National transport reforms have led to some improvements in the rail regulatory regime, but much more needs to be done to achieve the full benefits of reform.

Rail reforms: two steps forward, one step back

“National transport reforms have led to some improvements in the rail regulatory regime, but much more needs to be done to achieve the full benefits of reform,” said ARA CEO Danny Broad, in summarising the ARA submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into National Transport Regulatory Reform. Read more

Pacific National plans Penrith intermodal

Australia’s largest rail freight operator has set in motion “a plan to revolutionise freight movements across the length and breadth of the country,” said Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said Pacific National’s future goal is to offer its customers, including regional exporters, more efficient and productive connections to rail heads, ports, and intermodal freight terminals where trains and trucks meet.
“The spine of this network will comprise of the key freight hubs of Port Botany, Penrith, Parkes and Perth – what we like to call at Pacific National the ‘Four Ps’.
“Once the north-south Inland Rail is completed, the east-west spine at Parkes will have a faster and more efficient connection to the ports of Melbourne and Brisbane,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Pacific National is currently constructing inland regional Australia’s largest logistics terminal at Parkes (to run 1,800-metre freight trains double-stacked with containers to Perth), whilst also proposing the development of a major freight hub at St Marys, near Penrith.
Mr Dalla Valle said the proposed St Mary’s Freight Hub is located within Sydney’s biggest catchment area for many of the country’s largest national distribution centres and warehouses which service Western Sydney – one of the most populous and fast-growing regions in Australia.
“St Marys is located within close proximity to the key industrial and commercial estates of Eastern Creek, Erskine Park, Wetherill Park, Arndell Park, and Marsden Park; not to mention the future Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said the proposed St Marys Freight Hub is a stone’s throw from the M4 and M7 motorways and Great Western Highway and has direct access to the T1 Western Rail Line allowing for a 58-kilometre shuttle run between Port Botany.
“With up to five train shuttle services each day, Pacific National will rail a total of 300,000 containers between Port Botany and St Marys each year, removing between 70,000 and 80,000 truck movements from Sydney’s heavily congested road network,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said in the future, Pacific National’s St Marys Freight Hub will receive 1,200-metre regional trains from Parkes to be broken into 600-metre port shuttles to better access stevedoring terminals at Port Botany.
“The Penrith region will act as a conduit for regional freight between Western Sydney and Western NSW and further afield to Australia’s second largest port at Botany,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Pending local and state government planning approvals, Pacific National aims to start construction of St Marys Freight Hub this year. First stage of the proposed freight hub development will support 60 full-time construction jobs.
When operational, the freight hub will create 150 new full-time jobs in Western Sydney.

LINX Cargo Care Group rolls out VR safety training

LINX Cargo Care Group (LINX CCG) has created a Virtual Reality (VR) safety training platform in collaboration with Curiious and Samsung Electronics Australia which is the first of its kind in Australia’s supply chain and logistics industry.

The Gear VR training platform was designed to create an immersive VR experience to enhance LINX CCG’s safety training delivery and assessment. LINX CCG partnered with communication and technology company Curiious to conceptualise and build the immersive VR experience.

LINX CCG is committed to sending its 4,000 people home safely every day, across more than 70 sites in Australia and New Zealand.

Anthony Jones, LINX Cargo Care Group CEO, is passionate about safety. His dispersed and diverse workforce operate 24/7 in hazardous environments with large machinery. The key to improving safety is to create a compelling, simulated experience that cuts through and has an impact.

“Virtual reality training will enable us to immerse all our people in diverse situations and expose them to critical risks in our hazardous work environment,” he said.

This commitment to standardise is echoed by Peter Seaman, LINX CCG Executive General Manager Health, Safety and Environment.

“The Gear VR platform enables us to deliver consistent safety training across all levels of the organisation. Often some of the messages are lost in translation in safety training and delivered in different ways, whereas this Gear VR platform minimises room for miscommunication,” Peter said.

Anthony believes VR immersion is really powerful.

