Sydney Metro

Preparations taking place for next stage of Sydney Metro

Civil works are underway and stabling facilities are being constructed to connect the existing Sydney Metro line with its extension to the City and Southwest.

In Rouse Hill, the current stabling yards are being expanded with a new test track, stabling roads, and overhead wiring.

The enlarged depot will provide space for the extra 37 trains which will run on the expanded Sydney Metro line when it continues from Chatswood, via the Sydney CBD and onto Bankstown.

Systems Connect, a partnership between CPB Contractors and UGL Engineering is delivering the works, of which over 3.1 kilometres of track and 6,500 sleepers have been installed. Twelve thousand tonnes of ballast has also been delivered.

The facility will be operational by the end of 2021 and all works will be complete by 2022, ahead of the new line opening in 2024. A Sydney Metro spokesperson said this lead time would allow for bedding in the new rollingstock.

“The expanded depot will be used for testing and stabling of the new metro trains as they progressively arrive.

“New metro trains will arrive well in advance of the opening date for the necessary testing – there will be further updates closer to that time.”

At Chatswood, foundations are being laid to connect the existing Metro North West line to the tunnel which will take trains under Sydney Harbour before emerging in Sydenham.

Work has had to be delivered in a 48-hour shutdown of the current suburban rail services, to reduce disruption. 130 workers have been on the project, including moving 330 tonnes of soil, using piling rigs to drill 34 holes up to 8 metres deep. Future works will involve excavating 7,500 tonnes of material and repositioning the existing suburban rail line.

Limiting resources and using recycled materials has been a key focus of the project, both in the first stages of Sydney Metro and current upgrade works.

At the new stabling facility in Rouse Hill, crushed recycled glass used to bed down pipes, instead of sand, using 1,000 tonnes of recycled glass. Recycled road base made of old crumbled concrete is used to make the hardstands for laydown areas and a car park for staff.

Water saving measures include using recycled water, such as rainwater and runoff. Dust block is used to bind fine dust, instead of water.

Dubbo

Contractor announced for Dubbo maintenance facility

The NSW government has awarded the first major contract for work on the Regional Rail Maintenance Facility, in Dubbo to local business MAAS Civil.

MAAS Civil will be responsible for bulk earthworks to prepare the site for construction when it begins later in 2020.

The maintenance facility is being delivered by CPB Contractors as part of the Momentum Trains consortium, which was awarded the control to deliver the Regional Rail Project, including the rollingstock and ongoing maintenance.

The project aims to support local economies in Dubbo, said local MP Dugald Saunders.

“The Regional Rail Maintenance Facility will be a real boost for the Dubbo economy and I look forward to other local businesses getting involved.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole highlighted the breadth of opportunities from the project.

“The $2.8 billion Regional Rail Project will create new opportunities for regional NSW businesses and suppliers such as MAAS Civil,’ he said.

“The maintenance facility is expected to generate around 200 jobs during the construction phase and approximately 50 ongoing jobs when it opens, including apprenticeships and traineeships.”

Saunders also announced the release of a Business Support Catalogue, which provides information about programs that can enable SMEs to build capability, capacity, and develop their employees’ skills.

“We want to ensure regional businesses become long term beneficiaries,” said Saunders.

Once complete, the maintenance facility will support the new regional rail fleet, which includes 29 new trains, made up of 10 regional intercity, 9 short regional, and 10 long regional trains. The first trains are expected to run from 2023.

The trains are the first in Australia to use bi-mode technology, where they will use electric power when the track is electrified and diesel outside of that. Spanish manufacturer CAF will build and supply the trains, while UGL will provide maintenance.

Manco

An elevated solution

Working collaboratively with a customer, Manco have been able to design and deliver a bespoke solution customised for the rail projects of today.

In Australia and New Zealand, perhaps the most distinctive feature of the major rail infrastructure projects is that on the whole, they are hidden from view. Whether it be the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, the new Sydney Metro lines, the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, or in Auckland, the City Rail Link, the major elements of the new rail lines are deep underground.

Installing track, wiring, and associated systems many metres below ground level requires new thinking when it comes to the equipment and plant needed to build the new rail lines.

