Melbourne Metro Train. Photo: Creative Commons / Zed Fitzhume

Train collides with two cars at Melbourne level crossing

A train has his two cars at a level crossing in Officer, southeast Melbourne. The cars were on the level crossing after one car rear-ended the other onto the tracks.

The boomgates then closed as the drivers got out of their cars to swap details. The vehicles were destroyed, with the train pushing one of the cars 150 metres up the track and the other being pushed aside into the boom gate.

Five people received non-life threatening injuries in the incident, including the driver and two child passengers of the less damaged car and an elderly driver and passenger of the other car. The 84 passengers and two staff on the train were unhurt, though the driver was understandably shaken by the incident.

“The train on approach has seen those cars, sounded its horn and applied emergency brakes,” Public Transport Victoria spokesperson Georgia Main told the Australian Associated Press yesterday.

“The train driver’s pretty shaken, but okay. One car is stuck under train. That’s going to take a little bit to clear.”

The crash led to delays for commuters as sections of the Pakenham line were suspended, with Metro Trains arranging for buses to transport passengers between Pakenham and Berwick. The Gippsland V/Line was also affected by the crash but both services eventually returned to service in the afternoon.

Melbourne Tram. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Yarra Trams operations centre to benefit from new tech

The Yarra Trams Operation Centre is receiving a new ‘mega-wall’ of information screens that will help controllers monitor real-time data more effectively. 

The upgrade will incorporate information such as VicRoads traffic data, CCTV from the tram network and passenger tweets so that it is easily accessible on the screens.

A dedicated station for planned and unplanned disruptions has also been added, allowing controllers to switch to ‘crisis mode’ to quickly and effectively plan tram diversions should incidents such as accidents, protests or traffic occur. The staff at the centre are able to provide advice to drivers and passenger information teams should issues occur.

The upgrades come at a time when Yarra Trams is introducing its newest generation of controllers, who have undergone hundreds of hours of training involving the operations centre, including a five-week program driving E-Class trams.

“These upgrades are just another way we’re improving the reliability of our public transport system – minimising disruptions and improving the passenger experience,” said Victorian Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

“As our city continues to grow, we’re investing in the latest technology to get people where they need to go as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Yarra Trams Operation Centre monitors more than 5,000 journeys and receives up to 1,800 calls from drivers across Melbourne’s network every day.

Busy Glenroy level crossing in Melbourne faces removal

Glenroy Road’s level crossing is now set for removal, becoming the second crossing to be removed on Melbourne’s Craigieburn line as part of the Victorian Government’s Level Crossings Removal Project (LCRP).

The rail line will be lowered below Glenroy Road to accommodate the removal. The government stated that this method would be the most feasible design option as it avoided significant levels of compulsory property acquisition while also suiting the topography of the area. A new station will also be built as part of the works, which are set to conclude in 2022.

The government stated that Glenroy Road was one of North Melbourne’s most congested roads, with around 19,000 vehicles passing the level crossing each day.

“We are now undertaking further technical investigations. Later this year, we will be back out with more information and locals will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the project,” VicGov said in a statement.

“The boom gates at this level crossing can be down for up to 43 per cent of the morning peak, causing congestion for up to a kilometre along Glenroy Road. Delays will worsen as more trains and cars travel through Glenroy in the future.”

Acting Premier Lisa Neville, acting Minister for Transport Infrastructure Melissa Horne and Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn convened at Glenroy Station to aonnounce the project

“This dangerous and congested level crossing holds up thousands at Glenroy Road each day – it’s got to go,” Neville said.

“This will make a real difference for people in Glenroy, making it quicker, easier and safer to get around.”

The LCRP has so far removed 29 of a planned 75 dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne, with the remainder set for removal by 2025.

Victorian Government launches trial of plastic rail sleepers in Melbourne

The Andrews Labor Government has begun an 18-month trial of railway sleepers made from recycled plastic.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio and Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne were in attendance as the first of 200 Duratrack plastic sleepers was laid today at Richmond train station in Melbourne.

“We’re embracing new technology to tackle the problem of plastic pollution in our community,” D’Ambrosio said.

“This project is a great example of the circular economy we’re creating through innovation and rethinking a product we use every day.”

The sleepers are produced using a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste such as cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers by Mildura-based business Integrated Recycling, which developed the product in association with Monash University over a two-year period. 

The Duratrack sleepers are built to a potential life cycle of 50 years at half the cost of timber sleepers. Integrated Recycling also cites benefits such as reduced replacement cycles, the ability to integrate with existing sleepers, a weight comparable to timber sleepers and non-conductivity. Each kilometre of track that uses the sleepers translates to roughly 64 tonnes of plastic saved from landfills.

