shunting vehicle

Electric shunting vehicles cut noise, emissions

Working with Sydney Trains, Freightquip has provided a shunting solution that is low noise and zero emissions.

When Sydney Trains was looking to replace two shunting vehicles, in use at the Hornsby and Mortdale depots, it needed a solution that was low noise, low emission and had the ability to complete the same shunting task as previously. To fulfil this requirement, the transport agency turned to local freight handling equipment supplier Freightquip.

Neil McDonell, general manager rail at Freightquip, said that after winning a competitive tender process, Freightquip worked with Sydney Trains to get the right fit.

“The relationship started with developing the specification for the machine, so we spent a lot of time with Sydney Trains, after the tender process, refining the specification and from there developing that into a technical specification that went into the contract that we went and built,” said McDonell.

Sydney Trains had a number of requirements that Freightquip had to fulfil, the first being able to move trains weighing many tonnes.

“The big thing for them is having a machine that could achieve the shunting task, but then also having very low noise emissions because of the locations of the depots,” said McDonell.

Both the Hornsby and Mortdale depots are located in residential areas and are surrounded by houses. This required Sydney Trains to minimise any emissions, both noise and exhaust.

“They’re surrounded by residents, so they have very stringent guidelines imposed on them that they have to meet. It was a mammoth effort to be able to give them something that achieved those levels of emissions,” said McDonell.

The solution that McDonell and Freightquip turned to was the Zephir LOK E, a fully electric rail vehicle placer.

“Zephir produce the largest electric shunter in the world and we as the Australian agents are able to offer that,” said McDonell.

The LOK E is an evolution of Zephir’s range of rail towing vehicles. Founded in the late 1960s, the company has been an early innovator in designing equipment that can complete the same task with zero emissions.

“Twenty years ago, Zephir started making small electric shunt vehicles, then as the need and demand rose from customers who wanted electric, zero emissions, and the low noise vehicles, but couldn’t sacrifice the towing capability of the machine. That led then the next evolution,” said McDonell.

“Starting with the smallest model, Zephir then grew the technology and grew their understanding so that now, the largest diesel machine they produce, they can also produce as an electric machine.”

While the new electric vehicle would have no exhaust emissions, Freightquip still had to meet Sydney Trains’ noise requirement of 45 decibels or less, seven metres in front of the machine, which was below what was standard for the LOK E. Here, Freightquip drew on past experience to come up with the solution in partnership with Zephir.

“We had done work previously with a diesel machine in a similar but different environment, where we had to reduce the noise levels of the diesel machine,” said McDonell. “We were able to take that knowledge and apply it to an electric machine, which comes with very low noise emissions anyway but still has things like hydraulic pumps and compressors that we had to factor in.”

To insulate the noise of the onboard pumps and compressors, Freightquip adapted the existing insulation while changing the concept design to direct the noise. The rear grill was also replaced to reduce the noise levels.

This particular design process was the outcome of consultation that Freightquip conducted with Sydney Trains and the staff onsite.

“We spent a lot of time with the client, understanding what the end user needs, those who are actually going to operate it in the depots. We had meetings with the depot personnel themselves and they were part of the then final specification and options selection process,” said McDonell.

Beyond the noise requirements, Freightquip also designed the stabling sites for the rail vehicle placers and identified and overcame and track infrastructure issues. These were done early on so that any concerns were resolved prior to the vehicles coming on site. In addition, the product design was altered to ensure that the vehicle met Australian specifications for safety and compliance.

With the vehicles now installed, Freightquip will provide ongoing support.

“We supply all the technical support,” said McDonell. “We do the full lifecycle support from scheduled servicing on these machines in accordance with the manufacturer’s service schedules, we support these machines with parts, right through to the end of the lifecycle of the machine.”

With the innovation that Zephir has conducted to provide the machines, the electric versions of each of the models are cost competitive with the diesel version. Reduced lifecycle cost from a 70 per cent reduction in moving parts and simpler maintenance, in addition to the reduced cost of powering the vehicle, have made the electric versions the product of choice.