Steven Waugh, power systems manager – transport and technology at UGL Limited is more aware than most of the intricacies involved in some of these projects. UGL is working on both the Line-wide works for the Sydney Metro as part of the Systems Connect joint venture and the rail integration and systems contract as part of the UNITY Alliance joint venture on Cross River Rail. In these projects innovative equipment is required to respond to current needs.

At the time of writing, Waugh is just a week away from receiving delivery of a new combined scissor lift platform and wire manipulator from Manco Rail. The bespoke piece of equipment was designed in partnership between UGL and Manco specifically for the requirements of modern rail projects, the first being the need to limit exhaust fumes when working in confined tunnels.

“Instead of retrofitting old plant, we went with a new truck that has the best emissions controls available,” said Waugh.

More significantly, however, Waugh is just about to complete the process of working with Manco to develop a unique platform that will be put to use on projects such as Sydney Metro and Cross River Rail.

“The combined scissor platform and wire manipulator is going to be ideal for wire runs or traction wiring runs. We will be able to do wire retrievals and install new catenary and contact wire.”

Bringing together what would normally be two separate pieces of equipment will enable Waugh to tackle the complexities of current projects.

“The wire manipulator is for when you’re running wires so you can get your staggers right as you run the wire out, but then a scissor platform can do things like install sections, insulator switches, and doing bigger jobs all at once with a number of people on a platform.”

The platform mounted onto the back of a hi-rail truck is extendable, to allow for more people to work on the platform at one time.

“The platform is designed to be quite large so that we have a number of people on it at once and safely do all the things we need to do,” said Waugh.

To meet UGL’s specifications, Manco designed a platform which, when raised can expand horizontally.

“This enables us to work safely in tunnels and to install equipment on the side of the tunnels. This is quite a bespoke unit that Manco did for us, to our specifications, so that we can have it as a multipurpose unit.”

Unlike standard catenary wires, electric trains running through tunnels draw their power from beams mounted into the ceiling of the tunnel and it’s here that the large platform comes in handy.

“In the tunnel it’s a rigid bar conductor so the length of that platform allows us to have two people on each end of the bar, installing it into the roof. That would be very impractical with a normal elevated work platform (EWP),” said Waugh.

Being a “multipurpose unit” has other efficiencies, particularly when getting equipment in and out of tunnels is easier said than done.

“It takes time to bring machines in and out, because these things on rail only move at 15km/h. Doing one thing with one machine then bringing another machine in takes a significant amount of time.”

For example, even in surface-level wire installation, Waugh has seen rail authorities which have one machine with a pantograph for mounting the overhead wire, and a second EWP for measurement.

“They’ve got two machines doing the same job that we can do with one machine, so that’s where I think we can start to get efficiencies because of the multiple things we can do at once.”

Another advantage of the unit that Manco have designed is its flexibility. The equipment can be reconfigured by an operator for the job at hand.

“It’s modular too,” said Waugh. “I could get a forklift, take that whole scissor platform off and, because it sits on container-type pins, put a flat tray on it and use it as a hi-rail truck, then I can transport materials. That’s the beauty of it, I could drop on another module on it, even a concrete agitator, or another module that is a smaller, Manco EWP.”

THE OUTCOME OF COLLABORATION
The flexibility, multipurpose nature, and instant applicability of the platform is a result, in part, of the close and collaborative relationship that UGL and Manco had throughout the design and build process.

“The process and collaboration were great, they listened to what we wanted and then worked through that,” said Waugh.

An OEM based in New Zealand with branches in Australia, Manco was able to quickly respond to the needs of UGL and come up with a solution that met their requirements.

“They’ve been doing this for a long time, and they were able to listen, which was the key piece.”

In addition, Manco knew the environment that UGL was operating in, and was able to suit the design of the platform to fit the safety requirements of various rail access regimes in Australia.

“There are some challenges that come with a thing like this, where you’ve got moving platforms and multiple uses,” said Waugh. “One particular one area was ensuring the safety railing will met the legislation and all the requirements in terms of safety and testing that. With Manco, that was just something that we worked through, it didn’t take very long and they came up with the designs.”

When the project neared completion, Waugh and a colleague visited the Manco workshop in New Zealand in person to finalise all details so that the equipment would be ready for delivery. The ease of being able to connect further simplified the process.

