Staff Writer

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

GoldlinQ leads Gold Coast Light Rail construction tender process

GoldlinQ has been appointed, by the Queensland government, to lead the construction tender process for the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A project.

GoldlinQ chairman John Witheriff said the competitive tender process for design and construction would start by seeking interest from leading national and international companies.

“A shortlist of selected contractors will be determined early next year with a detailed tender process to follow, allowing a construction partner to be appointed and major works to start in the second half of 2020,” Witheriff said.

“Lessons learnt from Stage 1 were implemented in the delivery of Stage 2 and our focus is on ensuring value for money, an innovative construction approach and minimising community impacts.

“We are partnering with government to deliver this project and will work closely with industry throughout the process.”

The 6.4-kilometre southern extension is being fast-tracked after the federal government recently made an additional funding commitment of $157 million towards the project.

“Gold Coasters and people from across the world have embraced the G (light rail), with more than 42 million trips taken since stage one opened five years ago,” transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said.

The state government and City of Gold Coast released a reference design for Stage 3A in 2018, as per which the 4km extension will be built in the centre of the Gold Coast Highway with eight stations between Broadbeach South light rail station and Burleigh Heads.

Construction is expected to take about three years, with light rail services to Burleigh expected to be operational in 2023.

Federal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said extending the Light Rail south to Burleigh would support the urban renewal of the Gold Coast – allowing commuters to travel between Broadbeach South Station and Burleigh Heads in just 16-17 minutes.

“Improving local public transport and making our city more connected will ensure the Gold Coast keeps pace with our projected population growth,” Andrews said.


Auckland smooths out kinks in metro network

Auckland’s metro network is being smoothed down by a rail grinder which will, ultimately, extend the lifespan of the track.

By removing irregularities from worn and corrugated tracks, rail grinders correct the shape of the track and bring significant benefits to maintenance operations, such as reducing track and wheel maintenance and prolonging rail track life.

“Over time the top of the rail track where the train wheels run develops stress points, defects and metal build up from the steel wheels travelling on the track. It’s a problem common to every rail network around the world that has to be managed,” KiwiRail’s executive general manager for operations Siva Sivapakkiam said.

“It’s a bit like driving a car with flat tyres. You still get there, but it uses a lot of fuel, doesn’t steer well and the ride quality is poor. In the same way, if the rail isn’t the correct shape it wears out more quickly than it should.”

As it moves along the tracks the rail grinder can sometimes create sparks from the grinding which, alongside the loud noise, can draw a lot of attention.

“It’s quite a sight when you see it in operation. Most people won’t have seen this type of thing on the rail line before and experience overseas is that some people see the sparks and think something is wrong with one of our trains. Rest assured, we’re working closely with local communities and authorities to keep everyone informed of what to expect,” Sivapakkiam said.

The machine carries water, however, and sprays the track as it passes to manage any potential fire risk.

The Auckland network has 198,000 commuter services each year and 246 freight trains running per week. This level of services makes it hard to schedule maintenance, including grinding.

The rail grinding work around the Auckland metro areas is scheduled for over the summer period. It will start on the Southern and Western lines in December, then travel along the Eastern line in the new year.

Due to the busy commuter service, KiwiRail will conduct the work at night when no commuter trains are running.

KiwiRail will carry out other maintenance and upgrade works over the holiday period to improve the condition and performance of the Auckland network.

Arc Infrastructure’s top 2020 priorities

Arc Infrastructure last week named Murray Cook as its newly appointed CEO, effective 1 January 2020. Cook spoke to Rail Express about his priorities for the new year.

Cook has been executive director at Arc Infrastructure, which manages Western Australia’s freight rail network, since January 2019. Prior to this, he spent two years as vice president of operations at Brookfield Infrastructure Group Australia, parent company of Arc Infrastructure.

Having held senior positions within Arc Infrastructure and Brookfield for almost 10 years Cook has significant internal experience. He also spent five years with Brookfield Rail in the senior positions of General Manager Finance and General Manager Strategy and Development.

“One of our biggest assets is the knowledge and experience of our people,” Cook said, speaking to Rail Express.

“One of my focuses next year will be looking at how we can utlise this, coupled with the data we are gathering and analysing, to continuously improve our operations and asset management.”

“It is an exciting time for our business and our people and I look forward to continuing to build on the outstanding legacy that Paul (Larsen, former CEO) leaves by continuing to pursue the growth projects Arc has been focused on in recent times.”

Cook commenced his career with KPMG’s taxation practice and subsequently held senior positions in operational, commercial and project areas at Alinta, WestNet Infrastructure Group and Fortescue Metals.

