However, Clack says not all applications require such an extension – and not all budgets will stretch far enough. A more basic solution is to use specially treated Insocoat bearings – which are standard steel bearings with an insulated coating that gives a degree of resistance against stray electric currents.

Insocoat bearings are useful for designers who are not yet ready to make the switch to hybrid bearings due to missing experience with ceramic materials. They can also be incorporated into a TMBU arrangement.

SKF is currently expanding the capabilities of its Insocoat products. Last year, for instance, it launched a new product that works more effectively in humid conditions – making it highly appropriate for rail applications in certain regions. In addition, SKF will increase coating thickness on Insocoat bearings, to improve their effectiveness.


Visit SKF Australia at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 286.