Innovation plays a vital part in moving Australian rail forward. The Engineering Excellence Group created by Laing O’Rourke is an example that our industry recognises the importance of innovation, and is doing what we can to actively support the rail sector.
Stephen Pascall, Rail Sector Lead Australia Hub at Laing O’Rourke joined us in the lead up to the 2014 AusRAIL Conference and Exhibition, to talk about the some of the key projects Laing O’Rourke is currently working on, and the company’s view on the role of innovation in the Australian rail industry.
Laing O’Rourke has taken on some major rail and transport projects around the world. How does operating globally help support operations in Australia?
Stephen: We are recognised globally for our ability to self-perform innovative and cost-effective rail solutions, ranging from urban commuter service upgrades to cross-country heavy haul rail lines. Our major multidisciplinary projects involve programme management, civil engineering and tunnelling, track installation, electrification services, signalling, rail systems and maintenance services for scores of unique rail systems worldwide.
We’re able to take the lessons from our works around the world, including the Hong Kong Metro, London Underground and New Zealand rail network, and apply the latest approaches to major rail project delivery in the Australian context.
What role do you think innovation plays in the Australian rail industry?
Stephen: Innovation is critical to the future competitiveness of the rail sector. The ever increasing demand for infrastructure to support the economic growth and the finite pool of infrastructure funding means it’s vital that the rail industry can demonstrate that investment in the rail sector represents value for money, particularly for government clients.
Laing O’Rourke recognises this challenge, and is driving innovation across the business. We have developed our potential for innovation by establishing a unique in-house engineering consultancy, the Engineering Excellence Group. Staffed by some of the world’s leading industry innovators, it is actively supporting our rail sector agenda.
How do you envisage the future of Australian rail in the next decade?
Stephen: Over the next decade, we would expect that a number of public sector rail operators will look to reduce their expenditure on rail assets and operation by transferring management of the maintenance and operation to the public sector.
Also, we expect rail operators to increase the performance requirements of their rail assets through integrating technology with the assets and the use of real time monitoring.
We would also expect an increase in the level of automation of track plant for rail construction.
Our greatest hope is that technology will assist in eliminating work place injuries to our rail personnel across industry.
Laing O’Rourke has been awarded the first major contract to return light rail to the centre of the Sydney CBD. Could you give us an overview of the project please?
Stephen: Laing O’Rourke has been awarded the first major construction contract for Sydney’s $1.6 billion CBD and South East Light Rail project. The CBD and South East Light Rail will link Circular Quay and Central, the Moore Park sporting and entertainment precinct including the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium, Randwick Racecourse, the University of NSW and Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.
Laing O’Rourke will carry out essential early preparatory works, including relocating buried utilities such as water, telecommunications, gas and electricity cables and pipes, and initial work around Moore Park. Works along the new 12 kilometre route will begin shortly and will prepare the way for major construction of the light rail to begin in 2015.
AusRAIL 2014 is back in Perth this November. As one of the major exhibitors, what are you most looking forward to at this highly anticipated annual event?
Stephen: It is a great opportunity to meet with our client base, network and of course understand some of the leading changes in technology at the presentations.
Visit Laing O’Rourke at Stand #29 at this year’s AusRAIL Conference and Exhibition, taking place on 11th and 12th November at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre. For more information about this highly anticipated industry annual event, please visit the 2014 AusRAIL Conference and Exhibition website.