He holds a Bachelors of Laws and Commerce from Murdoch University and a Graduate Diploma in Finance and Investment (FINSIA). He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Cook has spent over 20 years developing broad business experience in the resources and infrastructure sectors. With such expansive industry experience, he is sure to bring a few ideas to the role of CEO.

Shadow transport minister calls for workforce research body

Federal shadow transport minister, Catherine King, reiterated her party’s promise to create a body to conduct research on the future of the industry workforce, in her address to the Rail, Tram and Bus union on Wednesday.

King described the party’s vision of a workforce forecasting and research body called Jobs and Skills Australia, under a similar model to Infrastructure Australia. The intention to create Jobs and Skills Australia was announced last month by Labour party leader, Anthony Albanese.

The body would be would assess the skills requirements for services where “government is the major funder and where demand is expected to change”, such as transport.

“This will include the manufacture, operation and maintenance of our public transport network,” said King.

The body will undertake workforce and skills analysis, and conduct capacity studies. It will be expected to review the adequacy of the training and vocational system, as well as deliver plans for targets groups such as the regions, workers over-55, and youth.

King said that she believes introducing new technology can create different job opportunities.

“I spoke yesterday with a major freight rail operator who is using real time condition monitoring to better forecast maintenance to reduce breakdowns. While that has replaced the task of physically walking the line inspecting trains in sidings. It has seen new jobs created in big data analytics, as well as increases in the maintenance schedule and maintenance jobs.”

However, transitioning jobs in industries like transport must be planned, she explained.

“People must always be at the heart of our transport system.”

AusRAIL: The digitalisation of supply chain management

When the Australasian Railway Association announced the industry-wide adoption of GS1’s ISO data standards in 2015, Project i-TRACE was established to help industry with their implementation across all stakeholder companies. Head of product innovation at Siemens Mobility, Stephen Baker, spoke to Rail Express about Siemens Mobility’s Project i-TRACE journey.

The digitalisation of supply chain management is well underway across a range of industries, and GS1 Australia says it is committed to making this process easier for the rail sector.

As a not-for-profit provider of standards and solutions for over 20 industry sectors, GS1 introduced barcoding to Australia in 1979 to enable its more than 20,000 member companies to implement their standards more efficiently. The barcodes are now scanned across the world over six billion times daily. When the rail industry agreed in 2015 that GS1 standards were the right choice to enable best practice supply chain management, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) led industry working group initiated Project i-TRACE to help implement consistent identification (globally unique codes) and automatic data capture (barcoding) in organisations and value chains across the rail industry.

Efficiency within the rail industry is heavily reliant on successful supply chain management practices. Assuring material availability of the right quantities, the right qualities, at the right place and time with minimum effort and cost is crucial. Stronger life cycle traceability is needed for this, and best practice requires the uptake of the innovative technologies that are disrupting the sector.

“Around the world there is a realisation that the digitalisation of the rail industry is essential. Project i-TRACE is a fundamental building block towards achieving digital capability in the sector,” ARA CEO, Danny Broad, has said.

Project i-TRACE allows all stakeholders within the supply chain to follow a component, part or asset throughout its lifecycle (including maintenance) from procurement to disposal with ease. It is intended to help stakeholders identify products, electronically capture information about them and then share that information with relevant parties.

GS1 supplies a tracking technique to give a unique identification to all rail products including items such as point machines, tracks and signalling parts.

“Project i-TRACE allows us to trace every component from when it’s been manufactured all the way through to installation and to the whole of life performance of that asset,” Sydney Trains chief executive officer Howard Collins said when Sydney Trains began its digitalisation. “My message to all those involved in the rail industry whether you are a small supplier, all the way through to us as a big maintainer, is get on board with i-TRACE.”

Essentially, standardising the way materials in the rail industry supply chain are identified and marked enables “traceability and warranty management, which is fundamental for lifecycle tracking,” according to Stephen Baker, head of product innovation at Siemens Mobility in Australia. “This has always been a challenge for the industry,” Baker said.

Under Project i-TRACE, identification codes compliant with GS1 standards are encoded into a machine-readable GS1 DataMatrix barcode, usually directly laser-engraved. According to GS1, an engraved barcode is the best option in harsh environments where labels are likely to fall off, such as for rolling stock. One GS1 client developed a process whereby the DataMatrix barcode could be vulcanised into rubber parts, for others a sticker label is enough. Once the barcode has been affixed, product data can be read by using a scanner or smartphone with the appropriate software application installed. While Siemens Mobility is still in the process of implementing Project i-TRACE, Baker says the benefits of implementation are obvious.

