A combination of optical distance sensors, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence technology is being used to detect trespassers in the rail corridor in Melbourne. Read more
Australasia’s current array of major projects have the opportunity to set improved standards for safety across the industry. John Langron explained how Sydney Metro is putting this into practice. Read more
The Australian rail industry will continue to see a more national approach to rail safety regulation, attendees heard at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference.
Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) chief executive and National Rail Safety Regulator Sue McCarrey said that since the regulator become truly national at the end of 2019 with Victoria joining the program, the body has been working to align standards across states and territories.
Across ONRSR’s four priorities, track worker safety, contractor management, level crossing safety, and control assurance, efforts are being taken to standardise safety approaches with better outcomes for the rail industry.
“There are huge advantages to being truly national,” said McCarrey.
One area where this is currently occurring is in the development of a guideline for fatigue management. By looking at the issues from the perspective of the impact of fatigue on rail safety risk, ONRSR hopes to enable operators to follow one practice across different states.
McCarrey said that these efforts were recognised in the recent Productivity Commission report which identified that ONRSR was the leading Commonwealth transport regulator in delivering a nationally-harmonised approach.
With the national model now established, McCarrey said that ONRSR would look further into encouraging the uptake of more advanced technology, including in cab video and audio recordings.
The adoption of modern technology to improve track worker safety is another area where McCarrey said that a risk-based approach to safety is allowing for innovation in the industry. With technology now costing much less than it did five to 10 years ago, the obligation for rial organisations to ensure safety so far as reasonably practicable is enabling the adoption of new technology.
McCarrey said that ONRSR would also be looking at where it can further develop its own practices and encourage regulatory reform.
“We should constantly be looking at how we can improve,” said McCarrey.
Looking towards 2025, McCarrey said that with the rapid deployment of new technology, the best fit for regulation may need to adapt.
There is a concerted effort underway across the rail industry in Australia to leverage the current investment in the rail sector to improve safety outcomes.
Speakers at the 20th annual Rail Industry Safety & Standards Board (RISSB) Rail Safety Conference 2020 highlighted that with the many major projects occurring concurrently around Australia, there is the opportunity to reset and improve when it comes to safety.
John Langron, rail safety manager Sydney Metro outlined how this is happening in practice on Australia’s largest public transport project. With construction underway on the CBD and South West portion of the project, new safety practices and methods are being implemented and normalised to improve overall safety culture.
While Langron noted that on such a high visibility project there is an expectation that the project will provide safer outcomes, the size of the project is also an opportunity. In the construction phase, Sydney Metro has implemented processes that are “a step above a normal maintenance job” said Langron.
These include daily preliminary checks before starting work, including drug and alcohol testing and verification of workers’ qualifications.
On major worksites such as at Central Station, large concrete barriers have been erected to separate work sites and the live rail environment, which also reduce dust and noise pollution for passengers on the adjacent platforms.
Ways of working have shifted too. Sydney Metro has instituted a prohibition on lookout protection working and conducted on-track works under local possession authorities (LPA). Through forward planning and collaboration with Sydney Trains, this has ensured that works are done on time at a higher level of safety.
Changing safety culture however takes more that physical and administrative controls. As Langron pointed out, with a new project a new culture can be established with the formation of the organisation. There is an “Opportunity for creating the culture that Sydney Metro wants” said Langron.
The culture from the top then sets the standard for within the organisation and the principle contracts and rail transport operators that Sydney Metro interacts with. Having had this experience of working alongside Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains has now shifted to doing more routine maintenance tasks during night time when no trains are running, according to Langron.
The Women in Industry Awards celebrated the achievements from a number of industries, and Nadine Youssef’s work keeping Sydney Trains safe won particular recognition.
On August 24, the winners of the 2020 Women in Industry Awards were announced. The annual awards, co-presented by Rail Express, recognise excellence across heavy industry in Australia, including manufacturing, resources, waste and resource recovery, and transportation. This year saw a record number of nominees, and judges who were drawn from across the Australian industrial landscape commented on the calibre of nominations received.
Christine Gibbs-Stewart, CEO of Austmine and member of the judging panel, noted that nominees came from all stages of their careers.
“As I judge it was great to read each applicant’s inspirational story. From young women driving change to those more experienced who are running large businesses, the nominees this year should all be congratulated for their outstanding achievements,” she said.
One of the most nominated categories was the rising star of the year award. As such a competitive field, the number of nominations demonstrated the depth of talent that is coming into industry, said judge Hayley Rohrlach, AECOM senior civil engineer and national chair of the Women in Engineering Committee for Engineers Australia.
