Upper Hunter Valley Alliance
The Upper Hunter Valley Alliance (UHVA) was formed between Leighton Contractors and ARTC in 2009 to deliver a significant program of civil and track works on the Hunter Valley network between Singleton and Werris Creek. The Hexham Project was added to the Alliance scope.
A key part of the ARTC 2009-2018 Hunter Valley Corridor Capacity Strategy, this program of works is essential in enabling the rail corridor to meet future demand, deliver coal to port efficiently and thereby contribute to the ongoing strength of the Australian economy.
Leighton Contractors is the lead non-owner participant acting as Principal Contractor responsible for cost estimation, design, project management, construction delivery, subcontractor management, safety, quality and environmental management and community relations.
The team manages from the concept phase all detailed track and civil design, planning and environmental approvals, construction and commissioning on site and handover to operations.
Project Milestones and Achievements:
- We have improved possession scheduling, reporting, reliability and the content and reliability of schedules during critical major closedown works.
- In-house experience in all disciplines has provided value for money and self performance opportunities to ARTC that concurrently assures program delivery.
- Effective early consultation and timely response to community concerns has resulted in successful completion of 96 hr possession(s) within rural townships with minimal community complaints.
- Refined the turnout installation methodologies enabling significant time and cost savings; i.e. using ‘slide- in’ practices, two new turnouts can be installed in a single 5 hour maintenance possession, de-risking any of the four full closedown possessions made available annually.
- Delivered 13 discrete projects to date constructing new loops, civil works, turnouts, crossovers and power upgrades.
- Commercially, the Alliance has maintained greensheet margin %, but increased turnover by 73% ($150m turnover increased to $260m).
- Introduced several initiatives, including rollout of services, driver perception training and review of the benefits of a Business Excellence model framework.
- A focus on service provision and customer needs to ensure we meet ARTC’s stakeholder and operational requirements – for major projects and the corridor asset team – is key to maintaining the Alliance in the Valley. The team understands the need to deliver across every facet of function and delivery in a collaborative manner while maintaining cost efficient and effective solutions.
Dealing with particular project issues
- The UHVA program involves taking projects from Environmental Impact Assessment through to delivery. To date, this has involved two State Significant (EPA Act) Part 5.1 assessments (EIS) and 10 Part 5 assessments (REFs). The program has benefited from the continual refinement of internal processes resulting in zero reportable environmental incidents.
- The landscapes that UHVA works within regularly contain aboriginal heritage, threatened flora and fauna, riparian areas and rural communities. UHVA’s positive track record in planning and managing these issues demonstrates the effective integration between the environment, design, safety, planning, construction and community and quality teams.
- The collective projects are dispersed over a wide geographical area. The support teams are co-located to ensure integration and remote facilities were set up early in each projects life cycle to ensure remote access is available.
- A key standout is the improvement in possession management process – detailed possession scope, finalisation and pre-possession meetings. Our process requires an Engineer in Charge to monitor programs each hour during the possession periods. This process is now standard practice across our rail business.
- To address the Hunter region’s resource scarcity, the Alliance had introduced dual or triple supplier procurement strategies. Key benefits have included closer working relationships with suppliers, increased purchasing consistency and simplicity and, most significantly, better value for money for the Alliance.
Hexham Relief Roads Project
- The Hexham Relief Roads project (construction of 5 roads adjacent to existing rail mainlines) is currently the main project under the UHVA and will be the largest project delivered. It provides holding roads that will enable ARTC to manage the sequencing of trains into the Port before distributing coal globally.
- The project includes significant work undertaken in the environmentally sensitive wetlands area around Newcastle. The team has secured planning approvals, construction and environmental management plan approvals, an Environmental Protection Licence and acquired land in December 2013. Site clearance works, construction of the access road and early works commenced in December 2013.
- On 19 January 2014, the team successfully completed a large tandem crane lift to place a conveyor across 4 existing tracks in a night time possession. Using 450T and 250T cranes, the team lifted in the section, mitigating program risk by facilitating the import of rock and quarry products to the project.
- The team has started to import rock into the site and will work to commission the project in November 2014 to suit ARTCs strategic requirement to deliver rail capacity in advance of industry contracted coal volumes.
The Alliance continues to perform and meet or exceed all the ARTC project objectives. Testament to this performance us that currently UHVA remains the only live rail alliance in the Hunter Valley area.
Environmental monitoring data
For further information relating to environmental management of the project please call 1800 722 669.
NB. The construction of the Nundah Bank project is complete and no additional environmental monitoring data will be generated from 15.3.13 onwards.