New parliament bill to authorise rail construction

A Railway Amendment Bill put forward last year has been passed by the Western Australian government on Tuesday evening.

The Legislative Council passed The Railway (METRONET) Amendment Bill 2019 to have the Metronet Morley-Ellenbrook Line enshrined into the state law and authorises construction of the rail infrastructure.

The Bill will now be sent for royal assent by Governor Kim Beazley.

Early works are already underway as part of the major redevelopment of Bayswater Station, following Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) called Grace building the first twin tunnel from Forrestfield to Bayswater this week.

A Request for Proposal for the Morley-Ellenbrook Line’s main works contract went out to market last month and is the biggest of four works packages that will deliver the project.

Along with the main works contract, the Morley-Ellenbrook Line is also being delivered through the Bayswater Station upgrade, Tonkin Gap project and forward works contracts.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Morley-Ellenbrook Line is happening.

“The enabling legislation passing shows that the Parliament acknowledges the importance of rail and serving the north-east corridor with first-class public transport,” she said.

“We have also been working with local companies so they are prepared to leverage opportunities and maximise local jobs that come with building Metronet.

“This enshrines in legislation our election commitment to connect Perth’s fast-growing north-eastern suburbs by rail – we look forward to continuing the work.”

Stations will be built at Ellenbrook, Whiteman Park, Malaga, Noranda and Morley, with allowance for a future station at Bennett Springs East also in the design.

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.

Contractor selected for Denny Avenue level crossing works

Downer EDI has been selected as the preferred proponent to deliver the entire Denny Avenue level crossing removal project, part of the Western Australia Metronet project.

In December 2019, Downer was named as the contractor who will deliver the rail component package, however in an announcement on February 17, WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti confirmed that Downer will deliver the entire works program.

“Denny Avenue will join a program of six METRONET projects under construction during 2020, which will upgrade Perth’s rail network and create and support local jobs,” said Saffioti.

Although the two construction contracts are separate, the entire works program will involve the removal of the level crossing at Denny Avenue, the realignment of Third Avenue, lowering Davis Road to pass under the elevated rail line, new cul-de-sacs for Third and Slee avenues, and works on Albany Hgihway.

Other works will include widening Davis Road from two to four lanes, and the installation of three traffic lights at Albany Highway, Streich Avenue, and Railway Avenue.

“Denny Avenue is the first of up to eight level crossings to be removed as part of METRONET, with all but one on the Armadale train line,” said Saffioti.

In addition to the road and rail infrastructure works, the Kelmscott town centre will be revitalised, with landscaping, tree planting, and civic works.

“This project will not only remove a dangerous crossing and reduce road congestion, it will also give locals an enhanced Kelmscott town centre to enjoy,” said Saffioti.

Alstom to acquire Bombardier Transportation

Confirming weeks of rumours, Alstom has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bombardier Inc to acquire Bombardier’s transportation unit.

The MoU values Bombardier Transportation at between €5.8 and €6.2 billion ($9.4 to $10 billion).

Henri Puopart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom announced the merger of the two rail manufacturing giants.

“I’m very proud to announce the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, which is a unique opportunity to strengthen our global position on the booming mobility market.”

Although headquartered in Canada, Bombardier’s transport operations are led from Berlin, Germany. The deal, if approved, could create a European rail champion, a goal which Alstom previously pursued in discussions with Siemens, with whom Bombardier also pursued merger talks.

Puopart-Lafarge acknowledged that the two companies share similar operating areas.

“Bombardier Transportation will bring to Alstom complementary geographical presence and industrial footprint in growing markets, as well as additional technological platforms,” he said.

Bombardier representatives also welcomed the deal’s announcement.

“With a shared commitment to the next generation of green and digital rail solutions, a combined company would benefit from economies of scale resulting into improved investment and innovation capabilities, and a streamlined investment pipeline,” said Eric Prud’Homme, head of external communications at Bombardier Transportation.

In Australia, Alstom and Bombardier both have significant manufacturing operations. Bombardier manufactures diesel multiple units and light rail vehicles in Dandenong, Victoria while Alstom has a manufacturing base in Ballarat where it produces the X’Trapolis trains for the Melbourne network. Additionally, Alstom has been confirmed as the manufacturer of new rollingstock for Perth’s Metronet project, and will construct a local manufacturing facility in Western Australia.