“The Rising Star of the Year award nominees were very impressive, and the industry as a whole has a lot to be excited for if that’s the level of young engineers, miners and scientists that are coming through the ranks.”
Winning this award was Alicia Heskett, of Shell Australia (QGC). The other finalists were Helen Vu – BOC, Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA, Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia, Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia, Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac, Nima Sherpa – BHP, Rose Lindner – MMG, and Vera Milutinovic – Inenco. “I hope they can continue their advocacy and sharing their enjoyment for engineering and STEM as a whole into the community to continue to bring (or retain) female engineers into the profession,” said Rohrlach.
As rail continues to grow the participation and representation of women in the industry, judges commented that awards such as these serve as a way to encourage more women into traditionally male dominated industries, while also celebrating the successes of those who have made this their career. Melissa Donald, National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) board member, noted the importance of the awards.
“By highlighting the achievements of the finalists and winners I hope we can inspire more women and men to pursue careers in operations and continue to drive better gender balance across all industries.”
Institute of Quarrying Australia chief executive Kylie Fahey shared these sentiments.
“The awards promote the contribution of women and support the broader agenda of diversity and inclusion. By highlighting and celebrating the contribution of women to the industry, we can encourage more women into careers, help increase representation in leadership roles and support change,” she said.
“Awards are an important way for industries to acknowledge and celebrate innovation, ideas and change that are fostered through the involvement of individuals at all levels and through the diversity in teams. The applications demonstrate this and hopefully encourage other women to put their ideas forward and continue to strive for positive change.”
“THE WORK WE DO MATTERS”
Every day, Nadine Youssef plays a vital part in ensuring that over 1.3 million people who use the Sydney Trains network daily get to their destination safely. Her work in this field was this year recognised with receiving the Safety Advocacy Award.
Youssef highlighted that working for a large and varied organisation such as Sydney Trains has allowed her to grow her career.
“It promotes a culture of quality customer service while expecting the highest standards of ethical behaviour from all its employees. It strives for a culture of integrity and professionalism and innovative thinking. With customer service and safety always at the heart of what we do, there is an enormous variety
of interesting, challenging and rewarding opportunities across a range of professions,” Youssef said.
Since 2018, as the associate director of the Electrical Distribution Unit, Youssef has been the custodian of the Electrical Network Management Plan and the Electrical Network Safety Rules (ENSR). Youssef began and led the redesign of the ENSR to meet industry best practice standards and promote organisational continuous improvement.
Significant infrastructure upgrades such as the introduction of Sydney Metro increased the demand for electrical work and resources, in addition, Sydney Trains’ management of substation access permits limited efficiency. Parallel with redesigning the ENSR, Youssef was an integral member in implementing a pop-up electrical learning centre to overcome the shortage of accredited electrical personnel and provide a safe location to train staff away from the hazards of the live environment.
Receiving the award, Youssef noted that the recognition extends to a support network of colleagues, family and friends.
“This recognition is motivating and humbling and a reminder that the work we
do everyday matters. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my incredible mentors, colleagues, family and friends, so this nomination is equally extended to them.”
The importance of a supportive work environment is one that Youssef noted.
“In my office and in my field, I am surrounded daily by intelligent, strong and talented people and following this experience I will continue to lean in and lift up those around me and am inspired to find ways to pay back and recognise the work of others.”
While the finalists and winners of the Women in Industry awards were not able to meet at the usual awards ceremony, a virtual network has sprung up, and has encouraged Youssef to share her experience with others.
“I am glad to have a new network of women who I can collaborate with as I continue on my professional journey. Being named a finalist and winner of such an award is a professional and personal achievement that carries with it great responsibility. This experience compels me to continue to share my story and knowledge with even more women looking to grow in my industry.”
As Youssef looks to promote a cohesive approach to public planning and integrated services, she is encouraging others within industry to think about where they want their career to take them.
“It is important to establish a strong, productive working relationship with your colleagues and peers and to take responsibility for your own career path. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at different things in your organisation and then only you will be able to decide your future career path. Lastly, never stop learning and developing yourself regardless of your age. In this ever-changing world it is becoming more and more important to be able to change and adapt with it.”
For Youssef herself, who has progressed to an executive role within Sydney Trains, she is only just getting started.
“I truly feel that my biggest achievement is yet to come. I am proud of my career to date and the impact that I have been fortunate to make, but I am always looking to achieve more tomorrow than I did today and am constantly striving to improve myself and the organisation I work for.”
Annual survey shows over 90 per cent of the rail industry is making use of RISSB products and services.
