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.”

Morley Station

Contract signed for Morley-Ellenbrook Line construction

The contract for the construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line has been signed, with the project coming in at $700 million, with contingency, escalation and ancillary costs taking the total project budget to $1.1bn.

The winning MELconnx Consortium, led by Laing O’Rouke, will deliver the project which involves 21km of new track and is the largest expansion of the Perth rail network since the Mandurah Line.

In addition to the new rail line, the project includes five new stations at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook, a future station will be developed at Bennett Springs East.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the project was already making progress.

“Now the contract has been signed, the funding secured and early works are underway.”

These early works include the New Bayswater Station, where the line will begin from the Midland Line, and the Tonkin Gap Project which allows the line to access in and out of the Tonkin Highway and preparing the corridor for tracklaying.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project would boost the local economy.

“Now more than ever, big infrastructure projects like METRONET’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line are imperative to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery as they create a pipeline of work and support thousands of jobs.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2023-24 and Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the benefits would be immediate and longlasting.

“Metronet will re-shape Perth and that transformation is underway all across the metropolitan area,” Tudge said.

“It means jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”

The jointly state-federal funded project would cut public transport times in half for residents in the north-eastern suburbs of Perth, with direct trains from Ellenbrook Station arriving in the Perth CBD in 30 minutes.

MELconnx beat a CPB Contractors and Downer EDI joint venture to win the contract.

WA budget includes $1.7bn for rail projects

The Western Australia government will invest $1.7 billion in Metronet projects in this financial year.

The figure comes from the WA state budget, released on October 8, and is in addition to the $1.5bn in federal funding for Metronet.

Projects to be funded this year include the Forrestfield-Airport Link project, which is expected to be completed in late 2021, the first $275.3 million for locally made rollingstock and the assembly and manufacturing facility in Bellevue, and $195m for the Thornlie-Cockburn link.

In addition, level crossings, new stations and carparks, and the extension of existing rail lines are included in the 2020-2021 budget.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the total investment over the forward estimates would support the WA economy out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To keep our local economy strong, the state Budget delivers a record $27 billion in infrastructure investment over the next four years, including construction and manufacturing work for Metronet and major roads across WA,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to establish a major pipeline of work to support local jobs and help guide Western Australia’s economy out of the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring we’re delivering and building major projects for tomorrow.”

The funding in this year’s budget ensures that current projects can continue and procurement can take the next step forward in the 2020-2021 financial year. Contracts are expected to be signed and work to begin shortly on the Byford Rail Extension, New Midland Station, and level crossing removals on the Inner Armadale Line. Final negotiations for the construction contract for the Morley-Ellenbrook line are expected to be completed soon.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said skills and training would be part of the major construction investment.

“These projects won’t just change the way we travel, they will also have a huge role in supporting local jobs and training opportunities, with more than 10,000 jobs expected to be supported as part of these METRONET investments,” she said.

“This year’s investment will allow for continued delivery of the Thornlie-Cockburn Link, Yanchep Rail Extension and Forrestfield-Airport Link, but we’re not stopping there.

“Even more projects are in the pipeline, ensuring we’re delivering and building the infrastructure needed for tomorrow.”

WA launches rail-focused infrastructure training program

The Western Australian government has launched a four-week intensive training course that will give students hands-on experience on major rail projects in the state.

Students will get a first-hand insight into Metronet projects including the Bellevue Railcar facility, the Yanchep Rail Extension, the Thornlie-Cockburn link, and the Denny Avenue Level Crossing Removal. Road projects are also part of the course.

The program will be delivered at TAFE campuses across Perth and is designed to increase the pool of workers in the infrastructure sector. Young people and women are being encouraged to apply.

Designed to create a pathway for those who may have lost their jobs during COVID-19, the course is free for those on JobSeeker/JobKeeper payments, those who are concession-eligible or under 25.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Infrastructure Ready program is designed to address approaching skills shortages in the infrastructure sector.

“We are delivering more than $6.5 billion worth of road and rail projects across all corners of the State – ensuring we have the workforce to deliver this pipeline of work is a key priority,” she said.

“This new training will deliver job-ready workers to meet the immediate needs of Western Australia’s multi-billion-dollar civil construction industry.”

