Maintenance works to begin on north west Victorian regional network

November will see a maintenance blitz on the Bendigo, Swan Hill, and Echuca lines to enable more reliable services to north west Victoria.

The $4m works will include track and signalling maintenance across all three lines, as well as safety upgrades at level crossings on the Swan Hill line.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said that works had been aligned with upgrades to the Sunbury Line and Metro Tunnel works to reduce disruption.

“We’ve done months of planning to make sure we get as much done as possible while minimising the disruption for passengers,” he said.

“The safety of the community is our number one priority, which is why we’re working to upgrade level crossings and road intersections across the state.”

Near Kerang, train detection technology will be upgraded and boom barriers added to crossings at Murray, Victoria, Vaughan, and Wellington streets.

On the Bendigo line, ballast and drainage will be improved, culvert maintenance will be carried out in Clarkefield and the track and road surface will be renewed at the Ravenswood Street level crossing.

More than 8,000 sleepers will be replaced on the Echuca line, while the signalling system at the Murray Valley Highway crossing will be adjusted to allow for new traffic signals nearby.

Maintenance on the tracks between Castlemaine and Maldon will be carried out by Victorian Goldfields Railway, to support heritage services on that section of line.

Rail milling works will be conducted between Kyneton and Gisbourne. These improvements are funded by $1m from the Victorian government’s Building Works stimulus package.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the works would improve rail travel in north west Victoria.

“These rail lines are a vital link for many Northern Victorians – we’re getting on with these upgrades to make sure passengers continue to have safe, comfortable and efficient journeys around our state well into the future.”

Works will begin on Friday, November 6 and continue until Saturday, November 21. Trains will be replaced by coach services.

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers

Reduced maintenance with KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers

In the same way that the inflexible old oak trees get uprooted in a strong storm in Aesop’s fable, a track support with too high track stiffness will cause premature failure and result in higher maintenance costs than anticipated. Track support that is too stiff does not spread the load sufficiently, resulting in extremely high localised impact loads and stresses (in track, sleepers, and fasteners). This may result in microcracks in rigid sleepers, failure of screws or clips, ballast attrition or ground vibrations. Causes for too high track stiffness include rigid subgrade (including concrete bases such as bridges, viaducts, tunnels) and overly stiff sleepers, such as concrete sleepers. Read more

Final preparations before construction begins on Narrabri to North Star Inland Rail

The final shipments of steel rail and concrete sleepers for the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail have arrived as the last planning approvals are finished.

With these deliveries completed construction can take the next step forward, with the planning process fast tracked by the NSW government and approved on August 13.

A final contractor is yet to be announced, however three shortlisted tenderers were announced in December 2019. These are: Lendlease Engineering, a joint venture between Downer EDI and Seymour White named RailFirst, and Trans4m Rail, a joint venture between Rhomberg Rail Australia, BGC Contracting, and SEE Civil.

Construction is expected to begin later in 2020.

So far, 21 trains have delivered 24,775 tonnes of Australian-made steel, with the last of the 2,474 165-metre long lengths delivered in the last week.

42 trains have delivered 116,396 Australian made sleepers from Mittagong and 224,939 sleepers from Wagga Wagga.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said that once construction begins, local businesses and communities will benefit.

“As we near construction on the next section of the project, benefits are going to flow via local industry and supplier participation, employment and workforce development in communities surrounding the Narrabri to North Star section,” said Coulton.

With the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail nearing completion, communities along the alignment there have seen the impact that the construction phase has had.

“On the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine, we saw more than $100 million spent with local businesses and nearly 700 locals work on the project. There were 99 local businesses that supplied goods to the project in some form,” said Coulton.

“Inland Rail is a project that creates opportunity and jobs in the short, medium and long-term – with the local jobs created in supply contracts like the rail and sleepers, the future jobs and investment during construction, and the enduring benefits that will come from the enhancement and expansion of regional supply chains.”