Visit Freightquip at their homepage.

KLP

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers ensure stable gauge and reduced noise levels

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers offer a clever combination of high bending stiffness and low thermal expansion coefficient of steel, coupled with the dampening characteristics of polymer. This delivers affordable, reliable sleepers to track owners looking for a low-maintenance and easily installable solutions for bridges, turnouts, and track.

Stable gauge, despite high lateral loads
Trains running at speed going through turns cause high loads within sleepers. Weak materials will stretch too much resulting in gauge widening. The steel-reinforced KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper delivers the longitudinal strength and dimensional stability to maintain the required gauge, even in overload situations. The sleepers can be engineered to emulate the stiffness and dynamic behaviour of the sleeper it replaces to provide comparable stiffness. They are thus well suited for interspersing with existing timber sleepers.

Stable gauge, despite high thermal variances
Temperature variation cause excessive widening or narrowing of the gauge if the wrong materials are selected. Whereas polymer has a high thermal expansion coefficient, the strong steel reinforcement in KLP sleepers contains these contractions and expansions, resulting in thermal expansion comparable to concrete and steel.

Deutsche Bahn performed various in-track gauge measurements in Augsburg on KLP sleepers. The measurements were taken in different seasons, with temperatures ranging between -10°C and +51°C. The maximum measured expansion was 2mm based on a gauge of 1435mm. After testing, the inspection showed the system was still correctly tensioned and no effect on the rail fastenings were observed. No cracks and no other defects such as bending were found on the KLP sleepers, and the results contributed to Type Approval by Deutsche Bahn. Steel-reinforced polymer construction

 

Stable gauge, through lateral stability in the ballast
Independent laboratory tests for the French rail authorities confirm that the KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper Type 101 ensures durable and stable binding with ballast. The combination of its stiffness, geometry and polymer interface prevents longitudinal and/or lateral movement ensuring the track geometry is maintained.

The unique shape of the KLP 100-series sleeper provides additional lateral & horizontal stability due to the profile base, the scalloped shape and ballast coverage. The weight of the sleepers is lower than conventional rectangular sleepers and provides advantages where weight is an issue e.g. when cranes are used to lift pre-assembled sections of track into position or on bridges where the reduced mass of the track reduces the structural demands. KLP 100-series

 

Stable gauge, low maintenance turnouts

The low thermal expansion is particularly beneficial for turnouts. The switch mechanism in turnouts is precisely adjusted to the track gauge. If the track gauge changes, the switch tongue no longer connects properly to the rail which can cause damage to the tongue. Low thermal expansion results in less inspection and maintenance of the turnout. KLP handles like timber: easy to install.

 

Quieter bridges
The chosen polymers in KLP products absorb and dampen vibrations and impacts, thereby reducing noise. Measurements on a steel girder bridge confirmed a 3-5dB noise reduction after replacing wooden sleepers with KLP sleepers.

Dependable bending stiffness on bridges with offset loads
Steel reinforcement in KLP Hybrid Polymer Transoms provides the bending strength required in bridges with offsets between the rail and the girders. The most suitable combination of rebar size and polymer type provide the required bending stiffness for given axle load, stiffness requirements and climate conditions.

Height adjustable bridge transoms
Height difference in bridge support I-beams can be compensated by milling the transom, to achieve a level track. KLP transom types 203 and 401 have a 25mm milling zone that can be milled to compensate for height variations in bridges without affecting the strength of the transom. They are available in multiple gross heights: 150, 180, 210, 240, and 270mm.

As an alternative to milling, KLP Shims, made from the same polymer as the bridge transoms, can be used to either compensate for height variations, or achieve a desired camber in curved tracks. KLP Shims are available in thicknesses of 2mm, 5mm, and 10mm. Type 301 uses insert blocks and offers the solution for bridges with canted conditions, with a total height range of 130 – 240 mm per mm. Using a combination of the various solutions offers a potential stepless height range from 130 – 270mm.

