Contracts awarded for track and systems works on CRL

Two contracts have been awarded for the delivery of works for Auckland’s City Rail Link.

Known as C5 and C7, the contracts have been awarded to delivery consortium Link Alliance and are within the existing project budget.

C5 primarily involves the connection between the new line from Britomart, via Aotea and Karangahape, to the existing line at Mt Eden. Where the CRL meets the North Auckland Line at Mt Eden, the twin track split into two branches, eastbound and westbound, said Francois Dudouit, project director for the Link Alliance.

“This requires changing the vertical alignment of the NAL tracks and partially the horizontal alignment, meaning replacement of tracks and overhead line equipment (OHLE) on more than 1km of the North Auckland line,” he said.

“It also requires retaining walls to transition from the existing NAL track level to the CRL line – a 3.5 per cent slope. More than 1,000 piles, diaphragm and sheet pile walls will be needed to build these retaining structures and the two cross-over structures to connect to the NAL upmain.”

Road and pedestrian bridges at a number of level crossings will also be built, including at Normanby Road, Fenton Street, and Porters Avenue, to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

The C7 contract covers the Systems Integration, Testing and Commissioning components of the CRL project. These include trackslab, track, overhead line, signalling, control systems, communications systems, control room fit-out and building work, and trackside auxiliaries. Work also includes integrating the new line and systems with the legacy systems on the Auckland rail network.

Dudouit said that work to connect the various components of the project is already occurring.

“Integration of the C5 and C7 teams into the Link Alliance is well underway across multiple workstreams including civils, programme and cost control. Early works such as utility relocations and establishing single-line running are already taking place as part of an integrated programme to deliver the City Rail Link to Aucklanders in 2024.”

As these elements of the project require involvement from various stakeholder from the current network, such as the transport authority, Auckland Transport, close working relationships have been established.

“KiwiRail and Auckland Transport, and their supply partners, are formally engaged for the City Rail Link project through stakeholder partnership agreements. On a day-to-day basis, staff from both Auckland Transport and KiwiRail work in the Link Alliance offices to maximise collaboration opportunities, as part of an established interface and relationship management programme,” said Dudoit.

Realising growth through consistency

Omada Rail Systems have expanded their footprint and their capabilities.

Since establishing the company in 2016, directors Luke Craven, Mark Hadfield, and Christopher Miller have grown Omada Rail Systems into one of the top railway signalling engineering companies in Australia; providing high quality professional management and engineering services from project inception and feasibility, through to the testing, operations, and maintenance phases.

A growing footprint
Since the beginning of 2020, the company has expanded their team’s physical presence into New South Wales and South Australia. Now with more than 30 full time staff, this expansion adds to the existing teams in Queensland and Victoria.

This recent growth has been concentrated in Omada’s testing team. Speaking in an interview on Omada’s expansion, Hadfield said, “Employing experienced engineers in these locations has opened up opportunities for us to work on projects that have previously been too costly to take on. The reduction in costs associated with not having to fly our team interstate to these locations, allows us to provide our clients with a great value for money service.”

The mass of rail projects underway across Australia has created huge demand for testers, however, this resource in the industry is a sparse commodity. Attempting to meet this demand, Omada’s directors made the decision to bring Ian Arnold into the company as Testing Engineering Manager to develop and lead the Omada test team. A highly experienced Tester in Charge (TIC) and well-known in the industry, Arnold quickly got to work in building an effective team of testers.

Julie Pennington, the first person to be employed by Omada in New South Wales, was brought in as an experienced TIC. In South Australia, Matthew Hooper has joined Omada, a tester with more than 17 years of experience in leading teams on large projects. The arrival of these new engineers has added a new dimension to Omada’s services, combining high quality design and management services with onsite testing and commissioning work. Now with multiple TIC’s, principal testers, functional testers and test assistants across Australia, Omada has built a diverse testing team, capable of meeting project requirements with minimal risk.

“The additions we made to our team were carefully selected to ensure we significantly increased our testing and commissioning capabilities. Not only have we expanded into new locations, but we have now positioned our company to be able to deliver full projects, rather than just packages of work,” said Hadfield, “The diverse experience of our staff provides us with the unique ability to solve any potential problem our clients may throw our way.”

Sustainability focus
Omada is fast becoming known in the industry as one of the most reliable and effective engineering options. Hadfield backed this claim by saying, “We have received excellent feedback from a number of our clients on recently completed projects. In particular, Ian Arnold was singled out by a client for being particularly effective, pulling everything together to get a commissioning over the line, safely and on-time.”

