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Interstate: Rising to the Challenge

ARTC’s Interstate network is responsible for the management of approximately 6,000km of track across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

Servicing a broad range of supply chains, the Interstate team comprises more than 500 staff and 24 provisioning centres and depots, which continued to deliver major corridor maintenance works and projects across the country to increase the efficiency and capacity of Australia’s rail network.

While 2019-20 was a challenging year, the Interstate team maintained its strong focus on continually improving operational performance and efficiency to deliver more for customers and help maintain the nation’s supply chain, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when the criticality of Australia’s supply lines had never been greater.

Health and safety as important as ever

The tragic train derailment near Wallan, Victoria, in February 2020 devastated us all.

This sad event reinforces the critical importance of safety in everything we do, which is why we continued to develop a range of initiatives, including:

  • Contactless sign-on – Initially developed in response to COVID-19, a contactless sign-on process to Pre-Work Briefs using RIW cards will now be retained across the network.
  • Mental health and wellbeing – A mental health and wellbeing strategy was developed, including establishment of mental health first aiders in workplace teams.
  • Safe work practices – Safe work interactions remained a primary focus among all leaders throughout the year.
  • Vehicles and driving – Continued to adhere to ARTC’s motor vehicle strategy, with GPS telematics reporting resulting in a reduction in vehicle exceptions.
  • Electronic Track Access Protection (eTAP) – The Interstate team implemented ARTC’s new eTAP application to improve safety controls for track workers and communication between protection officers and network controllers.
  • Process improvements – a series of process improvements were made across the Interstate team throughout the year, including the creation of a process improvement working group, standardising of various operations, and review/development of standard procedure/work instruction templates.
  • Network Control Centre roster review – A strategic rostering system was developed to improve employee health and wellbeing and optimise network performance.
  • Wayside Enhancement Project – Continued rollout with upgrades to life expired systems, as well as installation of new wayside condition monitoring systems to improve network safety by monitoring the health of rolling stock.

During the year, the Interstate team also achieved several Lost Time Injury-free milestones, including the Trans-Australian Railway (TAR) corridor recording eight years LTI.

Working hard to deliver growth and improve rail competitiveness

This year, the Interstate team continued its focus on maximising the availability and reliability of assets, to in turn maximise service delivery levels to customers and other supply chain stakeholders. Numerous initiatives helped increase efficiencies across the network, including:

  • Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) – Continued to progress implementation of the ATMS, including completion of all formal product testing as part of Implementation Stage One.
  • Operational improvements – Reviewed and implemented an Operations Organisational Model to support effective and efficient operations, while an Integrated Performance Improvement Framework was initiated with V/Line and NSW Trains.
  • Interstate Network Strategic Review – A critical review was undertaken which identified several key areas to expand our service offering and achieve future growth.
  • Inland Rail integration – Developed an Operational Readiness Procedure and Tracker for the commissioning of the North West Link – a component of the Parkes to Narromine project – which will be developed and implemented for future Inland Rail projects as they are commissioned.
  • Parkes Logistics Terminal – Assisted in developing an altered train plan to enable Pacific National to operate services.
  • Road to rail initiative – Conducted successful trials with Pacific National of a Melbourne-Brisbane express service, with two new services subsequently added.
  • The Great Southern services over summer – Worked with Journey Beyond Rail to help it successfully run its inaugural Adelaide-Brisbane summer services.
  • Ride quality monitoring – We also worked with Journey Beyond Rail to monitor ride quality for its passengers, which involved the installation of an on-board vehicle track interaction measurement system on a passenger carriage.
  • Track condition information – Worked with freight customers to improve track condition information, supplementing data recorded from the track geometry vehicle with on-board vehicle track interaction measurement systems.
  • Train Running Performance Dashboards – Developed for passenger and freight customers as part of ongoing efforts to meet targets and continually improve customer service levels.
  • Wayside condition monitoring reporting – Worked with SCT and SSR to develop predictive maintenance of their fleets.
  • Wagon condition monitoring – Worked with Pacific National to develop a strategy for wagon condition monitoring for detector services to automate monitoring and maintenance.
  • Long distance grain paths – Worked with numerous customers to provide multiple long distance grain paths to and from western Victoria and mid-north SA into northern NSW.
  • Asset Management Improvement Program (AMIP) – We continued to deliver on ARTC’s AMIP to improve the effectiveness of our deployed maintenance strategies and the work we conduct on our network assets.

Like other areas of the business, the Interstate team also implemented a comprehensive range of measures to successfully address issues and challenges that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continuity of essential works and operations.

Working with local communities

Our Interstate team continued to work closely with local communities across Australia to alert, inform and update them about works being undertaken in their area to help minimise any potential disruption.

Highlighted by increased information sharing through ARTC’s growing social media channels, in addition to traditional collaboration measures, we continued to respect the communities and environment in which we operate, while our ongoing investment in the rail network continued to generate significant employment opportunities.

Network upgrades to improve performance

ARTC invested significantly in the Interstate network this year to improve performance and further enhance Australia’s supply chain. Key projects this year included:

  • North East Rail Line (NERL) – Continued work on the $235 million project between Melbourne and Albury ahead of scheduled completion by mid-2021. During the year, the main construction works contract was awarded to John Holland, with works commencing soon after between Chiltern and Albury East. Works were also carried out between Seymour and Benalla, while a program of works to replace the functionality of overhead wiring assets along the NERL corridor continued, with a number of sites completed.
  • Adelaide-Tarcoola Rail Upgrade Acceleration Project – Completed all major works on the $252 million Commonwealth Government project, with only close-out works remaining.
  • Goulburn to Sydney Re-rail Project – Successful completion of Stage 1 works which will reduce the need for temporary speed restrictions along this section of the network. Stage 2 works will now progress in 2020.
  • Port Botany Rail Duplication & Cabramatta Loop Projects – Following the successful completion of major works on the Port Botany Rail Line Upgrade, the Commonwealth Government has committed a further $400 million to meet predicted freight demand on the Southern Sydney Freight Line. Planning works for both the Port Botany Rail Duplication and Cabramatta Loop projects continued this year, including public exhibition of Environmental Impact Statements for both projects and approval of the final Delivery Phase Project Proposal Report. A procurement process was also progressed to select a main design and construction contractor for each project, which in early 2020 were both added to Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List.

Key results – Interstate network

$218.8 million of capital investment in the Interstate network in 2019-20

205 trains per day (average) operating across our Interstate network in 2019-20

54.9 billion non-coal Gross Tonne Kilometres (GTKs) transported