“To put people into different situations where they have the chance to see how it would play out and to immerse them in a scenario, showing them real dangers and consequences, is invaluable,” he said.

Michelle Schuberg, Curiious General Manager, also believes in the benefits the immersive Gear VR technology will bring to enhancing LINX CCG’s approach to safety.

“For LINX CCG, the platform’s end goal is to help deliver their ‘home safely every day’ promise,” said Michelle.

Infrastructure Priority List welcomed by the freight sector

The Infrastructure Priority List recently released by Infrastructure Australia (IA) has won widespread approval in the freight sector, including the Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railways Association and the Australian Trucking Association.
ALC: The priority list highlights freight infrastructure opportunities
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said the Infrastructure Priority List released by Infrastructure Australia (IA) highlights continued need for targeted investment in freight infrastructure projects that will enhance supply chain efficiency and safety, and make Australia more internationally competitive.
“It is essential that Australia makes infrastructure investment decisions that are based on sound principles and evidence-based assessments regarding a project’s capacity to contribute to our economic strength, and liveability of our communities,” said ALC chairman Philip Davies.
“In the past, the Infrastructure Priority List has helped to build support for investment in critical freight infrastructure projects which are now being undertaken, including Western Sydney Airport, Inland Rail, the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and more recently the Port Botany freight rail duplication, which was supported in the 2018 Federal Budget.”
“It is especially pleasing to note this year’s list again includes the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy as a high priority initiative.”
“To further boost the effectiveness of that Strategy when it is released later this year, ALC urges governments to prioritise investment in key freight-related initiatives IA has included in this year’s list, including:

  • Upgrading Chullora Junction to enhance Sydney’s freight rail network;
  • Constructing the North East Link in Melbourne to alleviate traffic congestion and enhance freight efficiency;
  • Pursuing a dedicated freight rail connection from Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane;
  • Enhancing capacity and traffic flows on the Mitchell and Kwinana Freeways in Perth;
  • Completing the upgrade of the Adelaide North-South road corridor to enhance capacity and efficiency of freight movement to the airport and port precincts;
  • Investing in road and rail improvements on the Burnie to Hobart freight corridor;
  • Implementation of the Advanced Train Management System on the ARTC network; and
  • Establishing a national electric vehicle fast-charging network to overcome ‘range anxiety’ among freight logistics operators.

“Australia must do everything possible to eliminate capacity constraints in our freight networks if we wish to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market. Securing investment in these priority projects will help to deliver that outcome.”
ARA backs IA’s strong rail focus in Infrastructure Priority List
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has also welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) 2019 Infrastructure Priority List.
“IA plays an important role in identifying key infrastructure problems and opportunities to ensure investment is appropriately targeted to areas of greatest need,” said ARA CEO Danny Broad.
“The rail projects included in IA’s 2019 Infrastructure Priority List are important nation-building initiatives and are endorsed by the rail sector,” he continued.
“Pleasingly, there are more rail projects and initiatives in the report compared to the 2018 Infrastructure Priority List, with 54 of the 125 projects and initiatives rail-related.
“As Australia’s population grows, rail infrastructure will increasingly become the backbone to meet Australia’s growing passenger and freight needs. To manage the challenges posed in our cities and regions in the long-term, Australia will need to ensure that it continuously invests in rail infrastructure.
“We know that rail is an efficient, environmentally and socially beneficial mode of transport. We also know that rail has lower emissions than road transport, is safer and can help reduce congestion in our cities.
“The significance of these rail projects identified by IA warrants investment from governments at all levels. Our networks of infrastructure and services connect people and communities, support freight transport across the country, help deliver our resources to overseas markets and continue to generate economic growth and employment,” he said.
ATA welcomes updated Infrastructure Priority List
Infrastructure Australia’s updated Infrastructure Priority List illustrates the importance of evidence-based investment decisions, chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
“The Infrastructure Priority List provides critical focus on the need to invest in safer regional roads and fixing urban congestion,” Mr Crouch said.
“The new project calling for regional road network safety improvements to invest in fixing high-risk sections of regional roads and deliver safer road infrastructure is a critical priority.
“Infrastructure Australia reports that relative to population size, the number of fatalities in regional areas is over four times higher than for major cities.
“This project now requires government support across Australia, and the ATA strongly welcomes the inclusion of a similar new project by the NSW Government to make regional road safety improvements in NSW.
“Governments should also support the call for a roads network optimisation program to address urban congestion.
“First added to the priority list in 2016 but still without a government proponent, Infrastructure Australia has again reconfirmed the need for governments to make multiple, co-ordinated, productivity enhancements to the road network to reduce congestion.
“These investments should be based on data and seek to optimise traffic flows through investments such as intersection treatments, traffic light sequencing, clearways and incident management.”
The ATA also welcomes the continued inclusion and expansion of projects to address major road investment priorities.
“There’s a long list of proposed road, highway and motorway projects which would make a significant investment to improving safety, connectivity and productivity on the road network,” Mr Crouch said.
Future updates to the Infrastructure Priority List should expand the network-based focus on improving roads to include regional and outback highways and corridors.
“The need to make better use and enable more productive connectivity extends beyond our major cities and their rural hinterlands, and Infrastructure Australia should include network optimisation and access for investing in better regional and outback highways in future priority list updates,” Mr Crouch said.
 