To establish a name as one of the industry’s most trustworthy providers, quality and reliability are vital.

“We have built a reputation for quality services and on-time project deliveries, which has been a major factor in allowing us to meet new clients, develop stronger relationships with our existing clients, and form industry partnerships,” said Hadfield.

Utilising their industry contacts, Omada’s directors have formed strong working relationships with rail construction companies around Australia, adding to their growing list of capabilities.

It is clear from the growth that Omada has shown recently, that there is a strong focus from the directors on business development. By increasing capabilities and capacity for work, Omada’s directors also set out to diversify their workforce. In March this year, Omada began a graduate program and welcomed two young graduate engineers into the company. Since then, these graduates have been able to work under mentorship on designs and work on site as test assistants, gaining valuable experience for future projects.

Despite increasing their team’s size and working on a greater number of projects, the quality of service that the team provides has not decreased. Omada’s directors have made this possible by ensuring that new team members are committed to adopting Omada’s values, methodologies and processes, backed up by a highly effective mentorship system.

For more information on Omada Rail Systems’ capabilities and project work head to their website: omadarail.com

infrastructure

Infrastructure spend misses rail projects in Queensland, South Australia

In a pre-budget infrastructure announcement, the federal government has committed funding to rail projects in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, but only provided funding for roads in other states, with Queensland’s only rail project a level crossing removal.

As part of a $7.5 billion spend on infrastructure, new federal funding alongside state contributions has been committed for further regional rail upgrades in Victoria, high capacity signalling in Western Australia, and planning for faster rail between Sydney and Newcastle. The funding announcement covers those projects put forward by state governments and not projects solely funded by the federal government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that local businesses would benefit.

“We will draw on local businesses to stimulate local economies through these projects,” he said.

In Victoria, rail projects received the bulk of the funding allocated to that state, with funding for new projects including stage three of the Shepparton Line upgrade and stage two of the Warrnambool line upgrade. Further planning for the Western Rail Plan, improving passenger rail services from northern Victoria, and a business case for improving connectivity to the Port of Melbourne also scored funding.

In NSW, rail projects to receive funding included $15 million for planning for Sydney to Newcastle Faster Rail. A faster rail business case has already been completed for the line and is being reviewed by the National Faster Rail Agency.

$150 million has been allocated for grade separating road interfaces with Inland Rail, along with a number of intermodal hubs, including at Ettamogah, near Albury, and the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri. Commuter carparks in Sydney also received additional funding.

In Western Australia, federal funding of $102.3 million has been allocated for the High Capacity Signalling element of the Metronet project. Infrastructure Australia has added the project to its Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project, signalling its national significance.

The funding for WA also includes the first investigation into faster rail in the state, with $4m for an investigation of the Perth to Bunbury corridor.

$5m has also been allocated to the Kenwick Intermodal Terminal. WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the funding would grow the amount of work in the state.

“We already have a pipeline of $6.5 billion of major road and rail works underway across Western Australia over the next two years – this will extend the pipeline of work and will continue to help the State economy through and past COVID-19.”

Besides the $50m in funding for the Beams Road overpass, the $1.3bn allocated to Queensland will be spent on roads. No funding will be spent on rail in South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, and the Northern Territory.

Administrator of Queensland-based rail group Rail Back on Track Robert Dow listed 11 rail projects needing funding in the state, including improvements to the Sunshine Coast line, Ipswich rail extensions, and Salisbury to Beaudesert commuter rail.

“This is simply not sustainable,” said Dow. “We need a proper balance between rail and roads.”

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King said that funding must follow through on the announcement.

“It is essential that these latest funding promises are delivered now, not years down the line.”

Vancouver

Thales to deploy CBTC signalling for Vancouver SkyTrain extension

Thales’s Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technology, SelTrac, will be deployed on the Millennium Line extension in Vancouver.

The signalling contract is part of the Vancouver Broadway Subway Project, which extends the SkyTrain Millennium line along the Broadway corridor.

The CA$2.83 billion ($3bn) project takes Vancouver’s iconic, fully automated SkyTrain underground beneath Broadway, as part of the redevelopment of the corridor through central Vancouver. The project is being carried out by the Broadway Subway Constructors General Partnership, a consortium led by Acciona and Ghella.

The project includes six stations and an interchange with the Canada Line at Arbutus Street and bus services to the University of British Columbia.