“We’ve been able to laser engrave unique IDs onto black plate which are then placed on a product, which takes less than two minutes. Automating the manual processes saves time and eliminates the possibility of human error. The field technicians are then able to capture the maintenance history of these products while on site, which makes it so much easier and improves efficiency.”

Other benefits include reducing inventory write-offs and waste leading to optimal inventory management, improving maintenance and repair operations, and reducing cost with fewer transaction errors and better data quality.

“We see Project i-TRACE as an enabler,” Baker said. With Internet of Things (IoT) innovations allowing components to become smart, interconnected and capable of talking to each other for essential data capture which allows the monitoring of the performance of items, these components however need to become consistently identifiable.

“It’s easy enough to capture data in stock management, but how are you going to identify which component you are capturing? GS1 gives us the building blocks to implement these processes.

“i-TRACE is quick, and it’s comprehensive. It gives us access to all the necessary information, and we can understand the behaviour of our systems by looking closely into the analytics of the product’s lifecycle. For example, where before the only information you could get about a railway signal was that it was a railway signal, with i-TRACE you can now use the unique product ID to see an entire data matrix of information.

“With this ecosystem of knowledge, you can ensure best practice quality control, maintenance and accountability to your clients through a more agile process.”

While Project i-TRACE was designed to enhance supply chain management, for Baker it is more than that.

“For most, GS1 compliance is about getting the products to the end-user, but we see it as going beyond that. Once a product has been marked, it’s an asset,” he explained. “Traceability helps organisations provide a better service to their clients, with improvements to the maintenance and repair of assets. Implementing i-TRACE in our rail sectors will make railways easier and quicker to repair and cause a flow on effect to service delivery, helping reduce commuter disruption if things go wrong.

“Asset management is amazingly complex, the digitalisation enabled by Project i-TRACE makes it easier,” Baker said.

Especially for a manufacturer of safety equipment, wherein the high levels of accountability GS1 enables are vital. While Siemens Mobility is still in implementation mode, as one of the first in the industry to take part in the project which they commenced in March 2018, Baker has advice for organisations who want to implement the solution.

“The first step is budgeting, because the biggest challenge is the allocation of funding. Implementing Project i-Trace can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your organisation,” he said.

For a small trader it’s simply a matter of adding the unique ID to a docket, whereas for Siemens it was possible to use more sophisticated machinery. Products get marked at downstream. The key at this stage, during budgeting, is to have a good business case according to Baker, who recommends hiring expert consultants to provide the necessary analysis. The next step is the project plan.

“We began with a deep review of the process, got sign off on the business case and in the months following, started our internal working group. In 2019, our internal working group and internal activities with our program were being finalised and we received our unique marking machine for over 18,500 trackable items to be marked at our Port Melbourne manufacturing facility.”

While compliance with GS1’s standards is necessary, having been determined as enabling best practice by the ARA and industry representatives, implementation has been made all the easier for organisations of all sizes by GS1’s Project i-Trace.


Visit GS1 at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 236.

Rail bridge construction underway in Melbourne

Work towards rail bridge foundations has now commenced in an inner Melbourne suburb.

Thirty-four piles (deep concrete foundations to support the rail bridge) are being bored at the Toorak Road site in Kooyong.

Piling rigs and cranes have been at work on the site of the level crossing removal project. A piling rig is a specialist piece of equipment with a high mast that enables it to dig deep into the ground.

The piles at Toorak Road will be up to 20 metres deep and 2.1 metres in diameter. The locations of the piles were determined after geotechnical investigations were conducted in late 2018 and early 2019.

Once the piles have been bored, cranes will lift a steel cylindrical ‘cage’ into place to reinforce the pile, with each piling cage weighing between 9 tonnes and 12.5 tonnes. The hole is then reinforced with steel and concrete.

“This process creates secure foundations and ensures safety and stability of the rail bridge,” according to a Victorian government statement.

Businesses want Gold Coast model for Parramatta Light Rail

In response to the federal government’s contribution to the expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, the Western Sydney Business Chamber is calling for more federal funding for stage two of Sydney’s Parramatta Light Rail.

Last Friday’s announcement of a federal infrastructure package for Queensland, which included a $157 million contribution towards Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A, has prompted the business advocacy organisation to criticise the lack of funding for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2.

Federal funds make up approximately 38% of the total cost of the Stage 3A expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, with the Queensland Government and Gold Coast Council funding the remainder.

“The economic corridor between Sydney CBD and Parramatta is one of the most important in the nation, yet the Federal Government is missing when it comes to funding the transport infrastructure that will unlock thousands of new homes and jobs,” Western Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director David Borger said.