CEVA trials truck route from China to Europe

CEVA Logistics Greater China has sent the first-ever TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) truck from Khorgos, China via Kazakhstan to Europe.
The trial run was on 13 November, 2018 and was operated as a joint initiative between CEVA Logistics, the IRU (International Road Transportation Union) and CEVA’s partners Alblas and Jet-rail.
The truck arrived in Poland on 24 November, with no disruption or Customs issues after 11 days on the road. The closing TIR at its final destination was after 13 days on 26 November.
According to CEVA, the new road service will deliver a cost saving of about 50 per cent compared to air options. With a lead time door-to-door of between 10 to 15 days, it will be 30-50 per cent faster than rail.
Customs sealed in Khorgos, the first TIR truck from China to Europe started its 7,000 kilometers journey via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to Poland in the afternoon of 13 November. It was a historic moment when the truck, operated by CEVA’s partner Alblas International Logistics, left Khorgos to cross the border into Kazakhstan.
“This is a day to remember. Together with our partners, we have trialed TIR all the way to Europe today the very first time,” Kelvin Tang, Director Road & Rail at CEVA Logistics Greater China said.

$120 million investment to boost rail capacity at Port Botany

NSW Ports is set to invest in ‘on-dock’ rail infrastructure capacity at each of the three container terminals at Port Botany, commencing in 2019.
Investment will be staged, with stevedores being required to invest in rail operating equipment to meet target terminal capacities.
“The growth of containers on rail is a key objective in NSW Ports’ Masterplan, to cater for the growing trade needs of NSW. This investment will build greater rail capability at the port, supporting the Government’s investment in completing the Port Botany rail duplication and ongoing investments in large scale intermodal rail logistics centres at Enfield and Moorebank,” Marika Calfas, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Ports said.
The investment will reduce the growth in truck movements around the port.  When fully operational this investment will reduce truck kilometres travelled in Sydney by at least 10 million per year. This will save over 2 million litres of diesel per year which is the equivalent to a net reduction in COemissions of more than 5,400 tonnes a year.
“Patrick currently handles a large volume of rail based containers and is focussed on growing and optimising our rail offering.  NSW Ports’ investment in rail infrastructure will be accompanied by Patrick’s $70 million investment in operating equipment and systems to deliver 1 million TEU capacity. Our agreement with NSW Ports will significantly increase our terminal’s rail capacity and enhance productivity and efficiency in container movements at the port,” Michael Jovicic, Chief Executive Officer, Patrick said.
To fund the investment, NSW Ports will implement a modest increase of $3.08 per TEU in wharfage fees on full imports and exports from 1 July 2019. This has been spread over the long term to minimise the wharfage increase and will be removed once the cost of the investment has been recovered.
Work will begin next year and is planned for completion by 2023. Rail operations at Patrick are expected to continue during the construction period.

