Staff Writer

Why celebrating diversity and emerging rail specialists matters

Now is the time for the rail industry to embrace diversity and new ways of finding solutions, write Thomas Kerr, RTAA president, and Laurena Basutu, RTAA marketing manager.

The world has changed dramatically. For the rail industry, the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how we work and communicate with others to deliver the services and infrastructure that our community needs.

Although challenging, COVID-19 has created an opportunity for the industry to creatively tackle another key challenge – meeting the significant demand generated by the pipeline of projects in Australasia. Specifically, ensuring that the rail industry workforce has the capacity and capability required.

This challenge presents us with an opportunity to enhance the diversity of the industry workforce by tapping into the broader ecosystem of talent from other industries such as the airline and hospitality sectors, while also celebrating and nurturing the talents of emerging rail professionals. Their creativity and innovation will build the industry’s resilience and capacity now and into the future.

The Rail Track Association Australia (RTAA) Emerging Rail Specialist Award and Diversity Award has gone some way to meeting this challenge by inspiring individuals and companies to rise to the significant talent constraints we face. Ultimately, encouraging, celebrating, and building the capacity of emerging rail specialists will help us retain the knowledge and foster the innovation required to ensure the success and sustainability of our industry.

RTAA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – JAMES DONOVAN – 2017 RTAA EMERGING RAIL SPECIALIST AWARD WINNER
James Donovan defines excellence as “a willingness to not accept the status quo. Trying to address existing problems in everyday tasks with a novel approach and being willing to consider a different way of doing things to achieve a better result.”

Donovan, a systems interface engineer for MTR Australia, was nominated for the RTAA Emerging rail specialist award by his then employer Metro Trains Melbourne for his work on a project to automate the isolation and earthing of the overhead wiring system. The benefits included significantly faster and safer track access both for maintenance and incident response.

Attending InnoTrans 2018 was a “gunzel’s dream” for Donovan. “I came away with many new rail friends, and a greater appreciation of how rail works outside of Australia. The rail industry in Australia (and across the rest of the world) heavily relies on the import of specific products from other countries, which is a long and expensive process. All of these organisations are seeing unprecedented orders, as the global push on rail continues. It was valuable to understand the challenges these international organisations face, to better inform the implications any impact to their business may have on our local business.”

The best advice Donovan can offer other emerging rail specialists is “grab any opportunity that comes your way. Both personal and professional development comes from new opportunities and experiences. Even if you have difficulty, there are so many helpful and knowledgeable people within the industry that would be keen to provide their insight.”

If you know a talented emerging rail specialist who has demonstrated innovation and creativity in their field, nominate them for the RTAA Emerging Rail Specialist award: www. rtaa.org.au/services/emerging-rail-specialist- award.html. The winner will receive up to $10,000 to attend an international transport conference of their choice. Entries close June 26, 2020.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
During this time, things many not be exactly business as usual as we adapt to different ways of connecting. It is important for us at the RTAA to keep in touch. Let us know the best way to connect to help you connect with others by completing this simple four question survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/KYCMVD6.

For more information on the RTAA contact: businessmanager@rtaa.org.au or follow RTAA on Twitter: @RailTAA, LinkedIn: @Rail Track Association Australia – RTAA, and Facebook: @RailTAA.

New construction and freight jobs for Western Sydney

Up to 80,000 truck trips will be taken off Sydney’s congested motorways each year, while 230 jobs will be created in Western Sydney, as part of a combined investment value of up to $100 million to shift freight off the city’s road network and onto rail.

The NSW government has approved construction of a new freight hub in the heart of Western Sydney, allowing shipping containers to be hauled by freight trains from Port Botany to St Marys rather than transported by thousands of truck trips on busy Sydney motorways.

Pacific National’s CEO Dean Dalla Valle said St Marys Freight Hub will shift up to 301,000 shipping containers onto rail each year, removing 70,000 to 80,000 truck trips off Sydney’s congested motorways annually, helping to improve road safety and the daily commute of thousands of motorists.

