In the mid-1990s, when the Western Australia Government Railways (Westrail -
now TransWA) started planning the proposed route for a $550 million suburban
rail system to Perth’s South West Corridor, its first priority was to produce a
good, quick preliminary plan.
Australian civil engineering software, 4D
Model (later renamed 12d Model), enabled Westrail to produce the plan quickly
and to visualise the proposed route so planners, developers and the community
could gain a good understanding of its potential impact and advantages.
“The initial planning required more than proving up the engineering for the
route,” said Peter Martinovich, Manager, Transit Planning, West Australian
Department of Transport, who has planning responsibility for the proposed
system. “We have shown on the recently constructed Northern Suburbs Rapid
Transit System (NSTS) that to be successful such systems must be integrated with
land use and other transport modes, and provide a viable alternative to private
car use. They must be fast, frequent, comfortable and safe.”
The new rail system will run south from Perth. The Western Australian
government has agreed in principle to construct a rapid transit system to
Mandurah, the South West Corridor (SWC) and Rockingham. It has also given an
undertaking in principle to construct the first stage to Jandakot within 10
In seeking approval for the proposed route Westrail worked
closely with the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) and took just 12 months to define
the optimum rail reserve using 4D Model, supplied by Perth-based systems
integrator, Integrated Technical Software (ITS).
“4D Model was of great
assistance,” Mr Martinovich said. “We were on a deadline. We needed an alignment
which was good enough to give us preliminary land-use requirements and prove the
engineering design, as well as meet environmental and community approvals. We
chose ITS and 4D Model as we had worked successfully with ITS when developing
“The route had to access key centres,” he said. “It had to
serve the fast-developing Thompsons Lake area at Jandakot, the township of
Kwinana which has never had a good transport system, and incorporate Rockingham
and its regional centre as well as Mandurah and its regional centre.”
ensure the SWC Rapid Transit System will provide a viable alternative to private
cars the alignment has been engineered for speeds of up to 150km/hour. This
speed can be achieved using the same high-class track, signalling, power and
overhead systems structure as used on the NSTS, with a slight increase in the
power output of the electric rail cars. Curvature restricted the speeds on the
NSTS to 110km/h but on the SWC line the radius of curvature was limited to allow
the higher speeds.
The Senior Structure Planner for the Ministry for
Planning, Tim Auret, also stipulated that the rail must run at natural ground
level or below through residential urban areas for reasons of aesthetics,
privacy and noise control.
This meant cut and fill could not be balanced
so thousands of cubic metres of cut ground had to be discarded.
said: “The great advantage of 4D Model was that, once we had all the data in,
which by its own nature took a long time, we were able to generate alternative
“We could assess the implications of engineering and
land use. We could get hard copy plans easily and take them to the other players
and get their input. I honestly don’t believe we would have completed the
project in time without 4D Model. Our objective was to specify the land
requirements as well as to specify engineering criteria from a social and
land-use point of view.”
Ron Chamberlain, a former Westrail planning
engineer was employed as a senior consultant to assist on the project. “4D’s big
advantage is its overall coverage,” Mr Chamberlain said. “We could get an
overall picture of the whole route. When we had to make variations on curve
radii and intersection points we could easily slot them in.”
Jim Stirk, a civil designer with ITS, said 4D Model was superior to many other
civil engineering packages because it was a fully rounded planning tool and
could handle significantly more data than competitive packages.
“With 4D we can change alignments very quickly, which was particularly useful as
we could consult with other groups and show them a choice of alternatives.
“Also, it’s an easy tool to put down and pick up. Our civil designer, Ken Moore,
was away from it for three months during which time there was an upgrade to the
software. It took only three hours to become fully updated with the software.
Speed was also important. On the Perth-Mandurah project we have about 100 basic
drawings, all of which have been through a dozen major or minor changes, meaning
we have pumped out 1200 versions. 4D can manipulate large data sets at an
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