WA transport minister defends railcar manufacturing in Bellevue

Liza Harvey, leader of the opposition in Western Australia, has labelled railcar manufacturing as a practise from a bygone era.

In a speech to the state’s business community at the Business News Politics Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Harvey said “we don’t know the total cost to the state of the McGowan Government rail car experiment” and claimed that railcar manufacturing should not be a focus for WA.

“What we will not do is heavily subsidise industries where the State has no comparative advantage, nor bring back industries from a bygone era,” Harvey said in her speech.

Harvey said the opposition has been trying to scrutinise the decision by the McGowan Labor government to determine if this decision delivers value for money for the taxpayer of Western Australia given that this is a $1.3 billion investment.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that building railcars in WA was cheaper than other options.

“The cost of WA-made railcars is cheaper than the cost of the previous procurement of B-Series from Queensland that was ordered when she was Deputy Premier,” Saffioti said.

“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.”

The spokesperson from the office of Liza Harvey said Saffioti has refused on many occasions to provide any transparency regarding this contract.

“The Minister has refused to provide any breakdown regarding the various cost elements of the contract such as the cost of maintenance,” she said.

“The Minister has refused to table the contract or provide a business case.

“The Leader of the Opposition indicated that a future Liberal Government would not be subsidising uncompetitive industries however, we will not do what the current Government does and create sovereign risk by ripping up contracts,” Harvey said.

Saffioti denied Harvey’s claims including a comment that WA’s facility was going to “fit out trains from Victoria”.

“Victoria builds its own trains – as do many modern economies around the world. WA will also be building its own trains,” she said.

Saffioti said train manufacturing involves modern skills that are easily transferable to other industries.

“The Opposition Leader’s embarrassing attack on WA workers shows the Liberal Party hasn’t moved on from their fundamental opposition to rail and local jobs,” she said.

“Our vision for WA is to build a modern train manufacturing and maintenance hub, that not only builds and maintains our public transport trains, but creates further opportunities for the freight, agricultural and mining industries.”

Saffioti said these industries are major users of rail and rolling stock, and the railcar contract provides growth opportunities throughout the state.

“The question for Ms Harvey is: If Western Australia should not build our 246 C-series railcars, and six Australind railcars, then who should?”

Construction begins on Bellevue railcar manufacturing site

Work has begun on the Bellevue manufacturing site, where Western Australia’s fleet of railcars will be built, tested, and maintained.

Part of the Metronet project, the $46 million facility will be where manufacturer Alstom will construct and maintain 246 C-series railcars, as well the replacement railcars for the Australind service.

Subiaco-based company, Firm Construction, will build the assembly and maintenance facility, as well as a high-voltage testing building. The 180m long building will include a railcar assembly area, offices, workshops and storage areas, two overhead cranes lifting 25t each, and a heavy maintenance railroad with a 10t capable crane.

“Today marks the start of the return of the railcar manufacturing industry to the Midland area,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

Under the terms of the agreement, 50 per cent of the total $1.25 billion contract will be delivered locally. The WA government estimates that 100 jobs will result from construction of the facility, with more jobs once production and maintenance begins.

“In a year from now, local workers will be standing in this very spot assembling Western Australia’s new Metronet railcars,” said McGowan.

The effects of the contract will also be felt more widely across the workforce.

“At the North Metropolitan TAFE campus, just down the road, our specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre will ensure local apprentices and trainees learn the skills for this important work,” said McGowan.

Once complete, the first of the C-series railcars are expected to run on the Perth network in 2022. Previously, railcars were manufactured in Midland up until 1994, when the Midland Railway Workshops closed down.

Metronet Airport Central Station now 70 per cent completed

The construction of Metronet’s Airport Central Station in Perth is 70 per cent complete with the first roof modules installed last week.

The first girders of Airport Central Station’s 137-tonne steel roof structure have been craned into place, with the steel fabricated locally by Naval Base company Pacific Industrial Co.

The $1.86 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link is jointly funded by the Australian and Western Australian governments and will deliver a new rail service to the eastern suburbs of Perth – with three new stations at Redcliffe, Airport Central and Forrestfield.