“By shifting more freight onto rail between Port Botany and Western Sydney, the number of truck trips on the congested M4 and M5 motorways will be reduced by 8.7 million kilometres each year, that’s equivalent to 23 trips to the moon,” he said.

Dalla Valle said St Marys Freight Hub will allow more people to live and work locally, rather than commuting around 130 kilometres each day between Western Sydney and Port Botany.

“With Western Sydney’s population forecast to grow by another 1.7 million people by 2036, freight will be in high demand as will the need for new skilled employment in the region,” he said.

Dalla Valle said under the development consent for St Marys Freight Hub, Pacific National has a year to start construction with early works expected in coming months. This project will play an important role in helping to boost the NSW economy as it recovers from the deep shocks of the coronavirus crisis.

“With the COVID-19 global pandemic creating the most testing employment conditions since the Great Depression, the St Marys Freight Hub will create 60 construction jobs during the building phase and more than 170 full-time jobs once fully up and running,” he said.

Dalla Valle said St Marys Freight Hub was ideally located to process large volumes of containerised freight, with many of Australia’s major retailers and wholesalers operating national warehousing and distribution centres within 15 kilometres of the new intermodal facility.

“Imported shipping containers will be hauled from Port Botany to St Marys Freight Hub by train, then transported to nearby warehouses and distribution centres by truck to be unpacked,” he said.

Pacific National has partnered with port logistics operator ACFS who will manage and operate the St Marys Freight Hub and deliver shipping containers the ‘last mile’ by truck to retail and wholesale customers at surrounding warehouses and distribution centres.

ACFS Port Logistics CEO Arthur Tzaneros said St Marys Freight Hub will be a game changer for commercial and industrial areas and facilities in Western Sydney where the majority of large-scale customer warehouses and distribution centres are located.

“The strategically located 43-hectare hub – initially 10-hectares in size – will increase reliability and cost efficiency of freight movements for ACFS customers. It is located outside of Sydney’s road toll zone and will help ensure freight deliveries are not delayed in traffic congestion on the city’s motorways,” he said.

Dalla Valle said contents of shipping containers include everything from food, medical supplies, building products and household items like TVs, washing machines and furniture.

“To put this in perspective, a single shipping container can hold approximately 25,000 rolls of toilet paper, 55,000 cans of tinned food or 1,500 cases of beer,” he said.

RISSB

RISSB making progress on rationalising, simplifying, and harmonising railway rules

RISSB’s ongoing efforts to harmonise the rail industry are taking major steps forward.

For well over 100 years our railways have debated and discussed but ultimately been disappointed by our diverging rulebooks. Since federation, the rail commissioners from each state would come together annually and share good practice, but rulebooks remained stubbornly immune to harmonisation. You
can trace the origins of RISSB from those meetings, through their production of the Railways of Australia (ROA) manual, the creation of the Defined Interstate Rail Network (the DIRN) and its catalysation of the ROA manual into the Codes of Practice for the DIRN, which was purchased by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) creating the Code Management Company – a direct descendant of RISSB.

RISSB, now an independent organisation, and industry’s partner in co-regulation, has not given up.

Since its inception, RISSB has managed the Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP) which brought together the disparate train operations and work on track rules from around Australia into a centralised rulebook.

However, for all its successes, the ANRP is a mix of rules as well as lower level procedures, and in many areas, it contains different options on how to achieve outcomes.

In 2018, RISSB initiated the National Rules project, which – in February 2020 – reached a significant milestone with the delivery of the new National Rules Framework. The Framework provides a principles-based platform for rail transport operators (RTOs) in development of their own rulebooks, thereby bringing greater consistency around the country. It is very pleasing to see that there are already several major railways around the country utilising the framework either as a basis for their own rulebook redevelopment, or as an audit check to ensure their existing rulebooks are providing the necessary breadth of coverage.