Low-profile solutions
For track owners with shallow ballast beds or the need to lower their track, low profile KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers can be an attractive option. Despite their height of only 130mm, the strength of steel reinforcement combined with the dampening characteristics of polymer delivers the required dynamic stiffness of the sleepers they replace. These sleepers can handle 25 tonne axle loads.

Quality control
The reliable function of hybrid sleepers is very dependent on consistent quality of the raw materials used, together with reliable manufacturing processes and effective quality control. KLP are made from recycled polymers. If the raw material used in the manufacture is not properly controlled, recycled polymers can vary hugely in consistency and performance. Effective processes are required to prevent the risk of inconsistent quality of raw materials. The principles of ISO standards 9001 (Quality), 14001 (Environment) and 45001 (Safety) are embedded in our corporate culture.

Manufacturer Lankhorst sources raw materials from reliable suppliers with proven quality control processes who deliver to Lankhorst’s exacting quality requirements. A sample from each batch of raw materials delivered to the factory is analysed. Properties verified include the melting point, impact, moisture, and density. Prior to producing the sleeper, a laboratory sample is made of the composite polymer. Tests such as stiffness, strength, stretch, and impact are performed on this sample, making sure that the final product will be fit for purpose. Sleepers are checked for weight and dimensions. Verification of materials.

 

Approvals have been obtained in several countries for the sleepers. Extensive testing on various parameters like thermal expansion test, bending and cyclic test, vibration abrasive test, electrical resistance test, lateral resistance test confirmed compliance to requirement. Test results are available on request via info@linkap.com.au.

Reservoir

A sustainable finish for new Reservoir Station

The final details have been completed at the renovated Reservoir Station and have included a focus on sustainability.

Reservoir station is the first in Victoria to have remote metering of energy and water use and features a rainwater tank to limit its draw on utility networks. Additionally, construction materials incorporated recycled glass sand in concrete, as part of a trial with the University of Melbourne and Sustainability Victoria.

The new station, which was renovated as part of the High Street level crossing removal, reopened in December 2019, and crews have now finished the civic plaza and station precinct with landscaping works involving 300 trees and 60,000 shrubs and grasses.

High Street was the 31st crossing to go as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project, and the one kilometre rail bridge has supported the safe operation of trains on the Mernda line.

36,000 vehicles per day are now able to pass underneath the rail line, without having to wait for six boom gates to lift, which were down for up to 24 minutes in the two hour morning peak.

Upgrades to pedestrian and cycle links to the nearby suburbs were also completed as part of the project and the amenity of the station area improved.

Designs for Coburg and Moreland finalised

The updated station designs for Coburg and Moreland have been completed, with input from the community received.

Feedback on accessibility and separated walking and cycling paths was garnered from the community, and this has been reflect in the final design. Flexible community spaces for small events will also be part of the new stations, along with a nature-based Moreland playground design.

Coburg and Moreland stations are being upgraded as part of level crossing removals on the Upfield Line. Crossings at Moreland Road, and Reynard, Munroe, and Bell streets will e removed.

Inland Rail independent flood panel members announced

The federal and Queensland governments have announced the members of the independent Inland Rail flood modelling review panel.

The five members are Mark Babister, Tina O’Connell, Ferdinand Diermanse, Steve Clark, and Martin Giles.

The panel will analyse flood modelling done by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), after local landholders on the Condamine River floodplain raised concerns with the modelling.

Babister will chair the panel and is the managing director of specialist water engineering firm WMAwater. O’Connell, Clark, and Giles are also from independent water engineering consultancy businesses. Diermanse is an expert researcher at Dutch applied research institute Deltares.

“We have now finalised the members of the independent panel of international experts and their terms of reference,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

“Collectively they have more than 130 years’ of experience and will use their knowledge to analyse existing flood modelling and the proposed engineering solutions against national and state guidelines and industry best practice. This process is independent of the ARTC.”