Previous merger discussions between Siemens and Alstom drew the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which noted that a merger would raise competition concerns, however in the field of signalling. Ultimately, the European Commission blocked the proposed deal.

In the MoU announcement, Poupart-Lafarge said that all existing employees of Bombardier Transportation would continue to work for Alstom once the deal is completed.

“We will be thrilled to welcome all the talent and energy of Bombardier Transportation employees. We are deeply committed to step up the turnaround of Bombardier Transportation activities and deliver significant value to all stakeholders, particularly our customers,” he said.

Alstom expects that, subject to approvals from regulatory and anti-trust authorities, the deal will be closed in the first half of 2021.

Sydney opening caps big year for Alstom

Alstom Australia’s managing director Mark Coxon sat down with Rail Express after a whirlwind 2019, with big wins for Alstom across multiple states and sectors.

The New Year’s break is a welcome opportunity for rest and relaxation for many professionals. But for Mark Coxon and his team at Alstom Australia, the 2019/20 break was perhaps the most well-earned in recent memory.

Eleven days before Christmas, Sydney opened quite a large present. The first revenue services for the Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail line between Circular Quay and Randwick represented the culmination of four years of construction and delivery.

Around 160,000 passengers rode the new line in its first two days, and they rode on some of the 60 Citadis X05 light rail vehicles delivered by Alstom.

By January 8, the line had already handled its first million passengers.

Alstom has also delivered the project’s power supply equipment (including two kilometres of APS wire-free ground power supply), energy recovery substations, signalling, communications, and depot equipment for the project, and is now underway on a 19-year maintenance contract.

“We’re very happy with this project,” Coxon, Alstom’s managing director in Australia and New Zealand, told Rail Express shortly after the Sydney opening.

“The Alstom scope has been on time, and we’ve had new technologies brought for the first time to Australia – another sign of confidence in the Alstom delivery capability.”

Light rail vehicles are rolling down George Street for the first time in more than 60 years. Unlike the original system, it is free of overhead wires for two kilometres of its route thanks to Alstom’s ground-based APS power supply.

APS, originally Alimentation Par le Sol – “fed through the ground” – but now anglicised to Aesthetic Power Supply, uses modern technology to safely feed power through the base of the LRV via a third rail between the tracks.

Coxon notes APS is a new technology in Australia, but also that the Citadis X05 is the latest version of Alstom’s light rail vehicle range.

“On top of that, the reverse cycle power- optimised substations were in our scope,” Coxon continues. “So that’s a number of new technologies we’ve brought to this iconic project, and it was great to see trams going down George Street – and great to be on that first tram.

While Alstom’s share of the project was successful, Coxon is well aware of the disruptions caused throughout the overall project’s delivery. But he’s confident the quality of service passengers will enjoy in the longer- term will make up for it.

“It’s obviously become a well-known project to Sydneysiders, and it’s been quite disruptive to residents during construction. But over time, I am sure the people of Sydney will appreciate the project, particularly as journey time reduces and the reliability continues to grow,” he said.

“To be honest, these projects historically around the world are quite disruptive, and this is on one of the oldest and busiest streets in Australia. It would be difficult to implement that kind of project anywhere in the world. We managed to get this one online in 2019, a bit later than planned, but the opening has been successful and we look forward to the growth of patronage of that system.”

Sydney Metro a roaring success

Despite all the exciting new technology in Sydney’s new light rail, perhaps the most exciting thing delivered by Alstom in Australia during 2019 was north of the city.

When Sydney Metro Northwest opened on May 26, passengers rode on a fleet of 22 new six-car, driverless metro trains from Alstom, which also delivered signalling and will handle ongoing maintenance work.

In its first six months, the new metro line had serviced more than 11 million journeys.

“It’s been a successful journey,” Coxon said. “It’s the first driverless metro system in Australia, so that took some time for passengers to get used to, but the reliability growth that we’ve seen on our system has been as expected, and very similar to other projects around the world. Today, we’re getting to around 99 per cent availability of the system.

