Preferred alliance named for WA’s Yanchep, Thornlie-Cockburn projects

A preferred alliance has been announced for the Yanchep Rail Extension and Thornlie-Cockburn Link projects as part of WA’s Metronet urban rail programme.

An alliance of Downer and CPB Contractors, known as NEWest, was announced as the preferred alliance to construct both projects on November 23.

The Yanchep Rail Extension will deliver the last proposed section of the Joondalup Line, from Butler to Yanchep, along a 14.5-kilometre route.

The Thornlie-Cockburn Link will create Perth’s first cross line connection, by linking the Mandurah and Armadale lines.

Downer CEO Grant Fenn said the announcement was evidence of Downer’s long and successful history safely delivering transport infrastructure projects.

“We are pleased that our expertise in the design and construction of heavy rail, tracks, stations and rail bridges has been recognised,” Fenn said. “We look forward to working with our partners to deliver the important project for the Western Australian government and the people of Perth.”

Work will commence immediately for both projects on design, with construction expected to begin in May 2020, and a scheduled completion in 2023. Around 3,000 jobs are expected to be created over the life of both projects.

Early works has been underway on the Yanchep Rail Extension for a number of months, and a Welcome to Country ceremony was held on November 24 and attended by WA premier Mark McGowan, transport minister Rita Saffioti, and federal infrastructure minister Alan Tudge.

Early works contracts include site clearance and ground preparation, geotechnical investigations and site surveys.

The federal government his contributing $350 million of the $531.7 million required to deliver the Yanchep Rail Extension.

“There has been incredible growth in the northern corridor and the Yanchep Rail Extension will cater for further growth in this region,” Tudge said. “In addition, the Thornlie-Cockburn link will help close a public transport gap for residents in Perth’s eastern suburbs.”

“We promised to bring METRONET to Yanchep, and today we’re taking a major step forward to deliver on that promise with works starting on the job-creating project,” Premier McGowan added.

“Travelling up from Rockingham today, and seeing the amount of residential development in Alkimos and surrounds demonstrates just how popular the northern coastal lifestyle is.”

Saffioti called the early works “the beginning of a transformational era of rail construction across Perth”.

“Next year alone the McGowan Government will have six Metronet projects underway at once – a level of rail construction that WA has never seen before,” she said.

Perth B-series train. Credit: Creative Commons / DBZ2313

WA infrastructure package a win for Metronet

 A $940 million infrastructure package for projects across Western Australia, including Metronet, was jointly announced by the federal and state governments on Wednesday.

The bulk of the funding will go towards eight existing road and rail projects, while a total of more than $200 million, contributed by both governments, will fund six new projects.

Among the new projects, $80 million is slated for the construction of a new Metronet station at Lakelands on the Mandurah rail line. Of this, $64 million is contributed by federal government and $16 million by the state.

The total amount of federal funding for WA’s infrastructure will rise to $5.4 billion from about $4.5 billion over the next four years after a further $868 million federal injection.

“This new agreement with the Commonwealth comes on top of the almost 500 road and Metronet projects currently underway or in the pipeline – when complete it will be an unprecedented transformation of our transport network,” premier of WA Mark McGowan said.

McGowan said the package of works will generate around 1,000 jobs, adding to the thousands of other jobs being created by other WA infrastructure projects that are either under construction or in the pipeline.

“The package of works has something for Perth’s northern, eastern and southern suburbs which are all experiencing significant population growth,” WA minister for transport Rita Saffioti said

“The State Government put forward an ambitious timeframe for the existing projects and we’re working hard to get new contracts underway, as soon as possible, including having to work through Federal environmental processes.”

Metronet’s environmental impact up for assessment

The environmental assessment process has begun for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line, according to WA transport minister Rita Saffioti.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has received the first of two environmental assessment submissions from the Public Transport Authority (PTA) on behalf of the state government.

“Metronet projects like the Morley-Ellenbrook Line limit urban sprawl, reduce reliance on cars and help create more sustainable communities,” Saffioti said.

