Terrapinn: Over 1,000 rail leaders head to Hong Kong for Asia pacific rail 2016

Asia's rail industry is poised for serious growth. With over 6,500km of rail projects currently planned or announced in Asia, billions are being invested into the region.

But there are still challenges to overcome –we need infrastructure upgrades, we need to improve cost management of these mega projects, and of course, we need to deliver on passengers' increasing expectations as we move into the age of the smart digital railway.

Returning for the 18th year in Hong Kong this March 2016, Asia Pacific Rail will bring rail leaders from across the globe together under one roof to tackle these challenges head on. In 2016, the event will be bigger and better than ever before, with more content, more speakers, more networking, a larger exhibition and over 1,000 attendees. 

The two day conference will feature exciting innovations in metro, high-speed rail, mainline passenger and freight, all focused on the theme of enhancing operational excellence and passenger experience to improve your bottom line.

Sharing their insights are senior leaders from MTR, London Underground, Auckland Transport, China Railways, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Hyperloop Technologies, Myanmar Railways, Heathrow Express, SMRT Corporation, Seoul Line 9 Operation, State Railway of Thailand, Sydney Trains, Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation.

Alongside the senior level conference, the exhbition will feature over 35 exhibitors, 20 technical seminar presentations and up to 1,000 attendees walking the floor. Product demonstrations, networking and seminar presentations will be providing visitors with a one-stop shop gaining insights and updates on the industry.

The Hidden Victims of Rail Fatalities

A new short film shines a light on the lives of train drivers and how they cope with rail fatalities

For the nearly two million Australian’s traveling on trains everyday, it’s a very common occurrence: a delay. But what might surprise commuters is nearly every day, somewhere in Australia, the delay is caused by a rail fatality. There are far reaching consequences not only for the casualty and their families but also for a more hidden victim: the train drivers themselves.

A new short film titled ‘The Driver’, premiering this weekend at the Flickerfest International Film Festival, tells the story of a train driver coping with life after encountering a rail fatality. “Most train driver’s will experience a fatality in their careers; it’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when,” says the film’s writer and director Tim Russell. “The driver is powerless to prevent the incident and forced to watch the horror unfold in front of them.”

There are over 4000 near hits and collisions across Australia every year resulting from railway trespass and an estimated 150 suicide deaths.

Gary Tower is a veteran train driver and encountered rail fatalities in his forty-year career. “It’s a harrowing experience that you never forget. Some drivers aren’t able to return to work.” Tower is now retired and is a big supporter of the film. “If creating a film like this can raise awareness and save just one life, then it’s been worth it.”

Russell spent time with train drivers in suburban Sydney during his research for the film. “What really struck me was their camaraderie and the support they gave each other in a time of need.” He hopes the film will raise awareness for rail fatalities and the struggles of train drivers. “The drivers are usually forgotten and I hope the film can shine a light on their lives.”

‘The Driver’ by Tim Russell will have its World Premiere at Flickerfest International Film Festival this weekend Saturday 9 January as part of the Australian Showcase. The film was developed as part of Metro Screen’s Breaks Program with funding from Screen NSW.

The trailer for ‘The Driver’ launched online this week and can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/150534819

​New coal train record set

Aurizon has set a new record for the longest every coal
train sent through Queensland.

The company has sent a 2.3 kilometre, 136 wagon train
through the Central Queensland Coal Network, which carried 11,000 tonnes of
coal to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET).

The average Aurizon train consists of around 100 wagons and
a payload of about 8500 tonnes of coal.

“The successful maiden run of this record-breaking coal
train is a positive sign of things to come when we commence railings to WICET
in earnest next month,” executive VP of Aurizon operations Mike Franczak said.

“We’re moving more
tonnes, on larger trains, from mine to port as we drive improved efficiency
across the coal supply chain,” he said.

“This is an
excellent outcome for customers, our supply chain partners and the Queensland
coal industry generally.

“We have achieved
this through innovative operational improvements in Queensland over recent
years, including lifting payloads, improving locomotive reliability and better
on-time performance.

“The drive to
improve train payloads at Aurizon draws on the very best available technology
and innovation in the areas of train marshalling, train handling and
track/train dynamics. This ensures that as we improve capacity and
productivity, we are also reducing in-train forces, making for a safer, more
energy-efficient mode of transportation.

The coal will be used as bedding to establish the stockpiles
at the terminal as it prepares for its first shipments of coal.

Coal train crash in Queensland

The Goonyella
coal line was blocked for several days last week after an unmanned train
derailed.

The driverless
train had no crew and was empty when it derailed at around 2pm last Friday, Daily Mercury reported.

“A remote locomotive (driverless) and a number of
wagons derailed,” an Aurizon spokesperson said.

“Track crews have since cleared all rollingstock and
restored the track. The line was reopened to all traffic (Tuesday) morning.”

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

Aurizon said it had worked with miners to minimise coal
transport disruptions.

Rail Bus and Tram Union central branch organiser Bruce
Mackie said heat was a factor in the incident.

“There was extreme heat on Friday and our members
are reporting it appears the track buckled from it,” Mackie said.

