transport infrastructure

Major works continuing across Victoria’s transport infrastructure program

Works to remove level crossings on three lines through Melbourne will step up during spring, as work continues on transport infrastructure projects around Melbourne.

Fifteen level crossing projects are taking their next step in September. On the Upfield line, removals of four level crossings are underway along with the construction of two new stations.

On the Cranbourne line, duplication works will see buses replace trains from September 8-13. Four level crossings on that line are also set to go, getting it closer to being the first level crossing free line in Melbourne.

Sunbury line works are scheduled for November to enable the line to carry newer trains once the Metro Tunnel opens. These works involve track, power, and platform upgrades and will require a shutdown on the line from November 7-22 and on the Bendigo line from 7 to 21.

For the trains themselves, safety and performance testing of the new High Capacity Metro Trains will be conducted on the Werribee Line from late August

On the Metro Tunnel project, all four tunnel boring machines are in action and the twin tunnels are getting closer to completion.

The tram network will also benefit from maintenance works. Upgrades will be carried out in Malvern, South Melbourne, Parkville, and Pascoe Vale South. Tram stabling in East Melbourne will also be improved, to allow for more trams during special events.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the works will have a wider benefit.

“These critical projects are building a better transport system, while supporting local jobs and Victoria’s economy,” she said.

Across all projects, tight hygiene controls are in place under Melbourne’s stage four restrictions and workforce numbers have been reduced.

“The safety of our workforce and the community is our priority – we are taking strict precautions to ensure our critical transport infrastructure projects can safely continue under coronavirus restrictions,” said Allan.


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.”

Consortium for Adelaide tram network announced

Contracts for the operation of light rail services in Adelaide have been awarded to Torrens Connect.

Announced today, March 10, along with a suite of bus contracts, Torrens Connect will operate Adelaide’s tram network from July.

Torrens Connect is a joint venture between Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland.

The contract for the North South network combines bus and tram services, and according to SeaLink Travel Group – owner of Torrens Transport – CEO, Clint Feuerherdt, the integration will allow for better services.

“Between high frequency services, and integrated bus and tram outcomes, we will open up new destinations on the public transport network for customers,” he said.

According to Feuerherdt, bringing the modes together will allow for innovation in service delivery.

“The new tender has allowed us to bring in our global best practice experience, matched with our local market knowledge and history, to truly create a tailored series of network improvements for Adelaide.”

Partnered in the contract is UGL Rail Services, which in addition to its work in heavy rail and metro services, has contributed to light rail in Hong Kong.

“This contract extends our light rail operations and maintenance capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence. We look forward to providing a safe and quality operation for the people of Adelaide,” said UGL managing director, Jason Spears.

For partner John Holland, the contract is the first multimodal contract in the company’s history, highlighted CEO Joe Barr.

“From operating the country’s first metro train in Sydney, to Canberra’s new light rail, John Holland has a proven record of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.”

As a result of this contract, John Holland will be one of only a few private organisations to operate trains, trams, and buses in Australia.

“The South Australian Public Transport Authority (SAPTA) has recognised our commitment to South Australians and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to deliver improvements across the network,” said John Holland’s executive general manager – rail, Steve Butcher.

The SA government and the successful contractors will deliver network improvements by the end of 2020. Consultation on the improvements will begin in April.

“In the coming weeks we will be releasing details about the bus service improvements that will benefit South Australians ahead of a consultation period we will undertake,” said SA Transport Minister, Stephan Knoll.

“Now the contracts have been signed, we can begin working with the providers to deliver the best possible bus and tram network for South Australians.”

Free Tram Zone distracting from network improvements: PTUA

Members of Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) are calling for the Free Tram Zone in Melbourne to be abolished.

The PTUA said in a statement that they do not support the Free Tram Zone due to overcrowding on services across the Melbourne CBD.

This follows the state parliament inquiry into Expanding Melbourne’s Free Tram Zones. 

Parliament of Victoria received over 300 written submissions to the Economy and Infrastructure Committee. 

The PTUA said in their submission inquiry that the current Free Tram Zone already covers the busiest part of the tram network and urging greater investment in service improvements, instead of extending free transport.