RISSB released its take-up survey results in July showing that more than 90 per cent of respondents use RISSB publications.
Comprising an online survey and face-to- face interviews, this independent survey was undertaken between May and July 2020.
A total of 44 rail organisations (including 19 companies/organisations who are currently not RISSB members) completed an online survey and eight one-on-one interviews were held with senior executives from the rail industry.
The results also show that In broad terms, RISSB’s external stakeholders believe that RISSB has improved in the past 12 months, that its credibility has continued to increase, and that RISSB publications are extremely influential in the rail industry with more than 93 per cent of survey respondents stating that their organisation has been influenced in some way by a RISSB publication.
For the first time ever, the survey also asked respondents to not only comment on the use of RISSB publications in their organisation, but also consider the use of RISSB services (conferences, forums, programs and events) by employees. All organisations surveyed indicated that their organisation utilised RISSB services and more than 90 per cent of respondents indicated that RISSB services influence their company or organisation’s internal documents, systems, practices or procedures.
SOME OF THE KEY FINDINGS ARE:
- There is an extremely high level of take-up of RISSB products in the rail industry with over 90 per cent indicating they use RISSB products in some way.
- There is a growing trend in government procurement processes for RISSB standards to be used by the successful bidder.
- The Australian National Rules and Procedures and the National Rules Framework are two of RISSB’s more valuable and influential publications.
- 100 per cent of those surveyed indicated their companies/organisations utilise RISSB services.
- The stand-out service provided by RISSB is its safety conference and it is an important industry learning and networking event.
- Over 93 per cent of industry is aware of RISSB’s training programs and they are well used across industry with around 80 per cent of organisations surveyed indicating they had attended a RISSB training program.
- The specialist forums offered by RISSB are well regarded with over 100 per cent awareness and 95 per cent responding that the forums benefitted their organisation.
- The Horizons Program is actively promoting the next generation of rail industry leaders and has a wide of level of support within the industry.
- RISSB’s The Whistle Board weekly newsletter is widely read within the industry and is easy to read.
A survey summary report is available to download from RISSB’s website: www.rissb.com.au/publications/.
The Freight on Rail Group has called upon the federal government to fund the resumption of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
The coalition of rail freight businesses, chaired by Dean Dalla Valle said that with the Victorian government committing $48.8m in funding, the Commonwealth needed to come to the table as well.
“This commitment from the Victorian government is welcome – as a nation we need to get this rail freight network humming again. Given we could see another bumper crop next year, industry encourages the Commonwealth to also commit extra funding to help get the network back on track,” said Dalla Valle.
Getting the project back on track would improve the productivity of the Victorian rail network, and with forecast bumper grain harvests, the need for investment is critical.
“Due to well-documented problems with rail infrastructure in the basin, I’ve heard almost 70 percent of export grain this season will be transported by truck to Victorian ports – this is an extremely poor outcome for society; and certainly not good for regional councils already struggling to repair and maintain large road networks,” said Dalla Valle.
Since stalling in 2019, the partially completed project has led to a decline in freight carried by rail in the region. Groups including farmers, grain haulers, and now freight rail businesses are highlighting the importance of an efficient freight network.
“Inefficient transport supply chains corrode the core fundamentals of state and national economic productivity; destroying jobs and increasing cost of living pressures for millions of Australians,” said Dalla Valle.
The opportunity to reinvigorate the Murray Basin rail network had positives on a number of fronts, said Dalla Valle, beyond agricultural productivity. Moving more freight by rail would make roads safer for passenger vehicle by reducing accidents and wear and tear on roads. Additionally, as rail freight is less emissions intensive than road freight, Australia could reduce transport emissions. According to a 2017 Deloitte Access Economics report, for every kilometre of freight transport, rail produces 16 times less carbon pollution than road freight, and 14 times less accident costs.
Rebuilding the network would also provide a boost for regional economies and the Australian supply chain.
“Just imagine all the Australian-made steel that will be used in upgrading and standardising the network with new track – additional support for this project should be of the highest national priority,” said Dalla Valle.
With all of the New Generation Rollingstock now in passenger service, Bombardier is now ensuring the fleet’s service, safety, and reliability from its base in Wulkuraka.
With the purchase of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR), Queensland made the largest ever single investment in public transport in the state’s history. Not only did this introduce new rollingstock, but brought rail in Queensland back to where it all began, in Ipswich.
The QTECTIC consortium – of which Bombardier Transportation (BT) is a member – is delivering the NGR program and has constructed a purpose-built maintenance facility at Wulkuraka, west of Ipswich.