Dominique Gaiardo, vice president and managing director for Thales’ Urban Rail Signalling business, said the project would improve accessibility along the corridor.

“This exciting project will improve the livability and access across the vital economic and employment hub of the Broadway Corridor. Thales will continue to build local expertise and provide strong support to the city and is proud to contribute to the mass transit capacity expansion in Vancouver with the innovative SelTrac CBTC system.”

Thales and Vancouver have a significant history together, as the city was the first location for the deployment of the SelTrac system. The SelTrac signalling infrastructure supported the world’s first driverless CBTC system on the Vancouver SkyTrain Expo line. Thales has also provided signalling to the Millennium and Canada lines.

Drawing on the expertise developed in these projects and elsewhere, Thales has an urban rail signalling competence centre located in Burnaby, B.C, which will provide specialised rail signalling experts and local experience to the Broadway project.

Fibre optic network in WA rail easements takes next step forward

A project to install fibre optic cables along nearly 5,000km of rail easements has taken a major step forward to construction.

The project, called WA SuperNet is now seeking private sector funding and engagement with Infrastructure WA and Infrastructure Australia to cover the project’s $160 million cost.

Once completed, fibre optic cables will run alongside 4,700km of Arc Infrastructure’s rail track throughout WA’s grain belt.

In addition to providing connectivity for rural businesses and communities, the fibre optic cables will future proof the freight rail network, allowing for communications and the future installation of in-cab signalling, when required. Further developments such as real-time video feeds could also be supported with the fibre optic network.

Fibre optic connections are already in use on the South West main line to support rail communication between Perth and Bunbury.

Arc Infrastructure have supported the project so far with $10m in capital contributions. CEO Murray Cook is a board member of WA SuperNet and said the company was getting behind improving regional connectivity.

“Arc Infrastructure has submitted the WA SuperNet Grainbelt Digital Enhancement Project as part of Infrastructure WA’s Discussion Paper consultation process. We are fully supportive of the focus on regional digital connectivity in IWA’s Discussion Paper and look forward to supporting the development of the 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy,” said Cook.

WA SuperNet will now begin discussions with telecommunication operators to establish partnerships to develop the infrastructure.

WA SuperNet Chairman Tim Shanahan said the installation of the technology would improve the rollout of connected technologies.

“We believe that fibre optic cable is the solution and is a proven technology that will future proof the Grainbelt of Western Australia and WA SuperNet has gathered significant support for this solution,” he said.

ETCS

ETCS roll-out in Brisbane beginning with upgrades on the Shorncliffe line

The installation of European Train Control Systems (ETCS) signalling equipment on Brisbane’s Shorncliffe line has begun.

The Shorncliffe line is being used as a testing environment ahead of the rollout of ETCS on Brisbane’s network as part of the Cross River Rail project.

Simon Cook, director program delivery at the Cross River Rail Deliver Authority said the Shorncliffe line was chosen as a test case due to its place within the network.

“Signalling assets on the Shorncliffe line are due for replacement in the next few years, making it a good fit with our rollout schedule for ETCS. The line is also away from the main line and the freight corridor, which means testing on this line will minimise impact on customers, and the overall network,” said Cook.

When rolled out across the rest of the network, ETCS signalling will allow for more trains to run through the future core of the Brisbane network. ETCS will be installed in the new tunnel constructed as part of the Cross River Rail project, as well as on the inner-city network between Northgate and Milton stations.

Safety is also another reason for the installation of ETCS, as the continuous monitoring of a train’s position, direction and speed enables safer operations.

Existing rollingstock are being fitted with the in-cab equipment at a new workshop in Redbank and trialling the equipment on a variety of rollingstock is part of the testing process, said Cook.

“Over the next two years, the project will move through several stages, from initial testing with first-of-class train fitment, through to full service delivery using a mix of rollingstock, so we will develop and prove installation, operations, reliability and maintenance on the Shorncliffe line.”

Queensland Rail staff will also be trained on the new technology from later this year, with structured training for train crew and other roles to kick off in 2021.

Ultimately, installation on the Shorncliffe line is hoped to enable a smooth deployment as the technology is deployed elsewhere.

“Using the lessons learned from our Shorncliffe line trial will provide efficiencies in the design, installation and testing of subsequent areas,” said Cook. “We will use our System Integration Lab as well as the pilot line to integrate and test a range of the systems that are planned for the CRR tunnel.”