Transport upgrades for Building Works program announced

The Victorian government has detailed transport works that will receive funding as part of its $2.7 billion Building Works program.

Announced in May, programs to be carried out as part of the program include upgrades to regional freight and passenger lines.

$83 million will be spent on improving 400 kilometres of freight only rail lines by replacing sleepers, repairing ballast, and renewing level crossing equipment.

$36m will be spent on the maintenance of the V/Line Classic Fleet, to be carried out by Bombardier. This will support 20 jobs for engineers, repair workers, and cleaners to maintain the V/Line fleet.

$7.5m will go towards upgrades to track for the regional passenger network, enabling more reliable services Deer Park Junction to Ballarat, Ballarat to Ararat, Donnybrook to Seymour, Corio to Waurn Ponds and the Bendigo East Track.

Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said that the upgrades would enable more efficient connections between primary producers and export facilities.

“The upgrades will mean produce can be transported from farm to port much more quickly, opening up key markets to Victorian farmers,” she said.

“These investments in our rail freight network are part of our ongoing commitment to boost our export power and support regional jobs.”

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said the improvements would provide more reliable services for regional travellers, connecting regional centres and localities.

“We’re building on our unprecedented investment in regional rail, and this maintenance blitz will be a boost for local jobs and keep Victoria moving as we recover from the coronavirus crisis.”

In addition to the announced measures, funding from the Building Works package has also been earmarked for the maintenance and restoration of trams. Other works also include improving stations and stops across Victoria and managing rail corridors through the removal of rubbish and graffiti and the management of vegetation.

KLP

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers ensure stable gauge and reduced noise levels

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers offer a clever combination of high bending stiffness and low thermal expansion coefficient of steel, coupled with the dampening characteristics of polymer. This delivers affordable, reliable sleepers to track owners looking for a low-maintenance and easily installable solutions for bridges, turnouts, and track.

Stable gauge, despite high lateral loads
Trains running at speed going through turns cause high loads within sleepers. Weak materials will stretch too much resulting in gauge widening. The steel-reinforced KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper delivers the longitudinal strength and dimensional stability to maintain the required gauge, even in overload situations. The sleepers can be engineered to emulate the stiffness and dynamic behaviour of the sleeper it replaces to provide comparable stiffness. They are thus well suited for interspersing with existing timber sleepers.

Stable gauge, despite high thermal variances
Temperature variation cause excessive widening or narrowing of the gauge if the wrong materials are selected. Whereas polymer has a high thermal expansion coefficient, the strong steel reinforcement in KLP sleepers contains these contractions and expansions, resulting in thermal expansion comparable to concrete and steel.

Deutsche Bahn performed various in-track gauge measurements in Augsburg on KLP sleepers. The measurements were taken in different seasons, with temperatures ranging between -10°C and +51°C. The maximum measured expansion was 2mm based on a gauge of 1435mm. After testing, the inspection showed the system was still correctly tensioned and no effect on the rail fastenings were observed. No cracks and no other defects such as bending were found on the KLP sleepers, and the results contributed to Type Approval by Deutsche Bahn. Steel-reinforced polymer construction

 

Stable gauge, through lateral stability in the ballast
Independent laboratory tests for the French rail authorities confirm that the KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper Type 101 ensures durable and stable binding with ballast. The combination of its stiffness, geometry and polymer interface prevents longitudinal and/or lateral movement ensuring the track geometry is maintained.

The unique shape of the KLP 100-series sleeper provides additional lateral & horizontal stability due to the profile base, the scalloped shape and ballast coverage. The weight of the sleepers is lower than conventional rectangular sleepers and provides advantages where weight is an issue e.g. when cranes are used to lift pre-assembled sections of track into position or on bridges where the reduced mass of the track reduces the structural demands. KLP 100-series

 

Stable gauge, low maintenance turnouts

The low thermal expansion is particularly beneficial for turnouts. The switch mechanism in turnouts is precisely adjusted to the track gauge. If the track gauge changes, the switch tongue no longer connects properly to the rail which can cause damage to the tongue. Low thermal expansion results in less inspection and maintenance of the turnout. KLP handles like timber: easy to install.