For decades, Ipswich was the centre of rail construction, maintenance and technology in Queensland. Over 150 years ago, the very first train to run in Queensland steamed through Wulkuraka on its way from North Ipswich to Grandchester, just west of Ipswich.
Fast forward to December 2015 and the Wulkuraka Maintenance Centre was handed over to Bombardier to receive the first NGR train in February 2016 for early testing. The depot completion then occurred in June 2016, a major milestone for the project. The first three trains were accepted in October-November 2017. By December the first three trains were in passenger service. At the end of 2019, the final train in the 75-strong fleet had arrived and was accepted into passenger service. This marked a key turning point for the facility, as it now became solely focused on ensuring the modern trains meet and exceed the ongoing performance to ensure the travelling public enjoy safe, reliable and clean trains all while providing passenger comfort.
To meet this challenge, Bombardier Transportation recently brought on Ben Wagener, an experienced rail manager with a safety-first mindset in alignment with Bombardier’s ethos, as general manager on the QNGR program. Having most recently managed maintenance in NSW for Aurizon, Wagener saw the opportunity for a new challenge.
“Bombardier Transportation is a global leader in rail and rollingstock and I was very keen to be a part of a place where safety of all personnel is a key part of the maintenance philosophy. I also wanted to leverage the latest vehicle technology at the purpose built Wulkuraka facility to assist in delivering infrastructure critical to the people of Queensland,” said Wagener.
“Being part of a public-private partnership (PPP) creates a new dynamic for me and a project like this brings challenges and opportunities. There are multiple stakeholders such as delivery consortium QTECTIC, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, our union partners at the RTBU and AMWU, and of course our subcontractors. I also have previous relationships within Queensland Rail which I was keen to reignite. So, this is a really interesting place to be as there is a diversity of equally valuable views around the table,” said Wagener.
“The opportunity opens new pathways into executive management and, having studied my MBA, it was simply an offer I could not refuse.”
Getting performance levels to meet goals is a key outcome of any maintenance contract, and with Bombardier contracted to deliver maintenance to 2045, having an innovative rail maintenance centre sets the team up for success.
“Everything is safety focused. All of the kit and facility is new, there are less hazards and legacy infrastructure to deal with, and the movement of vehicles is easy due to the size of the facility. This should also eliminate many depot capacity constraints,” said Wagener.
“Ultimately, if you have the right tools and right equipment in the right location, you will have a quality outcome. We are here for the long haul in Queensland, so our goal is to always keep our people safe and delight our customers and
the commuting public.”
Of course, early teething issues have had to be overcome, but the opportunity to work on advanced pieces of rollingstock that are critical for the state’s growth has motivated Wagener’s team.
“The team is working on world class technology. It’s exciting to be involved in this, using enhanced metrics and computerised processes,” said Wagener. “I’m focused on building this sense of camaraderie among the team around our shared purpose for the people of Queensland. Having a place that people are proud to work at drives efficiency in our processes.”
The access to the latest fleet performance data generated by the locally designed trains has informed maintenance practices so far.
“There is an opportunity to align asset management standard 55001, sustainability, and the maintenance required on some of the new technology,” said Wagener.
While the maintenance of the NGR fleet presents new opportunities, it is supported by Bombardier’s knowledge and experience when it comes to the maintenance and servicing of rollingstock.
Wagener’s team in Queensland share relationships with key Bombardier suppliers and systems that are deployed on other Bombardier fleets around Australia and internationally.
“We very much work as a team and we draw insights and processes from other locations that can help us at a new facility like we have at Wulkuraka and outstations,” said Wagener. “Further to this, we have a baseline of standard processes and procedures across the services business and support from multiple projects not only around the nation, but the globe.”
These common systems and processes provide the backbone for Bombardier’s ongoing commitment to Queensland’s transport and mobility.
“We are here for the long haul and the safe performance of these vehicles is a key priority. We are growing industry capacity through our work with the Rail Manufacturing CRC and have apprentices on site and we always want more. Building the next generation of rail workers for Queensland is important for our site and also BT more generally,” said Wagener.
This support of the industry also extends to contracts with local suppliers and subcontractors. The community is also invited to be involved with the project over the next 25 years as it becomes enmeshed in the Wulkuraka environment.
“We want to be sustainable centre of excellence and support this community and our people,” said Wagener.
As the population of Queensland grows and is concentrated in the south east region, the increase in rail network capacity engendered by the NGR will be reliant upon the continuation of a heritage of expertise at the Wulkuraka maintenance site.
If you want to join the best and brightest minds in the rail industry to explore the future of safety, then attend this year’s RISSB Rail Safety Conference. Read more