During the program, students will be taught measurement and calculation skills for the construction sector and safe work practices. Instruction on how to operate small plant and equipment also forms part of the course.

Through partnerships with industry, those who complete the program will be offered the opportunity to gain entry-level prospects. Civil construction industry contractors will be given incentives to employ and retain program participants.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the program will set up participants for success.

“Participants will gain firsthand experience on this unique course that will put them in good stead for work on our major infrastructure projects and for future employment opportunities.”

Preferred proponent announced for Morley-Ellenbrook line construction

The Western Australian government has selected the preferred proponent for the design and construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line.

Led by Laing O’Rouke Australia Construction, the winning consortium, MELconnx won out over a joint venture between CPB Contractors and Downer EDI as the preferred proponent for the design, building, and commissioning of the new 21km line and five stations.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the line would ensure that Perth’s transport system kept up with urban growth.

“Perth’s north-eastern suburbs have boomed recently and the population is predicted to increase dramatically over the next decade,” she said.

“We need to ensure our infrastructure keeps up with this growth – not only are we delivering on the much anticipated Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line, we have also delivered key road upgrades including Northlink, the duplication of Reid Highway and the upgrade of Drumpellier Drive.”

The rail construction contract is one of four works packages that make up the project. Other packages include the new Bayswater station, works on the Tonkin Gap highway, which the new rail line will run down the middle of, and forward works.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project would benefit the communities it serves and the WA economy.

“This has been talked about for decades and is a big step forward for this project, which will transform Perth’s growing north-eastern suburbs and benefit the local and surrounding communities,” he said.

“Now more than ever, big infrastructure projects like Metronet’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line are imperative to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery as it creates a pipeline of work and supports thousands of jobs.”

The Morley-Ellenbrook line is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the benefits would be immediate and long-lasting.

“It means jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”

The announcement of the preferred proponent for the Morley-Ellenbrook line closes out the new rail projects that are currently part of the Metronet program. Further contracts are expected to be announced for level crossing removals on the Armadale Line and the electrification of the Armadale Line to Byford.

Mandurah station carpark under construction

A new carpark at Mandurah station, south of Perth, is now under construction.

Ground breaking occurred today, Tuesday September 8 on the $32 million, three storey carpark. The carpark will add an additional 700 parking bays, taking the total number of parking at the station to 1,800 bays.

The extra parking is hoped to encourage more commuters to use the Mandurah line and fits with existing transport patterns as 70 per cent of passengers at Mandurah station travel to the station by car. The current carpark reaches 90 per cent capacity by 9am on weekdays.

As the terminus of the Mandurah line, Mandurah Station provides a rail connection for the wider Peel region to the Perth metro area, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“As an end-of-the-line station, Mandurah caters not just to those living and working in suburban Mandurah but those from further afar and these upgrades will help future-proof public transport for communities across the Peel region and beyond.”

The carpark is funded by both the federal and WA government. Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the carpark would work alongside other transport investments.

“Together with a new station at Lakelands, it will future-proof access to public transport for communities locally and across the Peel region,” he said.

SmartParker machines as well as security and safety technology will be installed as part of the construction of the carpark. While the new carpark is under construction a temporary carpark has been set up off Morfitt Street.

Constructed by WA builder PS Structures, WA Premier Mark McGowan said that it was important that these projects supported the local economy.

“This is all part of our plan to keep Building for Tomorrow, which is about getting shovels into the ground and constructing lasting transport infrastructure across WA for generations to come.”

The carpark is expected to open in the second half of 2021.

Byford Rail Extension brought forward as station location confirmed

The location of a new station for the community of Byford has been selected as preparatory works kick off before the end of 2020.

The new Byford station will be the terminus of an extended Armadale Line, bringing electric trains to the south-eastern Perth outer suburb for the first time. Byford is currently served by the Australind service between Perth and Bunbury.

To prepare for the new rail line, the Thomas Road level crossing will be replaced with a road-over-rail bridge. The removal of this level crossing has been added to the Armadale Road to North Lake Road Bridge project, enabling works to begin sooner.

The Western Australia government has also submitted the Byford Rail Extension project’s business case to Infrastructure Australia for consideration and potential federal funding.

