Heritage tree relocated as part of METRONET works

An 80-year-old Kurrajong tree has been relocated to allow for construction at the Bayswater Station in Perth, part of the METRONET project.

The tree was moved to nearby Bert Wright Park, with the assistance of one crane, followed by a mobile crane which transported the tree to the nearby park. Residents were following the relocation closely, noted Marylands MLA, Lisa Baker.

“Preparation works for the tree relocation began in May 2019, when a trench was dug around the tree and its roots trimmed. Soil was then backfilled into the trench, and the tree was left for six months for careful monitoring over the winter,” she said.

“While residents were no doubt thrilled to witness the incredible sight of a massive tree being craned down one of their main streets, its relocation also marks an exciting new stage in the Bayswater Station Upgrade project.”

Moving the tree will allow for the station’s eastern entrance to be upgraded, to allow for better integration with the surrounding commercial centre and meet disability standards.

As part of the METRONET project, Bayswater will become a significant transport hub, located at the intersection of the Midland line, the Forrestfield-airport link, and the Morley-Ellenbrook line.

Once completed, the new Bayswater station will host six-car trains, be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act, and have more connections to bus services. Additionally, the King William Street bridge will be raised by a metre to 4.8 metres, to avoid collisions with high vehicles and trucks, which frequently caused delays.

Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, noted that the station’s new design incorporated the views of the local community.

“While residents were no doubt thrilled to witness the incredible sight of a massive tree being craned down one of their main streets, its relocation also marks an exciting new stage in the Bayswater Station Upgrade project,” she said.

“We know having properly integrated train stations and transport infrastructure can transform local communities in to buzzing hubs of retail, recreational and residential life.

Project Update: Metronet

A historic lack of investment in public transport resulted in the significant sprawl of Perth, particularly north – south along the coast. Metronet, the single largest investment in Perth’s public transport, is thus about unlocking the latent capacity within the existing network.

Ultimately, the initiative will close to triple the capacity of the existing network through targeted investments, including a high capacity signalling system and more trains, according to executive director of Infrastructure, Planning and Land Services Owen Thomas.

Metronet is the state government’s long-term plan, equally focussed on transport infrastructure as on land use outcomes, which will see new communities created as a result of investment. The underpinning target is a 45 per cent increase in dwellings near high frequency transport infrastructure by 2031. As part of delivering against that, the state’s Department of Communities, which largely delivers social housing, is targeting their investment program around specific Metronet sites as part of a social and affordable housing package.

Fundamentally, the initiative involves the creation of 72km of new railway, up to 18 new stations, the removal of eight level crossings, the replacement of the aging A series rail car fleet and acquisition of an expanded fleet of 246 new C-series railcars, and the optimisation of nearly 5000 hectares of land.

According to Thomas, the most significant and challenging aspect of the project is the implementation of the communications-based train control (CBTC) across the network.

The final business case for the system is currently under consideration. According to Thomas, once it is rolled out, the signalling system will enable more frequent services, every 4 minutes in peak.

Through early works, Thomas says that his transport infrastructure team, working in conjunction with the station precincts development team, have found that it will take $20-$25 million for other enabling infrastructure, such as utilities, to be delivered at the stations.

“We’ll likely see the rail infrastructure delivered within four to five years from the project commencement, but regarding the longer-term outcomes, we will not see many of the station precinct developments on site until up to 15 to 30 years away. So, one of the key challenges is how to incrementally stage those outcomes so that you get the long-term benefits you want but don’t have a sterile station environment from day one.”

In late December, “NEWest Alliance” was awarded a major Metronet contract for $1.25 billion, to deliver the Yanchep Rail Extension and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link. The consortium comprises CPB Contractors and Downer, who will start construction work in mid-2020.

The project will add 17.5 kilometres of rail to connect the Armadale and Mandurah lines through existing stations at Thornlie and Cockburn Central. The new link will include two new stations at Ranford Road and Nicholson Road.

The Thornlie-Cockburn Link will be the first east-west connection between rail lines on the Perth network. It will involve replacing a pedestrian level crossing with a footbridge, duplicating the Canning River Rail Bridge, and modifying the Ranford Road Bridge.

The Yanchep Rail Extension will deliver the last proposed section of the Joondalup Line, from Butler to Yanchep, along a 14.5-kilometre route. It will public transport journey times by at least 30 minutes to and from the city.

It’s estimated that by 2031, the Thornlie-Cockburn Link and Yanchep Rail Extensions will serve a population catchment of 400,000 people.

Downer EDI was named as the preferred proponent to build the major rail components atone of Metronet’s level crossing removal projects, at Denny Avenue.

This level crossing removal will be delivered through two design and construction contracts and will include raising more than 800 metres of track and associated infrastructure to enable a new road underpass.

Early works on the project began in 2019 with geotechnical testing, demolition of buildings and removal of a number of Railway Avenue trees. Utility relocation will start in early 2020.

Also in late December, Jacobs was named the preferred proponent to create the business case for the removal of the other six level crossings on the Armadale Line. Preliminary planning identified the potential for more crossings to be included in the project scope.

“[2020] is shaping up to be a defining year for Metronet construction. Perth will have six Metronet projects under construction at once, creating thousands of local jobs and opportunities for local business,” said premier Mark McGowan.

The other major Metronet contract, to deliver the main works for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line, will not be announced until late 2020.

The Morley-Ellenbrook Line will connect the north-eastern suburbs to the broader rail network and is the signature Metronet project. It will include 21km of rail, new stations, two underpasses to allow the rail line to enter and exit the Tonkin Highway median, associated infrastructure to connect to the existing line, road and bridge reconfiguration works and integration across other projects.

Due to the complexity of the Morley-Ellenbrook Line project, the works are divided into four packages, including the Bayswater Station Upgrade (to be awarded in early 2020), the Tonkin Gap project (civil and structural works to allow access in and out of the Tonkin Highway, to be awarded in mid-2020), the forward works and the main works.

The forward works will be delivered under a series of standalone contracts,managed by the PTA and will include geotechnical field investigations, survey works, and the relocation and protection of the in-ground and overhead services of both the PTA and third-party assets.

Main works will be delivered through a competitive alliance contract. It 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.

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.

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.”