The review by the independent panel follows a comprehensive design process for the section from the Border to Gowrie. AECOM and Aurecon provided an analysis of corridor options in 2016-2017 which was overseen by an independent project reference group. Arup and SMEC reviewed compliance of the flood modelling and hydrology reports against industry standards.

The Southern Darling Downs Community Consultative Committee had John Macintosh from Water Solutions provide quality assurance of the already undertaken work.

“The rigorous approvals process put in place by the Australian and Queensland governments means that before a sod is turned the project has undergone robust and transparent analysis, including independent community feedback and multiple layers of expert peer review,” said McCormack.

“The panel will test and provide expert advice on all existing flood models to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose while the ARTC continues to progress the design, consultation and approvals processes required to get construction underway. The panel is not tasked with reviewing alignment options.”

The independent panel was a precondition of the agreement between the federal and Queensland government signed in 2019. Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said that the final results and evaluation will ensure that floodplain and river crossings meet state and national engineering requirements.

“The panel members’ conclusions will also inform the Queensland Coordinator General’s assessment of ARTC’s draft Environmental Impact Statements for this state. The findings of the panel will be publicly released once their work has been completed.”

Going green with geosynthetics

A manufacturer in Albury, New South Wales is recycling plastic bottles into green geotextile materials for use within major infrastructure projects to aid with anything from separation, filtration, drainage and cushioning; meet Geofabrics.

Geofabrics turns Australian waste plastic into a viable and beneficial geotextile for rail construction through its local manufacturing facilities.

For over 40 years Geofabrics has been providing the infrastructure sector with tailored geotextile solutions. It all began in the 1970’s when the ‘to-be’ owners of Geofabrics came across geotextiles being used for road construction in Europe.

In 1978, Geofabrics got its start in Melbourne and expanded quickly across the country. There are now two Geofabrics manufacturing sites in Australia, one in NSW and one in Queensland.

The Albury factory in NSW is home to all of the company’s rail infrastructure construction industry geotextiles. While Geofabrics has a wide range of different products for construction, its newest fabric made with recycled plastic is bidim Green.

Bidim Green is made from Australian recyclable materials and Peter Tzelepis, executive director of sales and business development at Geofabrics says it can be applied across nearly every civil engineering construction project.

The fabric can be used in the track base to provide separation and filtration under below rail construction materials such as ballast.

“The idea for bidim Green came from the issues around circular economy and waste. One of our key sectors for Geofabrics is waste management services and over the last two to three years we have seen this issue develop and we know there is a real need to do something with our waste plastic,” Tzelepis said.

“Our vision was that our product will go into the ground to serve a purpose, it’s not going into a landfill. We simply saw it as a great opportunity to support the circular economy.”

Locally made and sourced materials, such as the recycled plastic, are an important factor in the manufacturing process for all Geofabrics products. The company has a specific technical department and innovation sector that works with Australian companies to provide solutions tailored to local conditions.

“Australian conditions are quite unique, from isolation to UV exposure, even rock sizes in road construction can vary in different parts of the country and there might not always be a quarry nearby to provide materials for every rail project,” Tzelepis said.

“Geofabrics and its products like bidim Green, which is placed underneath the rail formation, are there to reduce the amount of excavation and virgin materials needed on these major infrastructure projects.”

“Another uniquely Australian challenge is the UV exposure. When looking at a UV radiation map of Australia different places have varied exposure to UV which can degrade a geotextile if left exposed for a period of time,” he said.

“To ensure we can provide the right solution we have real time testing on bidim Green at our offices all over Australia to see how it performs with different exposure. We are building the performance of our product to the climatic and environmental changes in different Australian regions.”

The bidim Green range has been rigorously tested at our Geosynthetic Research, Innovation and Design (GRID) laboratory located in Queensland for durability performance. The durability of any geotextile is important so that it can resist damage during the construction phase. During this phase, the geotextile can be punctured by very angular rocks – such as ballast – or heavy machinery pushing into the soft capping layer under the track. The geotextile to be selected must have multi directional strength and bidim Green offers that benefit. The GRID laboratory simulates performance of a geotextile for specific project situations and is available to Geofabrics Australia’s customers.

