RFP process begun for new Lakelands station

Contractors have been invited to submit proposals for a new station at Lakelands, south of Perth.

Western Australia Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, announced the Request for Proposal Process (RFP) had begun on May 4.

“This is an important step in making the Lakelands Station project a reality, delivering better access to Metronet for local residents.”

The contract will cover the design and construction of the station, involving two platforms, a bus interchange, carpark, and associated facilities. The RFP is part of the competitive early contract involvement process.

Part of the Metronet project, the station will be located on the Mandurah Line, with access off Lake Valley Drive, south of Perth. The new station is hoped to ease congestion at Mandurah and Warnbro stations.

“The station will take pressure off the nearby existing stations, and provide commuters with access to bus services and lockable cycling facilities,” said Saffioti.

“There is currently 23km of empty track between Mandurah and Warnbro stations – this station will mean residents in Lakelands, Madora Bay and surrounds will soon have greater access to public transport at their doorstep.”

Funding will be split between the federal government, which will commit 80 per cent of project funds, and the WA state government, which will contribute the remainder.

Construction will begin in early 2021 and the station is scheduled to be operational in 2023. Estimates published on the Metronet website state that 2,300 passengers could use the station in 2023, and 3,500 by 2031.

Since the opening of the Mandurah Line in 2007, the site of the future Lakelands station was reserved.

Planning for another station at Karnup is continuing.

Morley-Ellenbrook Lin

Morley-Ellenbrook Line gets IA tick

Infrastructure Australia has added the Morley-Ellenbrook Line to its Infrastructure Priority List.

The decision by the federal government’s independent infrastructure advisory body signals that the project, which is part of the Metronet program in Western Australia, is of strategic importance. Infrastructure Australia found that the project will improve transport options, reduce car dependency and ease traffic congestion, said chief executive, Romilly Madew.

“We know one of the key areas to accommodate Perth’s growing population over the next 10 years will be the corridor that connects Ellenbrook to the Perth CBD.”

Infrastructure Australia calculated that the project had a cost-benefit ration of 1.2, providing $430 million in economic benefits for the wider community.

The recognition of the project’s importance comes after two contractors were shortlisted for the construction of the line in April and early work on upgrades to Bayswater station have begun.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said that the recognition of the project’s importance comes from the public transport that it will introduce to north-eastern Perth.

“The Ellenbrook line is the signature Metronet project, when complete it will be a game‑changer for the north eastern suburbs,” he said.

Enabling road infrastructure works on the Tonkin Gap highway will soon begin, which will pave the way for the rail line, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“We are working to fast track the Tonkin Gap upgrade, which will include rail enabling works down Tonkin Highway, with construction on this project expected to start in coming months.”

Saffioti also highlighted that the project will allow for transport-oriented development around the new stations.

“Infrastructure Australia has found the Morley-Ellenbrook Line has strategic value, will improve connectivity and transport links, while improving liveability by encouraging development around stations and unlocking economic potential of the area.”

The 21-kilometre line will include stations at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook, with the option to build a future station at Bennett Springs East. The federal government is contributing $500 million to the line, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s determination.

“This announcement shows exactly why the Australian Government has committed $2.5 billion for network-shaping METRONET projects in Western Australia, which involves 70 kilometres of new heavy passenger rail and up to 18 new rail stations,” McCormack said.

“This includes our $500 million commitment to the jointly funded Morley-Ellenbrook Line project which will create jobs and support economic growth.”

A number of construction projects are continuing as part of the Metronet project around WA.

“This year alone we have six Metronet projects underway, plus the construction of our Bellevue Metronet railcar facility, creating thousands of local jobs and supporting local businesses,” said McGowan.

Saffioti noted that these projects are stimulating local economies.

“Metronet projects will be a key part of our post-COVID economic recovery, providing opportunities for local businesses and creating thousands of local jobs.”

Contractors shortlisted for Morley-Ellenbrook line

The Western Australia government has shortlisted two joint ventures to design and construct the Morley-Ellenbrook line, part of the Metronet project.

The two joint ventures are, Ellenbrook Alliance (CPB Contractors and Downer EDI) and MELconnx Consortium (Laing O’Rouke Australia Construction).

Having completed the request for proposal phase, the shortlisted contractors will now enter the competitive bid phase.

The contract is the largest of four works packages to deliver the Morley-Ellenbrook line and covers the design, building, and commissioning of the electric rail line and five new stations.

Early works are already underway on the Bayswater Station and a contractor, Evolve Bayswater Alliance, was recently announced as the preferred proponent for the construction of that station.

WA Premier Mark McGowan announced that the decision has been the product of extensive engagement.

“Leading up to procurement, we engaged with hundreds of local businesses and subcontractors so they were prepared to bid for the huge range of work available through all stages of the project.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the finalised project would connect the growing north eastern suburbs of Perth.

“This is another major step forward for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line project, which is the final missing piece for transport infrastructure in the north-eastern suburbs of Perth.”

