NZ announces new $1.1 billion rail investments

The New Zealand Government has announced a programme of new transport investments in six main growth areas across the country.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said $6.8 billion is being invested across road, rail, and public transport infrastructure across New Zealand.

$1.1 billion is part of targeted rail investments aiming to get trucks off the road in the six main growth areas of Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury, and Queenstown.

The rail package will include completing the third main rail line will remove a key bottleneck for freight and passenger services, as well as provide additional capacity for the increased services once the City Rail Link is completed.

Two new railway stations in Drury Central and Drury West will be funded, as well as electrifying the railway track between Papakura to Pukekohe to speed up commutes to the CBD.

Twyford said additional Wellington rail upgrades, including in the Wairarapa, will make the lines north of the city more reliable to meet a growing demand for rail services.

“Our decision to fund these projects by taking advantage of historically low long-term interest rates means this programme will free up funding in the National Land Transport Fund and Auckland transport budgets.”

Twyford said this programme brings forward and funds significant projects, allowing them to be built sooner.

“Many of these projects have been talked about for a long time, but we are the first Government to fund them, we have also made important changes,”

The investment announcement follows recent plans to revitalise KiwiRail’s Hillside workshops with demolition of disused and dilapidated buildings on the site currently underway.

Last year the Government announced a $19.97 million investment through the Provincial Growth Fund that has allowed KiwiRail to begin redeveloping the Dunedin site.

Stephanie Campbell KiwiRail group general manager property said Hillside will become a vital part of KiwiRail’s South Island freight and tourism operations.

“Demolishing some of the existing buildings is the first step in doing this, and contractors have begun work on the site, taking down two vacant workshops. 

“The next step is to upgrade the main rail workshops on the site, including overhauling the aging heavy-lift crane and traverser.

 “The planned improvements for the site will allow us to maintain more locomotives and wagons, as well as undertaking new types of work, such as heavy maintenance and upgrades.”

AusRAIL: Digitalisation centre stage for Thales

Rail technology provider Thales talks rail digitalisation, and its plans to showcase its digital rail solutions portfolio at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 in Sydney.


Rail experts like Mark Smalley all around the region are excited about what’s going on in the Australasian rail sector, and even more excited about what’s to come. Smalley, business development manager for Ground Transportation Systems at Thales, says the range of major capital works underway and the shift towards transforming existing operational systems as part of the “digital rail revolution” are key areas for the business.

“Thales is excited by the unprecedented levels of investment, particularly in NSW, with such a significant backlog of transport infrastructure programs and the ambitious Future Transport 2056 strategy,” Smalley tells Rail Express. “With a strong local presence in Sydney, a credible portfolio of references and a pool of global expertise, we are well positioned to support this vision and are committed to ensuring our customers realise maximum return from this once in a generation investment program.”

One of the key success factors to achieving this vision, he says, is internationally proven, next generation digital technologies.

“This is key to modernising the underlying operational infrastructure to deliver much needed capacity improvements, and significant operational performance, cost and safety benefits for passengers, operators and freight services. These benefits are realised by everyone: commuters, transport operators, businesses; the whole economy. New technologies mean adopting and adapting to new ways of working, however.

“It’s important not to forget the people and process elements of technology programs,” Smalley says. “Understanding how the end user will interact with the new system is essential to ensuring long-term success and acceptance of the technology. Recognising this, we aim to ensure these Human Factors elements are captured and addressed throughout the design, development and implementation phases.”

Digitalisation at AusRAIL

Thales presence at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 in Sydney will focus on the theme of rail digitalisation. Attendees will include key members of the Sydney-based Ground Transportation Systems business, with technical specialists on-hand to support demonstrations and showcase Thales’ urban and mainline digital rail solutions.

These include Thales’ SelTrac Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) solution, which helps move over three billion people annually across 40 major cities, including London, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. Thales launched the future-focused seventh generation of SelTrac, SelTrac G7, at Innotrans 2018, and will demonstrate it again at AusRAIL. “This is something I’m particularly looking forward to,” Smalley explains. “Having worked in London for several years on CBTC projects on the Underground network, I’m excited to apply this knowledge and experience here.”