​GE taking Cat head on in mining locomotives

GE is taking Caterpillar on in the race to develop
locomotives that comply with stricter emissions standards.

These locomotives are typically used for the heavy and long
distance haulage seen right across the mining industry.

It comes as the US tightens its emission standards, and sets
a compliance deadline for next year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, GE is already testing
its locomotives that comply with the new standards whilst Cat’s compliant
freight locomotives are unlikely to be available until 2017.

GE has reportedly designed its latest locomotive with an
emissions reduction system and expects to begin full scale production of the
machines mid next year.

“We’ve got units operating so we can demonstrate
performance,” Tina Donikowski, GE’s locomotive vice president, told WSJ.

The move is likely to be a blow for Cat, particularly as GE
already holds more than two thirds of the US market, while Cat’s ElectroMotive
sees only around 30 per cent of its sales come from overseas, although this
figure does equate to US$2.5 billion.

In 2012 ElectroMotive signed an agreement to provide Fortescue with 19 new locomotives for its Pilbara operations, and signed a $292
million contract with BHP to supply Model SD70ACe/LCi locomotives for the next three years.

According to GE it currently has 173 locomotives running across 1500 kilometres of rail network in the PIlbara, with each train itself approximately 2.4 kilometres long and consisting of 236 wagons that carry all up 26 000 tonnes of ore.

50th Victorian level crossing now upgraded

The Victorian Government is celebrating a milestone after the completion of an upgrade on one of the most dangerous level crossings in the state.

As part of its $47 million Fix Country Crossings Program, the upgrade to the Avenel crossing on Aerodrome Road was the 50th project finished.

The upgrade involved the installation of boom barriers and flashing lights. The crossing previously had only safety signage.

Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said the government’s program had delivered similar safety upgrades throughout the state.

“We now have up to 50 level crossings completed. A further ten will be completed this year, taking the total to 60. Next year works will be carried out to achieve the total of 75 over the four year program,” Mulder said.

“As well as a safety boost across country Victoria, the program has been an economic boon for regional Victoria.

“The program relies on a skilled workforce with each level crossing upgrade requiring many skilled hands to deliver the safety boost and improved protection.” 

Mulder said the program had delivered safer crossings from Bendigo to Swan Hill and Echuca, Seymour to Shepparton, Geelong to Warrnambool and Traralgon to Bairnsdale.

Trains transported from QLD to SA by road

Five $6 million, 129 tonne, 22 metre trains have been transported from Maryborough, Queensland, to Whyalla in South Australia on five separate 2,200 kilometre-long road journeys spanning three states.

Leading the charge was road transport provider Toll NQX who said the trains had to be moved by truck as Queensland hosted a different rail gauge to the rest of Australia.

Toll NQX south Queensland development manager John Gunning said transportation of the trains was a special feat for his company.

“Transporting heavy, oversize loads requires specialised equipment and often extensive planning with detailed strategies,” Gunning said.

“In each case the bogies were removed to bring the overall travelling height down to less than five metres so we don’t interfere with overhead lines, and the wheels transported on two separate trailers.

“We built special steel frames so the trailer could receive the trains without the bogies on. That also gave us something to secure the locomotives to.”

The last train reached Whyalla within a week, where two 200 tonne cranes lifted the bogies from the trucks and onto the tracks, before the locomotive could be lowered onto the bogies.

Gunning said the loads travelled during daylight hours only in each state and required a police escort in South Australia.

‘Train yourself’ or die: Rail Safety Week kicks off in Goulburn

This year’s annual Rail Safety Week was officially launched in Goulburn today, and aims to reinforce the message of remaining aware and vigilant around railway lines.

Launched at a supersite billboard on the Hume Highway near Goulburn, the week long campaign message this year is “Train yourself”, aiming to reiterate that the onus of responsibility is on the individual to obey rules around railway lines.

Australasian Railway Association chief and TrackSafe Director Bryan Nye, federal Labor Senator Ursula Stephens, Liberal candidate for Hume Angus Taylor, Goulburn Mayor Geoff Kettle and a NSW Police representative all attended the launch.

Nye says not enough emphasis can be put on the importance of people remaining aware and vigilant around railway lines, level crossings and stations.

“Railway safety remains one of the industry’s highest safety priorities with Australia's rail network being the sixth largest in the world, with 44,000km of track and 23,500 level crossings,” he says.

“On this network there are a reported 5,000 trespass incidents, 70 level crossing collisions, around 180 fatalities and thousands of near misses every year. All are a direct result of taking risks and disobeying the rules around railway lines and level crossings.

“Rail is the safest form of land transport. The issue is behavioural— when people go to take risks around railway lines they fail to realise that trains always have right of way and simply cannot stop quickly. It can take a fully loaded freight train up to 2km to stop.”

TrackSafe will be running an awareness campaign using billboards on major roads, posters in train stations and brochures in community and information centres imploring people to train themselves to stop, look, listen and think when around train lines.

“Anyone choosing to take shortcuts, walk on or near train tracks, or ignore railway level crossing signals is not only risking their own lives but the lives of the train driver, crew, and passengers,” Nye said.

