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.”

construction

A new look at rail construction: Martinus’ plant department

Martinus’ in-house approach is de-risking rail construction.

Having stepped up from a product supply business into a rail construction outfit, the young upstart of the Australian rail construction industry decided three years ago to head out on its own with the purchase of major multi-million-dollar pieces of machinery.

“The business has only been delivering construction projects for around eight years,” said Martinus chief operating officer Ryan Baden. “For the first part of five years, we would be relying on other people’s plant and equipment to do the final piece, mainly tampers, regulators, and flash butt welders. We had grown to a position where it was only the large, tier one contractors that had these pieces of equipment and we were now competing with them.”

To de-risk construction projects it was working on, Martinus made the decision to purchase the plant, machinery, and equipment and recruit their own team to overhaul and maintain the growing fleet.

“It’s essentially about de-risking project delivery and overall business risk ,” said Baden. “We control all the pieces of the puzzle; we recruit all of our own labourers, engineers, and supervisors, plus our strong financial position and current project pipeline means we can significantly invest in our own plant and machinery.

“Our next goal was to purchase our own ballast trains – that has really changed everything for us, it solidified our end vision of having the largest fleet of specialised rail equipment in Australia, all the while ensuring we were well equipped to deliver upcoming projects and maintain full control of logistics and maintenance.”

For any major rail construction project, having a few pieces of bright yellow kit is not enough by itself, there needs to be a level of logistical and rail safety knowhow to ensure that the kit is fully operational, at the right place, and at the right time.

“In the past, particularly for the product supply side of the business, we were using freight forwarders and received good service, but the plan for some time has been to bring it all inhouse.”

As the fleet grew, so did the team. Martinus hired logistics manager Jason Gibson who has previously worked for a large mining company. The vertical integration of Martinus’ supply chain has worked before and is now even more enhanced by their inhouse experts.

The value of these investments was realised straightaway, said David Van Hoos, national plant and asset manager for Martinus.

“The first tamper we secured was mobilised as part of the Gold Coast light rail project Stage 2. We were able to quickly bring it up to site specification and employ our own operators and fitters, we gained flexibility to adapt to program changes and minimise any potential interruptions or delays that may have occurred relying on external suppliers.”

With the successful implementation of the first piece of major plant and several large- scale projects in the pipeline, it made good business sense to create a standalone plant department dedicated to servicing their own rail projects. This has also increased Martinus’ capacity and capability to become a consistent and reliable interface on major rail and civil construction projects.

“What we’ve found is clients are looking to de-risk themselves around interfaces on sites,” said Baden. “In the past, clients would bring us in to deliver the track, someone else to complete the overhead wiring, and another contractor for signalling – that’s three different interfaces for them to manage. With extensive rail knowledge and strong project management skills, the next step to further add value for our clients was bringing in subject matter experts to handle the overhead wiring, signalling and comms as part of the Martinus team.”

Martinus’s The continuous track laying machine has been built locally.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF A RAIL-DEDICATED PLANT DEPARTMENT
Having established the plant department, the team under Van Hoos’ leadership has grown to include a maintenance team of 15 fitters, project managers, engineers and support staff.

“Our fitters are key to the success of the plant department, we’ve selected them based on their industry experience, but to build on that experience we’ve also recruited electrical and mechanical apprentices to build a diverse and well-rounded team for the future,” said Van Hoos. “It’s great to be able to invest in the younger generation and teach them everything we know about rail.”

Rather than swelling in size for each individual project, the team at Martinus are employed full-time to ensure that the business can deliver on any of the major projects it is engaged on. Being solely focused on rail has contributed to the energy and enthusiasm in the workshop, said Van Hoos.

Supplementing the skilled tradespeople are local suppliers, when needed. Currently, Martinus is constructing the Carmichael Rail Network (CRN), in Central Queensland, and has just engaged a local Mackay business in a $1 million contract to fabricate the metal framework for the supply consist behind Martinus’ tracklaying machine. Staying in touch with locals has also come in handy as border restrictions have limited the movement of people across Australia and New Zealand. Martinus have engaged Harsco to build two continuous track lifters (CTL), who are local to Martinus’ main plant department in Brisbane. The CTLs are being fabricated and manufactured locally.

“The border restrictions have also forced us to look outside of the rail industry to build our team,” said Van Hoos. “We have employed members from the military, electricians from the automotive industry, and fitters from the mining sector all led by experienced industry leaders – this diverse mix adds another level of knowledge and bring a unique set of skills to our team.”

“With travel restrictions in place, it’s been a great advantage to have Harsco close by as we’ve been able to have regular progress visits and factory acceptance testing at Harsco’s workshop. Any issues can be resolved very quickly, and seeing the production in the workshop first-hand has also been a bonus.”

Not only has Martinus invested in machinery, but also the people needed to operate and maintain it.

MULTIGAUGE AS STANDARD

While the CRN and another project that Martinus is currently working on, the Forrestfield Airport Link are narrow gauge, the team are mindful that having dedicated narrow gauge plant and equipment will limit where it can work in Australia, New Zealand, and internationally.

“We operate an international rail business that works across three different gauges and probably about 20 different railway networks. Van Hoos and the in-house rollingstock engineers work closely to ensure that our build specification enable us to move the machinery around safely, quickly and efficiently,” said Baden.