It is also important to mention that one of the earlier deliverables of the project was to establish and get industry agreement to the Fundamental Operating Principles (FOPs) which would then become the cornerstone of the National Rules Framework. Industry agreed to the following seven FOPs:

  1. Separation of rail traffic
    Principle: Rail traffic must maintain safe separation via an appropriate method of signalling.
  2. Movement authority for rail traffic
    Principle
    : Before any rail traffic is allowed to start or continue moving, it must have an authority to move that clearly indicates the limit of that authority.
  3. Interface management of transport modes
    Principle: Rail traffic and other transport modes must be separated, or the interface managed.
  4. Conditions for safe movement of rail traffic
    Principle
    : Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the infrastructure’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  5. Hazards to safe operation from unsafe rail traffic
    Principle: Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the rail traffic’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  6. Compatibility of rail traffic and infrastructure
    Principle: Rail traffic shall only operate on compatible infrastructure.
  7. Keeping people away from moving or stationary rail traffic
    Principle: Safe separation must be maintained between people and rail traffic.

The next major phase of this project is to identify those individual rules – not entire rulebooks – where the industry wants harmonisation to improve safety and deliver business benefits consistent with the FOPs. Opportunities to further simplify and rationalise the 56 ANRPs will also be explored in this phase of the project.

To that end, in April this year the National Rules Industry Reference Group, a group of senior business leaders from the railway sector’s 14 largest companies, met and agreed:

  • To proceed in the area of communications,
  • That their organisation will adopt the agreed harmonised national rule/s once developed – effectively self-mandating them, and
  • That once a harmonised national rule is produced, and accepted into RTOs rulebooks, it will be recognised as such, and somehow reasonably protected to prevent future divergence.

The governance structure was also agreed with this group maintaining stewardship and oversight of national rules harmonisation.

It’s been a long road, but we’re making great progress in rationalising and simplifying rules, and helping the railway drive out unnecessary cost and inefficiency. We’re very excited to be entering this next phase of the work.

The National Rules Framework is available at www.rissb.com.au/products-main/national-operations/

How to optimise your path of construction through advanced work packaging

The best practice of Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) is rapidly gaining momentum in the capital projects industry. This article explains the benefits of an AWP framework and how, when combined with the right digital solutions, it can help establish a constraint-free Path of Construction.

Emerging technologies are enabling organisations in the capital projects industry to achieve their best Path of Construction through an Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) methodology. AWP aligns owners, contractors and engineers and has them working collaboratively to start a plan backwards from a set end goal. Simply stated, AWP gets the right stuff to the right people at the right time. Those who have adopted an AWP philosophy have seen its value through reduced costs, increased productivity and improved predictability. The challenge that remains is deciding which digital tools can best support this breakthrough work methodology.

To read more, fill out the form below:

GS1

Project i-TRACE: Have you departed Station 5?

2020 is the year to get moving on the digitalisation of rail asset management and implementing GS1 global data standards under the auspices of Project i-TRACE.

Project i-TRACE encompasses a range of digitalisation initiatives including the standardised identification and marking of parts, components and assets in the Australian rail industry.

Rail and network operators, suppliers, manufacturers and contractors should now all be on board to ensure international best practice in supply chain management; the first phase of which is the joint initiative of the ARA and GS1 Australia, involving 11 steps, identified as stations in a visual representation of phase 1 of the Project i-TRACE journey.

“By now, everyone should have departed Station 5, otherwise they are behind schedule,” said Bonnie Ryan, director of freight, logistics and industrial sectors at GS1 Australia.

Towards achieving a national approach, at a minimum suppliers should have attended a workshop, established a business case, obtained executive sponsorship, joined GS1 and received their unique global company prefix to enable GS1 identifiers to be assigned to materials.

Station 6 encourages the attendance of a Project i-TRACE training session while Station 7 involves the actual assignment of compliant identification numbers to products/materials/assets, adding these to internal systems and informing customers of same so they can also add to their systems facilitating the beginning of data alignment between suppliers and their customers. Support is provided for Project iTRACE training through GS1.

