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‘They’re here’: Qld’s Rail $4 billion sleek fleet arrives in Brisbane

If you were on a train station between the Port of Brisbane and Wulkuraka early on Friday afternoon you may have seen the first of Brisbane’s new trains that have cost taxpayers more than $4 billion. The first of the sleek-looking six-car set of Queensland’s Next Generation Rolling Stock, arrived at the Port of Brisbane…Read More→

'They're here': Qld's Rail $4 billion sleek fleet arrives in Brisbane

If you were on a train station between the Port of Brisbane and Wulkuraka early on Friday afternoon you may have seen the first of Brisbane’s new trains that have cost taxpayers more than $4 billion.

The first of the sleek-looking six-car set of Queensland’s Next Generation Rolling Stock, arrived at the Port of Brisbane on Friday morning and slowly made their way to the railway workshops at Wulkuraka, just to the west of Ipswich.

Ipswich is Queensland Rail’s traditional home, with the first rail trip running from Ipswich to Grandchester in 1865.

'They're here': Qld's Rail $4 billion sleek fleet arrives in Brisbane

This is now where Bombardier, the company which won the $4.4 billion contract, has built a new state-of-the-art rail maintenance facility.

wo weeks ago Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe showed media inside a mock-up of the carriages and on Friday the first train arrived from India.

Just after lunch on Friday Brisbane’s new train took to the rail tracks for the first time, running from Fisherman Islands, to Lindum, to Dutton Park, to Yeerongpilly, across to Corinda, then to Ipswich and out to Wulkuraka.

And for the purists, it left at 1.58 pm and arrived at Ipswich a little after 3.20pm after some preliminary braking and testing.

Over the next three years, 75 of the six-car sets will become part of the Queensland Rail fleet, allowing some of the older rail cars to be retired.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe watched as the first of the new carriages were unloaded at the Port of Brisbane and added to anm older-generation diesel engine.

“Before it moved off, the train had to undergo a series of safety tests which included having its air-hose pressure and brakes tested ready for it to be hauled by the locomotives,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

The major rail testing centre is at Wulkuraka, he said.

The tests include the new train’s operating systems and passenger comfort features.

That means the seats, the train and carriage doors and the performance of the braking and traction systems.

“One of the most important elements of the trains is the ‘full-load capacity’ braking system test to meet Australian standards under a range of environmental conditions and speeds,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

Robert Dow from the public transport lobby group Rail Back on Track welcomed the new trains. He looked through the exact replica a week ago at a community open day at Wulkuraka.

“At last we might be starting to turn a corner,” Mr Dow said.

“We need to significantly boost our rail system in SEQ if we are to manage our transport needs as a community.”

Mr Dow predicted Queensland Rail would fast-track the additional 25 new trains, on top of the 75 that will be received in the first three years of the contract.

“We think the option for the additional trains needs to be exercised sooner than later.”

Rail Back on Track suggest the guard station in the rear new trains may need some modification.

“This will mean some changes in operating practices,” he said.

The first new train goes into service in the second half of 2016.
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Gold Coast

Investors Eye Gold Coast Infrastructure Boost

Gold Coast

In a huge boost for economic growth and jobs on the Gold Coast, the Queensland government has released details of its four-year, $52.2-billion infrastructure spend and the draft State Infrastructure Strategy, a vision for the State’s infrastructure needs for the next two decades.

These significant investments will play a vital role in growing the health, sciences, technology and innovation sectors necessary for the rapid growth predicted on the Gold Coast, driven by a growing local population.

In prime position to benefit from these investments is Lumina, a premium life sciences commercial cluster within the 200ha Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, a spokesperson said.

The precinct is already home to established health and science leaders Gold Coast University Hospital, the Gold Coast Private Hospital, Griffith University and Cohort Innovation Space.

State government investment in the precinct’s infrastructure is driving even greater connectivity and opportunities for co-location with hospitals, which is ideal for healthcare services, health tech, and health-related industry stakeholders to connect with clinicians and their patients, the spokesperson said.

One development already taking advantage is Proxima, an $80-million children’s health and education centre of excellence within Lumina.

While Australia, like most developed nations, has an ageing population this is not the case for the Gold Coast and Proxima is set to meet the needs of the growing numbers of children and young families in the region.

It is estimated that there are more than 80,000 children (0-9 years old) currently living on the Gold Coast, with 34 per cent forecasted growth by 2041.

