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.

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.

Special rail licence announced for $1.7b Eliwana Mine and Railway Project

The Western Australian Government has approved Stage 2 of the railway component apart of the $1.7 billion Eliwana Mine and Railway Project.

The Premier visited Naval Base to inspect work on major bridges for Fortescue Metals Group’s project last week where he announced the grant of a Special Rail Licence.

The licence allows Fortescue Metal Group to be granted construction and operation for Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project in the Pilbara region.

The Eliwana railway project includes 143 kilometres of single track, standard gauge heavy haul railway, two bridge railway crossings, and an underpass for the Karratha-Tom Price Road.

The 2,600 tonnes of steel fabrication being produced at Naval Base by Pacific Industrial Company includes 16 bridge modules up to 46 metres long.

When the project is completed in December, the railway will have an initial capacity of 30 million tonnes a year.

Premier Mark McGowan said “Eliwana is a huge project not only for Fortescue but for a lot of small to medium enterprises in Western Australia and for the 2,400 workers in total who are expected to get jobs out of it”.

The Eliwana railway project is expected to create 1,120 jobs during construction.

Over three quarters, around $1b, of the investment in the Eliwana project has gone to 290 Western Australian-based businesses, with about nine per cent going to businesses in other parts of Australia.

Australind railcar design and action plan revealed

Designs for new Western Australian made Australind railcar have been revealed.

WA Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti visited Bunbury Station on Thursday to unveil the designs of the brand new $54 million Australind railcar sets, which will be built by Alstom.

The two new Australind trains are apart of the McGowan Government’s $1.25 billion railcar program.

The state government also announced an Australind Action Plan, promising to deliver additional public transport for South-West commuters ahead of completion of new railcars.

The existing Australind train was originally planned to have an operational life of up to 30 years, however factors such as corrosion that built up over time has been a leading cause of cancelled services.

The McGowan Government in a statement said while extensive maintenance has been undertaken to keep the rolling stock operating, “ageing and obsolescence resulting from this neglect has led to a number of delays and cancelled services”.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said, “as we transition from the old Australind to the new Australind railcars, we are committed to ensuring that the current train continues to provide a reliable service”.

“We have also introduced a raft of measures to provide more certainty for passengers as we await the delivery of the new train.”

As part of this, the McGowan Government is introducing a trial non-stop road coach service departing from Bunbury Station at 6am every weekday and returning to Bunbury in the evening, enabling passengers who need to commute the opportunity to travel on a fast-tracked, non-stop luxury road coach service.

The road coach will drop passengers at Mandurah Station, where they can continue their journey free of charge on the metropolitan rail system by presenting their Transwa ticket.

The McGowan Government has also introduced a credit program for Australind rail passengers so if their train journey is delayed by more than an hour due to maintenance issues or failure of rolling stock, they will be given a credit to take their next journey free of charge.

The new Australind trains will be a three-car set, and will have a modernised interior, with USB connection points, Wi-Fi, an improved kiosk, upright storage for 16 bicycles, and three toilets.

The railcar sets, being built by Western Australian workers in Bellevue, are expected to be delivered in 2022-23.

Contractors wanted for Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line build

The Government of Western Australia has begun the search for a company to deliver the main contract for Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line on the Transperth network in Perth.

The McGowan Government has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the market, calling on companies to design, construct, and commission the new Metronet rail line in Perth’s north-eastern corridor. 

The main works contract is the biggest of four works packages that will cover the Bayswater Station upgrade and Tonkin Gap projects.

The main works contract will include the design, construction and commissioning of rail track, systems, and five stations. This will include bulk earthworks and retaining, structures, grade separations, roads, and drainage.

The two best submissions for the main works will be shortlisted, and contractors will have to provide a detailed bid indicating how they plan to deliver the project.

This RFP process will lead to the main contract being awarded later this year, adding to the construction that will already be underway as part of Bayswater Station and Tonkin Gap.

The Morley-Ellenbrook Line is a 21km long rail line that will run off the Midland Line at Bayswater, down Tonkin Highway, north of Marshall Road. The line will continue along the western side of Drumpellier Drive and finish in Ellenbrook town centre.

Early works for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line started at Bayswater Station in late-2019, while construction of the rail tie-in will be part of the Tonkin Gap project.

Five stations at Ellenbrook, Whiteman, Malaga, Noranda, and Morley will be built as part of the project, with a sixth station at Bennett Springs East in provision for the future. 

Premier Mark McGowan said major Metronet infrastructure projects like the Morley-Ellenbrook Line will create thousands of local opportunities as well as improving public transport across Perth.

