Staff Writer

crew

Beat the clock: Maximising rail crew hours of service

Long hours for rail crew and continuous operations are the norm in the rail industry and especially so in today’s challenging times of unpredictability. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) estimates fatigue is a contributing factor in 25 per cent of serious train accidents caused by human factors. In addition, contact tracing have become the new normal.

Are you able to ensure the safety of crew members who may have co-located together in a cabin? If a crew member falls sick, will you be able to implement contact tracing quickly?

Download this whitepaper to learn how you can truly get ahead of the competition with an intelligent, integrated planning and optimisation solution that provides complete visibility into the hours-of-service limits and real-time decision support. By adopting an intelligent approach to workforce management can transform your business and give you a competitive edge.

Big reforms without a big price tag

CEO of the ALC Kirk Coningham outlines how governments could make significant reforms to unlock freight and logistics networks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an expensive experience for governments around the nation. Budgets that were in surplus or close to balance have been pushed firmly back into the red, and this will undoubtedly affect the policy choices governments make in the months and years to come.

Yet, significant reforms don’t have to be accompanied by a big spend. As governments turn their minds to policy actions needed to hasten the pace of Australia’s economic recovery, there is significant opportunity to achieve regulatory reforms that will be of lasting benefit to the freight and logistics sector.

Developing a set of National Planning Principles was a key action to emerge from the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy released last year. Establishing these presents us with an opportunity to achieve a better balance and ensure that freight movement is properly integrated as part of a more nationally consistent approach to planning.

A key outcome flowing from the establishment of National Planning Principles must be to enshrine distinct planning recognition for freight and logistics lands within all state and territory planning schemes.

Of course, these new National Planning Principles would be significantly strengthened by the development of a National Corridor Protection Strategy.

A consistent national approach to corridor protection is essential to achieving the planning reforms that the freight logistics industry needs. Effective corridor protection not only serves to prevent future community discord over land use; it can also deliver significant savings for taxpayers when it comes to the cost of building infrastructure.

Infrastructure Australia underscored this fact in 2017, when it found that close to $11 billion could be saved on land purchases and construction costs for seven future infrastructure priorities listed on the Infrastructure Priority List if swift action was taken to preserve relevant corridors.

Now is also an ideal time to pursue harmonisation of regulations that govern freight movement as it transits across to the continent.

To take one example, the 2018 Review of Rail Access Regimes, published by the then Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development noted there were roughly 150 different environmental regulations that rail operators must comply with when operating rollingstock between Perth and Brisbane.

Clearly, there are cost savings and other efficiencies to be gained by moving towards a single set of laws across jurisdictions governing environmental regulation, workplace health and safety, workers’ compensation, and drug and alcohol testing for the freight and logistics sector. The new-found spirit of cooperation engendered through the National Cabinet process should now be harnessed to secure that outcome.

In a constrained budgetary atmosphere such as that which is likely to endure for several years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important that governments drive though low-cost regulatory reforms that will still deliver tangible benefits to the freight and logistics sector, and to the wider community.

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.

Delivering technological innovation in Australia

Omada Rail Systems is bringing exciting and innovative technology to the Australian rail industry.

Through a strong focus on youth development and carefully selected company partnerships, Omada Rail Systems is capable of delivering globally recognised technology across Australia. Omada is partnered with two UK based companies, Gioconda Rail and KeTech, both of which are renowned for taking the first step and pushing technological boundaries. Through their usual services of signalling design, systems integration, testing and commissioning, and telecommunications engineering, Omada is capable of introducing these technologies into Australia.

The directors at Omada are committed to working with their team to identify and implement process innovations. With the promise of providing clients with the best value for money, the Omada leadership understands that a focus on quality and efficiency is key. The company has a growing reputation for delivering high quality work and going the extra mile to ensure the client’s satisfaction. This is largely due to a strong work ethic and philosophy of teamwork, allowing for a fast and safe turnaround of projects. Omada has outlined a plan to further increase capacity for delivering larger projects by implementing efficient processes and resources; backed by bringing in additional quality engineers to the team.

