Three consortiums move to RFP stage for Gowrie to Kagaru PPP

Three consortiums have progressed to the request for proposal stage for the Gowrie to Kagaru Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The successful consortium will win the contract to build the 6.2km tunnel through the Toowoomba Range, connecting Inland Rail to the Brisbane outskirts, as well as 121.8km of above-ground track, said Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller. Read more

Narrabri to North Star

Contract awarded for Narrabri to North Star construction

The Trans4m Rail joint venture has been announced as the successful contractor for the construction of Inland Rail between Narrabri and North Star.

The $693 million contract covers phase one of the Narrabri to North Star leg, which includes upgrading 171km of existing track. A contract for phase two, including 15km of track upgrade and 2.3km of new track, will be awarded separately.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would be built by local businesses.

“Inland Rail is going to change the freight task in Australia and in doing so will create opportunity in regional Australia with unprecedented investment and job creation,” he said.

“This nationally significant infrastructure is being built by the skills and expertise of Australian businesses – businesses that invest locally, drive regional employment and give back to communities along this 1,700km corridor of commerce.”

Trans4m rail is a joint venture between John Holland and SEE Civil. Lendlease and another joint venture RailFirst made up of Downer EDI and Seymour White had also been shortlisted for the contract.

Local member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the winning tenderer would invest locally.

“Trans4m Rail has made a commitment to employ local people, engage local businesses and suppliers and work with communities in North West NSW to ensure the benefits of Inland Rail are felt throughout the community.”

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that the project would enable more freight to be handled by rail.

“The upgrade of another 171km of track is another important piece in the puzzle to delivering better and quicker freight access to our primary producers in regional Australia, helping them get their product to markets in Australia and overseas with more ease.”

Coulton said that this region was already seeing greater investment.

“This project is about more than just steel tracks – we’re already seeing opportunities for industry to invest in the region through the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri and the Moree Special Activation Precinct – leveraging the advantages of Inland Rail to provide long-term employment and scope for future growth.”

Industry involvement sought for ETCS and ATMS interoperability solution

Transport for NSW is seeking industry involvement on the design of an integration solution for next generation signalling systems.

With Sydney Trains in the process of rolling out European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 signalling as part of the Digital Systems program on sections of the T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) implementing its Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) across the interstate network, interoperability will be key for the effectiveness of these technologies in enabling more traffic to run through the Sydney network. Read more

Preliminary design contract awarded for southern NSW sections of Inland Rail

The contract to carry out reference design and accompanying primary approvals documentation on two sections of the Inland Rail project has been awarded.

WSP Australia will carry out the work on the Albury to Illabo and Stockinbingal to Parkes sections, said project director Melvyn Maylin.

“A range of investigations will be delivered under the new contract, including ecological and geotechnical surveying, as well as scrutiny of impacts to cultural heritage, noise, air quality and utilities,” he said.

“This is an important step in progressing these two enhancement projects in southern New South Wales.”

The two sections have been combined together due to their similarities, reducing time and cost.

“The benefits of combining the two Inland Rail projects into the same service provider package is that both sections are enhancement projects in existing rail corridors, rather than new construction,” said Maylin.

“By nature, they are similar types of work and this approach will lead to cost effective and efficient project delivery.”

Work on the two sections with a combined length of 358km largely involves upgrading the current rail line to enable double stacked freight trains to run on the future route. Specific works will include increasing vertical clearances around bridges and new crossing loops.

The 37km section of new track from Illabo to Stockinbingal is still in the reference design stage.

The two sections have been identified as needing to progress by the NSW government, which handles planning approvals.

“The Albury to Illabo section has been classified State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW Government, and is currently in the process of an Environmental Impact Statement approvals pathway,” said Maylin.

“As for the Stockinbingal to Parkes project, the environmental assessment will be through four Review of Environmental Factors (REFs).”

The tenders for the first packages of construction work will follow reference design and planning approvals. This is expected in late 2021.

interlockings

Thales, Alstom selected as part of SNCF signal interlockings innovation program

Proposals from Thales and Alstom have been selected as part of an innovation partnership for next generation signal interlockings organised by French rail network owner SNCF Réseau.

The Argos program was launched in 2018 to develop new computer-controlled signal interlockings and has now announced three groups which will progress to the development phase. Along with Thales and Alstom, Hitachi Rail has also been selected.

The project aims to update old, existing interlocking boxes that are increasingly obsolete and in need of renewal with digital replacements.

The future interlocking boxes will be able to transmit information in real time, reducing failures and maintenance while improving traffic flows. Without the need for immediate relays, the physical footprint of the interlocking boxes will also be reduced, further reducing maintenance and installation costs.

“Our goal is to roll out an efficient, resilient, easily maintainable system that can be installed and tested with minimum impact on traffic,” said Anne-Sophie Naboulet-Larcher, technological strategy and contract award manager at SNCF Réseau.

In the Argos program, each participant will upgrade an existing installation and develop pre-series production interlockings. The first are scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2023.

The Thales proposal is working on the Lyon-Vienne corridor and has worked to reduce installation lead times by 30 per cent through new research and improving change management processes.

“We are proud that the first solution chosen by SNCF Réseau for developing its ‘high-performance network’ is that proposed by the Thales-ENGIE Solutions–Vossloh group for a new generation of computer-controlled interlockings making even greater use of digital technologies. It was 20 years ago that Thales began delivering computerised signalling systems and, over the years, it has built up a strong, trust-based relationship with SNCF Réseau, partnering it in the move towards converting the SNCF network to digital technologies,” said Yves Joannic, vice-president main line signalling, Thales.

The Alstom team has adapted the Smartlock interlocking technology for installation between Paris and Dijon. Reductions in total cost of ownership and deployment time have been part of the proposal.

“With railway systems becoming ever more complex, railway operators need a system that they can count on to guarantee the performance and availability of their system,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, president Alstom in France.

Tweed Heads

Tender for Tweed light rail feasibility study to be announced before end of 2020

The NSW government will announce the successful tenderer for a feasibility study for light rail in Tweed Heads before the end of 2020.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the study would fulfil an election commitment.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals committed $1 million at the last election to investigate the potential for light rail in the Tweed, and I’m pleased to say we are delivering on that commitment,” he said.

“The study will see NSW identify a suitable five-kilometre corridor for a future light rail extension from Coolangatta to the Tweed, while Queensland will investigate the corridor to the north.”

The study follows a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW and Queensland governments that was signed earlier in 2020 to assess the public transport needs for the region that straddles the NSW and Queensland border.

Local member Geoff Provest said that the study would also look at connecting a future light rail line to other forms of transport.

“The study will also look at how other forms of transport, including buses, cycling and walking could be integrated and improved if the Gold Coast light rail is extended south of the Queensland border.”

The basis for a successful tenderer comes from the shortlisted consultants identified in the Queensland government’s expression of interest for the Tugun to Tweed multimodal corridor study.

The Queensland government recently announced the successful tenderer for the construction of Stage 3 of the Gold Coast Light Rail. Once that stage is complete, extending the line to Burleigh Heads, work on Stage 4 to the Gold Coast Airport at Tugun is expected to begin, pending a business case for the line.

Further studies will look into east-west connections to the light rail spine, with additional light rail lines a possibility.

Community groups such as the Northern River Railway Action Group have pushed for a rail connection from the existing out of service heavy rail line which extends from Casino to Murwillumbah to Tweed Heads with the potential to link to a future heavy rail extension to the Gold Coast airport.