 

Quieter bridges
The chosen polymers in KLP products absorb and dampen vibrations and impacts, thereby reducing noise. Measurements on a steel girder bridge confirmed a 3-5dB noise reduction after replacing wooden sleepers with KLP sleepers.

Dependable bending stiffness on bridges with offset loads
Steel reinforcement in KLP Hybrid Polymer Transoms provides the bending strength required in bridges with offsets between the rail and the girders. The most suitable combination of rebar size and polymer type provide the required bending stiffness for given axle load, stiffness requirements and climate conditions.

Height adjustable bridge transoms
Height difference in bridge support I-beams can be compensated by milling the transom, to achieve a level track. KLP transom types 203 and 401 have a 25mm milling zone that can be milled to compensate for height variations in bridges without affecting the strength of the transom. They are available in multiple gross heights: 150, 180, 210, 240, and 270mm.

As an alternative to milling, KLP Shims, made from the same polymer as the bridge transoms, can be used to either compensate for height variations, or achieve a desired camber in curved tracks. KLP Shims are available in thicknesses of 2mm, 5mm, and 10mm. Type 301 uses insert blocks and offers the solution for bridges with canted conditions, with a total height range of 130 – 240 mm per mm. Using a combination of the various solutions offers a potential stepless height range from 130 – 270mm.

Low-profile solutions
For track owners with shallow ballast beds or the need to lower their track, low profile KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers can be an attractive option. Despite their height of only 130mm, the strength of steel reinforcement combined with the dampening characteristics of polymer delivers the required dynamic stiffness of the sleepers they replace. These sleepers can handle 25 tonne axle loads.

Quality control
The reliable function of hybrid sleepers is very dependent on consistent quality of the raw materials used, together with reliable manufacturing processes and effective quality control. KLP are made from recycled polymers. If the raw material used in the manufacture is not properly controlled, recycled polymers can vary hugely in consistency and performance. Effective processes are required to prevent the risk of inconsistent quality of raw materials. The principles of ISO standards 9001 (Quality), 14001 (Environment) and 45001 (Safety) are embedded in our corporate culture.

Manufacturer Lankhorst sources raw materials from reliable suppliers with proven quality control processes who deliver to Lankhorst’s exacting quality requirements. A sample from each batch of raw materials delivered to the factory is analysed. Properties verified include the melting point, impact, moisture, and density. Prior to producing the sleeper, a laboratory sample is made of the composite polymer. Tests such as stiffness, strength, stretch, and impact are performed on this sample, making sure that the final product will be fit for purpose. Sleepers are checked for weight and dimensions. Verification of materials.

 

Approvals have been obtained in several countries for the sleepers. Extensive testing on various parameters like thermal expansion test, bending and cyclic test, vibration abrasive test, electrical resistance test, lateral resistance test confirmed compliance to requirement. Test results are available on request via info@linkap.com.au.

Sleepers replaced ahead of schedule on Bendigo line

Sleeper replacement works have been completed ahead of schedule on the Bendigo line.

50 workers worked around the clock to replace 48,000 timber sleepers with concrete sleepers, to improve reliability and comfort on the regional Victorian line that connects Bendigo, Echuca, and Swan Hill.

The concrete sleepers were locally made in Avalon, and work began in January.

The $16.1 million project is part of a wider $103m investment in maintenance across the V/Line regional network to be rolled out during this financial year.

Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne said that the project benefits the whole of the state.

“We’re getting on with upgrading vital regional rail infrastructure right across the state – improving services and creating jobs,” she said.

Member for Bendigo East and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said that locals will be able to rely on improved services.

“This massive project will mean Bendigo locals who rely on V/Line services get the service they deserve.”

