A trip to Japan

I was very fortunate recently to enjoy a trip to Japan.
It was a short trip as I was only in the country for three days with a red-eye in and a red-eye out.

Track Machines
Some guys from an Australian company had asked me if it was possible to arrange a visit to see some of MATISA’s machines that are being operated in Japan. They were visiting on a business trip and thought it would be good to see some of the machines up close.

I was able to make the arrangements with the help of colleagues from Japan and I think the guys enjoyed the visit and appreciated being able to see some of the machines.

The most notable thing about the machines was their condition. Both the machines we visited were immaculate. They were 8-10 years old but looked as if they were only a year or two old. A testament to the Japanese maintenance approach.

The big thing that I noticed in Japan was the difference in culture from the West. There is sense of thoroughness and order about everything, from the way they queue to the cleanliness of streets.

Immediately on my arrival in Tokyo, whilst waiting for a flight down to Osaka I noticed things were different. The guys driving the luggage tugs at the airport were checking the vehicles before they got in them at the start of the day.
Check the lights
Check the brakes
Check the water
Check the fuel
Check the first aid kit
Check the safety gear.
And then when they approached a road junction, they would point in the direction they are looking, this is their physical reminder of the need to check that the road is clear. They do this every time.
I saw this habit again later on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) where the platform attendant pointed to every pantograph on the train as it passed him. This pointing has two functions it acts as an indicator to everyone else that you are checking and also a reminder to yourself that you have checked. I like it….
Now how do I integrate this into my own work?

Mobile Flash Butt Welding

My assignment at Sydney Trains is to trial mobile flash butt welding on the Sydney Trains Network. Several trials have been performed before, however the process has not been taken up in the business. This is an opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of MFBW and also to address some of the concerns that team members may have.
This is a project with lots of interfaces and is giving me a great opportunity to get to know lots of people in the Sydney Trains business.
I’m still in the research phase and will be engaging with industry shortly to see what services can be offered by the contractors in the market.

CEDA Lunch at the Shangri-La Hotel

Today I was fortunate to get an invite to attend the CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) at the Shangri-La Hotel. One of the speakers at the event, and of particular interest to me was Howard Collins OBE, the CEO of Sydney Trains.
It was very encouraging to see Mr Collins so enthused about the opportunity and challenge that lays ahead for Sydney Trains and for Sydney’s transport needs in general. He has embraced the concept of putting the customer first, as championed by Gladys Berejiklian, and this has started to deliver real improvement on the network. The future use of technology and putting live information directly into the customer’s hand via their smart phone is also a significant step in this direction.
I was fortunate to have a front row seat and managed to snap a photo of the panel.Photo of the CEDA Panel

Presentation at AusRAIL 2012 – Modular Switches and Crossings

AusRAIL is one of the main rail conferences held in Australia each year. In November 2012 I presented a paper discussing Network Rail’s Modular S&C Project. The conference was in Canberra, which worked out well as I had not been to Canberra at that time.
I also presented the paper at the RISSB National Turnouts Conference, also in November.

A copy of the paper can be found here Modular Switches and Crossings.

I hope you find the paper interesting and I would welcome any comments or feedback.

Leaving Transfield Services

I am on the move again! I have been working with Transfield Services for a little over two years and the time has come for a change.
I have enjoyed my time with Transfield Services, but a great opportunity has come my way and it is time to change.
I am moving to Rhomberg Rail Australia and will still be working in Sydney. In my new role I will be Manager Strategic Projects. This means I will be working on a whole range of things from tendering to innovation to asset management and much else besides.
This fits with my career plans and it feels good to be moving to a company that is wholly focused on railway services.
I finish with Transfield Services on Friday 20 April.
Between jobs I am taking a little break and so I start with Rhomberg on 23 May.

A final look at Manchester Metro

The metro is back up and running and appears to be working well.

There do not appear to be any major problems, and it is difficult to believe all the work that has been done to get it up and running again.

Here are a few photos from around Shudehill, they are a little blurry but they were taken in the dark.

Looking from Shudehill towards High Street
Looking from Shudehill towards High Street

Shudehill Station
Shudehill Station

View towards Victoria from Shudehill Station
View towards Victoria from Shudehill Station

Shudehill Station, again
Shudehill Station, again

Luton Station

The joys of contracting take me to Peterborough for a project at Luton.
I am now doing some work for Jarvis, planning an S&C renewal at Luton North Junction and the permanent way works necessary to remodel the platforms.
This is quite a complicated project, with our p-way works comprising a part of it.

Looking towards the station.
Looking towards the station.

Yes I am behind the barrier!
Yes I am behind the barrier!

These photos are from a fenced green zone set up by the civils guys to build the new foundations for the new OLE masts.
The track is to be realigned over the bridge to allow the platforms to be lengthened to the north.
Luton North Junction is to the north of here, but access is not good due to the curves through the bridges and into the station.
The areas shown in these photos are due to be relaid in Week 1 with the works on the Junction spread over Week 4 and Week 6.

New track, same rain!

I thought I would post a little update on the state of progress on the Manchester Metrolink city centre track renewals.
Things have moved on a pace over the last couple of weeks with lots of pieces of separate track now being joined together. We have continuous track from Princess Street to Delta, Victoria to Dantzic Street, Shudehill Rd to Church Street, with work progressing around Market Street Station and round into the Delta.
The new surface finish (paving) is looking very posh, perhaps it will put some of the existing paving to shame.

Mosley Street looking from York Street
Mosley Street looking from York Street

Mosley Street
Mosley Street

High Street
High Street

The job is suffering from the odd hitch, such as a run of failed welds which has led to a some rework.
Work has finally started to move on at Shudehill, there have been a few hitches, but things should now be starting to progress with the Inbound due to be fit to run trams by the end of August. Time is tight but with a bit of effort this should be possible.
Existing concrete broken out of Shudehill Station
Existing concrete broken out of Shudehill Station

It has also rained a lot, and I mean a lot. Not a day seems to go by without the heavens opening and pouring down on Manchester.

Progress in the sun in Manchester

The sun has been shining and progress has been made.
The last couple of weeks in Manchester have seen quite a lot of progress across the city. Some areas are now paved and new areas of work have been opened up.
It looks as though the hard work of everyone involved is starting to come together.
The photo below show the latest area to start being ripped out, the worksite has extended into Piccadilly Gardens on the Delta.

The old track on the Delta comes up.
The old track on the Delta comes up.

In other areas the rails are in and the new street finish is going down. This is looking very good and hopefully will get the approval from the city residents. How long will it remain free from chewing gum though!
The very expensive looking street finish in centre of Manchester.
The very expensive looking street finish in centre of Manchester.

A slightly different finish at Mosley St Station.
A slightly different finish at Mosley St Station.

We also get the very occasional opportunity to enjoy the lighter aspects of working in a vibrant city centre like Manchester. Here is Dave (Shammy) one of our key guys enjoying a moment with the girls from the Co-op. They have just opened a new store on the High Street directly opposite one of our worksites.
Are those Lepricorns Shammy?
Are those Lepricorns Shammy?