“With the NSW Government yet to make an investment decision and with the announcement looking very unlikely this year, we need the Prime Minister to be the white knight of G-POP [Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula] and come to the table with funding.”

“Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is a vital project that will ensure that the multi-billion investment in Sydney Metro West works. Stage 2 connects the high-density communities of Wentworth Point and Melrose Park with the metro network.

“If the Federal Government has money for Gold Coast Light Rail then surely it has a role to play in contributing funding to a light rail project in the heart of Australia’s most economically important city,” Borger said.

Kiwirail unveils intermodal freight hub plans

A three-kilometre-long intermodal freight hub will combine a container terminal, warehousing for road transport operators, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.

Palmerston North, in New Zealand’s North Island, is a critical freight distribution point. Goods travel through it from the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and the South Island.

The New Zealand government’s Provincial Growth Fund has invested $40 million towards developing the hub, which allowed KiwiRail to design it and purchase the land. The hub is intended to make rail a more attractive option to help manage the numbers of trucks on regional roads.

“A purposely designed facility to link rail and road together like this hasn’t been seen in New Zealand. We are creating something world-class, which will support the growth of Manawatu’s logistics industry well into the future,” KiwiRail’s group chief executive Greg Miller said.

“It brings road and rail freight together in a much more integrated and seamless way, improving efficiency and saving in costs. The design allows for consumer imports and bulk exports to be managed at one place, and there is plenty of room to co-locate freight partners and meet their warehousing needs.

“With freight volumes expected to increase in the decades ahead, this intermodal hub will be a crucial freight centre for the lower North Island.”

The hub is designed to accommodate longer, more economical 1,500 metre trains – a 60 per cent increase in length and capacity – which will increase capacity.

KiwiRail is now working with local councils and stakeholders to identify sites near Palmerston North where the hub could be built.

Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop details revealed

The Victorian government has announced the details of its plans for Victoria’s dedicated, standalone Suburban Rail Loop.

“A year ago, Victorians voted for the Suburban Rail Loop and we haven’t wasted a moment getting on with it” premier Daniel Andrews said.

“We’ve removed 30 level crossings, we’re building the Metro Tunnel, and we’re doing the vital planning and design work for the Suburban Rail Loop,” minister for transport, infrastructure Jacinta Allan said.

After 12 months of technical, planning and design work, the government has announced that the 90-kilometre rail ring will be a twin-tunnel line solution with a dedicated fleet of quick, high-tech trains enabling ‘turn-up-and-go’ services.

It will fully integrate into the existing public transport network with up to 12 new stations connecting the existing rail system with the new standalone line. Passengers will be able transfer between both networks easily, using the same ticketing system servicing both.

Building the loop as a separate, standalone line will allow it to integrate state-of-the-art systems from around the world without having to retrofit technology into the existing network.

It will also mean that the design of the dedicated fleet won’t be constrained by the requirements of Melbourne’s hundred-year-old train network. As such, the new trains will be faster than the existing fleet.

They will be four to five carriages long, which means they can turn up more often. The platforms will also be shorter – reducing the distance passengers need to walk at the station each day to get on the train.

Geotechnical drilling is now well underway on the Stage One route from Box Hill to Cheltenham. Fourteen boreholes have already been dug, with close to 100 to be drilled by mid-2020.

The information collected during this stage will inform the final alignment and station locations for the project. Construction on Stage One of the Suburban Rail Loop is expected to begin in 2022.

Coal Train Photo Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Hunter Valley network maintenance requires crew of 1300

The Hunter Valley rail network has kept 1300 rail workers busy this week, doing maintenance and enhancement works, according to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

A program of 125 projects scheduled over three days, ending Friday, was undertaken from Kooragang port along the rail corridor to Werris Creek as well as the Ulan line west from Muswellbrook.

The work includes re-signalling at Thornton, a level crossing upgrade at Army Road at Glenridding and track reconditioning work at Quirindi.

“The Ardglen Tunnel will also be re-sleepered and re-railed. This is an interesting job as it is a heritage-listed tunnel and we have to take those considerations into account while undertaking the works,” ARTC group executive for the Hunter Valley, Jonathan Vandervoort, said.

“We will also take advantage of the opportunity to undertake a number of works including removing ballast and improving drainage on this section. With tunnels you need to be very efficient as the conditions are difficult to work in and to you need to be very organised to get all the works done in the allotted time.”

Passenger services were replaced by buses over the three days to allow crews to access the rail tracks safely.

“We ask people in communities close to the rail corridor to be cautious during the shutdown period and keep an eye out for increased vehicle movements in and out of work sites,” Vandervoort said.