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

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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4 kilometres of track laid on Forrestfield-Airport Link

Work is rapidly progressing on the preparation of the Forrestfield-Airport Link to run trains by late 2021.

Tracklaying works have already put in place four kilometres of track through the twin tunnels.

The future stations for the line are also coming into shape, with the high eaves over Airport Central Station recently installed.

Connecting the station atrium to the platform is the longest uninterrupted escalator in the southern hemisphere, with stretches to 35 metres long and 15 metres high.

To date, 5.7km of skeleton track has been put down, and 3.9km of track completed for the 8.5km line.

Australian contractor Martinus Rail will use over 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel in the project, where it has employed more than 100 local workers.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project, which connects the existing rail network at Bayswater with the eastern foothills via Perth’s airport, has already provided many opportunities for local businesses.

“The Forrestfield Airport Link construction employs hundreds of local workers and provides opportunities for local businesses and subcontractors,” he said.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that with major breakthroughs so far, it will not be long until commuters are using the new line.

“We’ve reached several milestones this year with the completion of tunnelling and the start of track laying,” she said.

“The stations are almost completed and it is exciting to think trains will be running on this line in late 2021.”

Martinus CEO and managing director Treaven Martinus said that with this project under their belt, Martinus will be looking to scale up for further projects.

“Currently, we have very skilled and experienced track and overhead wiring teams in WA but our vision has always been to expand the team to encompass civil and signalling capabilities,” said Martinus.

“There are many projects coming online and we are excited about what that means for us, the opportunities it provides for our teams, local businesses, and subcontractors.”

Sunbury Line

Level crossing removal added to Sunbury Line upgrade

The Gap Road level crossing removal will be completed as part of works to upgrade the Sunbury Line, bringing forward the road-under-rail project by two years.

The Gap Road level crossing is the fourth crossing to be removed on the Sunbury Line, and completion is scheduled for 2022. Final works will be completed in 2023.

The road-under-rail design will allow 19,000 vehicles to pass underneath the rail line unimpeded each day while retaining the heritage character of Sunbury Station.

“This notorious level crossing has been leaving Sunbury residents stranded in traffic for far too long – these works will deliver better journeys across the local community,” said Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

Member for Sunbury Josh Bull said combining the level crossing removal with upgrades along the line would be a better outcome for all.

“We’re delivering both of these important transport projects together to reduce disruption to our community and community and get better outcomes for rail passengers, road users and residents faster.”

The $2.1 billion upgrade to the Sunbury line will allow for greater passenger growth with increased urban development along the corridor. In addition, the line will form part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel and enabling works such as platform extensions, train stabling, and power upgrades, will pave the way for more frequent, higher capacity trains.

Accessibility upgrades are also part of the project, along with new shared paths for pedestrians and cyclists. At Sunbury, the number of car parks will increase.

Allan said the Sunbury Line upgrades were one of a number of projects that would contribute to growing Victoria’s economy.

“Our Big Build program is vital to Victoria’s rebuild – supporting thousands of jobs and building the projects we need.”

Duplication

Frankston line extension business case recommends against electrification

The preliminary business case for the extension of the Frankston Line to Baxter on the Mornington Peninsula has been released.

The business case assesses a number of options for improving public transport usage in Frankston and the wider peninsula, while increasing social and commercial activity in Frankston.

The option of creating passing loops on the Stony Point line and new stations at Tyabb and Bittern is indicated as the preferred option. The possibility of electrification to Baxter or Langwarrin, while having higher a higher cost benefit ratio, would cost more and have greater impacts, the business case sets out.

Currently, Melbourne’s electrified network terminates at Frankston, with diesel-hauled services continuing to Stony Point. The report notes that the infrequency of services on the Stony Point line means that car use in the area is high and public transport use is concentrated at Frankston Station, causing constraints on parking in the vicinity of the station.

An upgrade of the rail line without electrification under the Stony Point Uplift option would also provide additional rail services for the communities of Somerville and Hastings, who would miss out on the benefits of electrification to Baxter.

The federal government, which contributed $3 million to the business case, is pushing for the electrification of the Frankston Line to Baxter and has committed $225m to the project. The business case estimates the total cost of electrification to Baxter to be between $1.3 to $1.5bn.

“Delivering a metro rail line extension south of Frankston will help open up the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, meaning locals can get to work and get home sooner and safer,” said Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

The Victorian government has not confirmed a preference for any of the options outlined in the preliminary business case.

“The Commonwealth has indicated that their preferred next stage is a detailed business case, but has not yet provided the funding or approached Victoria to undertake that work,” said a Victorian government spokesperson.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Commonwealth on our combined infrastructure commitments.”

The Committee for Greater Frankston, a grouping of local businesses and the Frankston city council, criticised the business case as “Orwellian”.

“It’s time for the state government to start properly planning to construct this vital public transport project,” said CEO Ginevra Hosking.

Public transport connectivity to Frankston is listed as a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia, with initiatives for improvement including optimising the existing bus network, increasing bus frequency and coverage, or funding upgrades to rail services and infrastructure.

The Victorian government spokesperson said that the state government was already making significant investments.

“The Victorian government is already spending $3bnon projects along the Frankston Line that pave the way for an extension to Baxter – removing 18 level crossings, building 12 new stations and creating new stabling for 24 trains at Kananook that is a pre-requisite for any extension of the line.”

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.”