“We will continue to work with environmental regulators to ensure this legacy project for Perth minimises its impacts and maximises its role in supporting the long-term sustainability of our city as it grows.”

The state government is making its submissions in two parts, because there are different environmental values along the 21km Morley-Ellenbrook line. The first submission covers the Bayswater to Malaga rail works from the Bayswater industrial area to Malaga within the Tonkin Highway median.

“We have used the existing Tonkin Highway corridor as much as possible and much of the alignment follows largely unvegetated land,” Saffioti said.

The Bayswater to Malaga area has largely been cleared during previous projects, and so there are minimal environmentally sensitive values. The PTA’s submission therefore focused on reducing amenity impacts, such as noise and vibration, to nearby residents.

According to a PTA statement, their project team has avoided sensitive sites and will continue to work closely with regulators to identify, avoid, minimise and mitigate any potential impacts.

The second submission, covering rail work from Malaga to Ellenbrook, is scheduled to be delivered to the EPA by early 2020. This proposed section of the future rail line travels through Marshall Road land, across the narrowest part of the Bennett Brook and land parallel to New Lord Street.

“In the meantime, we look forward to starting the first stage of the Morley-Ellenbrook Line very soon by starting early works for the Bayswater Station Upgrade,” Saffioti said.

The Bayswater Station Upgrade is the first stage of the Morley-Ellenbrook Line construction and will commence during December.

WA opens Metronet Training Centre

Western Australia is investing $1.25 million towards a Metronet Trade Training Centre to equip locals with the skills needed to build METRONET railcars.

Midland TAFE will become a specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre next year The $1.25 million will go towards new fabrication training equipment, and the redevelopment of workshops to provide the specific technical and support skills required for railcar manufacturing and METRONET maintenance.

The TAFE is three kilometres from the site of the new Metronet Bellevue Assembly Facility where the new C-Series railcars will be commissioned.

Tenders recently opened for the contract to build the Metronet Bellevue railcar depot where Metronet’s railcars will be built and maintained, according to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti. The government is also currently finalising its order of railcars to be built at the new facility.

“The Metronet Trade Training Centre is part of a new hub of railcar manufacturing in Midland, which will allow us to deliver on our commitment to build at least 50 per cent of all METRONET railcars locally in WA,” said Saffioti.

“Midland TAFE will provide world-class training to meet the demand of our Metronet program in courses including engineering, metal fabrication, instrumentation and electrotechnology,” said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.

Local students will also receive a 50 per cent reduction in fees for certain Metronet TAFE courses, including in civil construction and plant operations, as part of a ‘lower fees, local skills’ policy that will reduce TAFE fees for 34 high priority courses.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure the training needs of our Metronet rail projects are met,” said Ellery.

Work set to commence on Metronet’s Bayswater upgrade

WA’s Transport Authority has embarked on the tender process for a $1 million project which will form part of the early work towards construction of Metronet’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line and Bayswater Station upgrade.

The tender is for the creation of a new cable route along the rail corridor between Meltham and Bayswater, which will include relocating and laying six kilometres of fibre-optic cable to clear the way for the construction of the future rail lines.

The cable is vital to Transperth communications with train control and signalling, and  current cable alignment needs to be rerouted from the northern side of the train turnback area to the south.

Offering the installation of the new cable rerouting as a separate tender will enable the winning tenderer for the design and construction of the Bayswater project to begin work quickly once the contract is awarded.

“Releasing this tender ahead of the main contract will ensure the new contractor will be able to hit the ground running when they take control of the site next year,” said WA’s Acting Transport Minister, Sue Ellery.

The cable re-routing tender, released on October 10, will close on October 31.

The contract is expected to be awarded in November.

“These works are the first on-site works for two high-quality Metronet projects, which will eventually change the way north-eastern suburban residents commute and travels,” said Ellery.

National survey shows transport biggest driver of apartment value

A national survey of apartment owners and occupiers found more than half valued their apartment most highly due to its proximity to public transport.

The survey of more than 3,300 respondents around the country by not-for-profit Western Australian Apartment Advocacy (WAAA) found proximity to transport to be the primary goal for apartment seekers, and also the thing they most consistently like the most about their apartment once they’re settled.

