12d Model Puts $550m Rail Plan On Track - Westrail (now TransWA)

ClientWest Australian Department of TransportLocationAustralia, WA
ConsultantWestern Australian Government RailwaysContractorPeter Martinovich

Project Summary

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 Challenge

“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 Solution

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 years.

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 NSTS.

“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.”

To 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.

Mr Auret 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 scenarios quickly.

“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.”

The Result

 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 impressive rate.”

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