4 kilometres of track laid on Forrestfield-Airport Link

Work is rapidly progressing on the preparation of the Forrestfield-Airport Link to run trains by late 2021.

Tracklaying works have already put in place four kilometres of track through the twin tunnels.

The future stations for the line are also coming into shape, with the high eaves over Airport Central Station recently installed.

Connecting the station atrium to the platform is the longest uninterrupted escalator in the southern hemisphere, with stretches to 35 metres long and 15 metres high.

To date, 5.7km of skeleton track has been put down, and 3.9km of track completed for the 8.5km line.

Australian contractor Martinus Rail will use over 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel in the project, where it has employed more than 100 local workers.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project, which connects the existing rail network at Bayswater with the eastern foothills via Perth’s airport, has already provided many opportunities for local businesses.

“The Forrestfield Airport Link construction employs hundreds of local workers and provides opportunities for local businesses and subcontractors,” he said.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that with major breakthroughs so far, it will not be long until commuters are using the new line.

“We’ve reached several milestones this year with the completion of tunnelling and the start of track laying,” she said.

“The stations are almost completed and it is exciting to think trains will be running on this line in late 2021.”

Martinus CEO and managing director Treaven Martinus said that with this project under their belt, Martinus will be looking to scale up for further projects.

“Currently, we have very skilled and experienced track and overhead wiring teams in WA but our vision has always been to expand the team to encompass civil and signalling capabilities,” said Martinus.

“There are many projects coming online and we are excited about what that means for us, the opportunities it provides for our teams, local businesses, and subcontractors.”

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Maintenance of Hunter network a reminder of level crossing safety

Level crossings in the Hunter network are undergoing maintenance to improve safety for trains and motorists.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is carrying out the works during a shutdown of the network from Newcastle to Ulan and Turrawan.

From September 22 to 25, 1,000 workers will conduct 500 maintenance jobs not limited to level crossings. These will include upgrading 3,500 metres of track, replacing 13,200 metres of rail, and regularly scheduled maintenance activities.

ARTC General Executive Hunter Valley Network Wayne Johnson said the level crossing work was in addition to regular maintenance.

“In the upcoming rail shutdown, in addition to our regular maintenance work, level crossings will be getting some special attention with tamping being carried out on 34 level crossings,” he said.

“A tamping machine is used to pack (or tamp) the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. The base of the level crossing is replaced and stabilised to improve the geometry of the track and this also helps improve the surface so vehicles will experience a smoother ride as a result.

“Tamping the levels crossings allows safer access across the railway crossings for vehicle traffic.”

Level crossings, of which only 21 per cent nationally are active, are a critical safety concern for the rail industry, and Johnson warned motorists of the consequences of not driving safely near level crossings.

“Tragically, every year too many people lose their lives in level crossing collisions, while there are more than 1,000 ‘near misses’ each year – the difference between a fatal collision and a near collision can be just seconds,” he said.

“With a bumper grain season ahead, we can expect high volumes of freight trains coming from the central areas of the state, so people need to be vigilant with level crossings in the regional parts of New South Wales.”

Maintenance is expected to finish on September 25.

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.

Auckland

Rail renewal underway on Auckland network

12 kilometres of rail and 2,500 sleepers are being replaced at the centre of the rail network in Auckland.

Staff from KiwiRail are working at night and on weekends to renovate the track on the Eastern Line between Britomart and Otahuhu.

Chief operating officer of KiwiRail, Todd Moyle, said that the works would enable faster, more reliable services.

“Getting this work done will enable us to remove speed restrictions on the line and when finished, commuters will enjoy a quicker, smoother and quieter journey,” said Moyle.

“Replacing the rail and sleepers can only be done when no trains are running. We have worked closely with Auckland Transport to settle on a work programme that allows us to minimise disruption for commuters while enabling us to get the work done efficiently and safely.”

The team of 200 people will be repairing a line that is used by 3,500 commuter services and 246 freight trains each week. The amount of traffic has required limits on the line.

“That amount of rail traffic causes wear and tear on the rails over time, just as heavy traffic does to road surfaces, and in some cases we have to put speed restrictions in place. It is critical that we replace the rails so we can keep trains running efficiently and safely on the network for the thousands of rail commuters,” said Moyle.

Buses will replace trains during the evening and at weekends and noise and disturbances will be minimised to reduce disruption.

“We are working progressively across the entire network to replace the oldest and most worn sections of track, with 23km of new rail already in place across the network since March 2019. This period of work on the Eastern Line will take about eight weeks, with more work planned for late September,” said Moyle.

Auckland’s rail network has seen an increase in patronage, and with new lines being built, the rail network is expected to shoulder a greater capacity of the city’s transportation.

“The work forms part of an ongoing project to improve the Auckland network, lay a foundation for predicted growth in passenger and freight volumes, and ensure the benefits of the City Rail Link can be delivered,” said Moyle.

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.

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.

trams

One kilometre of track to be replaced on Melbourne’s Route 86

The Victorian government will replace over a kilometre of tram track in Melbourne from Saturday, March 21 until Monday, March 30.

