Parramatta

First tracks laid for Parramatta Light Rail in Westmead

Tracklaying has begun on the Parramatta Light Rail project with the first tracks laid at Hawkesbury Road in Westmead.

The bedding in of the 18 metre lengths of grooved rail marks a major milestone for the project, where early works have been underway for months preparing the route and identifying utilities ahead of construction.

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Councils look to light rail to connect south-west Perth

Councils in south-west Perth are pushing for a new rapid transit link between Murdoch and Fremantle.

The South West Group, made up of six councils from the region, have released a new report highlighting the need for a dedicated transport link to stimulate urban growth and improve transport connections. Read more

Operators terminate contracts with Transclean

Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams have terminated their contracts with services provider Transclean.

Transclean has been at the centre of the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission’s (IBAC) Operation Esperance, which has heard that Transclean boss George Haritos gave cash to V/Line CEO James Pinder and Metro Trains fleet operational manager Peter Bollas in return for favourable treatment.

There has been no allegations of any corrupt behaviour between Transclean and Yarra Trams.

On Friday, November 6, Metro Trains CEO Raymond O’Flaherty said that Transclean would no longer provide cleaning services to the Melbourne rail operator.

“A rigorous tender process is already underway to appoint a long-term cleaning supplier to provide the highest standard of daily cleaning for Metro’s train fleet,” he said.

“We will make further announcements regarding this ongoing tender process at the appropriate time.”

Metro Trains had already suspended and subsequently terminated the employment of Peter Bollas, with an auditor to review procurement and probity processes.

“Metro remains committed to the highest standards of integrity across our organisation.”

Transclean had been providing after-hours depot security services to Yarra Trams since 2017, however the operator will now be looking for a new contractor.

“Yarra Trams is terminating its contract with Transclean for after-hours depot security, and has provided the company 30 days’ notice,” said a Yarra Trams spokesperson.

A routine audit of Transclean found that there was procedure and performance issues with Transclean’s security services for Yarra Trams. These were raised with the company but were not responded to.

A separate company has provided cleaning services to Yarra Trams, including COVID-19 deep cleans.

O’Flaherty said that Metro was ensuring cleaning met community standards.

“I again want to reassure our passengers that we have a range of measures in place to ensure the daily cleaning and sanitisation of our trains meets the standards they expect. These measures include audit teams regularly checking the standard of this work.”

Customer service survey to gauge progress on Adelaide transport network

The South Australian government has announced the launch of the Adelaide Metro Customer Satisfaction Survey to understand how passengers perceive public transport services in Adelaide.

The twice-yearly survey will cover trains and tram services, as well as buses and metrics will include behaviour of staff, cleanliness, availability and accuracy of information, and driving behaviours.

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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.

Metro Trains improves on performance figures in September

Metro Trains Melbourne has once again beat performance target records during September.

During the month, 99.4 per cent of scheduled services were delivered, and 97.6 per cent were on time.

A spokesperson for Metro said the operator was continuing to provide services during Melbourne’s lockdown for essential workers.

“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed our commitment to delivering the best service for our passengers. We are always striving to improve our performance and run the safe and efficient services that Melburnians deserve.”

Performance figures were helped by fewer trespassers in September than in previous months and fewer weather-related incidents. Strong winds caused a tree to fall across rail lines on September 2, however, which delayed 81 trains.

Performance figures for Yarra Trams were also above target, with 98.5 per cent of services delivered and 95.7 per cent on time.

During September, renewal project on the tram network included upgrades to Glenferrie and Malvern roads and upgrade works along St Kilda light rail began.

During Melbourne’s second lockdown, beginning in August, night tram services were suspended, however Yarra Trams stated that the operator was working towards the resumption of these services while prioritising passenger and staff safety as restrictions begin to be lifted.

For regional operator V/Line, punctuality in September dipped from a high in August. 96.2 per cent of services were on time while 96.4 were on time in August. Reliability figures improved however, with 96.8 per cent of services delivered in September, compared to 96.6 per cent in August.

These figures were partly impacted by the closure of the Albury-Wodonga line where coaches have replaced trains since July.

Across the short distance network, services on the Seymour Line were the most reliable, while services on the Geelong Line were the most punctual. On the long distance lines, the Bairnsdale Line was the most reliable and the Swan Hill & Echuca line was the most punctual.

Canberra COVID

Election results keep rail on track in ACT and NZ

Election results over the weekend have reconfirmed the pipeline of rail projects on both sides of the Tasman.

In the ACT, where the Labor-Greens coalition government was returned with a likely increased number of representatives in the legislative assembly, future progress on the Canberra light rail is confirmed.