Regional maintenance works on Victoria’s train lines have been given an extra $90.5m boost as part of the $2.7 billion building blitz, announced on May 18, which includes sleeper replacement elsewhere on the network. Safety precautions are being taken across the state on all infrastructure projects to minimise the chance of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Travellers on the Bendigo line are now back to the regular timetable, however some rail milling works continue until Friday, June 5.

“This massive $16.1 million upgrade has been completed months ahead of schedule, meaning locals will have access to smoother rides sooner,” said Bendigo West MP, Maree Edwards.

Recycled

Recycled materials in use at multiple transport projects

Recycled materials are being used on transport projects in Victoria and NSW, making the most of the many infrastructure projects currently underway.

In Melbourne, the newly opened Kananook Train Storage Facility, located in Seaford, used over 11,000 tonnes of recycled rail ballast. The ballast was previously in use on the Melbourne train network and was extracted during the Carrum Level Crossing Removal Project. Instead of going to waste, the ballast was used to build the new storage facility.

The re-use of materials such as ballast reduces the use of raw materials and cuts associated energy used in the mining and transportation of these materials. The project’s environmental impact was also improved by the installation of solar panels on the building’s roof.

The Kananook Train Storage Facility will allow for more trains to run on the Frankston line. A signal control centre at the same site will also help to minimise disruptions by centrally managing train movements. The site includes room for further train storage or a train maintenance facility if required in the future.

In NSW, the Parramatta Light Rail project, which is partly following the former Carlingford Line corridor, has maximised the retention of rail infrastructure from the former line.

Over 15,000 metres of single rail, 13,650 rail sleepers, 13,000 metres of overhead wire and the existing track ballast will be reused on the new light rail line.

Across the entire 12km light rail route, which travels from Westmead, via the Parramatta CBD to Camellia and finishes in Carlingford, recycled components will provide around 30 per cent of the track.

Incorporating sustainability across the rail supply chain

An innovative solution to level crossings and sleepers is one step towards making the entire rail supply chain sustainable. Rail Express finds out.

Since mid-2019, the rail industry has seen a bump in passenger numbers as the flight shame movement has spread from Sweden to Europe, and then the globe.

Rail’s sustainability credentials are well known, in both the passenger and freight sectors. A freight train’s carbon dioxide emissions are one eighth of a truck, and one quarter of a freight barge, according to Ecotransit. Similarly, for a 1,000km journey from Berlin to Paris, a train emits a quarter of vehicle CO2 emissions and a fifth of plane CO2 emissions.

However, rail industry leaders are also recognising that the sector cannot rest on these laurels. The Railsponsible initiative, an alliance of procurement officers at major European rail organisations, aims to turn the entire rail supply chain green. Their vision to have a “global railway industry where all suppliers have in place good ethical, social, environmental and business practices” is enabled by product innovators who can supply sustainable solutions at each point in the rail lifecycle.

One product putting this into action is STRAIL, distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Phoenix. The level crossing panels are made from a mixture of recycled and new rubber and are manufactured in Germany by rubber specialists KRAIBURG. Andrew Roseman director and civil engineer at Phoenix explains how the products limit their impact on the environment.

“The goal to being sustainable in rail should be with economy, in material choice, and how materials are made. KRAIBURG prides itself on re-use of material whether it be processing rubber for panels or plastics for the sleepers. Limiting the use of new materials in production ensures a smaller footprint that the product is making on the environment,” he said.

In addition, when they reach the end of their life, the panels can be recycled and then reused in the rubber production process. These qualities make for a sustainable whole-of-life solution, which does not shirk on innovative design features.

“Being re-processed at the end of life essentially closes the loop fully, which is often missed by some products as their recycling is processed by third parties into alternative products, which have less or no demand,” said Roseman.

Able to be manufactured for any range of gauges, STRAIL is a modular system that can withstand high-frequented crossings and extreme weather conditions. The system has been used globally since 1976 and in Australia for 30 years, with Australia having the largest number of crossings installed outside of Europe. It is designed to be easy to install, enabling track maintenance without significant effort. One facet of the product is its corundum-embedded surface and bevelled edges, which maintains high skid resistance through whole of life and reduces noise and increasing comfort and safety for traffic using the crossing.