Thales’ internationally proven rail Traffic Management System, ARAMIS, in operation in 18 different countries including Germany, Austria, Portugal, Denmark and the UK, will also be on display along with its complementary digital services platform solutions, TIRIS and Naia. “Our innovative Digital Services platform supports applications which specifically respond to the needs of rail operators today,” Smalley says.

“Naia uses big data analytics to understand passenger behaviour and journey patterns to improve passenger experience and boost operator revenues. TIRIS provides predictive maintenance capability for the assets deployed on the physical rail network, reducing maintenance costs and improving asset reliability.”

Finally, Thales will show off its innovative smart sensing solution, Lite4ce, which Smalley says will “fundamentally transform the way we obtain, gather and analyse data from the trackside to the operational control room”. “Lite4ce is a passive fibre optic axle counter device, meaning no need for outdoor electronics, power supply or copper cable,” he explains. “It is a balance between a disruptive technology with its new capabilities and staying compatible with signalling and operational rules applied by our customers today. It also meets our primary need for reliable train detection with low life-cycle costs. We are really excited to bring these technologies to the Australian market”.

Four-pillar transport strategy

Thales has prioritised four target sectors for rail in the region: Metro, Light Rail, Mainline Signalling and Control Systems, and Through Life Support Services. In Australia, Smalley and director of strategy, marketing and communications Sita Brown explain, the company aims to serve each with a good balance of local and global expertise, drawing upon a pool of 3,600 people in Australia, 8,200 global rail specialists, and a workforce of 80,000 worldwide.

“Within Metro, we’re delivering the mission-critical Communications and Central Control System for Sydney Metro, one of the most high-profi le transport infrastructure programs I think in the world, but certainly in the Southern Hemisphere and one which will fundamentally improve mobility options for millions of Sydneysiders,” Smalley says.

“Then there’s Parramatta Light Rail, where we’re working with our customer CAF to deliver the integrated rail systems package. This is Thales’ first foray into the light rail space within Australia, which is a huge and exciting opportunity for us.

“In terms of Mainline Signalling and Control Systems, Thales is also targeting Transport for NSW’s Digital Systems program, which will bring ETCS Level 2, Automatic Train Operation, and a modern Traffic Management System to the Sydney Trains network. Along with Sydney Metro, this is the most exciting rail systems program to land in Australia and is something that we’re very much hopeful we can play a part in.”

The fourth pillar of Thales’ rail business in Australia is the most recently added – Through Life Support Services. Smalley explains: “One of our global strengths is that we prefer to form long-term collaborative partnerships with our customers, where we not only deliver the technology to meet a specific project outcome, but where we also support and enhance the systems over time in line with our customer’s evolving operational needs. From our perspective this is the best way to do business.”

Local skills investment key

A substantial skills and capacity challenge stands as a major obstacle to the success for all this transport investment, and Smalley believes a focus on developing local skills and competency is an absolute necessity, not just for Thales in the Australasian market, but for the industry as a whole.

“This is a fundamental issue for the successful delivery and long-term return on investment for these programs and for sustainability of skills, capacity and capability in the region,” he says.

Recognising the need for a sustainable answer, Thales established a transport competence centre in Sydney. Including a dedicated transport graduate program to develop the next generation of rail specialists, the centre supports skills and workforce development in the region. Complete with a digital rail integration and test lab as well as technology and system demonstrators, Smalley says it is allowing Thales to address some of the key challenges associated with deploying technologies from overseas into the local ecosystem.

Emphasis has also been placed to ensure work at the competence centre engages local rail specialists, as well as Thales’ global network of experts to leverage best practices and lessons learned.

Smalley is keen to see Thales’ customers and partners embrace skills development in a similar way.

“For example, the proposed Rail Technology Campus in Sydney is a concept we’ve been particularly supportive of,” he says. “Both in terms of establishing facilities for off-site testing and integration, and a dedicated training centre to support ongoing skills development and competency management. This approach provides access to new technologies whilst also supporting both training and familiarisation without disturbing rail operations.”