The association said they believe the money spent on providing the Free Tram Zone would be better spent extending and upgrading services across Melbourne.

PTUA wrote in their submission that increasing free public transport will also reduce “the funding available to make much needed improvements to public transport services such as improving accessibility for people with disabilities, increasing frequencies and lengthening operating hours in poorly-serviced areas.”

PTUA said the state government should consider adopting a traffic light priority system that is commonly seen in many European cities.

“An ambitious approach to public transport priority could boost tram frequencies and capacity in the inner core of the network and thereby ease crowding,” they said.

“Reduced delays to public transport vehicles at traffic lights and the improved service levels enabled would make public transport more competitive.”

The association’s submission also suggested a full roll-out of high capacity signalling across the rail network would allow higher train frequencies and help to relieve crowding and enable efficient use of existing infrastructure.

“In comparison to highly-performing lines in other cities, Melbourne only achieves comparatively low frequencies on its busiest railway lines due to signalling limitations,” the inquiry stated.

Rod Barton, party leader of Transport Matters Victoria said public transport groups against expanding Melbourne’s free tram network are confusing operational issues with a bigger picture solution.

“Frustrations over the limitations of the existing services should not prevent the committee considering the wider picture,” Barton said.

“There are ongoing complaints that the current free tram zone contributes to overcrowding on inner city trams. Paying commuters are frustrated when they are unable to board overcrowded trams in the inner city,

“Indeed, overcrowding exists across the entire public transport network. This is an operational issue that could be solved by adding increased services or shorter shuttle routes that take passengers to the perimeter of the zone.”

The inquiry into expanding Melbourne’s Free Tram Zone closed submissions on 31 January 2020.

Significant strides made towards light rail completion

Works towards building an underground substation in High Cross Park in Randwick has been completed, trams are running along the CBD and South East Light Rail route and daytime testing is underway on the Kensington and Kingsford line.

With the light rail to open before Christmas, the government has now indicated it will also consider scrapping the 1:30am lockout laws in the CBD scrapped before the end of the year.

As such, the government is prepared to run more light rail services after dark, as part of its push to revive the night life once the lockout laws are relaxed.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he would increase services “to meet the needs of the night-time economy if required”.

To celebrate the re-opening of the High Cross Park and to commemorate Remembrance Day, an artwork featuring large red poppies has been installed in the park.

When finalising designs of the CBD and South East Light Rail, the location of the Randwick Terminus (the end of the Randwick Line) that was initially planned for High Cross Park was relocated to High Street, enabling improved flow of traffic around the local area and saving the park.

Transport for NSW and Randwick Council negotiated to build a light rail substation underground instead, through innovative ventilation designs, which meant the park could be retained for the benefit of the community.

“I’m very pleased Council has been able to work cooperatively with Transport for NSW to relocate the originally proposed terminus from the park and to also underground a large substation beneath the park. This has preserved the space for the continued use of the community for future generations,” Randwick mayor Danny Said said.

During light rail construction, a World War II air raid shelter was uncovered during excavations at the park. The shelter formed a part of the defence system of air raid shelters and zig-zagging anti-aircraft trenches which were dug into open places such as parks. At the end of the war, the shelters and trenches were often backfilled, including this discovery at High Cross Park.

The final stages of work in High Cross Park involved energising the substation, this was completed last month and the park then handed back to Randwick Council.

Sydney Light Rail network nears completion

The finishing touches are now being made to Sydney CBD’s new light rail network, with tram testing already underway between Circular Quay and Randwick via Town Hall, Central Chalmers Street, and Moore Park.

According to the service provider passengers can expect services to be up and running soon.

Tree pit protections, localised paving and driveway asphalting between Goulburn Street and Hay Street are being finalised.

Utility works at the Hunter Street and Margaret Street intersection are ongoing and road asphalting will be laid in the coming weeks.

Water works are underway at the Park Street and Druitt Street intersection, while stormwater works on Bathurst Street are due for completion by the end of October.

Pedestrian crossing works, bike lane construction and paving works are also nearing completion, including along the busy central Eddy Avenue site.

“As we get ready for services to start in December, Sydneysiders will see more trams every day. Driver training extends into the CBD this week and there will be up to 12 trams out testing day and night, seven days a week,” said Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy took the opportunity today to remind road users to exercise caution and adjust their behaviour around the new mode of transport.

