Wulkuraka rail facility set to put industry back on track

IPSWICH has long been known as one of the original homes of the rail industry in Australia.

Thousands were employed at the railway workshops before they were slowly closed down.

Now the rail industry is back on track thanks to the nearly completed $190 million maintence facility at Wulkuraka.

The ultra modern depot has already employed hundreds of people in the construction phase with the facility now just six months from being operational.

The depot will see Bombardier maintain the latest generation trains with approximately 150 people employed once the operational phase kicks in.

Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) NGR program director Stuart Langan said the facility had been "purpose built to maintain the 75 six-car trains that we are getting from Bombardier".

VISION: Operations manager for Qtectic, Robert Wilkinson (left) and Stuart Langan, DTMR NGR program director, at the NGR Maintenance Centre in Wulkuraka.
VISION: Operations manager for Qtectic, Robert Wilkinson (left) and Stuart Langan, DTMR NGR program director, at the NGR Maintenance Centre in Wulkuraka. Inga Williams

"It has also been future proofed and we have an option in the contract for an extra 24 trains," he said.

"Work began around April of 2013 and the depot is almost physically complete.

The new maintenance centre includes raised tracks.
The new maintenance centre includes raised tracks.

"We are working through finalising some design issues…and starting to plan for operational readiness.

"Bombardier, who will maintain the trains on site for the next 30 years, are already starting to move into the offices.

"We would expect the first train to get into operational service in the middle of 2016 and all 75 trains in service by the end of 2018.

"On the depot, there will be 150 people employed ranging from managerial and office-type staff to technical people to maintain the trains.

"Prior to that, under construction, there were just over 330 full time employees and an additional 70 contractors."

Mr Langan said the depot was a "fantastic opportunity to have a brand new state-of-the-art facility to support the new trains that are coming".

"The new trains will enable some of the old Queensland Rail trains to go into retirement and once that is all complete it will also allow for an additional 30% capacity on the network.

"Some of the older trains are being retired or replaced with new generation rolling stock which comes with CCTV, wi-fi, toilets and other key features."

All the assets at the depot will belong to DTMR with the contract to maintain the trains resting with Bombardier.

Queensland Rail are the overall operators of the trains.

A German-made wheel lathe ensures optimum wheel profile.
A German-made wheel lathe ensures optimum wheel profile.

Laing O'Rourke is the principal contractor for the construction of the depot.

When the trains come in to the bi-directional depot, from either the Rosewood or Ipswich direction, they will go through what is known as the MRX Shed, or colloquially as 'The Giraffe Hut',

where state of the art equipment picks up any defects in the train.

Those issues can then be rectified and the data collected to provide Bombardier with information on maintenance requirements.

There are 10 tracks at the depot, known on site as 'roads', with the first six leading into the maintenance shed.

The seventh is a "through road" leading right through to the western end of the depot.

The eighth leads to the wheel lathe. The ninth is used for stabling purpose and the 10th is a bypass.

"The wheel lathe deals with any issues relating to the wheel sets," Mr Langan said.

"One of the challenges that Laing O'Rourke had in the design and construction phase was that the wheel lathe machine was massive and came from Germany, so in order to get it in they had to design part of the roof section to be removable.

"If the machine ever had to come out, one of the roof panels can be lifted off."

The number six road leads to the main cleaning bay within the maintenance shed.

Trains are scanned for faults via an automated visual inspection system.
Trains are scanned for faults via an automated visual inspection system.

Roads two to five are for maintenance with number four and five having a crane on hand to enable heavy roof work to be undertaken.

All of the roads have raised tracks in the shed, enabling maintenance workers to get in an elongated pit so they can get right under the trains.

The number one road is the main lifting facility which contains retracted lifting jacks which enables the change-out of underframe equipment to be done.

The Wulkuraka facility has been an outstanding local job creator.

"Out at the depot during construction, a lot of the employees and sub-contractors were obtained from Ipswich or south-east Queensland," Mr Langan said.

"Likewise in the operational side of the project, Bombardier are recruiting a large percentage of people from the Ipswich region."

Topics:  ipswich railway tracks wulkuraka

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