The track on Plenty Road will be replaced to improve services on Route 86, said Minister for Public Transport, Melissa Horne.

“We’re getting on with these works so we can deliver better services for passengers to get them where they need to go.”

The $3 million worth of work will also involve the installation of 15 new power poles, in addition to underground cables and overhead wires.

To avoid extensive disruption, work will be carried out around the clock during the period, however buses will replace trams during this period between Miller/High Streets in Thornbury and the Bundoora terminus.

According to data released in 2018, Route 86 is the third busiest route in Melbourne’s tram network, and the work will improve the route for those who travel upon it, said Member for Bundoora, Colin Brooks.

“Route 86 is one of our busiest tram routes – these works will help deliver a safer and more reliable ride.”

Specifically, the track replacement work will take place on Plenty Road between the Metropolitan Ring Road, Bundoora, and Bell Street, Preston.

Trams will still run between Docklands and Miller/High Street.

While work is underway, Plenty Road between Pender Street and Bell Street will be closed to traffic in both directions from Saturday, March 21 until Monday, March 30. One lane will be closed between the Metropolitan Ring Road and Kingsbury Drive from Saturday, March 28 until Monday, March 30. Minister for Preston, Robin Scott, said that this should not stop locals from patronising businesses along the route.

“Businesses along Plenty Road will stay open while these vital works take place and we should all continue to support them as these vital works are delivered.”

AusRAIL: New Australian tech on show

Australian-owned rail equipment manufacturer, Melvelle Equipment is debuting two new technologies alongside its well-established range of portable rail maintenance and construction equipment solutions at AusRAIL PLUS.

 


A second-generation, family-owned business based in Newcastle, Melvelle Equipment leverages a local team of engineers to help solve problems for rail owners and maintenance businesses. In one example, last year it delivered its locally-designed and manufactured lightweight, rapid-deployment rail trolleys to the Melbourne Metro network, after discussions found there was a need among some rail operators for such a solution.

The company’s CEO, Andrew Melvelle, tells Rail Express Melvelle has had to book a larger stand at this year’s AusRAIL PLUS than it did two years ago in Brisbane, simply due to the wide range of successful products it has to display.

Along with its existing range, the company is debuting an electric battery pack to power its Trackpack solution, and its new Australian-designed rail tensor.

The battery pack to power Melvelle’s Trackpack is designed to serve as an alternative to the internal combustion, petrol and diesel engines. Melvelle’s Trackpack is a complete hydraulic power unit with boom arm and rail trolley, designed to allow the use of multiple hydraulic work heads without the need for numerous power supplies. The design, which uses adjustable counterbalance positioning, means weight on operator handles never exceeds five kilograms.

Melvelle says the electric battery solution was designed, like so many of the company’s products, to respond to a consumer need. “Our customers are seeing the benefits of going green with their power systems, and this is our offering in that space,” he said.

One customer Melvelle says has been particularly keen for a battery-powered solution is New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Currently, they have our Trackpack system, but in the petrol version – or ‘gas’ as they call it,” he said. “They want to use more of our equipment in the underground, so they would prefer the battery power pack in that application.”

For now, the electric battery solution is suitable for several key workheads in the Trackpack range, but this will soon be expanded to the full range.

The second new product Melvelle is showing off at AusRAIL PLUS is its Australian-designed rail tensor, a tool used during both greenfield track construction, as well as track replacement and maintenance.

Melvelle says the tensor is designed with safety and ease-of-use at the forefront of design.

“The only components over 20 kilograms will be the cylinders,” he said. “And we’re applying some innovative ideas to alleviate some of the more common OH&S issues around this work.

“Currently, when a crew loads the tensor onto the rail, they build the tensor up upside down, balanced on the head of the rail, and then they flip it over. When they flip the tensor over, with the jaw arms and everything in it, it’s quite heavy and can be hard to control. We’ve got an innovative method of building the tension and
rotating it into position.”

Melvelle’s stand also features products from companies for whom Melvelle is an exclusive distributor in the region, including Rail Products UK, Knox Kershaw, Permaquip, ABTUS, ROV Group and Rotabroach.

 

Visit Melvelle at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 191.

Lankhorst expands KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper success into Australasia

Dutch company Lankhorst recently made its local entry with a significant order for its KLP steel-reinforced Hybrid Polymer Sleepers to the Australasian region.

 


The increasing scarcity of hardwood and the ban on creosote-treated wood for sleepers have created challenges in the maintenance of timber infrastructure.

Lifespan of timber sleepers is dropping and the replacement of timber with stiffer or weaker materials creates new problems. Lankhorst, a global firm whose Dutch origin began in 1803, has developed its modern Hybrid Polymer Sleeper to mimic the dynamic behaviour of a traditional wooden sleeper with an extended life span.

First installed on the Dutch rail network in 2006, KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers consist of highly ductile recycled polymer, reinforced with steel rebar. Lankorst says the steel reinforcement is located where it is most effective, and does not interfere with the installation of fastening systems. This helps it achieve longitudinal and lateral stiffness to maintain track gauge under all load and climate conditions, while the recycled polymer simultaneously acts as an effective impact absorber and sound damper, resulting in a reduced noise and longer lasting infrastructure.