As more than 60 per cent of the Gold Coast’s projected population growth is expected to occur within the northern Gold Coast, Proxima, other developments within Lumina and services in the precinct are ideally placed to meet their medical needs.

“Boosted by favourable market conditions, the next round of the planned developments at Lumina are taking shape, demonstrating the strong demand for life sciences, health and technology on the Gold Coast,” the spokesperson said.

Key drivers of growth

Population and Industry data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the Gold Coast as one of Australia’s fastest growing regions in both current and future growth.

Two of the key drivers at play are population growth and a deliberate government strategy to drive diverse economic growth and knowledge job creation in the region.

The Gold Coast population is set to increase to around 1.1 million people by 2041. Much of this growth will occur in the northern Gold Coast, notably around the Southport region.

Interstate migration is a key factor, with more Australians relocating to the Gold Coast than any other region. This ballooning growth is creating demand for necessary infrastructure, as well as services to support the population’s needs.

Economic growth is also a key driver, particularly in the northern regions. The Gold Coast City Council’s vision is for diverse economic prosperity, beyond its traditional tourism industry. The region is focused on growing its health, research, education, and innovation economy.

This vision is already having an impact. Global property and investment firm CBRE in its latest analysis of the Life Sciences industry in Australia, reports that there is 10 per cent higher growth in health sector investment on the Gold Coast compared to south-east Queensland, and 14 per cent higher growth than the state overall.

In the professional scientific and technical services sector, there is also a 90 per cent growth forecast centred on the Gold Coast in 2020-21, the gain exceeding the growth rates of 75 per cent in south-east Queensland and 73 per cent in Queensland.

The tertiary education sector on the Gold Coast is being led by Griffith University, with strong enrolments in its Southport campus.

This expanding population and economic investment boom are key drivers for the need for new infrastructure, and with the planned infrastructure enhancements, savvy investors are seeing the opportunities offered by developments like Lumina in the centre of the action.

Infrastructure investment boosts accessibility

In 2020-21 financial year there has already been a $1.15 billion investment boost in Gold Coast infrastructure projects as part of the Queensland Economic Recovery Plan.

But this is just a part of the ongoing public infrastructure investment of more than $6.36 billion.

This has included targeted investments in transport infrastructure (including a $3.4 billion Gold Coast Light Rail extension), addressing accessibility and congestion. The rail extension will ensure convenient, direct public transport access around the Gold Coast and to and from its economic hubs.

Direct access to Brisbane is also being enhanced. There are planned improvements to the “Coomera Connector,” in addition to the existing M1 highway between Brisbane and Gold Coast.

Upon completion, stage one of the Coomera Connector is expected to remove up to 60,000 vehicles from the M1, which will reduce commuter travel times between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

The airways are opening too, with a $370-million expansion of the Gold Coast airport under way to improve domestic and international airport access

Lumina is positioned to reap the benefits of infrastructure investment

Supported by over $5 billion in infrastructure investment to date, a world-class university, and two hospitals, Lumina is ideally positioned for those seeking to secure a place within its thriving community.

There is space for start-ups requiring coworking desks, and space for growing or established businesses seeking offices, multiple floors or even developers and occupants with a vision for a building of their own. Lumina provides solutions to businesses of all sizes, stages, and specialisations. Invest today in Queensland’s growing and diversifying life sciences, health and technology sectors.


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Construction Back to Work After Covid Boilover


Thousands of Victorian construction workers will be back on the tools from next week as building sites reopen under strict public health orders, including a new vaccination mandate.

The move follows a tumultuous two-week shutdown prompted by rising numbers of Covid cases across the sector.

Effective from Tuesday, larger construction sites can have up to 25 per cent of workers onsite and on smaller scale projects up to five workers and a supervisor are able to be onsite.

Workers must have had a least one dose of Covid vaccine and carry an authorised workers permit.

If all workers are fully vaccinated and crib rooms “meet best practice” large-scale construction sites can have up to 50 per cent of their workforce onsite. Projects on the state critical infrastructure list will operate at 100 per cent as long as crib rooms follow best practice guidelines.

Under the government’s new construction sector roadmap, the industry and its workers must adhere to a raft of new measures to ensure they can reopen sites and remain open.

Every construction site in Victoria must have a designated fully-trained Covid marshal to ensure compliance with the chief health officer’s directions.

Prior to reopening, operators will be required to attest that they have implemented the directions and every site will need to have an up-to-date vaccination register available for compliance checks at all times.

