This was a challenging year for the Interstate network, with the withdrawal of one our major customers from the intermodal market, Aurizon, as well as the drought and a general slowdown in economic activity all adversely impacting current year revenue, forward forecasts and business unit valuation. However, our focus on delivering the best possible service for our customers, improving our operational performance and managing our costs helped mitigate the impact.
Our commitment to safety has been rewarded with both our Cootamundra and Wagga Wagga Provisioning Centre teams celebrating the achievement of 4,000 days Lost Time Injury-free.
IMPROVING OUR SERVICE
We continued to work closely with our customers to better understand their needs, and the needs of their customers, to improve our service. For example:
We collaborated with customers and adjoining network providers to develop and implement a more efficient electronic train path application system.
We participated in workshops with Pacific National to identify joint projects to generate common operational and efficiency benefits.
We provided Southern Shorthaul Rail with planning and operational support for several long grain services in South Australia and helped ensure seamless train transit of fodder to drought-affected farming communities in NSW.
We worked with NSW Trains to improve its passengers’ experience. As a result, the 290 passenger services it provides in the Southern Highlands each week exceeded targets for punctuality.
We started working with Great Southern Rail to monitor ride quality for its passengers through a specialised unit installed on a train carriage.
DRIVING BUSINESS GROWTH
We collaborated with customers and other stakeholders to explore business growth opportunities, and to improve the competitiveness of rail freight. For example, we worked with developed a new Melbourne to Sydney Express intermodal service with later cut-off and earlier arrivals times to better meet market expectations. This service began operating on a trial basis in late 2018.
We started the development of regional hubs connected to our network in consultation with several councils and other stakeholders.
We provided planning and operational advice and support to the Port of Melbourne and other supply chain stakeholders as they work to improve Port Rail access.
We worked with key stakeholders in the cotton industry to find ways to ensure that a higher percentage of NSW Riverina grown cotton is transported by rail next season.
We assisted Shield Resources in developing a new hub at Bordertown, South Australia, and trialling the movement of containerised timber products to Port Adelaide via rail for export to China.
We provided support for the introduction of five additional services between Ararat and Appleton Dock in Melbourne following the commissioning of the Murray Basin Project.
We provided siding and rail logistics solutions for several new mining companies, and information to potential financial investors about the capability of rail to meet its mine-to-port needs across our network.
IMPROVING OUR OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY
We maintained a strong focus on improving our operational performance and efficiency for the benefit of our business, our customers, and the supply chain industry. Our key achievements in 2018-19 include:
Significantly progressing implementation of the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS). We completed live on-track trials and moved closer to the first operational use of ATMS between Port Augusta and Whyalla in South Australia. We also started preparations for the large-scale deployment of ATMS on the Trans-Australian Railway from Tarcoola SA to Kalgoorlie WA. Once in place, ATMS will revolutionise the way we control trains through digital communications, improving safety and increasing capacity, operational flexibility and reliability.
Successfully transitioning the North Coast network control boards from Broadmeadow to the Network Control Centre at Junee. As a result of this shift, we now provide customers with end-to-end train management from Melbourne to Brisbane. This not only streamlines our operations, it also improves the continuity and consistency of our service delivery.
Expanding our Portfolio Management Office (PMO) to strengthen the governance and management of our capital programs and projects and provide more effective project controls – including integrated tracking of key risks and issues and tracking of corridor maintenance project delivery. With Interstate’s portfolio now in excess of $1 billion, the expanded PMO will benefit both the business and our customers.
We also continued to implement ARTC’s Asset Management Improvement Program (AMIP). AMIP is establishing the processes and systems required to optimise our asset maintenance activities and deliver a full picture of asset condition, risk and cost. When fully implemented, AMIP will deliver cost savings and efficiencies across the organisation.
In addition, we continued to use Vehicle Track Interaction (VTI) units, which we have installed on selected train services to better manage ‘hot spots’ on the network. The data captured by these units is vital in assisting us to predict track deterioration as it occurs.
Further, we identified and captured a range of efficiency savings. For example:
We reduced the network’s annual motor vehicle costs by four percent, through better use and management of our vehicles
We cut IT costs by 10 percent compared to last year by rationalising our data connections
We improved our focus on overtime trends to better control overtime costs.
CONTINUING OUR COMMITMENT TO SAFETY
We continued to drive our focus on safety through a number of initiatives:
The establishment of forums with our contracting partners that allow us to work together to ultimately improve our safe working practices.
Continued lead indicator reporting. Reporting processes were integrated into the digital Visual Management Centres to enable more visibility and accountability and close out at all levels.
Training of selected workers in Mental Health First Aid.
Continued rollout of our Network Control dedicated Stop & Think campaign providing for safety-focused open discussions with all Network Control staff.
ENGAGING WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Our Interstate network operates alongside many communities, and our operations can affect these communities in a range of ways. During the year, we continued to improve the way we identify and manage community issues, so we can respond effectively when needs arise.
We continued to actively support local community causes and events to build stronger relationships with these communities. For example, we were proud sponsors of the ‘Thru Runners Tour’, and initiative that promotes rail heritage from Sydney to Goulburn in NSW and raises money support the mental health charity Beyond Blue.
We were also present at the Henty Field Days event in NSW, promoting rail safety.
UPGRADING OUR NETWORK
We are committed to continuously improving our Interstate network for the benefit of our customers and stakeholders. Key projects we have completed or progressed during the year include:
We made significant progress on this $252 million Commonwealth Government project to upgrade around 600 kilometres of track. At the end of the reporting period, 500km has been upgraded, including the entire southern section of the line. We expect to complete the project in H2 2019, enabling our customers to run faster, heavier trains on this stretch of the network.
Port Botany Rail Line Track Upgrade (Stage 3) Project
We completed this project with improvements to the initial agreed scope of works. We also started work on the additional scope, including Chullora Junction track work, as agreed with the Department for Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (DIRDC).
Port Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop Projects
We progressed both projects during the year, including finalising commercial arrangements with NSW Roads and Maritime Services, progressing a Memorandum of Understanding with Transport for NSW, and starting work on property acquisition and leasing. The Australian Government provided $400 million to fund the construction which will ensure the network can meet the forecast demand for freight transport to and from Australia’s busiest container port out to 2030. Both projects are on schedule for completion before the end of 2023.
Goulburn to Sydney Re-Rail Project
We continued to implement this project, which will reduce the need for temporary speed restrictions in this section of the network. The project remains on schedule, with at least 150 rail-kilometres still to be installed by 30 June 2020.
Asset Management Plan Re-Railing Project
We commenced the delivery phase of this project, which will re-rail 250 kilometres of track that has reached the end of its life in high-priority locations throughout the network. 68 kilometres of new rail has been installed across three network corridors, exceeding this year’s target of 62 kilometres, and more than 130 kilometres was delivered to site.
North East Rail Line (NERL)
This project will upgrade the track on a 316-kilometre rail corridor between Melbourne and Albury so it can be used by V/Line to provide Class 2 passenger services. During the year, the scope of the project was further developed and endorsed by the Victorian Rail Agencies Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Other planning and funding approvals were also progressed. In addition, Expressions of Interest have been reviewed and a Request for Tender stage has commenced for the three shortlisted contractors with a view to awarding the main contract in 2019. The project is scheduled for completion in the middle of 2021, at a total forecast cost of $235 million.
$198 million of capital investment in the Interstate network 2018-19
213 trains per day operating across our Interstate network
$55 billion non-coal Gross Tonne Kilometres (GTKs) transported on the Interstate network