The new Byford Station and extended Armadale Line will serve the area as it grows to 35,000 people by 2036, double the area’s current population, said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

“Once complete, the project will make it easier for Byford residents to catch public transport in to Armadale, and other centres on the route to the Perth CBD, opening up new opportunities for employment, education, and entertainment.”

Byford Station would be built next to the Byford Town Centre, 8km south of Armadale Station. The project also includes a new car park, a bus interchange, and a pedestrian crossing over the railway line.

“The Byford Rail Extension will also act as a catalyst for further development in the future town centre, maximising the growth potential of the town.”

Armadale Station will also be upgraded to accommodate longer, six-car trains, a new Australind platform and an extended pedestrian overpass. The bus interchange will also be improved.

Additional level crossing removals are being considered and will form part of main construction works.

Once the current concept design phase is complete a main construction contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.

designs

WA reveals new station designs and combined construction disruption website

Updated designs for new train stations on the Thornlie-Cockburn Link were unveiled by the Western Australia and federal governments on Sunday, August 23.

The designs were showcased as contractor NEWest Alliance, a joint venture of Downer Group and CPB Contractors has mobilised on site. The first works will involve the relocation of utilities and moving the current freight line to the northern side of the corridor to allow for the duplication of the line to serve passenger services.

Two new stations will be built on the east-west line, at Nicholson Road and Ranford Road. Thornlie and Cockburn Central stations will be upgraded. The Ranford Road station will include a new, higher road bridge to future-proof the rail corridor.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said he was pleased to see work underway on the project.

Maintaining activity in the construction sector is a pillar of our economic recovery, and Metronet projects like this are creating hundreds of jobs from designers to engineers to tradespeople to truck drivers,” he said.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the project would support over 1,500 jobs during the next four years and will tie in with projects such as the Kwinana Freeway widening and the North Lake Road Bridge.

“These major works will create more vibrant communities with connections to good quality public transport.”

Constructed is expected to be complete by 2022 and trains will begin running in 2023.

The WA government also launched the Building for Tomorrow program, which brings together Metronet projects as well as road, cycling and marine upgrades around Perth and regional Western Australia. The new website highlights construction updates and disruptions to minimise impacts on surrounding communities.

“All efforts will be made to co-ordinate works with minimal impact to the public but with an investment of this scale, construction will undoubtedly cause disruption to commuters in the short-term,” said Saffioti.

“It is important the public are aware of the disruptions near them, understand why the works are going on and when they are expected to be completed.

“The Building for Tomorrow campaign and website will build awareness of the specific works and assist the public in making informed travel choices.”

container

WA endorses plan for new container port at Kwinana fed by rail

The Western Australia government has endorsed the creation of a new container port at Kwinana to relieve pressure on Fremantle Inner Harbour.

With the state’s freight task expected to overwhelm capacity at Fremantle by the mid-2030s, the independent Westport Taskforce recommended a new container terminal at Kwinana, supported by rail links and intermodal terminals.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the decision was about preparing the state for the future.

“It is imperative that we plan for Perth’s long-term future, beyond the capacity limits of Fremantle Port and its road and rail links,” he said.

“Fremantle Port has served our State for the last one hundred years, it’s now time to plan and build the next big piece of economic infrastructure that sets our State up for the next century.”

Moving container freight to Kwinana by 2032 would reduce pressure on inner city roads and allow for further capacity. A decision on whether to transition from Fremantle to Kwinana in one step or over a phased period is yet to be made.

The report found that the current freight rail corridor would need to be expanded for Fremantle to handle larger volumes of freight, and that works to do so, including duplicating the line, would cost an estimated $1.4 billion. A new port at Kwinana would potentially remove the need for a freight line running through Fremantle, the report noted.

An alternative option of increasing the size of the port at Bunbury was also held back by the cost of duplicating the South West main rail line.

For the two preferred options, a series of upgrades will need to be made. These include duplicating the rail line close to the Forrestfield Intermodal Terminal, the single track from Cockburn to Kwinana, and the connection between the Kwinana Triangle and the Kwinana marshalling yard. In addition, a new railway from the Anketell Triangle to the port itself would need to be constructed.

The WA government will now spend $97.2 million to progress the options for the future port, including developed a detailed design for rail connections to the port.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the state was already supporting getting more freight onto rail.

“We have reached our target of 20 per cent of freight onto rail, a record number, that translates to 110,000 trucks off our roads each year.”