“This year alone we will have an unprecedented six Metronet projects underway, creating thousands of local jobs and opportunities for local businesses,” McGowan said.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the RFP  for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line marks another significant milestone for this major Metronet project.

“The McGowan Government started from scratch to get this project funded, planned and ready to approach the market,” Saffioti said.

“I would urge local companies to put their best foot forward and bid for the chance to deliver this key rail line.”

Alstom finalises $1.3 billion contract for WA’s biggest railcar order

Alstom will build 246 Metronet railcars as well as a manufacturing and assembly plant in Bellevue, Western Australia, after the project contract was finalised this week.

According to the state government, the railcar manufacturing order “has come in $347 million under the original budget of $1.6 billion”. Under the 10-year contract at least 50 per cent of the railcars will be built locally.

As part of the project, Alstom will establish a base in WA at the 12,000 square metre plant near the old Midland Railway Workshops where railcar maintenance will also be carried out for the next 30 years.

“Work will start on building the new production plant in Bellevue and completed in 2021 next year, on top of six other Metronet projects that will be under construction in 2020 alone,” WA premier Mark McGowan said.

Since the closure of the Midland Railway Workshops in 1994, WA’s trains have been predominately built in Queensland with only two per cent of the work completed in WA. The local work will create 200 jobs as well as a number of indirect jobs, according to the WA government.

“Not only were local jobs lost, it was also more expensive to outsource railcar supply. The cost per railcar under the last order of B-Series trains was $4.05 million, while the cost under the new C-Series contract is around $2.97 million,” a government spokesperson has said.

Local companies have already been awarded contracts for fitting out the Bellevue railcar plant, including a $3.8 million contract awarded to Vector Lifting for the delivery of lifting jacks, a bogie press and bogie turntables has. An $850,000 contract for the supply of four cranes was recently awarded to Bassendean manufacturer Eilbeck.

“We’ve secured a quality deal for the state, by bundling multiple railcar orders into one super-contract, we have encouraged the market to make very competitive bids for the work,” minister for transport Rita Saffioti said.

“Importantly, this project will also deliver two three-car sets to replace The Australind and provide South-West residents with the reliable rail service they deserve.”

The contract includes 246 railcars, arranged in 41 six-car EMU sets, for additional Metronet capacity and to replace the ageing A-Series. It also includes six railcars to replace the existing Australind service, which will be delivered as two three-car DMU sets.

The first C-series trains produced at the Bellevue plant will be ready to use on the network in 2022 and will have an operational life of 35 years.  The new Australind railcars are expected to be ready in 2022-23.

Alstom Australia & New Zealand managing director Mark Coxon said the contract structure would allow the state to manage Perth’s projected future growth while re-establishing its rail manufacturing industry.

“We are delighted to have been awarded this contract and look forward to partnering with the state of Western Australia to deliver this significant project,” Coxon said.

Better technology including LED lighting, USB charging points and regenerative braking will also be installed to make the new trains more efficient. Once operational, Alstom’s HealthHub predictive maintenance tools will be used to optimise performance and reliability.

“The project will see the transfer of the latest railway technologies and manufacturing processes to Western Australia, establishing the most technologically advanced train manufacturing and maintenance sites in Australia,” an Alstom spokesperson said.

The company is also set to partner with local TAFE and training organisations to create new fast-tracked training and skills development programmes.

Mark McGowan expects Australind replacement in ‘coming years’

The Western Australian Government says that replacing the ageing Bunbury-to-Perth train Australind will take a few more years. 

State premier Mark McGowan explained that while the train was a priority for the government, its plans to build a successor locally was a factor in the slow delivery of the project, stating that a new Australind would be delivered “over coming years”. 

“The work is ongoing, but clearly if you want to get a West Australian-built train we have to go through the processes of making sure that it’s done here and done properly,” he said.

The Westrail ADP/ADQ railcars used on the Bunbury-to-Perth line have been active since 1987. The train received $700,000 of maintenance work as part of the WA Government’s $1.6 billion Railcar Program this year, returning to service on May 15 after being out of commission for much of 2019.

However, the train’s performance has remained inconsistent, and it was pulled from the tracks again five days later.

McGowan explained that assessment of the train had uncovered a lot of rust and that the government wanted to ensure the trains were secure enough for public use.

“It’s 32 years old and we did a proper assessment of it and uncovered a lot of rust, so we’ve got to make sure that it’s safe and fit-for-purpose whilst we build a new train and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

“Obviously we need to maintain that and get it fixed whilst we build a new train.

“We want to make sure it’s a good service, a safe service and in the future an outstanding service with a West Australian-built train.”