Omada interlocking simulator
Omada is building an inhouse relay interlocking system and test panel, to demonstrate signalling design and testing fundamentals. This project is designed to be predominantly worked on by Omada’s graduate engineers, allowing them to further develop their knowledge of signalling design principles. Once complete, this will serve as a platform for high quality inhouse training for all of the current Omada engineering team and for future graduate intakes. With this project targeting completion early in 2021, Omada believes this unique project will set them well above the pack.

Gioconda
Omada and Gioconda joined forces more than 12 months ago, with the mutual goal of enhancing asset management, signal sighting, and driver briefing activities in Australia. Gioconda services stem from their base specialties of railway filming and 3D modelling.

Gioconda’s services include:

  • Railway filming
  • Video asset mapping
  • BIM and 3D visualisation and modelling
  • Signal sighting
  • Driver briefing and training packages

A powerful tool and process for inspecting the railway as part of design, Gioconda’s asset mapping tool has sparked a great deal of interest from Australian companies looking for more effective methods of asset management. Gioconda have previously delivered multiple projects for Metro Trains Melbourne such as a virtual signal sighting and driver briefing package for the Mernda project and a driver briefing package for the Burke Road Grade Separation project. Omada and Gioconda have brought this technology to many major operators through presentations, with high levels of interest. According to Omada director Luke Craven, “The Gioconda software is a remarkably efficient and powerful tool. By bringing the railway into the office, it has massive benefits with regards to safety and cost.”

KeTech
KeTech has been at the forefront of real time information systems for 20 years and, like Omada, has recently experienced substantial growth. Providing real-time passenger and driver information systems, KeTech’s team offer their clients a reliable, fully integrated information system.

KeTech’s products and services include:

  • Passenger information systems
  • Customer information systems
  • Connected Driver Advisory Systems (C-DAS)
  • Driver-only operated CCTV system

With a strong focus on being one step ahead, a passion to challenge the impossible and meticulous attention to detail, KeTech is set well above its competition. KeTech is able to combine its passenger, customer and driver information systems to work in unison, as a universal information system (UIS), capable of providing passengers and operators with live updates and information such as arrival and departure times, seat allocations, platform alterations, toilet availability, and much more. Designed to vastly improve customer experience, operational efficiency and support a safer journey, KeTech’s UIS is truly ground-breaking. Omada and KeTech’s leaders are closely aligned in their desire to bring this technology into Australia. With operators constantly looking to improve customer satisfaction figures and operational efficiency, KeTech’s products are a proven solution.

The three companies previously shared an exhibition stand at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 and have since seen a great deal of interest from Australian based companies. If you would like to find out more about Omada Rail Systems, KeTech, or Gioconda visit: https://www.omadarail.com/services/

survey

Prime Creative Media surveys business leaders across 15 industries on effects of COVID restrictions and prospects for recovery 

From 28 May to 5 June 2020, Prime Creative Media conducted a survey of more than 2200 business leaders across 15 industries, to capture sentiment as the country began to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

The results paint a relatively positive picture of an industrial landscape experiencing its first recession in almost three decades. Just two-thirds of respondents reported a downturn in business, with almost 10 per cent noting an increase in business. Almost half of all businesses said that they were still looking to invest, a strong sign about the future of Australian industrial sectors. Respondents were also generally supportive of the federal government’s response, with three quarters saying it was either strong or acceptable.

Read more

ASCI offers discounted registration to ASCI2021

With coronavirus (COVID-19) representing one of the largest disruptions to supply chains the world has faced since the era of globalisation, taking an informed view to the future of local and international trade will be key for the decades ahead.

The Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI) is focusing its 2021 conference and awards on these long term challenges, under the theme of the United Nations’ Decade for Action.

Taking stock of the task that supply chain organisations and managers have faced since the beginning of 2020, the conference, to be held on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 February at the William Inglis Hotel in Sydney, will take a look back at a tumultuous 2020, and see what challenges lie ahead.

With international trade already beginning to rebound, especially for countries trading with China and other East Asian countries, being ahead of the trends in the sector will be key. Furthermore, the re-routing of international supply chains has seen rail take on an expanded role, with continental rail services competing with shipping and air cargo.

At the same time, the ongoing challenges of climate change, resilience, and building a circular economy, will continue to have an impact on the way that goods are exchanged across Australia and New Zealand and around the world.

Until July 31, ASCI is offering a discount on standard registration, with a saving of up to $400. This covers access to the conference and its speakers’ depth of expertise, as well as networking opportunities. At the conference, ASCI will also present the industry awards for supply chain excellence at a gala dinner.

