For Sydney Metro City and Southwest as well as Sydney Metro West, the adoption of a digital engineering approach has resulted in an unprecedented level of collaboration and engagement between designers, clients and stakeholders.
Samantha McWilliam, Design Manager for the projects’ Technical Advisor role says, “This collaboration has been imperative to ensure we achieved Transport for NSW’s philosophy which states that customers are at the centre of the Sydney Metro.”
The Sydney Metro Digital Experience
Sydney Metro is currently Australia’s biggest public transport project. Stage 1 and 2 of the standalone railway will deliver 31 metro stations and more than 66 km of new metro rail, transforming the way Sydney moves. Stage 2, Sydney Metro City and Southwest includes 15.5 km of twin tunnels along with seven new underground stations between Chatswood and Sydenham. Finally, Sydney Metro West forms part of the next railway infrastructure investment. Planning and identification of the number and location of potential stations began in October 2017.
“With such a large volume of work and information involved across disciplines, using digital engineering tools in early design has been significant in managing datasets and visualising design, as well as improving how the project team and client stakeholders have worked together to deliver community-centric rail,” adds Ms McWilliam.
Managing Data Collaboration
Each element of design has the potential to influence the way a user will experience public transport, in turn impacting its efficiency, safety and overall operation. Being able to manage access to the multidisciplinary data behind each design element has been paramount.
“Ensuring all teams and stakeholders have access to the latest design information regardless of their location is key,” adds Ms McWilliam. “On Sydney Metro City and Southwest, SiteMap, a WSP bespoke web-based GIS portal, acted as a centralised digital data environment that was always current, secure and supported access to relevant information by all disciplines. It formed the basis of the portal, WSP Create, which has been rolled out in a project specific version for Sydney Metro West. Additionally, it will be used to host and make available all digital content produced over the course of the scoping and definition design phases.
“Overall, these digital tools allow the team to interact with the designs in a new, quick and cost-effective way. Complex 3D design constraints can be shown in a user-friendly platform.”
With such an integrated platform, responding to concerns of information and safety has been crucial. Ms McWilliam explains, “We developed several permissioned data ‘instances’ using SiteMap to control who can access, use and modify particular data. Protocols and execution plans are also implemented to control the flow of design data, the checking and verification process and the publishing of design information.”
Virtual Customer Experience
As the first fully-automated metro system in Australia, each element of early design must be carefully coordinated and understood by both the team as well as the client, and external community consultation groups.
“Traditional methods of 2D design and coordination and client and stakeholder engagement don’t move fast enough for a project with such a complex and accelerated design timeline.” Adds Ms McWilliam. “This has pushed the use of more advanced 3D design technology.
“It’s important to provide an early feel of design and test spaces and requirements prior to the designs being locked in.”
While Virtual Reality has traditionally been considered costly, the team has balanced this by using cost-effective low rendered models in early design, later using highly rendered models in stakeholder and executive engagements to obtain approval for critical design decisions. In addition to this, by using Augmented Reality, the team has been able to assess the visual impacts associated with design solutions – specifically in the existing brownfields rail environment.
“These tools have enabled us to make fast-paced design decisions, test and improve designs, as well as communicate complex 3D issues, options/scenarios and problems to stakeholders,” says Ms McWilliam.
“This has enhanced how we approach early planning and design, and has evolved the way we collaborate across the board and deliver the vision of the project – one that has the customer at the centre.”
For more information read: ‘Digital starting blocks: The Sydney Metro experience’ written by Samantha McWilliam and Damien Cutcliffe for this year's CORE2018.
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