The survey showed 61 per cent of New South Wales respondents prioritised public transport in selecting an apartment, while 66 per cent did so in Victoria, and 49 per cent in WA.

WA housing minister Peter Tinley said the survey was a “ringing endorsement” of the McGowan Government’s Metronet project, which prioritises higher density development around new and extended rail lines in the Perth area.

The Government has tabbed value capture – charging private landowners who benefit from taxpayer-funded rail lines – as a funding strategy for Metronet, a strategy which has been rubbished by the Opposition.

Tinley said the WAAA statistics were a win for the McGowan Government’s vision for the future of the state’s housing needs, which includes increasing the number of homes around train stations by 45 per cent.

“Our priority of increasing the number of homes around train stations by 45 per cent, exemplified by the McGowan Government’s Metronet scheme, is reflective of what WA apartment owners are seeking now and into the future,” he said.

“The McGowan Government, in partnership with industry, is building transport-connected, well located, well designed, sustainable and affordable housing where it’s needed.”

 

Developers well aware

The survey is the latest clear connection between the value of property and the presence of good public transport. While value capture is an unpopular prospect for many property developers, it’s clear developers are aware of this connection.

Canberra developer Geocon has this week come under fire for using an unbuilt light rail line to market its Grand Central Towers project in Canberra.

Advertising material for Grand Central Towers features Canberra Light Rail Stage 2 – which hasn’t yet been finalised – as a primary selling point, telling potential buyers they could use the rail line to get to the city. The development’s logo features a pair of light rail vehicles as a core component of its design.

“Living in Grand Central Towers and being able to walk out the front door, and jump on the light rail, and be in the city in under ten minutes, every five minutes, is an extraordinary opportunity for Canberrans,” Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis says in one video. “We’ve never had this type of amenity or public transport available for people that live in apartment complexes.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kiSt–gkv4

Stage one of the Canberra Light Rail network, which opened last month, operates at a peak frequency of once every six minutes. An ACT Government spokesperson reportedly told the ABC Geocon had not been provided with any more information than the public about the operating standards forecast for the second stage of light rail.

Local member for Murrumbidgee Caroline Le Couteur said the developer’s frequency claims were “optimistic”.

“Grand Central’s tagline is ‘time is the ultimate luxury’. It was selling this as a sales point,” Le Couteur, a member of the ACT Greens, was quoted as saying.

“It [concerned] me because I thought we had the real possibility that in however many years’ time, when the light rail and Grand Central were both finished, there would be a bunch of people who were upset because they bought something thinking it was going to have much better public transport than possibly it will end up having.”

Demolition commences on Perth level crossing removal

Procurement and demolition works have begun on the Denny Avenue level crossing removal project in the Perth suburb of Kelmscott.

Old buildings in the vicinity of the crossing, which the WA State Government referred to as being “notoriously dangerous”, are being cleared through the federal- and state-funded public transport program Metronet to make room for its Kelmscott project development. The scope of the demolition includes five state houses on Railway Avenue and Third Avenue.

Statistics from the WA Government state that the boom gates at the Denny Avenue level crossing are down for an average of three hours and seven minutes a day, with excessive wait times leading to risk-taking behaviour from drivers who try to cross the track when the boom gate is down or descending.

Work is set to commence later in the year to replace the crossing through the development of a lowered road and raised rail at Davis Road, which runs parallel to Denny Avenue. The crossing at Denny Avenue will be removed entirely.

The WA government is engaging contractors to help design and construct the $69 million development, which will incorporate a rail and bridge contract and a road and civic infrastructure contract.

“Each package of works has a different risk profile for the contractor, so the decision was made to split them into two design and construct contracts,” said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“The removal of the Denny Avenue level crossing will greatly improve the daily lives of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, improving safety and decreasing road congestion in the area.”

The chosen contractors will be required to work under the proviso that they keep road and rail disruption in the Kelmscott area to a minimum.

The Denny Avenue project marks an important milestone as the first part of Metronet’s level crossing removal program.