Steam Australia: fascinating reading for all in transport

What do Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain have in common? They all rode Australia’s steam train network in its heyday—and a new book explores its rich history. In Steam Australia: Locomotives that Galvanised the Nation (NLA Publishing, $39.99), author and former deputy prime minister, Tim Fischer, provides a captivating insight into Australia’s locomotive history, illustrated with over 300 images from the National Library of Australia, many of which have never been seen in print before.
Much more than just a listed history, Mr Fischer offers a compelling account of the great tapestry of transport weaved by the steam locomotive in this country. It details how the nation was galvanised by the economic growth steam trains delivered, and shares the stories behind famous named express trains such as Puffing Billy, Robert Gordon Menzies and The Ghan. It also includes a number of fascinating stories such as Albury’s ‘break of gauge’ platform, the Amiens branch line, the ‘garnishee’ order made against the Spirit of Progress, as well as those of important characters such as C.Y. O’Connor and John Whitton.
Deeply visual and well researched, Steam Australia provides a fascinating insight into locomotives and their important part in shaping Australian history.
The author
Tim Fischer entered state parliament in 1971, switched to federal parliament in 1984, and became Nationals leader in 1990 and deputy prime minister in 1996. He was appointed ambassador to the Holy See in 2008, and is now a successful book author. Since travelling to boarding school by steam and diesel trains five decades ago, Tim has maintained a deep interest in transport issues, serving as the transport officer of 1RAR and on many parliamentary committees relating to rail and general transport issues. More recently, he was on the board of FreightLink and also leads rail tours in Australia, Europe, Russia and South Africa.
The book
Steam Australia is a beautifully presented book, just as you would expect from the National Library of Australia. Whether you prefer to read from cover to cover or open it randomly and browse through it, you are guaranteed to be entertained by the thoroughly researched, authoritatively yet passionately written words and the many, many fascinating historic photographs.
Buy it as a gift or spoil yourself, it is a great book for anyone with the slightest interest in transport. Available at all good bookstores and online at NLA Publishing – https://bookshop.nla.gov.au/book/steam-australia-locomotives-that-galvanised-the-nation.do.

Siemens, Alstom rail merger troubles the ACCC

The ACCC has expressed preliminary concerns about the proposed merger of Siemens A.G.’s (Siemens) Mobility Division with Alstom S.A. (Alstom), which are detailed in a Statement of Issues published today.
“A combined Siemens-Alstom would be by far the largest supplier of heavy rail signalling in Australia,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC’s review has focused on signalling systems for heavy rail passenger networks, particularly train interlocking systems and automatic train protection (ATP) systems. Signalling systems provide safety and traffic management controls on rail networks. Interlockings are the core of a signalling system; they set routes for the safe movement of trains across railway lines. Train protection systems ensure that trains comply with movement authorities issued by the interlockings.
“The ACCC’s preliminary view is that the proposed merger may substantially lessen competition in the supply of heavy rail signalling systems for passenger rail networks in Australia, in particular interlocking systems and ATP systems. The loss of competition could result in increased prices for customers, or lower levels of service, quality, or innovation,” Mr Sims said.
“We have heard from many industry participants who have expressed competition concerns with the merger. We will continue to evaluate the competitive options available to passenger rail networks in Australia.”
The proposed merger is also being reviewed by overseas competition regulators, including the European Commission.
“The ACCC is liaising closely with overseas competition regulators, as some of these potential competition issues may also arise in other countries,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC has invited further submissions from interested parties in response to the Statement of Issues by 20 September 2018. The ACCC’s final decision is due on 29 November 2018.
Background
Siemens is a listed German conglomerate headquartered in Munich. Its Mobility Division is one of eleven business divisions. Siemens acquired signalling supplier Invensys Rail in 2013 and Perth-based MRX Technologies in 2017.
Alstom is a French société anonyme listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange. In 2015, Alstom acquired GE’s signalling business.
Siemens and Alstom are both active in the rail mobility industry globally and each supplies rail signalling systems, rolling stock and rail electrification services in Australia. The key area of overlap between the parties in Australia is in the supply of rail signalling systems.

