Thursday, November 26, 2009

Australian debut for UK rail safety experts

Leading UK-based rail safety company Zonegreen has joined forces with an Australian agent to launch its products into the rapidly developing Australian market.

Zonegreen - a world leader in the application of electronic control systems and depot personnel safety - will be working with Andrew Engineering, a long established Australian company based in West Heidelberg, near Melbourne.

With Zonegreen's groundbreaking products and Andrew Engineering's expert knowledge of the Australian rail industry, the two companies will address gaps in the market that have emerged as a result of the industry's rapid expansion and the development of long distance passenger rail links.

The partnership will offer Australian rail operators better access to safety expertise. In particular, products such as Zonegreen's SMART™ Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS), which has revolutionised safety at numerous UK traincare depots — including a new Eurostar engineering depot in London — as well as depots in Ireland and Dubai.

"Historically there has been limited requirement for systems such as the DPPS so there's nothing comparable in Australia at present," said Zonegreen's Managing Director Tony Hague. "But that is changing fast, and we are looking forward to working with Andrew Engineering to bring Zonegreen products to the Australian market."

Zonegreen attended AusRail Plus 2009 in Adelaide last week, as part of the UK Trade & Investment rail mission. The company's presence attracted widespread interest, and marked Zonegreen's entry into the Australian market.

Technical Director Christian Fletcher, who attended the exhibition, said: "This is an exciting time for the Australian rail industry and there is huge interest in Zonegreen's products. There's significant potential for improved safety and efficiency within Australia's growing number of traincare depots, and we are now well placed to assist in that process."

The exhibition was attended by UK Trade & Investment and rail professionals from across the Southern Hemisphere and beyond.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On track for golden age of rail

Australia's rail industry is about to enter a "golden age" with $36.4 billion invested last year - more than double the previous year's investment.

But suppliers told Adelaide's AusRail Plus conference yesterday the industry faces new challenges in the rise of Chinese manufacturing and solving the challenge of infrastructure differences between state systems.

"The product that will come out of China is as good as any we produce in the world and significantly more cost effective," United Group Rail chief executive Dean Jenkins said.

Downer EDI Rail chief executive Guy Wannop said the lower cost of Chinese products would not kill local industry as clients were now looking at the total through-life cost of their rolling stock, including 30 years of maintenance.

But he warned the industry needed to look to its own shores to bring down production costs, including standardising products across state boundaries and improving the interoperability of onboard systems.

The Federal Government's appointment of Futuris Automotive chairman Bruce Griffiths as the first "supplier advocate" was a sign it was looking to the future of the industry, Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye said, but the industry could expect significant changes. "If they want to invest in public transport, they want to get their value for money and... they will want to see we no longer have seven different crash groups, there will no longer be different components in each state," he said. "At the moment, the same rail car that is operating and built in Queensland can also be used in Western Australia, but there are 652 differences between them. That adds to the cost."

While the global slowdown has taken the sting out of the growth in the resource sector - a key freight rail market - government stimulus has taken over, AnsaldoSTS-Asia Pacific chief operation officer Graham Russell said.

He said the company - Australia's largest supplier of signalling and control products - was now looking at a healthy decade ahead. "We are in for a good time in South Australia. The Government is investing in its local suburban network...and of course, there is the Olympic Dam expansion," he said. "We are in for five to 10 good years across Australia but particularly South Australia."

The Advertiser.
November 18th.

National railway regulator to make its home here

Adelaide will be the home of a new national rail regulator from 2012, a move the industry expects will save about $42 million in duplicated regulatory costs.

The industry currently has seven state and federal bodies with which freight and passenger companies must comply, but the Australian Transport Council has settled upon Adelaide as the home for a single rail safety and investigation body.

Council of Australian Governments approval is expected because the move already has the support of state and federal transport ministers.

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye said the location made sense. "It is in the centre of the rail networks, and it was a jurisdiction that is willing to quickly move and take it forward," he said. "North-south meets here, east-west meets here, there's manufacturing here that will get bigger with Olympic Dam."

However, the industry was warned there was still "a lot of work to be done" for productivity improvements.

The Federal Government's National Building co-ordinator Lyn O'Connell said the industry needed to reduce duplication in recognition of government infrastructure investment. "There must be a will and opportunity to take advantage of the huge investments and regulatory reform - now is the time," she told the AusRAIL Plus conference in Adelaide yesterday.

Mr Nye said an influx of chief executives from other industries had already driven increased innovation and a push for efficiency.

The Advertiser.
November 19th.

Rail suppliers come under fire

OUTGOING Pacific National chief executive Don Telford has warned Australian rail suppliers they will lose business unless they improve their attitude to customers.

In a one-hour forum with rail chief executives at the AusRAIL Plus conference in Adelaide yesterday, Mr Telford said all major suppliers had forgotten the basics of doing business.

"We don't know any of the (suppliers') chief executives and haven't had any delegations from the major suppliers in the Australian rail industry," he said.

"These people have to be concerned because the Chinese (and the British) know our top five executives, we know their chief executives. They are looking to do business in Australia."

The comments were a major departure from the tenor of the rest of the conference, where 3000 attendees welcomed a renewed push for harmonisation and improved productivity.

"They need to do something that will take them from the back-slapping stuff that has been going on here over the last couple of days," Mr Telford said. "Unless you lift your game, you are going to lose business."

The Advertiser.
November 19.

Rail supplier advocate to boost sector

THE head of car component manufacturer Futuris Automotive will champion small and medium businesses in Australia's $3 billion rail industry.

Executive chairman Bruce Griffiths is the first supplier advocate to be appointed by federal Industry Minister Kim Carr as part of the Government's $8.2 million Supplier Advocate program.

The program is designed to boost the success of local industry suppliers.
"Central to Mr Griffith's role will be helping small and medium-sized businesses market their products to government buyers and champion sectoral initiatives to improve competitiveness,'' Mr Carr said.

While other advocates are to be appointed to the steel and textiles industries, today's rail announcement is timed to coincide with the opening of this week's AusRail conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The conference is expected to attract more than 4500 delegates from Australia and overseas to cover policy, investment and technical aspects of the industry.
Australasian Railway Association chief executive Brian Nye said Adelaide had been chosen to host the event because of its growing mining infrastructure and planned $2.2 billion passenger rail investment.

"South Australia is a booming centre where `east meets west' in Australia, one of the world's best train journeys starts here, and the new mines coming on line will trigger an unprecedented demand in rail freight movements," Mr Nye said.

"Like all states and territories in Australia, rail is undergoing a massive investment program preparing our passenger and freight networks for
the future."

The event will directly focus on the economic slowdown, exploring the need to increase productivity and efficiency under the theme of ``Doing More with Less''.
State and federal ministers will address the conference, and nine chief executives, including TransAdelaide's Bob Stobbe, will headline Thursday's keynote forum on the future of the industry.

The Advertiser.
Nov 17 2009