An invaluable component of Thales’ skills-building strategy has also been its successful integration with its major project portfolio. “Across the business, we’ve been able to benefit from that on each of our major projects that we’re undertaking, we now have a pool of talented and ambitious graduates coming through with fresh ideas and new ways of working, which in turn is helping to challenge the status quo and drive innovation in what we’re doing. As a result, we’ve seen a lot of positive outcomes,” Smalley says. “Furthermore, it’s been really impressive and rewarding to see how the next generation of talent and graduates have risen to the challenge and embraced the opportunities presented within the rail sector.”


Visit Thales at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 107.

AusRAIL: For major projects, confidence is key

Confidence is a valuable asset in major transport project delivery. Systra Scott Lister speaks with Rail Express about the importance of quality expertise throughout the life of a major project to ensure an effective result.


Scott Lister was founded in 2009 by associates Mark Scott and Howard Lister as an engineering assurance, systems development, and project management and assessment firm. It was acquired in 2016 by Systra, and merged with Systra’s Australian branch in 2018 to form Systra Scott Lister as a single entity in Australia and New Zealand.

Business development director Patrick Desforges says this combination of local expertise with Systra’s global experience is well timed in the Australasian market. With an explosion of metro, light rail and bus rapid transit projects underway or planned right across the region, Desforges says Systra Scott Lister is leveraging this combination of local and global to help deliver better projects.

“Systra is focussing on the rail market that is at its core business, including projects like those in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Auckland,” Desforges told Rail Express. “Systra is targeting engineering services where we believe we can add value and offer a different approach, based on our experience in both local and international markets.”

Desforges sees parallels between major projects like the Sydney Metro program and foreign projects like the new Grand Paris Metro Express, and the Dubai Metro.

“Those projects are all aiming to implement an automatic metro in a dense area environment to increase transport capacity, offer better and quicker mobility solutions to the increasing community, and promote urban development,” he said.

Systra was the project manager in charge of building Dubai’s Red and Green MRT lines, working hand in hand with the local transport authority from 2003 on preliminary designs through to the inauguration of the second line in 2011.

From 2014, Systra carried out preliminary design studies for the extension project, and has remained a part of the project during its construction and commissioning, scheduled for 2020.

“A successful rail project is a project that has been well thought-out and studied from an early stage, e.g. the business case,” Desforges continued. “A new transport system must have good reasons to be implemented and address real issues and risks in the most efficient and appropriate way. A good procurement strategy together with active local community engagement and controlled budget and timeline are essential.”

Desforges says Systra Scott Lister’s involvement in AusRAIL PLUS – where it is a Silver Sponsor – is to further demonstrate its capabilities in the local market, supported with global experience.

“Systra’s story is relatively recent in Australia and New Zealand and we are always keen to participate in events that present a unique opportunity to talk about rail business with the local rail community. There are solutions Systra can bring to help achieve all of this market’s very challenging projects,” he said. “The key expertise offered by Systra globally and by Systra Scott Lister in Australia in all its rail projects is the systems integration and the knowledge of how to operate any kind of rail system, including light rail, automatic metro and high speed and fast train. Systra is also an international leader in CBTC and ETCS L2 high capacity signalling systems development.”

Desforges notes the origin of Systra itself – through the merger of the former engineering arms of French Railways (SNCF) and Paris Urban Transport Authority (RATP) – has provided it with a history of rail expertise.

“Our DNA is rail and we are able to cover all technical disciplines, all through a project’s life cycle – from business case and feasibility study, to testing and commissioning, through all levels of design development,” he said.


Systra Scott Lister is a Silver Sponsor of AusRAIL PLUS.

Ensuring ‘line of sight’ on complex projects

On a complex mega-project, all stakeholders must be kept fully across the project’s requirements and safety assurance measures, as well as how that project is being integrated into the existing infrastructure. Rail Express speaks with Acmena about finding the most simple solution to this robust challenge.