Gerhard Klooster, business development director of Brisbane-based Link Asia Pacific (LinkAP) – which represents Lankhorst in Australia and New Zealand – tells Rail Express the combination of metal and synthetic material was immediately recognised by operators as a good solution to transition from traditional wooden sleepers.

“It did not take long for other track operators to see the logic and benefits of this design,” Klooster says. “KLP Sleepers are now operational in mainlines, bridges and turnouts in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Gabon, Malaysia and Mexico.” That success has continued more recently in the Australia and New Zealand region. After Lankhorst and LinkAP participated jointly in AusRAIL PLUS 2017, they were pleased to see an increased interest in the hybrid polymer product.

“We were impressed with the progressive approach towards new technologies,” Lankhorst commercial director Stefan Hofman says. “We are now reaping the first fruits from our joint efforts. We recently received a significant order for supply of mainline sleepers and turnouts in the Australasian region. We are working towards first delivery of product in early 2020.”

“We knew that the demand for alternative sleepers would increase with time,” LinkAP’s managing director Pieter-Jan van Driel adds. “We believe that no other product in the global market matches the comprehensive and balanced offering of the brilliantly engineered products from Lankhorst. We believe that the KLP sleeper products not only offer environmental and functional benefits, but also that their ‘value-for-money’ offer is in a sweet spot compared to alternative offerings.”

When asked what the future holds, Van Driel smiles. “We are in discussion with various Australasian track owners regarding test installations and type approvals,” is all he can say.

Engineered and tested solutions

Lankhorst technical director, Aran van Belkon, said the product is backed up by solid engineering and extensive laboratory testing, which has enabled its use in railways operating at speeds up to 180km/h.

“Hybrid polymer sleepers combine the consistency and durability of concrete sleepers with the favourable impact and sound damping behaviour of timber sleepers,” van Belkon said.

“With more than 13 years of practical product performance at various clients in a variety of applications in 11 countries, we have proof that our engineered hybrid solutions meet customer requirements.”

The combination of the respective strengths of steel and recycled polymers is designed to achieve a number of desirable objectives throughout the Lankhorst range of sleepers:

  • structural soundness, with dynamic stiffness comparable to timber sleeper it replaces;
  • staged implementation, with 1-in-2 to 1-in-4 interspersed implementation possible due to designed stiffness;
  • gauge stability, thanks to high lateral and vertical stability under working load across broad temperature range, due to steel/polymer combination and unique footprint;
  • safety, with no sudden catastrophic failures under extreme overload situation, only gradual deformation;
  • environmental, with a certified net carbon store, a negative CO2 footprint and full recyclability;
  • easy handling, as the range can be machined on-site and handles and installs like timber sleepers; and,
  • health benefits, as the sleepers contain no fibres, meaning no special respiratory equipment must be warn during installation.

To satisfy the demands of various clients for type approval over the years, Lankhorst has successfully put the range through a range of testing, including static and dynamic loading, destructive testing, water absorption, electrical insulation, UV testing, slip and wear resistance, storage, handling, screw spike pullout tests, flammability and more.

The result of the testing and implementation of the sleepers in the field is satisfied customers. Voestalpine, which has fitted dozens of bridges with KLP Bridge Transoms since 2010, says there is “no maintenance required [and] performance on all bridges is satisfactory”. LEAG’s head of rail track infrastructure in Germany, Torsten Scharnetzki, adds: “The KLP Switch Sleepers were installed in 2008, handle 25 tonne axle loads and have remained within tolerance without maintenance after 10 years accumulated exposure to more than 250 million tonnes of load passing.”

Varied range

Optimised KLP Mainline Sleepers, the “everyday” member of the Lankhorst range, are designed to use up to 30 per cent less material, resulting in a more economic and environmentally friendly product. A unique bottom profile and increased ballast on top of the sleeper are designed to offer the required lateral and vertical stability, even against uplift. The reduced weight allows for easier handling during installation and maintenance.

Meanwhile, the KLP Turnout & Crossing Sleepers are designed with an enhanced ability to absorb and distribute impact when compared against timber and concrete; a benefit at crossings and turnouts, which are typically exposed to severe impact and lateral forces. Unlike concrete (where every hole must be pre-cast), KLP Sleepers can be drilled and milled. This saves costs and time.

Finally, Klooster says its KLP Bridge Transoms benefit most from the hybrid design. “The steel reinforcement provides the strength required to easily handle the high bending moments in bridges with offset girder applications,” he says. “The design offers enough safety margin to ensure no gradual plastic deformation occurs.

Unballasted bridge structures are very stiff and do not have the ability to flex during load and unload cycles; this is where the KLP Sleeper’s polymer absorbs and spreads impact energy, resulting in lower loads in the bridge structure.”

Measurements conducted on a steel girder bridge in Amsterdam yielded a 3-5dB noise reduction, following replacement of timber sleepers with KLP Bridge Transoms, Klooster adds.