Build them trains here

A Labor Government will ensure that more trains are built in Australia by local manufacturing workers, establishing a National Rail Plan to ensure that every dollar of Federal funding spent on rail projects goes towards creating local jobs and protecting our rail industry, said Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.
“Australia will spend more on rail in the next decade than on submarines. It’s important to get that investment right,” they said in their statement.
“Labor believes that investment in rail should create local jobs and boost our domestic manufacturing capability – rather than just flowing to overseas industry competitors.
“The Australian rail manufacturing industry employs 5,000 workers, with another 7,000 in the supply chain. But the industry has lost over 3,000 jobs in the past decade. Labor’s plan will protect and create more jobs.
“Labor’s serious about investing in rail – we’ve committed $3.7 billion to new urban rail infrastructure around the country. And with more than $100 billion to be spent by governments and private companies in rail-based public transport projects throughout Australia in the next two decades, a national plan is critical to ensure we harness the massive opportunities for this investment – for more jobs and a better industry.
“Labor will work with the states and territories through the Council of Australian Government to develop a National Rail Procurement and Manufacturing Strategy.
“As part of this strategy, future Commonwealth grant funding for rail infrastructure projects will be linked to objectives such as work being undertaken in Australia rather than commissioning overseas companies, and cooperation between jurisdictions on procurement,” the pair said.
Labor will also:

  • Establish an Office of National Rail Industry Coordination, to undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains nationally and develop train priority plans, including a proposed delivery schedule for the next ten years.
  • Reinstate the important role of the Rail Supplier Advocate cut by the Liberals in 2013 – to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify export opportunities and to get a foot in the door with government purchasing bodies.
  • Establish a Rail Industry Innovation Council – to prevent the loss of more jobs and address the need for more local research & development, skills and capabilities.

The decline of the rail manufacturing industry in recent years has discouraged rail manufacturing firms from investing in their businesses and forced many skilled workers from the industry.
At the same time as the industry is seeing jobs decline, we’ve seen huge projects go to companies overseas – with local manufacturing workers missing out.
Action must be taken to preserve the strategic capabilities of Australian rail manufacturing.
“Labor’s plan will maximise the amount of work that goes to Australian firms – creating Australian jobs.”
Industry agrees
ARA Media Release: The ARA welcomes Labor’s Plan for Rail
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed Labor’s announcement that close to $6 million will be locked away in Labor’s forward estimates, which will go directly to a National Rail Plan.
“This is the first sum of money we have seen committed from a political party to a national rail plan. We would welcome bipartisan support for such a plan in the national interest,” said ARA CEO, Danny Broad.
“Labor’s plan for rail goes to the key recommendations of the recent senate inquiry into the state of Australia’s rail industry and how government procurement can improve the value for money, competitiveness, stability of work and capability of the rail manufacturing industry.
“In many respects Labor’s Plan for Rail parallels the components of the ARA’s National Rail Industry Plan released in September 2017 at a Ministerial Roundtable comprising ministers Chester, Sinodinos and Fletcher.
“Since then there has been wide support for the plan. However, this has been the first significant financial backing we have seen specifically earmarked for a national rail plan. We would welcome Coalition support in the upcoming Federal Budget.
“Labor’s Rail Plan embraces many of the key elements for which the ARA has been actively advocating, including involvement of COAG and a coordination group to engage government and the rail industry in progressing implementation.
“This approach to coordination of effort makes a lot of sense with such massive investments in rail by most Government jurisdictions.
“There is no better time to explore opportunities for local suppliers and contractors to engage with freight and passenger operators. This augers well for jobs and growth in a key industry sector.
“Urgent action is needed to assess the extent of emerging skill gaps and take corrective action through ‘fit-for-purpose’ training.
“Technological change is sweeping through our industry. This must be supported by a strong commitment to innovation — an approach strongly supported in Labor’s announcement,” Mr Broad concluded.
 

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