“Obviously it’s better to be geographically closer but there’s a couple of other advantages; there’s the collaboration on the engineering, and then being able to get out of us what we want and turn that into what it is,” said Waugh. “Then there’s also the testing and engineering part and the certification part and that’s been a bigger part than even I expected. Having local people that can do that testing, that are familiar with all the different rail networks, and assist with getting that certification done has been helpful.”

Manco was able to work with independent certifiers to ensure that the unique solution met all of UGL’s requirements to work on rail networks around Australia.

“These engineers know what the requirements are, and they ensure that the machines are tested correctly and can provide the test results to meet those requirements.”

Ultimately, Waugh said that the new platform will be an asset to UGL’s fleet. “It was designed for the work UGL is involved in and so we can see how it will benefit those major projects because of its multifaceted capabilities. We see it as something that will be an asset to the project and give us some great productivities,” he said.

Major works continue on Cross River Rail

Throughout April, works will be progressing on the Cross River Rail project.

The CBGU joint venture, made up of CPB Contractors, BAM, Ghella, and UGL, will be carrying out the design and construction works for the Roma Street, Albert Street and Boggo Road stations.

At Roma Street, works will continue on the demolition of Hotel Jen, East and West Towers. This involves, the disconnection of utilities, scaffolding work, and structural demolition. Additionally, the former coach terminal access ramp will be demolishing during April and May 2020.

Tunnelling work at Roma Street is also taking place, with the establishment of the site progressing. Works include constructing the tunnel access shaft, installing an acoustic shed, and bringing in tunnelling plant and equipment.

At Albert Street, work will increase during April as piling begins on the demolished Lot 1 site. Excavation of the tunnel shaft will begin at Lot 2, and during this time piling finishes and an acoustic shed will be constructed. These works involve traffic and footpath closures on Mary Street and Albert Street.

Excavation work in the heart of the Brisbane CBD work will involve rock breaking, removal of excavated material, and ground stabilisation and retention work.

The underground Boggo Road station will be where the Cross River Rail project at its southern terminus connects to the existing rail network. During April, major works will continue there as the excavation of the station box begins. Site office buildings will be constructed onsite, along with internal roads and paths. Utility services will be relocated and some pedestrian movements will be disrupted. The play equipment at Outlook Park will be moved closer to Dutton Park State School.

All work on the Cross River Rail project will follow Australian and Queensland government health advice in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19), however as an essential service, work will continue as planned.

PTA Radio Systems Replacement project falls victim to US-China trade war

The consortium delivering the digital radio systems project in Perth has fallen apart.

An alliance of Huawei Australia and UGL (HUGL) won the contract to upgrade radio communications for Western Australia’s Public Transport Authority (PTA) in 2018, however on March 27, 2020 WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti announced that the current contract will no longer proceed.

The HUGL consortium fell victim to increasing trade restrictions placed on Chinese exports by the US government, with restrictions imposed in August 2019 cited by the WA government as the tipping point.

In 2017, the WA government announced the $120 million project, which would involve installing new towers and poles with digital-friendly infrastructure, to enable the replacement of the current analogue radio system with a digital one. This involved all radio devices in trains, security vehicles, and handheld radios. Moving to a digital system would allow for data as well as audio to be transmitted by radio. Future Automatic Train Control systems, which PTA has aimed to install as part of the Metronet project, would utilise the digital radio systems.

Since the contract was awarded, the parties have had to grapple with restrictions placed trade between the US and China. Tariffs imposed on Chinese exports would increase the uncertainty around the cost of the project, timelines, and effectiveness of the final solution.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the State Government’s project – which is limited to a radio network for train drivers and transit guards – has been caught up in the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China,” said Saffioti.

The WA government has indicated in a statement that it will continue with the project, although it will be delayed.

“Given the trade dispute, and the current economic and health crisis facing the world, the PTA has recommended a fresh approach for the radio replacement project,” said Saffioti.

“The PTA will continue its plans to deliver a new digital radio system for our expanding public transport system.”

Potential options include the withdrawal of Huawei Australia from the contract, or the termination of the contract as a whole. The PTA will look to preserve current subcontract arrangements.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has extended the deadline for the PTA to vacate the analogue radio spectrum to beyond 2021.