CAF AM class train Auckland. Photo: Creative Commons / Dc4444

Young ideas sought for NZ conference

The Australasian Railway Association is calling for rail professionals under 30 to submit their ideas for the Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition at the New Zealand Rail conference in Auckland later this year.

Eligible professionals are invited to submit their ideas by May 5.

The ARA’s NZ Rail 2017 event will take place on June 27 and 28, 2017.

Successful applicants will be flown to Auckland and given two nights’ accommodation, a complimentary pass to attend the conference, and a ticket to the ARA’s NZ Rail Dinner on July 27.

The ARA is seeking concepts that target any aspect of rail, including the technical and engineering, customer service, strategic business planning, marketing, and technological sectors.

Entries must be 400-600 words and include a concept title, name and contact details, the instution and qualification entrants have underway or completed, the issue being addressed and the idea itself.

Entries will be judged by the organising committee, and successful applicants will be announced by the end of May.

Visit the official NZ Rail website for more information.

New owner for Rail Express

Rail Express, the leading industry title in Australian rail, has a new owner: Mohi Media.

Announcing the sale, Informa publishing director Peter Attwater said the company had decided to concentrate on other core areas of its business as opposed to trade publishing.

“It has been a great pleasure to have Rail Express in our stable, and I am delighted that the magazine and staff have found a new home with Mohi Media,” he said.

“I am sure it will continue to produce its high standard of content and I wish the whole team all the best,” he added.

The Mohi Media Team and Peter Attwater

(Left to Right) ABHR editor Charles Macdonald; Rail Express editor Oliver Probert; Mohi Media principal Mohi Media; Bulk Handling Equipment & Services Guide editor Ronda McCallum; ABHR and Rail Express national sales manager Patrick Roberts; Informa Australia publishing director Peter Attwater; and ABHR sales executive Margaret Shannon.

Mohi Media is a local, specialist publishing company. The business’ principal, Michael Mohi, is an experienced media executive with an extensive background in television, publishing and printing.

Michael has a long association with Rail Express. As senior executive for printing company Spotpress, he has handled the magazine’s printing and production for the past seven years.

For the last six months, Michael worked closely with the Rail Express team and Informa management during the magazine’s transition of ownership.

“I’ve been close to Rail Express for many years,” Michael explained.

“I’m very confident that the publication will grow over the next few years and I am currently developing new ideas with the team to build upon what is a very well established and important industry product.”

Michael, a Kiwi, has 45 years’ media experience. He worked as a radio and television journalist and current affairs producer with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation and Television New Zealand. Crossing the Tasman, Michael joined TCN Nine as a director and amongst other duties was responsible for the network’s promotion of World Series Cricket.

In the 1980s he formed his own publishing business, successfully launching a raft of national magazines in Australia. He launched Countdown magazine with the ABC, the title becoming Australia’s biggest circulating youth music lifestyle magazine with a circulation of over 100,000 copies.

Mohi Media has also acquired Rail Express sister publication Australian Bulk Handling Review, also from Informa.

City streets become a living lab that could transform your daily travel

A project set up north of Melbourne’s CBD aims to create a living laboratory for developing a highly integrated, smart, multimodal transport system, Majid Sarvi, Gary Liddle and Russell G. Thompson write.


Integrated transport has long been the holy grail of transport engineering. Now, a project set up north of Melbourne’s CBD aims to make it a reality.

Led by the School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, the project will create a living laboratory for developing a highly integrated, smart, multimodal transport system. The goals are to make travel more efficient, safer, cleaner and more sustainable.

Integrated transport aims to combine various modes of travel to provide seamless door-to-door services. Reduced delays, increased safety and better health can all be achieved by sharing information between users, operators and network managers. This will optimise mobility and minimise costs for travellers.

The National Connected Multimodal Transport Test Bed includes arterial roads and local streets in an area of 4.5 square kilometres in Carlton, Fitzroy and Collingwood.

Bounded by Alexandra Parade and Victoria, Hoddle and Lygon streets, this busy inner-suburban area is a perfect location to test a new generation of connected transport systems. Our growing cities will need these systems to manage their increasing traffic.

How will the test bed work?

The test bed covers all modes of transport. From April, it is due to collect data on vehicles, cyclists, public transport, pedestrians and traffic infrastructure, such as signals and parking. The area will be equipped with advanced sensors (for measuring emissions and noise levels) and communications infrastructure (such as wireless devices on vehicles and signals).