Many suppliers have already arrived at Station 8, which is where additional data elements can be added, such as serial numbers and production dates that can be embedded in data carriers such as barcodes.

Having assigned GS1 codes and associated data elements to materials, the next step is to physically mark and/or tag objects so that they can be electronically scanned. Choosing a data capture technology is an important and crucial element (Station 9) and vital to enabling data to be captured at the point of use, whether in a depot or out on the network.

GS1’s Ryan said that Project i-TRACE provides a critical foundation for the industry to digitalise common operational processes.

“In a couple of years, i-TRACE will no longer be a project but will be a normal part of business.

“Knowing that we are all working towards end-to-end traceability as a common goal is rewarding. The benefits are many and include improved maintenance and repair operations, reducing costs by automating operational procedures and improving traceability,” Ryan said.

Early adopters achieve success
One of Australia’s largest rail networks, Sydney Trains, has been very active driving improvements in their business.

The suburban passenger rail organisation is on track to having all the parts in its Rail Equipment Centre marked with an i-TRACE compliant label. It has also been actively involved in the Project i-TRACE Material Master Data work group, focussing on the efficient exchange of Material Master Data across the rail sector; a process which is currently very manual or non-existent.

Thermit Australia, a supplier of aluminothermic welding and glued insulated joints, began the journey of implementing GS1 standards in 2018. It worked with Victoria’s regional rail network, V/Line, to help standardise the identification (codification) and barcode labelling of stock to help fast track the management of inventory at V/Line’s main warehouse in Lara and the company’s additional 33 inventory depots across Victoria.

For assistance on Project i-TRACE contact GS1 on: itrace@gs1au.org

Addressing the rail industry’s engineering deficit

The Australian rail industry has experienced a shortage in key engineering skills for many years now, in part due to the ageing workforce. One solution to this issue is to increase the quality and quantity of training being provided. Whether it be given to junior engineers or retraining experienced engineers, a well-trained and experienced workforce is a fundamental requirement of any successful project. Formed in 2016, Omada Rail Systems is growing rapidly and has established itself as a leading provider of rail systems management and engineering services throughout Australia. As a company focused on growth and innovation, Omada is undertaking a number of initiatives to tackle this issue head on.

Upgrading training facilities
Australia’s current rail project boom has led to a deficit of highly experienced and skilled engineers, particularly in signalling. With an abundance of major projects being delivered concurrently, such as Inland Rail, Cross River Rail, and the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, the industry’s engineering resources are stretched thin. While being involved in many of these major projects, Omada Rail Systems has been chosen to complete a project aimed at tackling Australia’s engineering shortfall. This project is to upgrade the signalling facilities at the Rail Academy in Newport, Victoria’s only specialist rail training facility. Omada’s goal in this project is to transform the Rail Academy into one of the best equipped facilities in the world.

Omada’s junior engineers will be involved in all aspects of the Rail Academy project while under the mentorship and strict guidance of senior staff. This ensures they gain valuable hands on experience and develop a well-rounded set of skills, while completing work to Omada’s high standards. This work allows Omada to demonstrate its signal engineering capabilities, ranging from project inception through to the testing and commissioning phase. Omada will be creating numerous designs detailing different signalling and infrastructure scenarios. Alongside these designs, there will be duplicates made with intentional faults, to provide training in fault finding. When asked about his views on the project, Omada Rail Systems director Christopher Miller said, “This project is an exciting opportunity for Omada Rail Systems to enhance the development of our own engineers, and once completed, all engineers who train there.”

Bringing on engineers
Providing junior engineers with valuable experience in projects enhances their training and builds a new generation of engineers with the necessary knowledge and skill base to deliver Australia’s pipeline of rail projects. Over the course of Omada’s three-year graduate program, cadets are exposed to every aspect of rail signalling, from planning and design all the way through to testing and commissioning.