Teams of authorised workers will conduct checks to enforce the directions, and penalties will be in place for builders and site operators that do not comply—including site shutdowns for significant or repeated breaches.

“We’ve worked really hard with the industry to ensure they can reopen safely,” Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said.

“But the message is clear: we won’t tolerate it operating in a way that puts the rest of our community at risk.”


▲ Victorian building sites are set to reopen under strict public health guidelines, including a new vaccination mandate.

The recent shutdown and protests followed the Victorian government issuing a mandate requiring all construction workers to have had at least their first Covid vaccine dose by September 23.

In ugly scenes, hundreds of angry hi vis-clad “rogue” demonstrators stormed the streets of the locked-down Melbourne CBD sparking the deployment of riot police, who used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to control the hostile crowd.

It was conservatively estimated the abrupt site closures and resulting project delays would cost the industry $1 billion a week but some experts believed the total damage bill could be more than $6 billion.

Australian Constructors Association chief executive Jon Davies welcomed the Victorian government’s decision to reopen construction sites from Tuesday.

“The Victorian government has worked closely with the ACA and other industry stakeholders to determine the best way for the industry to show full compliance with the public health measures and directions,” Davies said.

“A tightening of protocols has been part of the solution, along with vaccination requirements. The key to putting an end to restrictions and lockdowns is vaccination.”

Under the new construction sector roadmap, subject to continued high levels of compliance by the industry, workforce caps will progressively increase.

When 70 per cent of Victoria’s population is double vaccinated, large-scale construction projects will return to 100 per cent onsite workforce. All worksite caps will be removed when the state reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target.

All onsite workers must be fully vaccinated by November 13.

Fully-vaccinated workers can travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in order to work onsite.


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Industrial Property

Fears Wharf Strikes Will Bring Construction to its Knees


The construction industry has been dealt another blow as industrial action cripples ports across Australia, adding pressure to an already constrained construction materials supply chain.

The Maritime Union of Australia has launched strike action at Patricks Wharfs at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle, in a campaign for pay rises and increased union control of manning levels and hiring.

Port Botany wharfies in Sydney will strike next weekend, while Melbourne wharfies plan to strike every second day in October.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn has condemned the industrial action, which she said would paralyse the industry.

“More than $10 billion in building products was imported in the past 12 months and these strikes will hammer the building supply chain which is already under huge pressure,” Wawn said.

“Our members are already experiencing long delays and substantial cost increases due to product shortages and these strikes will make it even harder for building and construction businesses across the country.

“There’s absolutely no doubt these strikes risk hurting the recovery from Covid as governments around the country are harnessing the building industry’s economic multiplier effect to accelerate economic activity and growth.”

Container ships have been waiting up to 18 days at berth in Sydney as a result of the industrial action while negotiations have stalemated once more.


▲ Freight times on construction materials will be pushed out as ships sit in berth for up to 18 days during industrial action. 

The property industry has underpinned Australia’s Covid-19 economic recovery and produces about 13 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

It has been grappling with steel and timber shortages as a result of global supply chain issues and the tailwinds of the HomeBuilder stimulus package fuelling a construction boom.

According to the Housing Industry Association, 82 per cent of builders are reporting delays with supply or trade, and there is about a 15-week lead time on timber trusses and frames, but this could blow out significantly with port industrial action.

Patrick Terminals chief executive Michael Jovic said the company had been in negotiations with the Maritime Union of Australia since February 2020, and they had an offer on the table for a 2.5 per cent pay rise over the next four years.

The ongoing industrial dispute has reportedly cost Patrick Terminals more than $15 million in revenue, which the union has rejected, while impacting supply chains across the country.

Wharf industrial action was also brought to the Fair Work Commission at this time last year, where claims were made it was delaying supply chains by up to three weeks.

But supply chain disruptions to the construction industry are likely to persist beyond the middle of 2022, according to a global risk survey released recently.

The Oxford Economics survey found one in eight businesses surveyed this month said they had been “severely affected” by supply chain interruptions, and half of respondents said they expected the Delta outbreaks to affect their businesses well into next year.

The Property Council of Australia said labour and material shortages driving up the cost of construction jobs and disruptions caused by the pandemic had delayed projects. Material shortages are at their worst in four decades.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is already investigating reports of price gouging in the shipping industry, and is due to release its annual stevedoring monitoring report in November.


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