Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are each forecast to double in size by 2050 to over 8 million people. The Australian government’s Smart Cities Plan emphasizes the importance of connectivity to shape the public transport investment landscape for rail and transit. This includes construction of separate new multibillion dollar metrorail systems in Sydney and Melbourne crossing underneath heavily congested central business districts, harbours and rivers. Existing passenger rail networks are being extended, made safer through level crossing removals and grade separations, and undergoing capacity upgrades by employing latest signalling technologies, such as CBTC and ETCS. Light rail systems are also experiencing a resurgence with two new lines in Sydney, and within smaller cities including Gold Coast Newcastle, Canberra, and Adelaide.
On a national scale, the $10.4 billion Inland Rail Program will provide a 1700km freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane. The result will be increased capacity and reduced travel time and costs to regional centres. The project is well under development, and the initial contractor packages will be awarded in 2018. The Government is looking at “Faster Rail” network improvements to provide travel solutions for regional-area access to the main cities in support of the urban spread.
Neighbouring New Zealand is also becoming highly urbanized, particularly in Auckland and Wellington. The country is looking ahead to build smarter cities that include a new underline rail system below the Auckland central business district to address the heavily congested surrounding road network. A recent change of government will likely bring a shift in funding, with investment likely to favour rail projects over highway projects. Recent disaster recovery projects, traditional maintenance, replacement of life-expired equipment and minor improvement projects are also necessities that require funding.
WSP is currently working with owners, operators and constructors in some form across all of these projects, whether it be metro, passenger, freight, heavy haul or the implementation of new train technology. Applying our technical expertise and robust delivery and system integration systems, WSP assists in enhancing and maximizing the benefits of these projects for communities and customers through the delivery of world-class transport infrastructure.