Offering a complete range of engineering and management services across all aspects of the project life cycle, including planning & scoping, feasibility studies, and preliminary & detailed design, Omada is constantly looking to develop all areas of their team. As a growing company with ongoing projects across Australia, there are a great deal of opportunities available to build on their current team. Putting a strong emphasis on Omada’s capability to train new and current staff, Miller said, “It doesn’t concern me if people are not superstars on paper, our engineers can guide and teach them along the way. As long as they have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and are a team player, we can give them all the training required.”

Boosting the industry’s talent pool
Alongside their engineering capabilities, Omada has subject matter experts providing signalling competency assessments, qualified to assess Metro Trains Melbourne, V/Line, and ARTC competencies. This service provides industry engineers with a value for money option when updating or attaining their competency, supplying the industry with a greater number of qualified engineers. According to Omada’s website analytics, 37.25 per cent of people looking for competency assessments are under 35, showing that there is a large talent pool of young engineers looking to develop their competencies and help drive Australian rail forward.

Following the delivery of a number of successful commissionings in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria, and the impending increased demand of testing and commissioning resources, Omada has proactively grown their testing team. Now capable of taking on much larger projects, Omada’s growth has created opportunities for inexperienced but hard working engineers to gain the valuable experience and training they require.

To find out more about Omada Rail Systems and the work they are doing, head to their website to watch their capabilities video or read their latest update. www.omadarail.com

Digital twins support big data-driven decisions for track maintenance

Technological advancements and the internet of things (IoT) have had a significant impact on the way rail and transit organisations handle their current day to day operations. Today, railroads rely on autonomous inspection vehicles to provide near real-time monitoring of the track condition.

A significant opportunity of digital twins is leveraging continuous survey data for analysis of the performance digital twin. This digital DNA provides the ability to understand the asset’s condition over time; it’s past, current, and future condition, adding a fourth dimension (4D) of time, against the physical assets in the field.

The need for linear analytics in rail and transit
There also needs to be an understanding that an asset management system isn’t a single solution. Rail and transit requirements with linear assets are a great example as to why there is a need for different tools for different groups in an organisation. Download the whitepaper and read more below.

In a changed world, freight sector shows its agility

The Australian Logistics Council’s CEO, Kirk Coningham, explains how the industry has been on the front foot during a time of crisis.

Like every other industry, Australia’s freight and logistics sector has spent recent weeks grappling with the realities of doing business in a changed world.

While for many this has meant transitioning to working from home arrangements, contemplating shifts from bricks and mortar retail arrangements to online sales in retail, and a changed focus for hospitality businesses towards takeaway and delivery sales, the challenge for this sector is somewhat different.

The simple reality is this; those on the front line of Australia’s freight logistics industry can’t work from home. Our ports, stevedores, road, rail, and air freight operators are working tirelessly to keep supply chains flowing and make sure Australian communities can access the goods they need day-to-day.

As challenging as the COVID-19 crisis is, it would be far worse without the dedicated support and service offered by those working in Australia’s logistics industry.

All levels of government have made it clear that freight transport and logistics remain an essential service. In turn, this means that those who are working around the clock to support households and communities at this challenging time deserve the strongest levels of support and flexibility from governments and from the wider community.

In the difficult circumstances that all of us are currently enduring, the health and security of our workforce must remain paramount.

As instances of panic buying occurred in the early days of the COVID-19 event, it was distressing to hear instances of transport workers and in-store retail personnel being accosted by angry consumers.

The current situation is having an impact on the day-to-day lives of all Australians – and perhaps it is inevitable that this is causing frustration and irritation for some. However, taking those frustrations out on delivery drivers or retail workers is completely unacceptable.

Far more positive has been the determined and collegiate way in which all parts of the supply chain have worked effectively to address challenges as they have arisen, to ensure that freight can continue getting to the places it needs to go, efficiently and safely.