Rita Saffioti, WA Transport Minister said that, until now, the construction of Airport Central Station has been largely underground with significant excavation undertaken to build the three-level railway hub.

The roof modules will be craned into place over a three-month period, before specially designed sheeting is installed.

“While most works to date have been largely hidden, construction of this massive roof structure marks a new phase in above-ground construction for this project – an architectural milestone,” Saffioti said.

The roof installation comes as TBM Grace, the first tunnel-boring machine, finishes its work, having broken through into the Bayswater Station dive structure on February 18.

TBM Sandy is expected to break through towards the middle of the year to complete the project, and by end of their three-year journey, the machines will have travelled eight kilometres each.

At Skybridge level, the steel frame for the link between the station entry and the 280-metre-long elevated walkway has been constructed with travelators and information screens installed.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said about 2,000 jobs have been created on this project alone, with more than 700 people currently employed, and 70 jobs created as part of the Skybridge project.

“The Forrestfield-Airport Link is an important part of Metronet and when it opens next year it will provide an accessible public transport link for thousands of Western Australians and tourists,” McGowan said.

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.

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.”

$1.4 million upgrade of regional stations in WA now complete

The new North Dandalup and Cookernup stations are now open for passengers on Transwa’s Australind route.

The North Dandalup and Cookernup train stations shared in upgrades worth $1.28 million as part of the McGowan Government’s election commitment to improve transport in south-west WA.

The $750,000 upgrade of the North Dandalup station and $650,000 upgrade of the Cookernup station began last year.

Both train stations’ existing low-level platforms are now raised platforms to be fully compliant with Disability Discrimination ACT standards.

The opening of the towns’ new train stations are ahead of the six new diesel railcars to replace the existing Australind service between Perth and Bunbury currently being built and commissioned in Bellevue.

Two car bays and one disability parking bay, line marking and bollards, new kerbing, and bitumen surfaces have also been installed at both stations, as well as better lighting, signage, fencing, and pedestrian paths. 

A number of other regional station upgrades including Yarloop and Carrabin have also been completed in the past 18 months.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Australind service is a local icon which has operated for more than 70 years.

“These small local stations provide a vital transport link for people in more isolated parts of the South-West – but due to their age, the infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with standards of accessibility,” Saffioti said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said “The South-West is an important part of our State and it’s vital we provide public transport infrastructure for local residents, which is why we have upgraded four local train stations over the past 18 months.”

Australind railcar design and action plan revealed

Designs for new Western Australian made Australind railcar have been revealed.

WA Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti visited Bunbury Station on Thursday to unveil the designs of the brand new $54 million Australind railcar sets, which will be built by Alstom.

The two new Australind trains are apart of the McGowan Government’s $1.25 billion railcar program.

The state government also announced an Australind Action Plan, promising to deliver additional public transport for South-West commuters ahead of completion of new railcars.

The existing Australind train was originally planned to have an operational life of up to 30 years, however factors such as corrosion that built up over time has been a leading cause of cancelled services.

The McGowan Government in a statement said while extensive maintenance has been undertaken to keep the rolling stock operating, “ageing and obsolescence resulting from this neglect has led to a number of delays and cancelled services”.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said, “as we transition from the old Australind to the new Australind railcars, we are committed to ensuring that the current train continues to provide a reliable service”.

“We have also introduced a raft of measures to provide more certainty for passengers as we await the delivery of the new train.”

As part of this, the McGowan Government is introducing a trial non-stop road coach service departing from Bunbury Station at 6am every weekday and returning to Bunbury in the evening, enabling passengers who need to commute the opportunity to travel on a fast-tracked, non-stop luxury road coach service.

The road coach will drop passengers at Mandurah Station, where they can continue their journey free of charge on the metropolitan rail system by presenting their Transwa ticket.

The McGowan Government has also introduced a credit program for Australind rail passengers so if their train journey is delayed by more than an hour due to maintenance issues or failure of rolling stock, they will be given a credit to take their next journey free of charge.

The new Australind trains will be a three-car set, and will have a modernised interior, with USB connection points, Wi-Fi, an improved kiosk, upright storage for 16 bicycles, and three toilets.

The railcar sets, being built by Western Australian workers in Bellevue, are expected to be delivered in 2022-23.

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.”