To its credit, Australia is a jurisdiction where safety is the top priority during the delivery of any major infrastructure project. For operators, owners and contractors working on such projects in the rail sector, safety is overseen by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR).

But with major projects getting bigger and more complex, and with the list of stakeholders for any given project growing longer every time a new complexity is added, keeping everyone on the same page in terms of requirements can be a serious challenge.

In 2012, the same year ONRSR was established, a trio of systems engineering and safety management experts – Sue Milner, Katherine Eastaughffe and Graeme Cutler – formed Acmena, with the goal to combine a unique mix of systems engineering, human factors, systems assurance and engineering management experience to help clients deliver critical, complex projects in less time and with greater certainty.

“At the time the company was founded there were increasing expectations around what accredited rail operators had to demonstrate when they were making significant changes to their network, or when there were major rail projects,” Eastaughffe tells Rail Express. “There is now a requirement for quite rigorous safety cases to be put together that also demonstrate human factors are being considered throughout design.”

Acmena works across a number of highly regulated, safety critical industries, including infrastructure, healthcare, aviation and rail. It is currently involved in several major projects including Cross River Rail in Queensland, and the Digital Systems project and Sydney Metro in New South Wales.

Eastaughffe says the company’s primary aim is to help clients develop what she calls a “line of sight”, from beginning to end, of a project’s requirements, integration and assurance data. Key to this is developing a central repository, accessible and updateable by the project proponent and its contractors.

“These projects are generally quite complex, and the successful integration of all the different elements requires specialist systems engineering skills,” Eastaughffe says. “What’s most important is bringing all the elements together in a way that allows you to meet expectations.”

In one example, Acmena was engaged by Rail Projects Victoria’s technical advisor on the Metro Tunnel Project in Melbourne, the Aurecon/Jacobs/Mott Macdonald joint venture, to help set up the central repository of requirements for the massive project.

“Having one single repository for all the various organisations involved meant Rail Projects Victoria could get a clear line of sight on what the objectives of the project were, right through to what people were actually delivering on the ground,” Eastaughffe explains.

“That project is still in progress of course, but we were involved in designing and setting up that repository, and providing ongoing advice to all the organisations in working in that repository.”

As an IBM Business Partner, Acmena guided the project team in the appropriate use and execution of the IBM Requirements Management DOORS Next cloud-based platform as the project’s requirements management tool.

The cloud-based platform means a centralised solution and framework can be created to support concurrent multiple party use, from stakeholders to contractors. The solution is designed to let all parties work within their own separate areas, while also being able to trace and connect to project-wide data for integration and assurance purposes.

“This is the first time a centralised approach has been used on a rail project like this,” RPV’s Manager of Systems Architecture, Integration and Assurance Marc Chadwick said. “It’s usually a very dislocated environment. It can be difficult to move information around and have proper synchronisation and timing. Putting it into the cloud allows it to stay in sync, so you’ve got the right information on your desktop.”

The central repository allowed Public Transport Victoria, Metro Trains Melbourne, and the project’s independent safety assessor to set the project’s requirements, assurance and integration goals, and meant all tenderers across the major delivery contracts were able to directly address those goals through their bids. The successful tenderers therefore already had that information to hand, and were able to get on with the job. From there those goals and their outcomes are able to be tracked through delivery and commissioning.

Some more work done by Acmena in Victoria was on the Caulfield to Dandenong (CTD) package of level crossing removals. The company was selected in early 2016 to join the CTD Alliance, comprised of Metro Trains Melbourne and four major construction and engineering contractors, to provide systems engineering and assurance across the project. With more than 450 designers, planners and engineers involved across the project, CTD was one of the most complex rail projects ever attempted in Victoria.

“One of the biggest challenges was the sheer scale of the project, having so many people involved across the project in design, construction and everything in between,” Level Crossing Removal Project Systems Engineering Manager, Kyla Brown, said. “Managing that was quite difficult, as was maintaining the flow of communication between people to make sure everyone was informed.”