In terms of the equipment that Martinus has purchased, which in addition to ballast wagons and the continuous track lifting machine also includes a sleeper laying machine, a track laying machine, four tampers and four ballast regulators, six flash butt welders among other pieces of plant, all are designed to be used across multiple projects.

“When purchasing plant, be it new or second-hand, we have been focused on gauge convertible plant which ensures the flexibility from one project to the next,” said Van Hoos.

Being able to move between standard and narrow also allows Martinus to work on shorter jobs on metropolitan networks.

“Soon, we will be taking delivery of 40 ballast wagons, two continuous track, six flash butt welders on hi-rail trucks – all brand new, gauge convertible equipment ready to go,” said Van Hoos.

This fleet is complimented with six locomotives that Martinus purchased from KiwiRail.

“It was perfect timing for Martinus that KiwiRail were renewing their current locomotive fleet. The gauge and specifications of the locos were aligned to our requirements for CRN” said Van Hoos. “These locomotives will be used for construction only to haul our ballast and sleeper wagons.”

While the fleet sets Martinus up for any number of projects around Australia and New Zealand, as the past year has shown, there are any number of unpredictable events that could occur in the meantime and require new thinking to ensure projects get over the line. In New Zealand, where Martinus has a contract to provide flash butt welding services to its Woburn depot and around the network. Of course, getting people there has not been possible so Van Hoos has come up with a unique fix.

“We’ve come up with a solution to train a local operator via video link under the supervision of our project team in New Zealand. One of our Australian based operator/fitters has been providing non- stop online training for carefully selected Martinus fitters and operators in New Zealand. This initiative has allowed us to continue on despite travel restrictions and resulted in minimal delays to KiwiRail’s re-railing projects.”

Martinus is ready to look at rail construction in a different way.

construction

First rail dedicated contractor joins Australian Owned Contractors

The Australian Owned Contractors (AOC) group has announced that Martinus Rail has joined the collection of mid-tier contractors.

Martinus is the first company to join AOC that is solely focused on rail infrastructure projects.

CEO and managing director Treavan Martinus said that it was more important than ever that investment in infrastructure flowed to local contractors.

“The Australian construction industry has always played an integral role helping bolster the economy during uncertain times,” he said.

“With the Australian government expected to inject more than $100 billion to deliver various infrastructure projects across Australia, there should be more pressure for them to delivered by Australian companies to keep profits here, rather than offshore.”

AOC, led by CEO Brent Crockford, advocates for major infrastructure projects to be delivered by companies that are majority Austrlaian-owned.

“All AOC members are united in the fight to push change to procurement processes for our largest taxpayer-funded projects,” Crockford said.

“Across the country multi-billion-dollar tender packages are bundled to favour big foreign owned Tier One construction firms and this needs to end.”

AOC has called for large infrastructure projects to be broken up into smaller packages to allow a greater number of firms to bid for projects and for industry sustainability criteria to be applied to major public infrastructure projects.

With rail projects expected to play a large part in post-COVID-19 stimulus plans, Crockford said that procurement for these big-ticket items should be reformed.

“If we are to have any hope of growing domestic skills and allowing Mid-Tier Australian-owned businesses to grow and evolve into our new leading Tier One players, then we need practical action to reform procurement on major projects to encourage more work and less barriers for our Mid-Tier contractors.”

Martinus said that the benefits of a locally owned contractor meant that more money stayed within Australia.

“One hundred per cent of our profits are reinvested into the Australian economy and being Australian owned, we continue to invest in our growth – both in terms of capability and capacity – to deliver Australia’s largest infrastructure projects,” he said.

“We are looking forward to working with the AOC to advocate for change and in turn safeguard the Australian economy for future generations.”

Gamuda BhD acquires Australian specialist rail constructor Martinus Rail

Malaysian based rail and infrastructure company Gamuda Berhad is acquiring a 50 per cent equity stake in Martinus Rail, an independent Australian specialist rail constructor.

Announced in early October, Gamuda intends to leverage the significant pipeline of construction projects in Australia, estimated at $300 billion. The company will immediately bid for $20 billion worth of construction projects.

Gamuda Engineering Managing Director Datuk Ubull Din Om said the acquisition provides a springboard for Gamuda to contribute towards infrastructure development in Australia.

“This is similar to what we have successfully achieved in other nation building projects which have sustainably benefited the local supply chain in the economic and social segments,” Ubull said.

Gamuda, which works largely in Malaysia, is currently delivering a $10 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line 2. The company will deliver a 53km metro rail system with 35 stations in one of the most challenging geotechnical conditions.

Martinus Rail has delivered large rail projects exceeding $200 million in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Martinus Rail Managing Director Martinus Rail said the companies have complementary strengths in rail infrastructure construction.

“With the hefty balance sheet and mega project experience of Gamuda backing us, Martinus Rail is set for a bright future in the rail industry,” Martinus said.

Martinus Rail General Manager for New Business and Strategy, Ryan Baden, said Martinus Rail has grown significantly in recent years. Further growth, however, will require greater financial strength and experience in delivering more complex projects across all contract models.

“Going forward, we’re adding significant capability in civil and structural work in railway construction and can leverage ground-breaking innovation and engineering solutions to help deliver some of Australia’s largest rail projects,” Baden said.

Rail infrastructure work in Australia is expected to grow 14 per cent per annum until 2023 according to the BIS Oxford Economic Report published in July.