After leaving the Midland line at Bayswater station, the new, 21km line will follow the Tonkin highway and finish a t the Ellenbrook town centre. Stations will be built at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook. Another station could be built at Bennett Springs East with population growth forecast there.

The continuing construction on the Metronet project, which has not been limited by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, is hoped to boost the WA economy.

“This year alone we will have six METRONET projects underway, in addition to our railcar manufacturing facility in Bellevue where local workers will build our METRONET railcars,” said McGowan.

 

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.

PTA Radio Systems Replacement project falls victim to US-China trade war

The consortium delivering the digital radio systems project in Perth has fallen apart.

An alliance of Huawei Australia and UGL (HUGL) won the contract to upgrade radio communications for Western Australia’s Public Transport Authority (PTA) in 2018, however on March 27, 2020 WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti announced that the current contract will no longer proceed.

The HUGL consortium fell victim to increasing trade restrictions placed on Chinese exports by the US government, with restrictions imposed in August 2019 cited by the WA government as the tipping point.

In 2017, the WA government announced the $120 million project, which would involve installing new towers and poles with digital-friendly infrastructure, to enable the replacement of the current analogue radio system with a digital one. This involved all radio devices in trains, security vehicles, and handheld radios. Moving to a digital system would allow for data as well as audio to be transmitted by radio. Future Automatic Train Control systems, which PTA has aimed to install as part of the Metronet project, would utilise the digital radio systems.

Since the contract was awarded, the parties have had to grapple with restrictions placed trade between the US and China. Tariffs imposed on Chinese exports would increase the uncertainty around the cost of the project, timelines, and effectiveness of the final solution.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the State Government’s project – which is limited to a radio network for train drivers and transit guards – has been caught up in the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China,” said Saffioti.

The WA government has indicated in a statement that it will continue with the project, although it will be delayed.

“Given the trade dispute, and the current economic and health crisis facing the world, the PTA has recommended a fresh approach for the radio replacement project,” said Saffioti.

“The PTA will continue its plans to deliver a new digital radio system for our expanding public transport system.”

Potential options include the withdrawal of Huawei Australia from the contract, or the termination of the contract as a whole. The PTA will look to preserve current subcontract arrangements.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has extended the deadline for the PTA to vacate the analogue radio spectrum to beyond 2021.

Major projects

Infrastructure works an “essential service”

Major infrastructure projects are ensuring the safety of their staff while continuing to progress upgrades and significant works while COVID-19 mitigation measures close down other sectors.

The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA) is adhering government guidelines and advice by implementing new safety measures at its sites.

Segregated work zones, restricted access for non-essential workers, and a ban on non-essential access is enabling the 1,500 people working on the Cross River Rail project to continue.

Major works contractors are strengthening their own health and safety procedures while CRRDA office staff are working from home, or only attending the office when essential tasks cannot be completed remotely.

In Perth, construction on the Metronet project is continuing, business as usual, with no restrictions on works being conducted.

In Victoria, the Corey Hannett, director-general, Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, which delivers projects including the Level Crossing Removal Program, the Metro Tunnel project, and the Regional Rail Revival program, among others, told Rail Express that the Authority is ensuring that construction continues with no impact to projects.

“The construction sector is currently considered an essential service and we are working closely with industry partners, unions, employers and workers to protect both their safety and jobs,” said Hannett.

A safety team of 70 is ensuring workers and sites comply with social distancing requirements.

“Project sites have strict rules in place around social distancing, increased industrial cleaning, provisions of personal protective equipment,” said Hannett.

Additionally, an alliance of construction unions and employers groups have united to ensure that safe practices are adopted to keep construction sites open.

In New Zealand, works have been temporarily suspended on the City Rail Link project, however the delivery team is ensuring that when lockdown measures are lifted, teams can get back to work immediately.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that we are well placed to come out of the blocks very fast when the restart call is given,” said CRL chief executive Sean Sweeny.

Metronet to unlock development precincts

The Metronet project in Perth will drive transport-oriented development, with project areas declared around the Bayswater and Forrestfield stations.

The project areas will allow for redevelopment and the construction of town-centres integrated with new train stations.

The two sites, as well as the Midland area, form the Metronet East projects, which through a redevelopment scheme will guide future development.

The Metronet East Redevelopment Scheme will be delivered by DevelopmentWA and is forecasted to be in effect by late 2020.

WA Planning and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that transport projects have the ability to extend beyond mobility.

“Metronet is creating more than just new train stations – it’s also creating well-connected, accessible community hubs which will service the needs of locals and visitors,” she said.

“We recognise certain station precincts have the potential to become major activity centres – we are putting the necessary planning frameworks in place to unlock that potential and encourage investment in new housing, services and jobs.”

The designation of these areas as project areas is hoped to ensure that transport upgrades lead to successful integration of businesses and residents in the surrounding areas.

“By bringing the Bayswater and Forrestfield station projects under Metronet East, we will attract much needed private investment to help transform these centres into authentic places where people want to live, work and visit,” said Saffioti.

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.