“That project contains two successful aspects for us: the Alstom rollingstock but also the signalling system, our CBTC driverless Urbalis 400 system. The integration between the CBTC system and the rollingstock has been extremely good, and I think that’s one of the advantages of being an integrator of both technologies.”

Maintenance details

The success on Sydney Metro Northwest led the NSW Government to exercise a pre-agreed extension in the original contract to the next portion of the line, Sydney Metro City and Southwest. The news – a $570 million win for Alstom – means Coxon’s team will now deliver another 23 trains (with an option for more), and its Urbalis 400 CBTC along the new portion of the line.

Coxon told Rail Express the extension demonstrated the government’s confidence in Alstom and its colleagues in the Sydney Metro delivery team.

“We always knew the success of Northwest would be a critical component on the augmentation for City & Southwest,” he said. “It’s such an iconic and strategic project for Alstom, and City & Southwest is a similar scope to what we executed on Northwest. Again I think it will demonstrate the importance of integrating the CBTC signalling technologies with the rollingstock.”

Once complete, the City & Southwest project will combine with Northwest to create a 66-kilometre continuous line, complete with Alstom rollingstock and signalling.

“We’re looking forward, as well, to extending the maintenance scope to that full line,” Coxon added.

Huge win in WA

Alstom’s success in 2019 wasn’t limited to the east coast. Early in December it finalised a $1.3 billion deal to deliver 246 EMU railcars 6 DMU to PTA, the public transport operator in WA. Under the 10-year contract, at least 50 per cent of railcar assembly will take place in WA, at a 12,000 sqm plant near the old Midland Railway Workshops. Alstom will also undertake maintenance for 20 years with the option to extend to 30 years.

Coxon told Rail Express the contract win was the result of more than two years of work with the government, local businesses, training organisations and community.

“We’ve had a lot of engagement with local and international suppliers about the local content, and that concluded with the award of that project to Alstom, which we’re absolutely delighted with,” he said. “We’re looking forward to building a train in Western Australia that the people of Perth can be proud of.”

Work to build what will become Alstom’s new rollingstock base in WA is expected to be completed in 2021. Local work under the contract is expected to create at least 200 jobs in supply and maintenance, revitalising the state’s rail manufacturing sector.

“Obviously, it’s a long journey, and we’re going to be part of that recreation of the railcar manufacturing industry in Western Australia, but that’s not the first time Alstom have done that,” Coxon said. “We’ve done it all around the world; the US, South Africa, India, and of course 20 years ago in Victoria with the X’Trapolis trains.

“We’re not newcomers to it, but it is a new journey in Western Australia, and  we’re interested in taking the suppliers on board for that journey, as well as our future employees. We’re going to have to build up a strong skilled workforce in Western Australia.”

Coxon said Alstom is also looking to build a good partnership with the state’s Public Transport Authority, along with its suppliers to build a train which we hope to have on tracks by the middle of 2022.

“What made that contract so attractive to Alstom was the long-term maintenance contract, which allows us to make sure the rollingstock is designed to maintainability as well,” Coxon explained. “We’ll build a strong workforce for the build, and then progressively for the maintenance.

“We’ve included in the project our HealthHub technology which focuses on the predictive maintenance capability, to ensure we’re maintaining the core components as they’re being used, and we can plan our maintenance schedules to optimise availability of the product. That’s a similar product to what we’ve installed for the Sydney Metro, so it’s not the first time we’ve installed it here in Australia, but again is a first for Western Australia.”

Next X’Trapolis in the works

Alstom has been supplying its X’Trapolis metro fleet to Melbourne’s Metro Trains network for nearly two decades, with more than 102 trains delivered. “It has proven to be one of the most reliable products in Australia today, so we’re very proud of this product and our skilled workforce in Ballarat who deliver this,” Coxon said.

After being awarded the preliminary design contract for an X’Trapolis 2.0 in late 2018, Coxon said the team spent a large portion of 2019 working with the state towards a new generation of the successful train.

“The X’Trapolis 2 will have all the latest technologies, adapted to integrate seamlessly into the Melbourne network. We would like to see this product rolled out on the Melbourne network and continue the long and successful story of X’Trapolis Melbourne trains.”

