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

Rail industry grew by 14 per cent from 2016 to 2019

The value of the rail sector to Australia’s economy has grown by 14 per cent, as shown in a new report from Deloitte Access Economics, on behalf of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

From 2016 to 2019, the Australian rail industry grew by $3.7 billion. Today, the rail industry contributes $30bn to the Australian economy, 1.5 per cent of the national total.

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.”

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.

Port Botany

Freight coalition unite in calling for rail container incentive scheme

Freight and logistics groups have called out the NSW government’s undermining of its own mode share target for containers carried by rail into Port Botany.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Freight on Rail Group of Australia (FORG), Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA), and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) along with individual port rail freight operators are questioning the wisdom of allowing more high productivity vehicles on Sydney’s roads.

“By incentivising HPVs, government is perversely derailing their own policy to grow rail’s mode share target – at a time when Sydneysiders want safer roads and less traffic congestion and vehicle emissions,” said ALC board member and Qube managing director Maurice James.

The NSW government has been issuing permits for high productivity vehicles to access the Sydney road network and major motorways such as WestConnex. By allowing trucks which can carry two containers to travel within Sydney, this reduces the competitiveness of rail for the metro import container market.

The NSW government has set itself the goal of having 28 per cent of the container trade through Port Botany being handled by rail by 2021, however just 17.6 per cent is currently hauled by rail.

Instead of having each mode compliment each other, with rail for longer distances and trucks for the first and last mile, road transport was monopolising container traffic, with impacts on the local community, said FORG chair and Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle

“Today, many HPVs are doing ‘every mile’ of the freight task in Sydney, placing heightened pressure on traffic congestion, road safety and vehicle emissions,” he said.

Dalla Valle advocated for a measure such as the Western Australian government’s Port of Fremantle container incentive scheme was needed in NSW.

“Prior to introduction of the incentive scheme at the Port of Fremantle in 2006-07, rail mode share was a meagre two per cent. The scheme underpinned growth of rail’s mode share which is now above 20 per cent – the highest in the country,” said Dalla Valle.

Director of the FTA and secretariat to the Australian Peak Shippers Association Paul Zalai said that governments should encourage importers to use rail services.

“Governments must maximise port assets and manage our trade gateways through incentivisation of rail usage for imports to metropolitan sites and importantly, streamlined connectivity to regional areas to cost effectively reach export markets.”

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said communities would be feeling the brunt of the lack of rail transport.

“The balance has tipped so far we run the risk of Sydney’s roads being over-run with trucks unless there is urgent action to use more rail.”