The aim is to use all this data to allow the transport system to be more responsive to disruption and more user-focused.

This is a unique opportunity for key stakeholders to work together to build a range of core technologies for collecting, integrating and processing data. This data will be used to develop advanced information-based transport services.

The project has attracted strong support from government, industry and operators.

Government will benefit by having access to information on how an integrated transport system works. This can be used to develop policies and create business models, systems and technologies for integrated mobility options.

The test bed allows industry to create and test globally relevant solutions and products. Academics and research students at the University of Melbourne are working on cutting-edge experimental studies in collaboration with leading multinationals.

This will accelerate the deployment of this technology in the real world. It also creates enormous opportunities for participation in industry up-skilling, training and education.

What are the likely benefits?

Urban transport systems need to become more adaptable and better integrated to enhance mobility. Current systems have long suffered from being disjointed and mode-centric. They are also highly vulnerable to disruption. Public transport terminals can fail to provide seamless transfers and co-ordination between modes.

This project can help transport to break out of the traditional barriers between services. The knowledge gained can be used to provide users with an integrated and intelligent transport system.

It has been difficult, however, to trial new technologies in urban transport without strong involvement from key stakeholders. An environment and platform where travellers can experience the benefits in a real-world setting is needed. The test bed enables technologies to be adapted so vehicles and infrastructure can be more responsive to real-time demand and operational conditions.

Rapid advancements in sensing and communication technologies allow for a new generation of solutions to be developed. However, artificial environments and computer simulation models lack the realism to ensure new transport technologies can be properly designed and evaluated. The living lab provides this.

The test bed will allow governments and transport operators to share data using a common information platform. People and vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and the transport infrastructure to allow the whole system to operate more intelligently. The new active transport systems will lead to safety and health benefits.

The test bed allows impacts on safety in a connected environment to be investigated. Interactions between active transport modes such as walking and cycling with connected or autonomous vehicles can be examined to ensure safety is enhanced in complex urban environments. Researchers will study the effects of warning systems such as red light violation, pedestrian movements near crossings, and bus stops.

Low-carbon mobility solutions will also be evaluated to improve sustainability and cut transport emissions.

Environmental sensors combined with traffic-measurement devices will help researchers understand the effects of various types of vehicles and congestion levels. This includes the impacts of emerging disruptive technologies such as autonomous, on-demand, shared mobility systems.

A range of indoor and outdoor sensor networks, such as Wi-Fi, will be used to trial integrated public transport services at stations and terminals. The goal is to ensure seamless transfers between modes and optimised transit operations.

The Conversation

Majid Sarvi is Chair in Transport Engineering and the Professor in Transport for Smart Cities, University of Melbourne. Gary Liddle is Enterprise Professor, Transport, University of MelbourneRussell G. Thompson is Associate Professor in Transport Engineering, University of MelbourneThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Inner West Light Rail, CAF rollingstock. Photo: Creative Commons / Abesty

Spotlight placed on light rail red signal breaches

An intense emphasis on stopping large trains from passing stop signals is great, but more attention is needed on the same issue impacting light rail, one rail expert has said.

Anjum Naweed is a researcher from CQUniversity, studying human factors and applied cognitive science.

Dr Naweed will on Wednesday chair the second day of the Australasian Railway Association’s Light Rail 2017 conference on the Gold Coast.

He says while there is an intense focus on preventing passenger trains and freight trains from passing signals when danger looms, less emphasis is placed on the issue in light rail systems.

While the ‘risk gradient’ might be different in light rail, the tram driver and safety, security and efficiency of the network are still under threat, he points out.

Dr Naweed’s presentation is centred around collision and derailment avoidance in trams and will aim to “unpack” the heavy human dimensions of a light rail system.

“The intensification of light rail that we’re currently seeing around the country presents an ideal time to determine the size of this problem and what could be done to mitigate it,” he says.

“At Light Rail 2017, I will provide an overview of the pertinent human dimensions of tram driving and collision avoidance in this domain, as a call to arms for increased focus on its prevention.”

Dr Naweed says it’s obvious why there’s a focus on SPADs (Signals Passed at Dangers) and derailment mitigation in heavy trains.

“In tram systems, SPADS are called Red Signal Breaches or RSBs,” he notes.

“But don’t let the change in terminology fool you. They are still one of the largest safe working failure modes around.