Thornlie-Cockburn Link passes final approvals

Construction work on the Thornlie-Cockburn Link can now begin, with the project passing through the state and federal environmental approvals process.

The project will connect the Mandurah and Armadale lines over 14.5km with new stations at Ranford Rd and Nicholson Rd. Station upgrades will also be carried out at Cockburn Central and Thornlie.

CPB Contractors and Downer will carry out the works, including those works mandated in the final environmental approvals.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti outlined that the project as a whole has sustainability at its core.

“The McGowan Government is strongly committed to sustainable development, and we want to ensure this important project provides the amenities and features the community wants, and that it is delivered in a sustainable way.”

The project sought feedback from the community and submissions raised environmental issues.

To address this, clearing of native vegetation for the project will be done in an environmentally responsible way. Animals will also be captured and then released by a licenced contractor with advice from the Department of Biodiveristy, Conservation, and Attractions.

“Environmental and heritage considerations are a key priority for the Thornlie-Cockburn Link and these approvals mark an important step forward for this much anticipated project,” said Saffioti.

Thornline MLA, Chris Tallentire, said that the project will benefit the local community.

“It is important that we meet our environmental obligations for the sustainable delivery of our infrastructure commitments. It is fantastic to see that we have reached yet another important milestone for this project,” he said.

“The METRONET Thornlie-Cockburn Link will bust congestion and provide our local community with greater connectivity with Perth city and the broader metro area.”

WA businesses receive capability funding

West Australian businesses have received funding to prepare to locally deliver rollingstock for the state’s Metronet project.

Eight businesses have won funding as part of the Local Capability Fund (LCF) under the Metronet Railcar Procurement round.

Businesses which have received up to $20,000 include refurbishment services provider Frontline Rail, the WA branch of rail transport maintenance and engineering business Chess Engineering, as well as specialist engineering and service providers.

The funding can be used by the businesses for capacity-building, planning, improvements to internal infrastructure, equipment, training, and certifications.

Applications for the fund remain open until January 31, or until funds are exhausted.

Under the contract to deliver new rollingstock for the Metronet project, rail car manufacturer Alstom will utilise local businesses for 50 per cent of the contract.

When complete, Alstom will produce 246 new C-series railcars and six diesel railcars. The railcars will be built in WA at the new Bellevue Assembly Facility.

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.”

Midland’s 51-year-old station will be replaced with a new 12,000sqm facility

A new METRONET train station will be built in Perth’s Eastern suburbs.

The McGowan Government has confirmed the relocation of Midland’s new train station will be between Helena and Cale streets.

The current 51-year-old station will be replaced with a new 12,000sqm railcar manufacturing and assembly facility.

The next stage of the project will focus on station layout and design in preparation for procurement and construction.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti highlighted that the project will integrate transport modes and infrastructure.

“METRONET is not just about creating new rail lines, it’s also about reinvigorating existing stations and infrastructure to provide the community with well-designed places that support walking, cycling and public transport.”

The facility will feature three platforms, a new bus interchange, car park, bicycle facilities and a new shared path.

The Helena Street level crossing will close due to growth in freight rail operations and frequency of metro trains.

The crossing will be replaced with a new one at Cale Street and will connect through to Centennial Place.

The business case for the project has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia and the project definition plan will be completed in mid-2020.

Saffioti said the new Midland Station will make it easier for commuters, local businesses and residents to connect to public transport

“Relocating Midland Station has been high on the wish list of eastern suburbs locals for many years and it is now another step closer to becoming a reality,” Saffioti said.

The new station will be closer to the centre of Midland, Midland Health Campus, and the Workshops precinct.

Midland MLA Michelle Roberts said a new Midland train station has been needed for a long time.

“State of the art facilities, combined with a more central location will help boost train patronage and visitors to local businesses,” Roberts said.

Construction will start on the new manufacturing facility in Bellevue in the first half of this year.

Planning will continue for a future rail extension to Bellevue, which would be delivered in the next stage of the McGowan Government’s METRONET transformation of Perth’s rail network.

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.