Eastaughffe says a data repository – once again facilitated through the IBM solution – was a crucial component to this execution. “We had the database of potential safety hazards related to the design for the project, and we were able to link those directly to what elements in the design mitigated, or removed those risks,” Eastaughffe explains.

“When risks are identified during a project’s development, people need to understand how those risks are being reduced as much as reasonably practicable through the design. Whether that’s the design of the station, the viaduct, the signalling system – all of those have associated risks and we need to understand how they can best be addressed, making the project inherently safer through its design process.

“In the data repository we captured those risks, and we linked them to specific design requirements that were then shown to be correctly addressed in design. We could then link those again to tests that were undertaken to prove they were correctly implemented.

“So we had that clear line of sight from what the critical safety issues were on the project, to what had been done about them, and proving it had been correctly implemented.”

From the founding of the company in 2012, areas of improvement in the systems engineering processes have been identified. Acmena has developed a standardised approach to improve such processes and remove pain points. Supported by new technologies (DOORS Next SaaS), the innovative approach has been used by Acmena on major projects like the Metro Tunnel, CTD, Digital Systems and Cross River Rail, and is now becoming an industry best practice/standard.

Government organisations like the Level Crossing Removal Authority in Victoria, the Public Transport Authority in WA, and the City Rail Link in Auckland are using it as their preferred approach for major rail projects.

“We’ve been disruptors in this way,” Eastaughffe says. “A lot of projects are made up of similar elements, so we’ve created a more standardised approach which makes it more efficient for our clients.

“We’ve got that combination of very good knowledge of how the tools work, but also the industry knowledge of what’s going to be important to the accredited rail operator, and ultimately the rail safety regulator. Being able to match the use of the tools to the regulatory expectations is where we really stand out.”



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.

Hobart seeks to drive higher transport uptake

A vision to drive higher transportation uptake, as part of the 10-year, $1.6 billion Hobart City Deal, is being progressed with the release of an implementation strategy in early October.

The Hobart City Deal Implementation Plan commits to capacity building in transport services and the providers of those services, as well as in the infrastructure to encourage and enable public transport.

The Australian and Tasmanian governments and the Glenorchy and Hobart councils will determine which projects to fund as part of this, a statement from the federal government indicated.

One of the targets is to increase development along transit priority corridors, including activating the northern suburbs rail corridor and a light rail corridor.

Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson said that in order to activate the Northern Suburbs transit Corridor, the Tasmanian government is currently advertising for a transport consultant to undertake a study into the most effective transport solution along the disused northern suburbs rail corridor.

“The study will take into consideration the infrastructure needs within the corridor, the ideal surface the particular vehicle type would travel upon, station requirements, signalling considerations and integration with other transport options,” said Ferguson.

The city will also establish a common ticketing platform, supported by a $7.5 million investment over four years by the Tasmanian government for Metro Tasmania to lead the work.

Investments will be made towards improving the reliability and speed of real-time information, as well as to provide for new technology.

Road usage will be supported by Smart Traffic Management solutions, such as implementing a new On-Road Traveller Information System, which will provide road users with real-time data on incidents, alternative routes and travel times. A new incident management system will determine tow truck deployments and clearway management.

Another target of the Hobart City plan is to reduce congestion bottlenecks through targeted capital investment and smart technology solutions.

A commitment of $25 million in funding has been made through the Australian government’s Urban Congestion Fund for infrastructure projects to reduce congestion with a focus on the northern corridor.

The Tasmanian government is committing $105.5 million in total to reduce congestion. $20.8 million has been set aside for the Kingston congestion package, which will support the redevelopment of a bus transit centre and provide clearways to improve the flow of traffic.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said, “Planning, design and construction of congestion-busting roads across Greater Hobart can start thanks to a combined investment of over $890 million.”

Monash study finds preference for cars among new parents

A Monash University study surveying the transportation habits of  Melbourne commuters has revealed possible methods to increase public transport adoption amongst first-time parents.

Respondents who had become parents in the past year cited a lack of off-peak frequencies, dedicated caregiver station parking and suburban reach as issues preventing their increased use of public transport.