Geofabrics are currently working through a process with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia to certify bidim Green, to facilitate wider use on Australia’s infrastructure projects.

With demand from governments to use recycled products in infrastructure projects, such as Victoria’s Recycled First program and NSW’s Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Fund, Tzelepis said bidim Green is another product contractors can consider to make their projects environmentally friendly.

“We know we have to make our materials sustainable, I take my recycling bin out to the kerb every second week, if I know my recycling is going to be picked up and used on projects like my road, that is fantastic.”

drought

KiwiRail supports NZ farmers struggling through drought

While New Zealand is having a significant drought, one of the worst in decades, farmers and rail operators have come together to deliver much needed grain to agricultural communities in Hawke’s Bay.

KiwiRail is currently transporting up to 10 40-foot containers full of hay from Ashburton on the South Island to Napier on the North Island. Each day from Wednesday, June 17 a wagon load of wrapped silage, a type of preserved fodder, will be transported north from Timaru.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said that the initiative was about supporting KiwiRail’s customers.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need,” he said.

“We’ll carry the feed and we’ll carry the cost because everyone who’s seen the parched farmland can understand how hard this is on rural communities.”

The initiative began when Nicky Hyslop, a farmer near Timaru, recognised the need of farmers in the Hawke’s Bay region.

“We started making enquiries about how we could get it to Hawke’s Bay and it was looking really difficult until I got a call saying KiwiRail was offering to help. That was the game changer.”

Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury provincial president Jason Grant said that farmers in his region were donating where they could, and that the program wouldn’t be possible without KiwiRail’s assistance.

“Cartage is a big cost and it’s hugely appreciated that KiwiRail is donating space on their freight trains. We wouldn’t be able to do this otherwise and we appreciate it down here, as I know they do in Hawke’s Bay, too.”

Miller said that there was capacity for KiwiRail to help with the drought as freight volumes pick up following coronavirus (COVID-19).

“While our freight volumes are still recovering in the post-COVID period, we have some limited northbound capacity that we’ll be using when available, along with providing containers, to get this vital feed supply from Timaru and Ashburton up to Napier where it is needed.”

Industry calls for certainty on Inland Rail route

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has criticised last-ditch attempts to re-route the Inland Rail project from the Queensland border to Gowrie.

Another review of the controversial route over the Condamine River floodplain was confirmed in early June, with the so-called forestry route back on the table. The route, via Cecil Plains, was previously considered but ruled out in favour of the current route because of the extra length. ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said that previous reviews had already found the best route.

“With construction on the project already underway, some groups are now attempting to have changes on the Border to Gowrie section of the route. Despite the fact that extensive and independent analysis of corridor options has previously confirmed the route chosen in 2017 is the best option, there is now a further review taking place.”

The review of the forestry route is in addition to a review of the hydrology and flood modelling of the current route, which is being conducted by an independent expert panel.

An extended route would limit the effectiveness of the entire Inland Rail route, said Coningham.

“The whole point of constructing Inland Rail is to provide a safe and efficient freight rail link for Australia’s east coast that permits a transit time of 24 hours or less for freight between Melbourne and Brisbane. Altering the route to the more complex one being advocated by some will make travel times longer and will make construction a more complicated and costly exercise,” he said.

“At a time when Australia should be moving ahead with shovel-ready infrastructure projects that can deliver economic development and employment opportunities for communities, it is disappointing that those benefits are being delayed by another review process.”

A recent study of the Inland Rail route found that the line would create a long-term benefit of $2.9-3.1 billion to gross regional product and 560-590 full time equivalent jobs in the 10th year of operations.

“ALC calls on all parties to respect the findings of this latest review once it is concluded, so that certainty is maintained and this once-in-a-generation freight rail project can start delivering benefits for local workers, businesses, exporters, and consumers,” said Coningham.

Further scholarships awarded as part of Inland Rail

Four undergraduate scholarships worth up to $20,000 each have been awarded to Charles Sturt University students and three scholarships worth the same amount have been awarded to La Trobe University students.