Coal dust report cover up, results altered

A community group in the Hunter Valley say a report into train coal dust emissions was altered to better suit the NSW Government's agenda, after an earlier report was leaked.

The Coal Terminal Action Group is urging the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to set up a Special Commission of Inquiry after receiving a leaked version of the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s ‘Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains’ report.

They say conclusions in the leaked version dated 24 May contradict those in the released version of 30 May.

Group spokesman James Whelan said fifteen of the report’s eighteen conclusions were changed.

“In three instances, the opposite conclusions were stated,” he said.

“By deleting or inserting the word ‘no’ or ‘not’, a very different picture of the impacts of coal trains on air quality in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter is reached.

“Other conclusions were modified to significantly downplay the pollution levels associated with coal trains, and the released report saw three new conclusions added and one deleted.”

Whelan is calling on the premier to set up a special commission into coal dust in the Hunter.

“This looks like a cover-up, and the truth needs to be established.”

“It appears that a Commonwealth-owned corporation has provided the NSW Government with misleading information about the impact of coal trains on public health.”

The ARTC said the report had gone through a final review process to ensure it was accurate.

"The environmental consultants that prepared this report discovered an error in the calculations while preparing the final report and they adjusted the findings accordingly," it said in a statement.

It said despite the changes both versions of the report made the same finding that loaded coal trains on the Hunter network did not have higher particle emissions than other trains, the West Australian reported.

As Australian Mining reported, the paper released by the ARTC on the 30th of May said the monitoring program concluded that: “loaded coal trains operating on the Hunter Valley rail network, when measured at Metford, did not have a statistically stronger association with elevated particulate matter concentrations than other trains.”

ARTC chief John Fullerton said he hoped people in the local community would read the report.

"What I encourage people to do is read that report and draw the conclusions, and recognise the conclusions that have been drawn in the report by an agency that's an expert in the field,” he said.

However The Greens slammed the findings by the ARTC saying the results did not add up.

“These results are a complete contradiction to the studies community groups and the University of Newcastle have been involved in,” Jan Davis said.

“I think studies done by the groups and the university are much more reliable.”

Davis said the ARTC should have appointed an independent body to undertake the testing.

“I don’t believe the ARTC findings are the true results and I don’t think they should be conducting the study given their involvement with the coal industry,” she said.

While NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon warned the federal government to disregard the data when considering of the health impacts of coal dust on Hunter communities.

A Senate inquiry into the impacts of coal dust in Newcastle began earlier this year.

A comparison of the conclusions in the draft report and the final report can be found here.

Coal trains not a stronger contributor to emissions: ARTC

The Australian Rail Track Corporation said no changes are required to reduce dust emitted from coal trains in the Hunter.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation's latest emissions monitoring report found coal trains do not have stronger associations with elevated particulates.

A report in September last year came to the same result but was labelled as ‘flawed’ by the Environmental Protection Authority, ABC reported.

The report said that testing was conducted at Raymond Terrace Drive in Metford using an Osiris particulate matter monitoring device from 30 November 2012 to to 29 January 2013.

“The latest round of monitoring expanded on the pilot monitoring program objectives aimed at determining whether trains operating on the Hunter Valley rail network are associated with elevated particulate matter concentrations and if loaded coal trains had a stronger association with elevated particulate matter concentrations than other trains on the network,” the ARTC said.

 

The monitoring program concluded that: “loaded coal trains operating on the Hunter Valley rail network, when measured at Metford, did not have a statistically stronger association with elevated particulate matter concentrations than other trains.”

ARTC chief John Fullerton said he hoped people in the local community would read the report.

"What I encourage people to do is read that report and draw the conclusions, and recognise the conclusions that have been drawn in the report by an agency that's an expert in the field,” he said.

He added a future increase of coal train numbers may create the need for further studies.

“ARTC has provided the results of the monitoring to the NSW EPA and we will work with the Authority on what next steps are appropriate in line with our Environment Protection Licence,” he said.

However, the Coal Terminal Action Group says it will fund its own study of coal dust emissions in the region.

"We're planning a second study ourselves," spokesman James Whelan said.

"Our second study, and we'll be starting to fundraise for it next week, will be to look at the signature of a coal train.

"We're going to be monitoring explicitly along their coal corridor, and watching while the coal trains go by.

"We're going to do the study the EPA should've instructed the ARTC to do."

Air quality in the Hunter has been an issue for residents for some time now as coal mining and haulage activity increased in the region.

“Communities in the Hunter Valley are increasingly worried about coal dust and its health impacts, especially with new coal mines and terminals,’’ Whelan said.

Late last year a group in the Hunter Valley called for dust-level alerts to be issued in the same way as nuclear radiation alerts.

The Hunter Valley Protection Alliance wants to see the current 24-hour rolling-average, which the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network (UHAQMN) use to measure air pollution, replaced with real-time alerts.

The group believes people living in close proximity to open-cut mines and along haulage corridors should have the same protection as those living near nuclear sites, such as the Lucas Heights reactor.

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