“The speed and size of trains mean that they carry significant derailment and collision risk. While trams are lighter and typically slower, they still carry significant implication for serious injury and loss of life, as we saw from the tragic tram derailment in Croydon last year.”

Light Rail 2017 is taking place at Crowne Plaza, Surfers Paradise.

Disruption the new norm: Aurecon boss

Swift adaptation to change in the infrastructure sector is more important than ever, Aurecon chief executive Giam Swiegers has said.

Swiegers, whose contract has just been renewed through to 2019, says the key focus for his business is to understand how fast the world is changing.

“Smart businesses in the energy, property and infrastructure sectors understand our world is changing and with it, the need to change leadership priorities, capabilities and work practices,” he said this week.

“For Aurecon, this has meant focusing our workforce on quickly adapting and using smart technology or ‘infra tech’, exploring new ways of delivering mega projects, better managing the life cycle of existing major assets and of course upskilling our leadership and our talent across the globe as we prepare for a very different future.”

Swiegers says the “velocity of disruption” facing engineering, property, construction and infrastructure organisations is only increasing.

Aurecon’s investment focus is therefore on leadership, innovation and change.

“Aurecon will continue to invest in strong leaders who provide not only eminence in their space, but have the leadership style, global mind-set and courage to lead amidst ongoing disruption,” he said.

“These experts bring subject matter expertise and advisory capability to major growth markets for Aurecon and play an important role in developing our global teams to meet clients’ most significant and changing challenges.”

Swiegers spoke about the recent appointment of Dr Alex Wonhas as Aurecon’s new managing director of Energy & Resources, as well as the hiring of Dr Abe Nezamian, the firm’s new global leader in Asset Management.

Aurecon describes Nezamian as “a globally recognized authority on infrastructure rehabilitation, asset integrity management and asset management in the mining, infrastructure and transport industries”.

“The current wave of disruption is either a catalyst for a company’s downfall, or a clear call to harness its greatest brains to solve some of the biggest problems the world has ever seen,” Swiegers continued.

“In future, those able to mobilise the creativity of a cross-disciplinary and cross-culturally diverse workforce in order to deliver competitive advantage will succeed in building globally successful and sustainable businesses.”

How Australia can spread the benefits of our bulging infrastructure pipeline

ANALYSIS: With one of the world’s largest infrastructure pipelines, Australian governments could leverage their procurement spending power to benefit the communities where the work is done, Martin Loosemore writes.

Good infrastructure can transform the social fabric of local communities, regional economies and national prosperity. The 2012 Olympics’ impact on London’s East End and the Guggenheim Museum’s role in revitalising Bilbao in northern Spain are examples of how infrastructure projects can regenerate disadvantaged communities by creating a new sense of identity and pride.

But what about the project design and construction phases? This has been largely neglected in the debate about equitable and sustainable cities.

With one of the world’s largest infrastructure pipelines Australian governments have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage their procurement spending power. For instance, the second airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek in the city’s west offers a great opportunity.

Projects like this can be used to tackle growing disadvantage and inequity in the communities where they are built. This can kick-start change over the life of major infrastructure projects.

Europe’s largest construction project, Crossrail in the UK, is an exemplar of how the project construction phase can enhance and rejuvenate communities. During its design and construction, Crossrail will create more than 55,000 full-time-equivalent jobs and 600 apprenticeships.

Its social procurement programs generate direct and indirect employment opportunities with an emphasis on UK contractors and consultants, small and medium enterprises, local jobs and long-term skills development.

How does social procurement work?

Social procurement is one of many policy instruments that governments and some construction companies are beginning to use to promote social equity and justice.

Rather than regulating the market, handing out state aid or making philanthropic donations to these ends, social procurement involves governments and firms participating in the social economy by leveraging their spending power.

In effect, this creates a quasi-market for social benefit organisations to participate in the project planning, design, construction and facilities management.

These organisations operate a hybrid business model which blends social and economic goals. They can include social enterprises, Indigenous businesses, disability enterprises, minority-owned enterprises, enterprising not-for-profits, charities, social businesses, co-operatives, charities and local businesses.

Social procurement takes many forms. Some initiatives involve the direct purchasing of products and services from social benefit organisations that specialise in employing disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous, disabled, ex-offenders, ethnic minorities, youth or the long-term unemployed.