“The message for all road users is the same; ditch the distraction, follow the road rules and pay attention.”

“Drivers and operators of heavy vehicles must follow the new traffic signals and always stop on the red. Never turn in front of a tram and do not queue across intersections. Food delivery operators and couriers are also reminded to not ride in the tram corridor,” said Corboy.

The trams are powered by an Alstom developed technology called Aesthetic Power Supply (APS), a “third rail” strip embedded into the ground.

APS is designed so power flows only to parts of the third rail while the light rail vehicle is completely covering them, making the technology safe for pedestrians and motorists.


Andrew Barr criticises Coalition’s “disregard” for Canberra in Budget speech

The ACT Government has criticised the federal Coalition Government’s re-election as it announced its 2019-20 Budget plans for Canberra.

The ACT’s Budget incorporates the territory’s biggest ever infrastructure program, including the development of the stage two light rail to Woden. Stage two of the rail was somewhat stymied in May by the Coalition’s election, which meant that the ACT missed out on a promised boost of $200,000 for the project.

The ACT Treasury said in a statement that it couldn’t allow for local services and infrastructure to fall behind as Canberra’s population grows by around 8,000 people a year.

“The federal Coalition Government has not invested in Canberra over the past six years,” the statement read. “The ACT has received just 0.8 per cent of national infrastructure funding during the Coalition’s last two terms, despite our strong and consistent population growth.”

ACT Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr echoed these comments in his Budget speech yesterday, criticising the Coalition Government’s approach to Canberra.

“Under the federal Coalition Government, we have had to do the heavy lifting of delivering infrastructure and services for Canberrans for the past six years,” he said.

“Despite the ACT’s steady and ongoing growth, we have received far less than our fair share of national infrastructure investment.

“Public service job cuts, decentralisation and unequal funding deals in key areas like health and education have underlined the Coalition’s disregard for Canberra.”

The ACT Government said it plans to bring the light rail to Woden as soon as possible by progressing design, planning and enabling works from the city centre to Woden.

Works will commence on a new bus interchange at Woden that will integrate with the future light rail network on Callam Street. The ACT Government also announced plans to replace the MyWay ticketing system with a new method that can be used across bus and light rail services.

In addition, a park and ride facility will be built at Gungahlin to accommodate “the record numbers of people using light rail in Canberra’s north since it launched in April”, the Government says.

Barr added that with around 270,000 people expected to be living, working and studying within 800 metres of the City to Woden corridor by 2036, it was important that the light rail investment be delivered promptly.

“With stage one of light rail to Gungahlin successfully up and running, we are turning our focus to delivering stage two to Woden,” he said.

“Canberra needs a clean, fast and accessible public transport network to help keep our city moving as we grow, and stage two will provide the southern spine for our integrated network.”

Light rail proposed for Sunshine Coast Airport development

Sunshine Coast Airport has delivered a draft master plan for the development of the Queensland-based airport to 2040 that includes details for the creation of a light rail station.

The draft of the Sunshine Coast Airport Master Plan 2040 document was developed by Sunshine Coast Airport with key stakeholders and includes Sunshine Coast Council’s infrastructure plans under the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP).

The airport’s document includes plans related to the provision of a possible direct rail corridor from the city to the airport. Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Government are investigating “numerous options for rail access” to help minimise a reliance on motor vehicle access to the airport, according to the draft master plan.

The ongoing development of the new Maroochydore central business district, a 53-hectare greenfield site development expected to cost $430 million, is also hoped to bolster the attractiveness of the region for locals, businesses and visitors, with the airport serving as a “gateway” for this development.

“[Sunshine Coast Airport] is a strong supporter of the introduction of light rail to the airport providing a fast, clean and efficient link to Maroochydore and on to broader destinations within the region,” the draft plan read.

“Both heavy and light rail infrastructure is planned for the transformation of the region, and a connection to Sunshine Coast Airport is a critical link in the effective public transportation visions for the region.”

The report went on to stat that a prospective light rail service would provide direct flights to domestic and international destinations by offering seamless connections between Maroochydore CBD and the airport.