“The surface provides high levels of skid resistance with STRAIL’s unique process of embedding mineral grit into the panel surface, not just relying on surface texture than can wear down over the life of the crossing,” said Roseman.

Within the STRAIL range, in addition to the eponymous product, are the innoSTRAIL, and veloSTRAIL versions. The larger inner and outer panels in innoSTRAIL, which are independent of sleeper spacing, provide an economical solution. veloSTRAIL removes the flange groove, for the benefit of cyclists, wheelchair users, and pedestrians. The veloSTRAIL system is suitable for train speeds of up to 120km/h and the flangeway element can be replaced without removing the inner panel, improving the sustainability of the system. The veloSTRAIL and innoSTRAIL products also include the patented lock-tight system that ensures position stability in the case of diagonal traffic and prevents gaps from forming between the panels.

In addition to the level crossing products, STRAIL also produces a sleeper made from secondary raw materials, STRAILway. The product continues the company’s commitment to the sustainable manufacturing of railway products and is 100 per cent recyclable.

Compared with traditional wooden sleepers, the STRAILway does not leak chemicals such as creosote into the environment, and can last for at least 50 years, compared with a 14-15-year life for hardwood timber sleepers. In addition, unlike other moulded sleepers, the STRAILway is extruded, allowing for any length required, ideal for applications such as bridge transoms and turnout bearers. Furthermore, the STRAILway sleepers can be handled and processed at site almost like timber sleepers, as they are able to be sawed, drilled, or plated without the risk of exposure to harmful fibres.

For each of their environmentally sound solutions, STRAIL and its partner in Australia – Phoenix Australia – supplies technical installation and maintenance training.

Going in deep

Utilising its extensive in-house expertise, Manco Rail was able to provide a unique solution to a challenging project.

Meeting the challenge of increasing rail services in cities where space is at a premium has led to more projects extending the capabilities of what is possible in major rail construction projects.

In Sydney, this has led to projects going underground, with the massive Sydney Metro project, Australia’s largest public transport infrastructure project, being built largely below the city.

According to Bryan Black, managing director of Manco Rail, this presents an opportunity for businesses such as his.

“With the degree of rail infrastructure projects occurring throughout the Southern Hemisphere, there is a real opportunity for rail equipment engineering companies to make a considerable investment in both time and capital with innovative, efficiency enhancing plant, that enables contractors to improve productivity and performance by changing from traditional rail construction methodologies.”

While construction-related headlines have been dominated by the movements of the five tunnel boring machines above and below Sydney harbour, constructing a metro line largely underground has required suppliers and subcontractors to transform the delivery of systems to the project.

For Manco Rail, a project such as this fits into the company’s DNA as an OEM with the ability to innovate. Based in New Zealand, the company has been providing custom-built plant and equipment for over 40 years.

In the case of Sydney Metro City and Southwest, it was these qualities that led the line-wide contractor, Systems Connect to select Manco. A joint venture between CPB Contractors and UGL, Systems Connect will deliver the laying of track, power, communications, and signalling equipment to the project between Chatswood and Bankstown. The project involves delivering rail and track on twin 15.5km tunnels between Chatswood, under Sydney Harbour, below the Sydney CBD, and on to Sydenham. It is here that Manco’s equipment comes into its own.

“Over the years, our equipment has ended up operating in rail tunnels by the very nature that most tunnels interface with a tunnel network of some sorts, whether it be due to terrain or underground stations to accommodate CBD or high density areas,” said Black.

Compounding the standard complexities of installing new track, the project is constrained by having only three major access points for equipment and materials along 31km of tunnels. In addition, gradients in the tunnels are steep, at 4.5 per cent, said Paul Ryan, senior project manager at Systems Connect.

“Construction within this tunnel environment is inherently complex. Access is limited, spaces are confined and grades are steeper. We worked with Manco Rail to custom design equipment that overcomes these challenges,” he said.