This has included working to remove barriers that prevented overnight deliveries to supermarkets and retail outlets such as noise curfews that stopped heavy vehicle access and the use of loading docks. Industry worked quickly with state and territory governments around Australia to either remove these curfews or have their enforcement suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. This helped stock levels to recover and reduced the occurrence of panic buying.

The decision of several state and territory governments to effectively close their borders posed significant potential threats to the efficiency of freight movement on both road and rail.

Again, it was impressive to see the way that representatives of both modes set aside commercial considerations and worked collaboratively with industry groups to ensure restrictions on cross-border movement caused as little delay to freight movement as possible.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the COVID-19 situation is the uncertainty over its duration. Naturally, this causes anxiety in the community and makes business planning especially difficult.

However, what is certain is that in addition to ensuring the community can continue to access essential goods, the freight and logistics sector also has a vital role to play in providing economic opportunity.

Already, there is evidence of some pick-up in consumer demand and economic activity in China, which will remain a critical export market for Australia.

As we look to sustain Australian businesses and create employment opportunities, our freight sector will be essential in supporting our exporters’ efforts to get their goods into recovering markets. Governments and local communities must understand the importance of their task as part of Australia’s economic recovery, and provide every support possible to help our workforce achieve it.

SPAD Working Group

The industry SPAD Group: Tackling a perennial issue through engagement and innovation

RISSB is coordinating the industry-driven SPAD Working Group.

Data from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) shows that in the 12 months from March 2019 to February 2020, there were over 1,200 reported signals passed at danger (SPADs), more than 500 of which involved the limit of authority being missed by train crew. While there has been a reduction in the number of technical SPADs reported when compared to the previous 12-month period, the number of human factor SPADs reported has seen little improvement.

Given the substantial safety risks presented by SPAD incidents, the rail industry has created a SPAD Working Group. Originally established under the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and led by Todd Bentley from Metro Trains Melbourne, the SPAD Group created a forum for rail managers, professionals to talk and share ideas. It initiated research projects to draw insights into this perennial issue and created an Australasian SPAD categorisation for reporting SPAD occurrences.

RISSB continues to co-ordinate this group, now led by Craig Dance from V/Line and industry representation is wider than ever, including members from New Zealand, covering heavy and light rail, freight and passenger operations.

The SPAD Group has instigated a number of research projects, led by associate professor Anjum Naweed from CQUniversity, many of which have been finalised with rich, practical industry outcomes.

Current projects include:

Training the train controller – It may seem counterintuitive, but controllers and signallers can inadvertently influence and even increase the likelihood of a SPAD. This project involves 10 rail organisations and focuses on non-technical skills training, an area that is seldom covered in adequate detail in current training approaches. A presentation on the outcomes of this project is planned for the RISSB Safety Conference in October this year.

SPAD pre-cursor behaviours – having initially collected over 200 SPAD reports from member rail organisations, more than 750 people subsequently completed a survey which examined a range of pre-cursor factors. These are being analysed by looking at system factors in a number of ways, including psychometrics, mindfulness and attention, driver behaviour, and sleep and work schedules.

Relieving drivers – this new project is aiming to gain a better understanding of current practices associate with relieving drivers and determining their return to work. It will identify what known risks are being mitigated when relieving drivers, including the perceived effectiveness of these mitigations, but also what unknown risks are being introduced, and how they may be controlled. Ten rail organisations are involved in this project.

The SPAD Group has also discussed a range of projects it proposes to examine in the next stream, including:

  1. Pro-forma development for SPAD investigations (through RISSB – a spin- off from SPAD Pre-cursor Behaviour project);
  2. SPAD risk and new technology and altered or new infrastructure;
  3. Risk Triggered Commentary;
  4. Mobile devices and distraction (update); and
  5. Establishing and sharing an education library of SPAD information.

The SPAD Group provides a forum for the industry to share successes, learn about new SPAD initiatives, and focus on key areas to mitigate SPADs.