Sydney Metro Northwest: Operations, Trains & Systems

Having worked on the Sydney Metro North West project since 2013, the team were aware of the enormous challenges involved in delivering the final phase of Australia’s largest public transport project within the required timeframe and budget.

Project

Sydney Metro Northwest

Year

2013-2017

Location

Australia

Client

John Holland / CPB Joint Venture

23
of new track
8
new railway stations
15
trains an hour
4,000
commuter parking spaces

Partnering with Mott MacDonald and KBR as the Design Joint Venture (DJV), SMEC provided civil engineering, structural, electrical and public utilities design on the final phase of the project, Operations, Trains & Systems. Design works needed to be fast-tracked over 24 months to meet the project deadline.

Traditional large-scale, underground construction methods in Australia have predominantly been undertaken using in situ construction methods. However, this project required the use of innovative construction methodology to meet project challenges, including achieving 100 years’ infrastructure durability, sustainability of materials and construction methods, safety in design aspects, intense coordination with various services, consideration of long-term maintenance aspects and creation of iconic community integrated spaces.

Leveraging the diverse expertise of over 150 specialists based in five countries, the design team collaboratively pushed boundaries to develop effective solutions. A key design approach, which required innovation and technology to realise, was the maximisation of precast concrete elements.

Although precast concrete is not unusual in constructing underground stations, the extent of its use on this project is believed to be record breaking for station structures. The design team maximised the precast elements for the structural design of the stations with virtually all the main structural elements of the stations including walls, beams and slabs designed as precast.

“It’s often been said that technology is only as good as its user… In this case, I believe it was an optimal combination of talent with digital technology to develop a working environment that nurtured and enabled design innovations, ultimately allowing us to optimise precast construction.”

– Sav Dell’Aquila, Principal Project Manager SMEC

Challenging boundaries of design thinking
To facilitate the extensive use of precast concrete, the team developed an integrated geotechnical and structural design, particularly focused on capturing the complex soil structure interaction (SSI).

“Conventional structural design methods often neglect the effects of SSI, which is typically associated with earthquake design,” said Eugenio Mayol, Principal Engineer – Structures at SMEC. “However, this approach was essential to the success of the precast design innovation.”

Adopting the SSI approach to determine the ground pressure for the permanent walls’ design reduced the station box wall thickness requirement, resulting in significant material savings. This also meant more sustainable outcomes through reducing material usage.

Innovating through technology
“It is well acknowledged that designing with precast concrete adds more complexity and effort in coordinating penetrations and services. Fortunately, the BIM environment offered the best, if not the easiest, solution to coordinate the multitude of interfacing services,” said Willem Van Ede, SMEC Senior Associate Engineer.

This project is a leading example in the infrastructure consulting environment for the use of Building Information Technology as the main tool of inter-discipline coordination and design. It is the first project of its size in Australia to be fully documented and coordinated in BIM.

Implementing BIM allowed the design team to deliver a system-wide, 3D working environment that enabled interdisciplinary collaboration among architects, building services, structural, civil, and rail systems working groups.

“It’s often been said that technology is only as good as its user,” commented Sav Dell’Aquila, SMEC’s Principal Project Manager. “In this case, I believe it was an optimal combination of talent with digital technology to develop a working environment that nurtured and enabled design innovations, ultimately allowing us to optimise precast construction.”

Enduring outcomes
As a result of innovation and design optimisation, more than 90% of the main structure was precast, an unprecedented achievement. The precast concrete solution meant that the design required minimal changes upon installation and could be standardised, allowing for repetition in construction methodology which led to cost and time savings.

The successful use of precast concrete construction on this project has led to the same approach being adopted on the metro station design at Crows Nest, part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.

“The innovations led to overall design excellence in managing the challenges of the project and resulted in cost savings, efficiency and a sustainable outcome,” says Michael Barron, DJV Project Director. “Sharing these learning across the industry, Mott MacDonald, SMEC and KBR have published papers and presented at events so that others may benefit from these outcomes.”

Since opening, the Sydney Metro North West has carried 25 million customers on more than 155,000 services, with a customer satisfaction index of 96 per cent (as at November 2019).

Project

Sydney Metro Northwest

Year

2013-2017

Location

Australia

Client

John Holland / CPB Joint Venture

23
of new track
8
new railway stations
15
trains an hour
4,000
commuter parking spaces

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