Other approaches rely on indirect means. There may be contractual clauses to require existing supply-chain partners to provide training and employment for such people. They may also be required to contribute in other ways to the communities in which they work, such as by employing local businesses.

This in turn translates to measurable longer-term benefits in the wider community. These include increased wealth, better health and reduced crime.

What can industry do?

The built environment industry can do more than most to help overcome Australia’s growing level of disadvantage. It employs about 9% of the labour force. It is also the largest youth employer in the country.

The industry is often the first port of call for migrants. This is due to its preponderance of low-skilled jobs and its highly culturally diverse workforce. Research shows that about 57% of construction workers speak a language other than English at home and 54% were born in another country.

A unique feature of the industry is that for historical reasons different nationalities tend to congregate into certain trades (Italian concreters, Maori scaffolders, Croatian form workers, Korean and Afghani tilers, Chinese and Vietnamese gyprockers). Unlike most industries, it also operates in the most remote and disadvantaged communities.

It is estimated, however, that less than 2% of Australian social benefit organisations operate in the sector. Those that do tend to be micro-businesses. These work at the bottom of the supply chain, in low-margin, high-risk trades such as cleaning, gardening and landscaping and grounds maintenance.

The built environment industry employs around 1 million people, of whom 43% are 15-to-23 years old. This means that a mere 1% increase in work could provide 43,000 new employment opportunities for social benefit enterprises in the supply chain that specialise in disengaged youth.

Given the industry’s 3:1 multiplier effect in the wider economy, that could create as many as 172,000 jobs in total.

Pulling the policy levers

The industry responds to market drivers and regulation better than anything else, and is unlikely to change voluntarily. Knowing this, various levels of Australian government are developing social procurement regulations and policies.

Governments can use a range of soft and hard policy levers. For instance, they can require firms tendering for work on government projects to employ a certain proportion of disadvantaged people, social benefit organisations, minority businesses and local businesses in their workforces and supply chains. The federal government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (2015), NSW government’s Aboriginal Participation in Construction Policy (2015) and the Queensland government’s Building and Construction Training Policy (2015) and Charter for Local Content are examples of this.

For the Victorian government’s A$25 billion major infrastructure works program, its recent Major Project Skills Guarantee mandates that 10% of project hours be allocated to apprentices and trainees and 2.5% to Indigenous employment. There are also requirements to employ disadvantaged people from local communities through direct employment and supply chains.

Encouragingly, the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet has set up a steering committee to explore social procurement opportunities for the new western Sydney airport.

Forward-thinking city councils such as Gold Coast, Brisbane, Parramatta, Wyong, Wollongong and Ballarat have also developed social procurement policies.

A few leading construction companies are innovating in social procurement. For example, Multiplex is experimenting with creative models that bring multiple stakeholders together to provide new training and job opportunities in the construction supply chain on large projects in socially disadvantaged areas.

However, too many companies remain disconnected from the communities in which they build. They seem ignorant of their industry’s potentially enormous role in building a more equitable and sustainable society.

The growing numbers of social benefit organisations set up to help the disadvantaged face many barriers to entry. Too many built environment companies see the community as a risk, rather than an asset and an opportunity to give something back to the society in which they operate.

Equity of opportunity and wealth distribution are the basis of a stable and prosperous society. Recent world events have vividly demonstrated this.

We need to start thinking about the whole of the planning, design, construction and facilities management process – not just the end products – as a way to build more equitable and socially sustainable cities. And it’s about time the built environment industry met its full responsibilities to society.

The Conversation

Martin Loosemore is Professor, Construction Management Program, Built Environment, UNSWThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Delegates at AusRAIL PLUS 2015. Photo:

AusRAIL Call for Papers: 40 days remain

Rail experts from around the region have until March 10 to submit abstracts for papers to be delivered at this year’s massive AusRAIL Plus event in Brisbane.

The Australasian Railway Association’s annual AusRAIL event will head to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 21 to 23, 2017.

2017 represents a biennial ‘PLUS’ year for AusRAIL, meaning organisers are expecting even more speakers, exhibitors, delegates and visitors than in 2016.

Alongside its exhibition, panel sessions and keynote speeches, AusRAIL is well known for its informative and detailed technical conference streams.

The ARA is inviting rail experts to submit 400- to 600-word abstracts for proposed papers to be delivered in these conference streams.

Experts are being asked to specifically address this year’s conference theme, ‘Rail’s Digital Revolution’, in their abstracts.