The particular equipment that Manco has provided for the Sydney Metro CBD and South West project are rail transfer equipment and sleeper-laying trailers.

The rail transfer equipment consists of two specially converted wheeled excavators equipped with material handling booms, automatic rail threading units, and rail carrying dollies.

The sleeper-laying trailers are equipped with a sleeper grab straddle, rail threader trailer, tug units, sonar detection systems, and a track guidance system fitted to the equipment.

Developed over 14 months, the custom- designed equipment lays the rail, spreads it out, places the sleepers, and then pulls the rail back over the top. The process of developing this one-of-a-kind equipment took a blank slate approach, said Black.

“The design and interface of each plant item has involved hundreds and hundreds of design hours. Utilising a highly competent team of young mechanical engineers tasked with starting with a ‘clean piece of paper, and fresh ideas’, brain storming meetings were held on a regular basis, where even the most radical concepts where discussed,” said Black.

“Ultimately, rational thinking prevailed, which – however – incorporated some of the vast array of available technologies, in electronics, motive power, hydraulics, fabrication materials and ergonomics.”

The entire process is radio remote controlled, crucially limiting the number of people in high-risk areas.

The Manco equipment will be used in two stages. First, it will lay the track components. Then the track form will be concreted, and mechanical and electrical systems and signalling equipment will be installed.

Afterwards, the Manco track-laying equipment will return, including wheel excavators, trailers, and tugs, to assist with concreting activities, and electrical and mechanical installations.

The confined nature of the working environment demands a sequential process, and Manco’s familiarity with working in railway tunnels led to the company being selected by Systems Connect for the complex project. Past work not only in Australia, but New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia, enabled Manco to be selected as the subcontractor.

What was key in the relationship between Manco and Systems Connect was the New Zealand company’s ability to modify and custom design equipment for the particular project. The team collaborated to automate processes wherever possible and combine innovation with safety.

“Ensuring safety and optimising project delivery are priorities for Systems Connect,” said Ryan.

Manco’s extensive experience in rail construction was also important as Systems Connect required rail network certification. A higher level of testing and compliance requirements were applied to the project, particularly due to the steel gradients in the tunnels. Manco’s previously experience in rail certification across Australia, as well as their ability to supply fully certified equipment prior to construction, led to the company being selected by Systems Connect. Manco’s knowledge of the rail sector enabled this requirement to be met.

“All equipment manufactured is designed around specific and well known standards. Some standards are unique to rail and some to elevating personnel, suspended loads, and general operational safety,” said Black.

“Manco Rail has dedicated compliance officers that are specialists in their particular fields, be it, engineering quality, through to safety and the working environment approved emissions.”

A combination of innovation, safety, and proven capacity has seen Manco rail deliver on this major infrastructure project.

Track repairs commence following V/Line and freight train crash

Work is now under way to replace more than 1,800 damaged sleepers and more than 180 metres of damaged rail.

Last week an incident involving a freight and passenger train between Chiltern and Barnawartha in south of Wodonga, Victoria caused all services on the line to be suspended until further notice.

A northbound freight train derailed, and a passenger train travelling south on the adjacent track struck a wagon of the derailed freight train.

A spokesperson from the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) provided an update on the investigation following the incident that occurred on Wednesday, January 29. 

“The ARTC is continuing to work with rail safety regulators and operators on the recovery effort,” the spokesperson said.

After safety regulators completed their initial assessments the day after the incident, the recovery operation started involving around 60 workers.

“Work so far has focused on recovering wagons, components, and containers from the track and moving the V/Line train and majority of freight containers,” the spokesperson said.

“While repairs are underway, timing for the line to reopen is not yet confirmed.

“With temperatures reaching more than 44 degrees in the recovery site area, hot works are being extremely carefully managed and crews provided additional rest breaks and hydration measures.

“ARTC will provide further updates to media and our customers as soon as they become available.”