The study found that among the 758 new parents surveyed, many were increasingly turning to cars to support their needs, with the volume of people using public transport regularly dropping from 30 per cent of respondents in the year prior to becoming parents to just 14 per cent a year after the birth of their children.

In addition, the number of respondents who said they rarely or never used a car decreased from one-third to less than one per cent in the same timeframe.

“A number of studies have shown that households with children are more car-dependent than other households groups,” said Laura McCarthy, a PhD researcher from Monash University’s Public Transport Research Group.

“Our study identifies different groups of transport users. By doing this, we found that, while car use did increase for most groups, other groups displayed more sustainable travel patterns following parenthood.

Monash split its findings into five distinct transport categories: Transit Leavers, Consistent Drivers, Committed Multimodals, Transit Faithfuls and Devoted Cyclists.

The Devoted Cyclists group showed one of the biggest post-parenthood drops, from 46 per cent to just one per cent.

McCarthy suggested that modest changes could be made to better accommodate families with young children using public transport.

“Each of the five groups shared different characteristics and attitudes towards travel modes,” she said. “This suggests a one-size-fits-all policymaking approach may need to be abandoned in favour of a more nuanced consideration of the public transport needs of new parents.”

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.”–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.”

SA Transport Minister says too early to rule out rail privatisation

South Australian Transport Minister Stephan Knoll has refused to rule out privatisation of the state’s train and tram network.

The South Australian Government intends to deliver a more “customer-centric public transport system” to address declining patronage across the state.

Buses in South Australia are already franchised, becoming privatised in 2000 following the launch of Adelaide Metro. South Australia is currently the only remaining Australian state with a publicly-operated tram network.

Minister Knoll told radio station FIVEaa Breakfast host Will Goodings this morning that it was too early to leave any options for improving transport off the table.

“It is fair to say we want to maintain control over what’s going on,” Knoll told Goodings in an interview.

“There is a very large social equity component to the public transport service and that has to be maintained but at this stage to play a ‘rule in, rule out’ game is a bit disingenuous.”

The South Australian Marshall Government is currently undergoing review of the state’s public transport system. Premier Marshall has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s public transport use, particularly in Adelaide.

He stated last month that the state capital needed a “more integrated public transport system capable of providing faster journeys for customers.

“At around eight per cent, Adelaide has one of the lowest rates of public transport usage in the country and the highest percentage of people who choose to drive to work of any capital city,” Marshall explained in April.

“We also have the worst level of integration between the different modes of public transport – our bus, train and tram services don’t sync up and operate as efficiently as they should.”

South East QLD set to improve on 2018 transport record

Public transport use in South East Queensland is set to improve on last year’s record growth, according to state government figures.

The quarterly TransLink Tracker Report recorded over 45.49 million trips in the region in the second quarter of 2018–19 between buses, ferries, train and light rail, a five per cent year-on-year increase.

Trains represented 13.17 million trips, or roughly 29 per cent of the total for the quarter. Trams accounted for 2.61 million trips, or about 5.7 per cent of total trips in the region.

This growth suggests that the region is on track to beat the annual record of 182.8 million trips secured in 2017–18. The implementation of the Fairer Fares initiative, which reduced the number of fare zones in South East Queensland from 23 to 8 (thus allowing for longer journeys on a single fare), was cited by the government as a principal reason for the upswing.

“Strong growth across the board shows we’re well on-track to eclipse the record 182.8 million trips taken in 2017/18,” said Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.

“There were more than half a million [525,000] extra trips on the Gold Coast Light Rail, while train commuters took an additional 690,000 trips and bus patronage across the south east jumped an extra one million trips.”

Bailey went on to state that Queenslanders deserved their “fair share” of funding from the Federal Government for public transport projects in the region, such as the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail Project connecting Dutton Park to Bowen Hills.

“Investing in public transport means investing in how Queenslanders to work, and creating jobs. Cross River Rail alone will support up to 7,700 jobs and add to the 192,000 jobs created under the Palaszczuk Government since 2015,” he concluded.