Prior to the election the opposition Liberals had cast doubt over the second stage of the project, suggesting that a connection to Belconnen should be built instead of the currently planned extension to Woden. ACT Labor has said that once the extension to Woden is complete, work will begin on a line from Belconnen to the Airport.

Public Transport Association of Canberra chair Ryan Hemsley said that light rail was a key election issue in the capital.

“Saturday’s election results have re-confirmed the trends we saw four years ago, with strong swings towards the government in Murrumbidgee and Brindabella cementing light rail as a vote-winner,” said Hemsley.

“In contrast to the pro-light rail policies offered by Labor and the Greens, the Canberra Liberals offered half-hearted and at times inconsistent support for the extension of light rail to Woden.”

Light rail also made an appearance in the New Zealand election which saw the Labour Party returned with a parliamentary majority. The party, which had previously governed in a coalition with the Green Party and NZ First, has committed to progressing the Auckland light rail project from the city centre to Māngere and the Auckland Airport.

The party has committed to continue investing in KiwiRail, which has received large cash injections in recent budgets to improve New Zealand’s rail infrastructure and freight services. Upgrades to Wellington’s commuter rail network are also part of the party’s platform.

Under investment in Auckland’s rail network was revealed earlier this year and led to a city-wide restriction on services. The most recent works have seen a 10-minute frequency returned to the Eastern Line and improvements between Otahuhu and Newmarket on the Southern line. Further work on the Southern Line between Homai and Pukekohe will continue for the next three weeks.

KiwiRail chief operating officer Todd Moyle said works have been completed efficiently and on schedule.

“During the first closure on the Eastern Line the teams met their target of replacing 20 km of rail and more than 3500 sleepers on the 10km between Panmure and the city centre,” he said.

“We are continuing to work with Auckland Transport to review our progress and plan the way ahead. We have agreed a programme of rolling line closures across the network is the best and most efficient way to progress this work over the coming months. For the next month our focus will remain on the Southern Line.”

Further network closures are planned for the Christmas period when patronage decreases.

Contractor announced for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 construction

John Holland has been nominated as the preferred contractor to deliver stage three of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

The $709 million joint local, state, and federally funded project, will extend the light rail line to Burleigh Heads from its current terminus in Broadbeach.

John Holland prevailed as the successful contractor over two competing joint ventures, one of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions and another between Fulton Hogan and UGL.

Stage three is expected to be completed in 2023 and adds eight stations and 6.7km of dual track to the network.

The Gold Coast light rail line has successfully increased public transport usage along the corridor, and was heavily patronised during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bailey said extending the line further south would improve on these figures.

“We’ve seen more than 50 million trips taken on light rail since it first opened, which shows just how hungry Gold Coasters and visitors to the city are for better public transport.”

Construction will come at a time when Queensland is looking to get people into job, particularly in areas such as the Gold Coast where tourism-reliant businesses have seen less demand due to COVID-19.

“Because Queenslanders have managed the health response of COVID-19, it means the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with the job of creating jobs and continuing the state’s plan for economic recovery,” said Bailey.

“For businesses and people on the Gold Coast that means building that all-important light rail connection between the city’s north and centre towards the south.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would support more local jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is already a key local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs, and the extension to Burleigh is expected to support more than 760 construction jobs.”

Keolis Downer will continue to operate the extended line.

Torrens Connect

Torrens Connect takes on Adelaide tram operations

Torrens Connect has now assumed control over operations of Adelaide’s tram network and selected bus lines.

Announced as the successful tenderer for the outsourced operation of Adelaide’s tram services and some bus services in March, Torrens Connect took over operations from July 5 under an eight year contract.

The consortium of Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland partnered with technology provider Trapeze Group to smoothen the transition process, occurring during the height of COVID-19.

Trapeze worked with Torrens Connect through the bid process and roll out of services, said Ben Dvoracek, Trapeze general manager for rail in Australia and New Zealand.

“We are proud to be part of this changeover, with Torrens Connect selecting Trapeze Group for both the bidding process and long-term roll-out of the planning and scheduling software solution. It was a pleasure to work with the team and facilitate implementation in less than four weeks.”

Trapeze, which provides planning and scheduling platforms as well as enterprise asset management and intelligent transport systems solutions for rail operators, was used to test plans ahead of operations. This testing and modelling process ensured that the transition occurred without any disruption or delay to services, schedules, or rosters. Torrens Connect staff received training from Trapeze locally to enable the smooth handover.

“Using the Trapeze software to run simulation models, Torrens Connect provided accurate optimised timetables that were quickly implemented without impacting operations,” said John Holland service delivery manager Rachel Parkin.

The contract covers 24 tram sets, 200 buses, and employment of over 250 staff.

As part of the privatisation of Adelaide’s public transport, operators are expected to undertake service improvements, with public consultation held earlier in 2020.