There is also the opportunity to get an insight into the smart supply chians of the future, with a tour and a moderated panel discussion focusing on the opportunities that Western Sydney Airport will bring to the Sydney Basin and wider region. This will be held on February 25.

For more information and to book tickets click here: https://www.asci-2021.com.au/

ARTC hiring women in Hunter. Photo: Youtube / ARTC

Women shaping rail

This week the rail industry as well as the wider industrial sector recognised the role of women in engineering roles for International Women in Engineering Day, held on June 23.

Now in its seventh year, the theme of this year’s event was ‘Shape the World’, as rail organisations highlighted the contribution of women to the world’s mobility and transportation networks.

The Level Crossing Removal Project highlighted the contribution of women working on the major project, demonstrating the potential to shape the way the city moves through engineering.

Senior project manager Mahnaz Shilani said that working on a project such as the Level Crossing Removal Project is particularly rewarding.

“I get to transform the way Victorian’s live and work and travel, I provide the outputs Victorians expect and that’s quite rewarding.”

Engineering coordinator Hazel Balod said that the rail industry has a place for a diversity of people.

“If you’re interested in solving problems, in seeing how things get built, then there’s definitely a place in this industry for you.”

To continue celebrating and acknowledging the achievements of women in the rail and wider industrial sector, Rail Express is co-presenting the Women in Industry Awards.

Nominations are open now and cover a variety of roles, including mentoring, safety advocacy, and industry advocacy.

Rail Express encourages you to nominate yourself or someone you know – nominations close in just a couple of weeks on Friday, July 3.

Going green with geosynthetics

A manufacturer in Albury, New South Wales is recycling plastic bottles into green geotextile materials for use within major infrastructure projects to aid with anything from separation, filtration, drainage and cushioning; meet Geofabrics.

Geofabrics turns Australian waste plastic into a viable and beneficial geotextile for rail construction through its local manufacturing facilities.

For over 40 years Geofabrics has been providing the infrastructure sector with tailored geotextile solutions. It all began in the 1970’s when the ‘to-be’ owners of Geofabrics came across geotextiles being used for road construction in Europe.

In 1978, Geofabrics got its start in Melbourne and expanded quickly across the country. There are now two Geofabrics manufacturing sites in Australia, one in NSW and one in Queensland.

The Albury factory in NSW is home to all of the company’s rail infrastructure construction industry geotextiles. While Geofabrics has a wide range of different products for construction, its newest fabric made with recycled plastic is bidim Green.

Bidim Green is made from Australian recyclable materials and Peter Tzelepis, executive director of sales and business development at Geofabrics says it can be applied across nearly every civil engineering construction project.

The fabric can be used in the track base to provide separation and filtration under below rail construction materials such as ballast.

“The idea for bidim Green came from the issues around circular economy and waste. One of our key sectors for Geofabrics is waste management services and over the last two to three years we have seen this issue develop and we know there is a real need to do something with our waste plastic,” Tzelepis said.

“Our vision was that our product will go into the ground to serve a purpose, it’s not going into a landfill. We simply saw it as a great opportunity to support the circular economy.”

Locally made and sourced materials, such as the recycled plastic, are an important factor in the manufacturing process for all Geofabrics products. The company has a specific technical department and innovation sector that works with Australian companies to provide solutions tailored to local conditions.

“Australian conditions are quite unique, from isolation to UV exposure, even rock sizes in road construction can vary in different parts of the country and there might not always be a quarry nearby to provide materials for every rail project,” Tzelepis said.

“Geofabrics and its products like bidim Green, which is placed underneath the rail formation, are there to reduce the amount of excavation and virgin materials needed on these major infrastructure projects.”

“Another uniquely Australian challenge is the UV exposure. When looking at a UV radiation map of Australia different places have varied exposure to UV which can degrade a geotextile if left exposed for a period of time,” he said.

“To ensure we can provide the right solution we have real time testing on bidim Green at our offices all over Australia to see how it performs with different exposure. We are building the performance of our product to the climatic and environmental changes in different Australian regions.”