Integrated Recycling has already received approval to use the sleepers on Melbourne’s metro network, which have been implemented on four tourist railways including the Puffing Billy railway in the Dandenong Ranges.

“It’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations,” said Minister for Transport Horne.

Mobile myki service approaches 100,000 user milestone

The Mobile myki system launched by the Victorian Government has been used by nearly 100,000 users since its public implementation just over two months ago.

The system allows passengers to pay for rides with their smartphones using Mobile myki in place of their physical myki cards, the contactless travel card system that has been in place for most public transport in Victoria since 2012.

The mobile version of myki is compatible with existing physical transfer points such as gates and readers on buses, trams and at train stations.

Launched on March 28, the Mobile myki app was used by nearly 11,000 people in its first 24 hours, and has been used by around 1,000 users a day since launch.

The majority of Mobile myki users are Melbourne train travellers, who represent 57.8 per cent of all smartphone transactions according to statistics released today by the Victorian Government. In addition, users between 25 and 34 years old represented the largest user group by age overall at over 30 per cent of total users (users between the ages of 35 and 44 were in second place).

Currently, Mobile myki is available for Android smartphones via the Google Pay app, but the Victorian Budget for 2019-20 includes $1 million to improve Mobile myki’s compatibility with other platforms, particularly Apple’s iPhone.

$350,000 has also been set aside to implement 160 free mobile charging ports at the Richmond, North Melbourne, South Yarra and City Loop stations.

“We’ve seen an incredible response to Mobile myki in just over two months and we’re getting on with the development and technical testing needed to make this technology available for people with other smartphones,” said Victorian Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

“Our work doesn’t stop here- we look forward to continuing to make travelling on Victoria’s public transport network easier and more passenger-friendly.”

Women

Winners revealed for 2019 Women in Industry Awards

The 2019 Women in Industry Awards took place in Melbourne last Thursday night, celebrating the brilliant, hard-working women helping advance Australian industry.

Attendees at the awards venue at The Park in Albert Park came from a wide variety of sectors such as mining, manufacturing, road and rail, logistics and bulk handling, process infrastructure, and much more.

In total, there were 71 nominees spread across 10 different awards categories, with each one representing excellence in different fields and categories.

The winners and nominees all showed considerable leadership and commitment to their various sectors. The conference and awards show also offered the opportunity to provide insight into issues of gender equality in male-dominated industries.

The full list of winners of the 2019 Women in Industry Awards is as follows:

Social leader of the year  

Penelope Noelle Twemlow, chair and CEO, Women in Power

Rising star of the year

Diana Delac, site engineer, Fulton Hogan

Business development manager of the year

Melissa Waters, marketing, brand and innovation manager, Hebel and Velocity

Mentor of the year

Celeste Ward, process engineer, Stantec Australia

Industry Advocacy Award

Alice Edwards, technical project engineer, The Crane Industry Council of Australia

Safety Advocacy Award

Kristen Sandford, safety manager, CSR Limited

Excellence in engineering

Alana Duncker, senior consultant, Stantec Australia

Excellence in manufacturing

Amber Burdett-Dow, customer experience program manager, BOC

Excellence in road transport

Sondra Kremerskothen, group manager – training, Linfox Australia

Excellence in mining

Jodi Moffitt, manager planning, Roy Hill

Tunnel boring machine construction begins for Metro Tunnel in Victoria

The first piece of a massive tunnel boring machine (TBM) has been assembled in North Melbourne in preparation for drilling works on the Metro Tunnel project.

The delivery of the machines component coincides with the one-year anniversary of ground being broken at the site. Three pieces of the TBM have been lowered into the station box in the last week, with crews working to finish the machine as soon as possible.

The TBM, nicknamed ‘Joan’ after Victoria’s first Premier Joan Kirner, will excavate over 100,000 cubic metres of rock and soil once launched. The boring project is part of the winter “suburban transport blitz” announced by the Victorian Government last month.

The construction marks the first TBMs planned for development on the Metro Tunnel project.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan visited the project site today, where they discussed more details of the blitz.

“Crews are working around the clock to put these massive machines together, which will dig the Metro Tunnel,  untangle the city loop, and deliver more trains more often across Melbourne,” Premier Andrews said.

“It’s part of our massive Suburban Transport Blitz – which is creating thousands of jobs and building the road and rail projects we need to get you where you need to go.”

Buses will replace trains on the Pakenham, Cranbourne and Frankston lines between Flinders Street and Caulfield from July 614 whie the works take place.

Coaches will also replace trains between Wendouree and Southern Cross on the Ballarat line from June 24-July 7.

Minister Allan thanked commuters for their patience while the works were carried out.

“Soon these massive tunnel boring machines will be digging underneath our city to run more trains more often,” she said.

Boom gates removed from Reservoir crossing in Melbourne

The Level Crossing Removal Project in Victoria is inching forward with news that two boom gates have been removed from the Reservoir level crossing in Melbourne.

The Reservoir crossing, which the Victorian Government has called “dangerous and congested” still has four boom gates left to be removed, which will continue to operate normally until their removal is scheduled.

The two gates that were removed located to the north of the High Street intersection will make space for the development of piers to support the construction of a raised rail bridge running over the former level crossing.

Building crews have been working on the foundations of the Reservoir rail bridge since the beginning of April, drilling concrete piles up to 28 metres underground to accommodate the new elevated crossing above the line at High Street.

A new station will also be constructed at Reservoir as part of the project, with completion set for 2020. Over 36,000 vehicles a day travel through the crossing, with the boom gates down for an average 24 minutes during a peak two-hour period in the mornings.

The Level Crossing Removal Project is an ongoing state government infrastructure program involving the removal of 75 dangerous level crossings across Melbourne. Earlier this month, the Victorian Government announced eight more level crossings to get the chop on the Upfield and Mernda lines.

Western Rail Plan gets $100m Budget boost

The Victorian Government’s 20192020 Budget includes a $100 million boost to the Western Rail Plan.

The investment is intended to fund planning and design works to separate the regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines as part of a wider plan to deliver fast rail to the regions. This separation will avoid situations where V/Line trains are slowed down by Metro trains, allowing for faster and more frequent journeys.

Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) has started a program of investigations and technical studies along the Melton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Geelong corridors, with staging of the Western Rail Plan being considered alongside the Melbourne Airport Rail Link business case, due for publication in 2020.

Committee for Ballarat chair Nick Beale welcomed the investment in a statement, saying the works were “in line with Committee’s stated aim of duplicating the line between Ballarat and Southern Cross, which includes electrification and quadruplication of the line to Melton. Once the work is complete, it will result in a noticeably faster trip to Melbourne.”

The Western Rail Plan sets out investment plans for three connected rail projects, including the creation of two new metro lines leading west to Melton and Wyndham Vale; increased rail capacity between Melbourne’s CBD and Sunshine; and upgrades on the Geelong and Ballarat lines to allow trains to run faster than 160km/h.

The creation of the metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale will separate the two areas from the Ballarat and Geelong lines, with Wyndham Vale also proposed as the potential western section of the Suburban Rail Loop, which is expected to cost at least $50 billion, with a pencilled completion date of 2050.

V/Line train. Photo: Victorian Government

V/Line to benefit from influx of new drivers

V/Line has revealed plans to boost driver numbers in Victoria by 20 per cent by the end of 2020.

The move is in keeping with promises made by the Andrews Labor Government to increase regional rail reliability by increasing the number of services by 40 per cent.

The group, which is responsible for regional rail services to towns in Victoria such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, stated that it had trained around 30 fully qualified drivers in the last year. A further 120 trainees are currently completing an intense training course.

The course includes on-the-job training, classroom work and driving practice using train driving simulator systems. Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said that the “fresh crop” of drivers would help to improve reliability in the short term and support the network for years to come.

“We’re providing a massive boost to driver numbers by the end of next year, which will mean more reliable services, less cancellations, and more local jobs,” said Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

“As our regional cities continue to grow – we’re investing in the people and infrastructure to help keep our regional network moving and get you where you need to go safely and quickly.”

In addition to the training ramp-up, the state government recently started works on the first stage of a $7.2 million sleeper replacement program on the Seymour V/Line, which is due for completion by June 26.

Certain evening trains on the Seymour line are being replaced by coaches for a two-week period until May 23 as a result of the ongoing maintenance. These coaches will also replace certain evening trains on the line from May 26 to June 6.

The works form part of wider track maintenance investment in Victoria by Labor on the Seymour and Shepparton lines, which will see 55,000 life-expired sleepers on the two tracks between Donnybrook and Seymour replaced in 2019.

V/Line also carried out works to install new boom gates, bells and flashing lights at the Ewings Road level crossing at Avenel and the High Street level crossing at Barnawartha between March and April this year.