The scholarships are part of the Inland Rail Skills Academy program which aims to enables students who live close to the rail alignment to undertake study and grow into careers that will enrich the regions, said Inland Rail director community & environment Rebecca Pickering.

“These scholarships, and any employment opportunities they unlock, will act as a catalyst for positive change in many regional communities along the Inland Rail project alignment,” said Pickering.

The scholarships cover costs such as accommodation, equipment, relocation, as well as daily necessities. ¬¬¬

associations

Global railway associations highlight post-COVID mobility improvements

A trio of global railway associations have noted that rail is part of the solution to the linked crises of climate change and coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a joint statement, the associations highlight how mobility is key to creating trade and prosperity, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe, rail accounts for 7.6 per cent of passenger and 17.6 per cent of freight transport, while only producing 0.5 per cent of the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions.

During the COVID-19 crisis, rail also provided an essential service, by enabling the movement of essential workers and crucial goods.

Noting that the current ways of doing business are not enough in future, the International Union of Railways (UIC), the International Association for Public Transport (UITP), and the European Rail Industry Association (UNIFE), set out areas where mobility will need to be improved, committing to a sense of urgency in updating transportation.

“Railways have demonstrated their resilience and their capacity to deliver essential services even in these difficult circumstances. We all know that railway and public transport are the key for a sustainable future, provided that they are able to implement seamless multimodal mobility networks,” said François Davenne, UIC director general.

The three primary areas for change are customer experience, increased capacity, and an increased recognition of the importance of collective travel on rail rather than in individual vehicles. Technologies such as flow management to adapt to consumer patters, the design of intelligent infrastructure networks to optimise existing systems, and autonomous rail vehicles are identified as areas for rail to pursue.

Together, the associations welcomed work done by the EU to boost rail travel, but also pointed to the need to continue to invest in infrastructure, rollingstock, and research to meet future challenges, said Philippe Citroen, UNIFE director general.

“UNIFE believes that the [European Commission]’s recent Multiannual Financial Framework and Next Generation EU proposals are powerful recovery instruments that can help complete EU Green Deal objectives, but they must be mobilised for the decarbonisation of European transportation. This is only possible through a greater multimodal mobility shift with rail at its backbone.”

Recognising the value of public transport will be indispensable to ensuring the resilience of cities in the future said Mohamed Mezghani, UITP secretary general.

“Public transport and the environment are inextricably linked and with a strong local network, emissions are lowered and our cities become healthier and more sustainable.”

NSW government highlights rail manufacturer using recycled materials

The NSW government has once again returned to the regional town of Albury to highlight a local manufacturer supplying innovative sustainable materials to the infrastructure and construction industries.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro said that industrial innovation was occurring at the Albury plant to develop a new, sustainable geotextile.

“Geofabrics’ groundbreaking product is a great example of regional excellence and shows exactly what our skilled regional workforce can achieve when given the conditions to succeed.”

The company had previously been producing a wide range of geotextiles that are used in rail and construction projects to seal and stabilise soil and control liquids. In 2019, Barilaro highlighted the company to a visiting group of international delegates, however the Deputy Premier has returned to Albury to showcase a new product from Geofabrics. The company has succeeded in developing a  product that is made from locally sourced recycled plastics.

Known as Bidim Green, the new geotextile responds to calls for increased sustainability in major infrastructure projects, said Dennis Grech, CEO and managing director of Geofabrics Australasia.

“Many infrastructure projects are calling for improved sustainability and we’re the only Australian manufacturer in the market here that is using recycled Australian plastics as a component of a geotextile, helping to reduce waste to landfill,” he said.

The product closes the loop in terms of plastics in Australia, by providing a way to re-use plastic bottles and containers locally, said Barilaro.

“This is a company that’s been operating in regional NSW for more than 30 years, with a staff that is proud to go to work each day and create world-leading products that make an absolute difference to the quality and convenience of our everyday lives.”