The bidim Green range has been rigorously tested at our Geosynthetic Research, Innovation and Design (GRID) laboratory located in Queensland for durability performance. The durability of any geotextile is important so that it can resist damage during the construction phase. During this phase, the geotextile can be punctured by very angular rocks – such as ballast – or heavy machinery pushing into the soft capping layer under the track. The geotextile to be selected must have multi directional strength and bidim Green offers that benefit. The GRID laboratory simulates performance of a geotextile for specific project situations and is available to Geofabrics Australia’s customers.

Geofabrics are currently working through a process with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia to certify bidim Green, to facilitate wider use on Australia’s infrastructure projects.

With demand from governments to use recycled products in infrastructure projects, such as Victoria’s Recycled First program and NSW’s Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Fund, Tzelepis said bidim Green is another product contractors can consider to make their projects environmentally friendly.

“We know we have to make our materials sustainable, I take my recycling bin out to the kerb every second week, if I know my recycling is going to be picked up and used on projects like my road, that is fantastic.”

supply chain

COVID-19 makes supply chain resilience more imperative

Kirk Coningham, CEO of the ALC, outlines why the current crisis should refocus attention on rail freight connectivity and the national supply chain.

As the effects of the COVID-19 crisis continue to unfold, the reality is that the world that emerges on the other side may look very different. In terms of the operation of Australia’s supply chains going forward, the pandemic is likely to force industry and governments to more urgently consider some key questions.

Already, there is some commentary about the extent to which Australia relies on China, both for the import of manufactured goods and as an export destination. Although Australia has concluded trade agreements with other key growth markets over recent years, including Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, there remain opportunities to expedite similar arrangements with India and the United Kingdom.

This would stimulate further employment growth in Australia’s key export sectors, help to further diversify our supply chains and enhance their resilience.

Some of the disruptions to the global supply chain that we witnessed in the earliest days of the COVID-19 crisis may also give Australian companies reason to consider the global- local balance within their supply chains – and engineer an uptick in certain aspects of local manufacturing that, prior to COVID-19, was thought by some to be in terminal decline.

These factors should spur consideration in the rail freight sector about infrastructure projects that need to be prioritised, not only to promote employment growth, but to support Australia’s export and manufacturing efforts going forward.

These should include enhancing the connectivity of the Inland Rail project currently under construction with key ports – particularly the provision of a dedicated freight rail link connecting Acacia Ridge and the Port of Brisbane.

Similarly, increased investment in on-dock rail and construction of intermodal hinterland terminals serving major ports around Australia will help to address road congestion in many of our cities.

The level and sophistication of technology in our supply chains is likely to be another discussion with a renewed sense of urgency in the wake of the COVID-19 experience, particularly if the pandemic and its attendant restrictions endure for longer than initially forecast.

The automation and digitalisation of manual and paper-based processes will become especially important if the impacts of COVID-19 affect labour supplies in the freight and logistics sector. Progressing the implementation of the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) on the interstate freight rail network will certainly permit the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to enhance the safety and reliability of the network, while simultaneously boosting its capacity.

COVID-19 had unquestionably had a disruptive impact on the operation of many businesses, and this will undoubtedly alter the operation of supply chains in the months ahead. However, the challenges also present a clear opportunity to boost the resilience of our supply chains through enhanced infrastructure, so that they can better serve our communities. As an industry, we should not be afraid to pursue those opportunities in partnership with governments.

webinar

Webinar: How digital twins support track visibility with linear analytics

On Thursday, June 18, Rail Express hosted a webinar with Bentley Systems on the value digital twins can bring to the rail industry, in particular, the application of digital twins to manage intelligent asset maintenance.

In the following webinar, Andrew Smith, the Solutions Executive responsible for Bentley’s Rail and Transit solution, outlined how rail organisations can harness the explosion of data to provide actionable insights across their rail networks. Smith, using real-world examples, explained that beyond a computer aided design (CAD) or building information modelling (BIM) tool, digital twins are an information rich, real-time representation of a rail asset which can enable rail owners and operators to reach new levels of organisational maturity through the optimisation and predictive forecasting of maintenance and upkeep work.

At their most effective, digital twins can take the potential of big data and apply these benefits using artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) to maximise the value of rail assets.

“A digital twin provides capabilities to manage, maintain, analyse, and report against your transportation network,” said Smith.

To download and watch the webinar please fill out the form below: