Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 5 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 79
Volume 5 Number 1
Transport Infrastructure Program. In the new
role, he will oversee a number of large-
scale projects and ensure a coordinated and
collaborative program approach.
'Collaboration was a key driver in the
success of the Regional Rail Link,' says
Hannett. 'I knew right from the start we
needed people with different skills and
experience, from both the public and private
sectors, working together and interacting
with the community, the constructors and
the government. I made sure we had the
right people who shared our vision and knew
what we had to do to deliver it.
'RRL has been undertaken in a different
manner than normal,' Hannett explains.
'This project has actually been delivered
by the RRLA. We haven't just packaged it
up and funded it and outsourced it -- we've
delivered it. We've broken it up to deal with
the terrain and the difficulties, and we've
had to manage the risk of all those packages
to deliver one railway corridor.'
Extensive market research and discussion
with Victorian and interstate agencies
prompted the division of RRL into six work
packages to contain the cost and complexity
of each. It was a key decision.
Hannett explains: 'The Southern Cross
Station Work Package was delivered by
the rail operator Metro Trains Melbourne
(Metro), as it was so complex and had
so much interface with their business.
The next two work packages covering
the area between Southern Cross Station
and Sunshine were delivered as alliances
because they needed the horsepower of big,
private construction and design companies,
combined with the rail operator expertise
and RRLA knowledge and influence. Out
into the greenfields, we were able to open it
up to broader competition and delivered the
works under design and construct contracts.
The final work package, another alliance,
covers the train control systems, or "traffic
lights" for trains'.
Challenging baselines were established
for safety, environmental sustainability and
community relations. Contractors were
incentivised to surpass them, yielding better
value should they succeed.
The environmental targets alone
comprised 22 separate goals, taking best-case
examples from earlier projects and raising the
bar in areas like embedded carbon, energy
use, the re-use of material, and zero use of
potable water for construction.
Allen Garner, formerly RRLA's Chief
Operating Officer, has followed on from
Corey as CEO. Garner has extensive
infrastructure delivery experience in both
private and public sectors.
'The use of potable water was a big issue
during the drought period,' says Garner.
'When that went away, people took the
view that we can use drinking water for
construction again. We decided: let's not.
We'd found a way to do it before...
'In the end, everyone solved it in a
number of ways -- using saline water from
the Maribyrnong River, and catching
rainwater run-off and holding it... And it
doesn't cost much if you mandate it up
front. It just needed our team pitching in and
holding a line on sustainability.'
The way Garner tells it, the stunning
success of the RRL is owed not so much
to any specific new technological
breakthrough, but to major efficiencies that
arose from collaboration and understanding
among the government and private sectors,
and a well-informed community.
'As it happened, at the time we went to
market, there was a lull in the construction
market in Victoria -- so we hit a bit of a sweet
spot, resulting in strong competition and
'You can draw a line in the sand and
say, "Let's go for that," and because you're
big enough and have the resources, you can
make it happen,' says Garner.
If there is one overarching reason for
the RRL's streamlined success, it's the use of
long-term occupations of the rail corridors
to undertake extensive works. The strategy
was enabled by collaboration between key
parties associated with the RRL project,
strong community relations, and an up-front
requirement for contractors to submit binding
schedules of public interruption periods.
The longer-occupation strategy, typically
in blocks of two to three weeks, reaped
immense benefits in terms of work efficiency
and employee safety.
'We took the view that just working at
night and on weekends was not practical,'
explains Garner. 'We couldn't complete the
project in that time frame, and the risk profile
of shutting down the rail, setting up, doing
a little bit of work, turning it on, shutting
it down, packing up -- annoying everyone,
constantly -- wasn't the right way.'
During the July 2011 school holidays,
there was a two-week trial of buses replacing
trains between Sunshine and Footscray. The
rail closure affected passengers from as far
afield as Bendigo, Ballarat and Sunshine; but
the smiling faces of RRL staff and volunteers
-- who staged sausage sizzles at the stations,
provided free coffee to commuters on cold
mornings and explained the works one-on-
one -- smoothed the way. They proved to the
community, and to the industry, that it could
'Two weeks is a bit of a pain,' Garner
says, 'but when people came back and
saw how much had been done -- to see the
skeleton of a station rising out of the ground
-- suddenly, wow!'
As part of the RRL, two new platforms --
15 and 16 -- were constructed on the western
side of Southern Cross Station, anchoring the
new RRL lines.
From the comfortable cabin of a V/Line
(regional) train departing Southern Cross,
it seems just a matter of seconds before
one is whizzing along at 80 kilometres per
hour, and then at 130 kilometres per hour.
But such speed and efficiency belies the
needle-threading art of rail line placement
undertaken by the RRL's designers, engineers
For those V/Line trains that continue to use
the station's platforms 1 through 8, a rebuilt
flyover and 'country bypass' track section links
them to the new RRL line just beyond Dynon
Road, two kilometres upstream, near a junction
known as Spion Kop.
The Southern Cross Work Package,
managed by Metro, with the major track
and civil works contracted to a joint venture
between John Holland and Coleman Rail,
platform works contracted to Brookfield,
and a new signalling system to Alstom, was
the first RRL package to be completed. The
new platforms and track they built became
operational in December 2013.
Delicate handling, if on a much
larger scale, was also required where the
RRL corridor squeezed past Scalzo Food
Industries, on Kensington Road, immediately
adjacent to the Maribyrnong River.
This task fell to the City-to-Maribyrnong
River Work Package Alliance (comprising
John Holland, Abigroup, Coleman Rail,
AECOM, GHD, Metro, V/Line and RRLA).
This package also included 4.5 kilometres
of new track, major modifications to three
existing bridges and the construction of
a one-kilometre-long rail bridge over the
The package's Director, Evan Tattersall,
explains the need for a careful touch. 'The
Scalzo family's food manufacturing business
relies on sensitive measuring and hygienic
equipment. The excavation of rocks, heavy
bridge building and the laying of rails all took
place within a smidge of their facility's walls.'
An innovation employed for the
Maribyrnong River Bridge was the use of a
launching truss, a heavy frame laid across
the span to be covered. Machinery travelled
along the truss to construct the bridge
beneath it, obviating the need for heavy
cranes and scaffolding.
'It was one of the largest pieces of
machinery used on the project,' says
Tattersall, 'and ideal for use for construction
in such a tightly constrained area.'
RRL's community interactions have
perhaps been most visible in the stretch of
suburbia of the Footscray to Deer Park Work
Package. This work package was delivered
by an alliance comprising Thiess, Balfour
Beatty, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sinclair Knight
Merz, Metro, V/Line and RRLA.
It embraced the colourful and
characterful communities of Footscray and
Sunshine. In both locations, the rail corridor
dissects the urban centre, and the stations
serve as both a civic focus and quite literally
a 24-hour bridge between neighbourhoods.
Brett Summers was the Director of this
package, having previously directed the
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