Organisers are interested in papers covering a wide array of industry sectors, including (but not limited to) track, asset management, rollingstock, signals & communication, management and operations.

All abstracts will be reviewed by the event’s Technical Committee, and are due by Friday, March 10, with successful authors to be notified by Monday, May 8.

Visit for more information.

Albo slams Turnbull’s ‘reinvented wheel’

Shadow minister Anthony Albanese says the Coalition’s plans to publish a report on major cities in 2017 is “simply reinventing the wheel” after the Coalition abolished the former Labor Government’s Major Cities Unit.

Albanese on December 8 said plans for a report on cities, announced during Turnbull’s infrastructure address in November, would achieve the same aims once achieved by the annual State of Australian Cities reports.

“These reports were produced by the independent Major Cities Unit, which was abolished by the incoming Coalition Government as one of its first actions,” Albanese said.

“The State of Australian Cities report provides a comprehensive analysis of statistics and trends about the demographic and planning challenges facing Australia’s 20 largest cities.”

Albanese said the Unit’s reports were downloaded three million times, and were “heralded as a tremendous success and great resource by industry and policy experts”.

“They provided the basis for evidence-based policy decision making,” Albanese argued. “In contrast, the Coalition’s track record on cities policy and research has been dismal.”

According to Labor, the 2014 State of Australian Cities report took more than a year to publish, and was eventually published as a 2014-15 report, on July 6, 2015.

“Labor knows we need national leadership to ensure the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities,” Albanese concluded.

Crowding Sydney Trains. Photo: Transport for NSW

EoIs opened for “on-demand” public transport ideas

Transport for NSW has opened the Expressions of Interest period for developers interested in generating a series of pilots based around ‘on-demand’ public transport services, that turn up where and when customers need them.

The state government body says it has issued an open invitation to industry groups to pitch innovative models for on-demand services that offer more personalised and flexible technology enabled solutions that improve the quality of life for customers right across the state.

The EoI period opening comes after state transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance announced the trial on November 2.

TfNSW Customer Services deputy secretary Tony Braxton-Smith this week said partnering with industry leaders would put Transport for NSW at the forefront of the technology revolution.

“New and emerging technologies are changing the way that businesses operate with customers now expecting to get what they want when they want it, and transport needs to keep up,” Braxton-Smith said.

“The beauty of on-demand services is that they could improve the convenience and reliability of public transport for all customers, not just those on main transport routes.

“Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting the latest technologies is a priority for Transport for NSW, which is why we developed the Future Transport Technology Roadmap earlier this year.

“Cultivating more personalised and tailored services is a key target identified in the Roadmap and this project is an important step towards that goal. Successful ideas will generate great opportunities for the market in future service contracts.”

Transport for NSW has set up for EoIs for the On Demand Transport Pilot to be submitted through the NSW eTendering website by 24 February 2017. Following an evaluation period, all pilot programs are expected to be operational by the end of 2017.

Rail a focus of Hitachi’s $1.25bn plan

Hitachi has announced it will invest heavily to accelerate collaborative creation with its Australian partners across several industries, including rail.

In June this year, Hitachi established a new R&D division in Sydney, Australia, with its core focus to create new business opportunities by promoting collaborative creation to Hitachi’s Australian partners.

The Japanese multinational says a $1.25 billion investment in its Australian Social Innovation business with the aim of tripling its FY15 revenue in Australia to reach $3.75 billion by FY20.

Hitachi plans to multiply its revenue by focusing on the growth of its mining, railway system, healthcare, security, and agriculture businesses.

During a speech on December 1 in Sydney, Hitachi president and chief executive Toshiaki Higashihara said Hitachi will contribute to resolving issues faced by Australian society, and will improve Australians’ quality of life, through social innovation and leveraging digital technologies.

Higashihara said urbanisation was a critical social issues faced in Australia, saying Australia is experiencing problems such as inadequate transportation infrastructure and chronic traffic congestion.

“Hitachi’s railway business is perfectly  positioned to contribute to greater safety, flexibility, and efficiency in Australian transportation by collaborating with its partners to address their challenges,” a statement from the company said.

“It is able to provide all train related technology, including traction systems, signal systems, and transport management systems in liaison with Ansaldo S.p.A., and Ansaldo STS S.p.A, which Hitachi acquired in 2015 to further expand the global footprint of its railway business.”