Reliable performance on Hunter Valley Network
In September, Rhomberg Rail Australia successfully delivered a number of major projects for one of our biggest clients, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), during their Hunter Valley network closedown. This 72-hour track possession allows the ARTC to perform major upgrade works and crucial maintenance that ensures the world’s busiest coal chain is safe and dependable.
"Hunter Valley network closedowns like this one are huge tasks, the result of months of planning and organisation and many moving parts," an ARTC spokesperson said. "We take the opportunity to package as much work as possible during the closedown, as they provide the safest, most efficient and productive windows to complete them in."
Installation of 23 turnouts in the Upper Hunter Valley
Earlier this year, in response to coal client demand, the ARTC commenced a $150m project to enhance the capacity of the track to run 30 tonne axle loads (30TAL) between Gunnedah and Muswellbrook. Initially Rhomberg Rail’s design team was contracted to deliver the design documentation for the project. The turnout renewal package was then awarded. This involved the preassembly, installation and resurfacing services to upgrade 23 turnouts. The turnout project offered a number of challenges. There was a very tight possessions programme which required expert project management and delivery from Rhomberg crews. Managing delivery dates to match install dates as per the programme submitted to ARTC at contract and managing resurfacing and train paths through other 30TAL projects also added complexity.
The 72-hour September possession had the largest challenge with four turnouts and one set of catch points for completion. The work includes both civil and signalling scope over a number of remote locations. A great deal of preparatory works was involved as the new turnouts were preassembled and verified as operational prior to the install. During the possession the existing turnouts were removed, the ground reconditioned to a structural standard and the new turnouts lifted in. Rhomberg chose to use large excavators that were already involved in the civil works to lift in the turnouts but to ensure lifting safety all the machines were fitted with state of the art inclination and lift monitoring devices that ensured lifts were carried out within the machine capability and safely. Crews, including a welding crew from our Queensland team, worked around the clock, maximising the possession time available, and handed back the track eight hours early.
A team of five from Rhomberg’s resurfacing department provided construction tamping of the turnout replacements. During a single 12 hour shift the Rhomberg Unimat 08/475 and SSP303 crews delivered 3.4km of plain line tamping for the ARTC and tamped the new turnouts. The resurfacing crew had an unexpected challenge when a competitor’s tamper failed on another project and they were asked to complete that work as well. This required considerable reordering of crewing schedules and some staff had to work a 16 hour shift to complete the work for the ARTC.
More than 24km of high performance resurfacing in 72-hour possession
Other members of the resurfacing team also worked on the ARTC lines between Singleton and Muswellbrook with the 09-32 and SSP100. The team completed 24.1km of the 25.6km tamping scope available. The work was complicated by the fact that the SSP100 ballast regulator had problems with one differential, so the Rhomberg team had to improvise to deliver the successful outcome. It was on this project that the competitor’s tamper failed and Rhomberg completed their scope, putting added pressure on the turnout project crews.
Re-transoming of Kooragang Island Bridge
In addition to the turnout, tamping and resurfacing maintenance projects carried out by Rhomberg during the Hunter Valley network closedown, the specialist structures team completed the Kooragang Island Bridge Re-transoming Project. Over the 72 hours, a crew of 12 installed approximately 200 transoms. This was a staggering feat as the project was disrupted significantly when coal protestors chained themselves to a transom on the bridge on the first day of the possession. Police were called and the protesters eventually removed. Given the publicity of the protest and the risk of it reoccurring or subsequent vandalism, Rhomberg arranged security overnight when the site was unattended.
All September Hunter Valley Closedown Works completed ahead of schedule
Despite the size and scale of the projects and the immense challenges that came with them, Rhomberg Rail was able to complete all our project in the September Hunter Valley network closedown early and within budget with no safety incidents. ARTC has asked that all our staff involved be complimented and thanked for their efforts as we have proven once again to be their supplier of choice for high pressure complex rail work on this vital rail network.